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Philosothicc

UofT Undergrad and Law school acceptance; other considerations?

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I am currently a second-year student at UofT majoring in Philosophy and Political Science. With my background in logic and critical thinking from philosophy, I expect to have a pretty good score on the LSAT, (although I haven't written any practice tests yet). My GPA isn't the best, sitting around a 3.0-3.3, but my extra-curriculars and involvement are significant.

When I accepted my undergraduate offer at UofT, my goal was ultimately to get into UofT law. However, I now know how notoriously difficult it is to get into, so I will probably apply all over the province. McGill is also an option since I am (essentially) bilingual. For schools like UofT and Osgoode, what kind of things do they look for on applications? Does involvement really matter that much if my grades aren't excellent? 

In addition, how much do "person profiles" matter in terms of acceptance? I am (not visibly) biracial and technically live below the poverty line, the first in my family to attend university and I am female. As far as I'm aware, none of these have had any impact on any other kind of affirmative action practices. Do law school admissions teams consider demographic factors for applicants as well or is it primarily LSAT and GPA?  

As well, I am particularly interested in restorative justice, constitutional law and justice system reform in Canada. Are there any schools that are well-known for these specialties? Thank you all so much in advance. I am very goal-oriented so if you can tell me what steps exactly need to be taken in order to get into law school, please, be as blunt and straight-forward as necessary, I take criticism well. :-)

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Improve your GPA up to an A- or better for at least tour L2 years, then hope your lsat score is in the top 10 percent of all writers, to have a shot at Ontario schools.

You stand a low shot at McGill, Oz, and U of T with where you're at right now, even if you do get your GPA up to a 3.7 for the rest of your degree.

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For admissions statistics and program information, they can be found on their respective websites.

Both schools are considered holistic in their own ways: UofT Law puts 1/3 of your application on your PS. Osgoode also takes a PS. 

As for demographic factors, probably not. The main focus is to do well in undergrad.  

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I only want to say this: don't let your major define you in terms of your skill-set to conquer a test that is not intuitively ascertainable to the average highly intelligent person. I was a philosophy major myself, and it took me three tries to get in the top 10 percent of scorers. The test is an entirely different animal. My training in logic only provided a negligible advantage in accessing some of the logic of the LSAT. 

However, I have a learning disability, and it took me a while to understand the test. You may be different and not need much training. Just don't be surprised if you have to take a little longer and work a little harder to get it. 

Other than that, get your GPA up as much as possible, even if it means changing majors. Law schools really care about the numbers.

Edited by capitalttruth
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Philosophy had been shown (statistically) to be relevant as a major in terms of predicting lsat success. 

But there are other factors. I don't think being an average to slightly above average philosophy student (which is what a 3-3.3 GPA more or less is, I think) gives you a leg up on the lsat that's enough to get you the score you need intuitively. 

Put it this way. You might get to a 155 easier than an equal student in another major not shown to be statistically relevant to the lsat. But that 155 isn't getting you anywhere, especially with your GPA.

Start getting better grades.

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I feel like the average highly intelligent person would do fine on the LSAT. The LSAT is essentially an IQ test, seeing as it tests no substantive knowledge. 

Certainly anecdotally the high IQ people I know have done fine on the LSAT. 

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1 hour ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

I feel like the average highly intelligent person would do fine on the LSAT. The LSAT is essentially an IQ test, seeing as it tests no substantive knowledge. 

Certainly anecdotally the high IQ people I know have done fine on the LSAT. 

Maybe. There are many factors  to consider. I do believe that the average highly intelligent person can score well on the test with enough studying. There is a learning curve with the test; some pick it up faster than others, perhaps that is the discrepancy that distinguishes the higher IQ individuals from the average ones. But, if we're speaking anecdotally, I have known some highly intelligent folk who also initially struggled with that learning curve.

I don't believe that you can study for IQ tests (with the exception of Mensa, I think)? The LSAT is a test that requires at least some kind of studying.

Edited by capitalttruth
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24 minutes ago, capitalttruth said:

Maybe. There are many factors  to consider. I do believe that the average highly intelligent person can score well on the test with enough studying. There is a learning curve with the test; some pick it up faster than others, perhaps that is the discrepancy that distinguishes the higher IQ individuals from the average ones. But, if we're speaking anecdotally, I have known some highly intelligent folk who also initially struggled with that learning curve.

I don't believe that you can study for IQ tests (with the exception of Mensa, I think)? The LSAT is a test that requires at least some kind of studying.

The LSAT really doesn’t require any kind of studying. I don’t know why you think that. The fact that people do doesn’t mean it’s required. 

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4 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

The LSAT really doesn’t require any kind of studying. I don’t know why you think that. The fact that people do doesn’t mean it’s required. 

Alright, perhaps required is a bit strong of a word. It certainly isn't required but it is recommended for the majority of people confronting the initial learning curve. And perhaps those who are smarter than average may not need to "study" in the ways that those who struggle with the test do, but some kind of orientation into the nature of the test would be warranted I think.

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1 hour ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Philosophy had been shown (statistically) to be relevant as a major in terms of predicting lsat success. 

