LSAT and college major

High LSAT scores in a given major have been used to recruit students into philosophy and physics. But high LSAT scores do not necessarily reflect the ability of a major to prepare students for the LSAT or for the legal profession, because students self-select into majors: high school students with an interest in philosophy or physics might already possess the verbal and analytical skills that the LSAT tests, so that high LSAT scores for philosophy or physics majors might reflect only the pre-existing abilities of students who select those majors.

The graph below illustrates this possibility with a plot of 2007 LSAT scores grouped by major against 2003 SAT scores grouped by intended major. Some majors have been combined* and control variables were not included in the analysis**, so the graph should be interepreted with caution: but the general pattern is a relatively high correlation between SAT scores and LSAT scores (r=0.89, n=16, p<0.01).

LSAT2007SAT2003

Sources: 2007 LSAT data from Nieswiadomy (2009), and 2003 SAT scores from the College Board.

* Accounting, Business Management, Business Administration, Finance, and Marketing majors were grouped into the Business intended major; Interdisciplinary Studies and Liberal Arts majors were grouped into the General Studies intended major; Chemistry and Physics/Math majors were grouped into the Physical Sciences intended major; Criminal Justice, Government/Service, and Pre-Law majors were grouped into the Public Services intended major; and Anthropology/Geography, Economics, History, International Relations, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology/Social Work majors were grouped into the Social Sciences intended major.

** For example, the analysis does not account for students who drop out or students who switch majors; the analysis considers data for only the set of students who took the SAT in 2003 and the separate but presumably overlapping set of students who took the LSAT in 2007; the analysis also does not account for selection bias with regard to students sitting for the LSAT: for instance, mathematics majors who take the LSAT might be less intelligent or more intelligent than the average mathematics major.

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