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Choice of College Major Sways LSAT Score

Did you know that your choice of undergraduate major may have contributed to how well or poorly you scored on the Law School Admission Test? A new study finds that the highest LSAT scores are achieved by students who major in physics/math, economics and philosophy/theology. Even more interesting is that the two majors that rank lowest in LSAT scores are the very two that provide training in law -- prelaw and criminal justice.

The study, LSAT Scores of Economics Majors: The 2008-2009 Class Update, by University of North Texas economics professor Michael Nieswiadomy, is an update of studies he did in 1998 and 2006 that showed that economics majors score well on the LSAT. It looked at scores for students who took the LSAT in 2007-2008 in anticipation of entering law school for the 2008-2009 academic year. Once again, economics majors did well.

The Law School Admission Council categorizes test-takers into 162 majors. Seeing many of those as sub-disciplines of major fields, Nieswiadomy groups them into 29 categories. Of those 29, he found that the top five majors and their average test scores were:

    1. Physics/math, 160.0
    2. Economics, 157.4
    3. Philosophy/theology, 157.4
    4. International relations, 156.5
    5. Engineering, 156.2

The five lowest-scoring majors were:

    25. Education, 149.4
    26. Business administration, 149.1
    27. Health professions, 148.4
    28. Prelaw, 148.3
    29. Criminal justice, 146.0

About a third down the list of rankings was my undergraduate major, English, at number 11. Psychology ranked 17 followed by liberal arts at 18.

Nieswiadomy cautions against reading too much into these rankings. "Economics majors (in fact, all majors) are a self-selecting group. It is not possible to differentiate the effect of the student's unobservable characteristics from the effect of the economics coursework." Still, economics professor that he is, Nieswiadomy cannot help but express some modest delight. "Economics faculty should continue to have some modicum of pride in the continued success of Economics majors on the LSAT."

[Hat tips to Cosmic Variance and Chuck Newton.]

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 3, 2009 at 02:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)


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