But there are other factors. I don't think being an average to slightly above average philosophy student (which is what a 3-3.3 GPA more or less is, I think) gives you a leg up on the lsat that's enough to get you the score you need intuitively. 

Put it this way. You might get to a 155 easier than an equal student in another major not shown to be statistically relevant to the lsat. But that 155 isn't getting you anywhere, especially with your GPA.

Start getting better grades.

Makes sense because there is a lot of philosophy incorporated into math, and I found that math was the most helpful course I took in understanding the LSAT.

20 minutes ago, capitalttruth said:

Maybe. There are many factors  to consider. I do believe that the average highly intelligent person can score well on the test with enough studying. There is a learning curve with the test; some pick it up faster than others, perhaps that is the discrepancy that distinguishes the higher IQ individuals from the average ones. But, if we're speaking anecdotally, I have known some highly intelligent folk who also initially struggled with that learning curve.

I don't believe that you can study for IQ tests (with the exception of Mensa, I think)? The LSAT is a test that requires at least some kind of studying.

The LSAT does not "require" studying. You can do well on it without studying. Some people can improve their scores by familiarization with the test and repetition, but it is not necessary to do well, unlike a test in substantive material where, no matter how smart you are, you still need to learn and review it. 

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I needed to study for the LSAT.

I wrote my first practice test, and my score was so bad that it wouldn't have gotten me into any Canadian law school. I tried another few and got similar scores. I was consistently bombing the logic games section. They were completely unintuitive to me and I couldn't get them done in time. I read the Powerscore Logic Games Bible (i.e., studying), did a bunch more practice tests (i.e., more studying), and my score went up pretty dramatically, because I understood how to do the logic games.

So I don't know whether studying was strictly "required," but I feel pretty confident that if I hadn't studied, I wouldn't have been able to go to law school. Point being, if there's something future readers don't understand on the LSAT that's holding them back, don't be afraid to study. 

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So if I manage to be one of those few with an exceptional LSAT score and my OLSAS GPA bumps up to around a 3.5/3.7... I might have a chance at a decent Ontario law school? If in my next two years I'm pulling a 3.7+ s/cGPA, how well does the OLSAS GPA system reward/punish this significant upward trend? 

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5 minutes ago, Philosothicc said:

So if I manage to be one of those few with an exceptional LSAT score and my OLSAS GPA bumps up to around a 3.5/3.7... I might have a chance at a decent Ontario law school? If in my next two years I'm pulling a 3.7+ s/cGPA, how well does the OLSAS GPA system reward/punish this significant upward trend? 

Go for the highest you can. Do everything in your power to get the highest GPA possible. 

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8 minutes ago, Philosothicc said:

So if I manage to be one of those few with an exceptional LSAT score and my OLSAS GPA bumps up to around a 3.5/3.7... I might have a chance at a decent Ontario law school? If in my next two years I'm pulling a 3.7+ s/cGPA, how well does the OLSAS GPA system reward/punish this significant upward trend? 

I try to just focus on the things in my control. You can't achieve a certain GPA/LSAT through sheer force of will (or at least, I never could).

But you can control lots of other things. For instance, are you studying enough for your tests? You can do that. Are you going to class? You can do that. Are you spending enough time on your essays? You can control that. Do you understand how to study for an exam? You can figure that out. Do you know how to write a decent essay? You can talk to your profs, improve your writing style, get better at research, etc. 

So I mean, you can spend as much time as you want gaming out where you'll get in with GPA X or LSAT score Y. And it's fine to think about that. But at the end of the day, you can control your study habits and work ethic. Otherwise, let the chips will fall as they may. 

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17 minutes ago, realpseudonym said:

I try to just focus on the things in my control. You can't achieve a certain GPA/LSAT through sheer force of will (or at least, I never could).

But you can control lots of other things. For instance, are you studying enough for your tests? You can do that. Are you going to class? You can do that. Are you spending enough time on your essays? You can control that. Do you understand how to study for an exam? You can figure that out. Do you know how to write a decent essay? You can talk to your profs, improve your writing style, get better at research, etc. 

So I mean, you can spend as much time as you want gaming out where you'll get in with GPA X or LSAT score Y. And it's fine to think about that. But at the end of the day, you can control your study habits and work ethic. Otherwise, let the chips will fall as they may. 

Honestly, the goal was to get anything better than my current GPA through sheer force of will, (hehe). In high school, I was always the slacker and still managed to get excellent grades. People would ask me how I did so well and I would reply with, "I don't know, do the work". It scares me to think that I wouldn't be able to get into UofT, or any law school, because of my less-than-expected performance in first and second year. I've always wanted to pursue law and my apparent promise in high school solidified my self-confidence that I would excel, too, in university. It makes me sick to think that I might not get into law school, but I am a "let the chips fall as they may" kinda gal, so here's hoping. Just gotta put my nose to the grindstone I suppose. :'-) 

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6 hours ago, Philosothicc said:

I am currently a second-year student at UofT majoring in Philosophy and Political Science. With my background in logic and critical thinking from philosophy, I expect to have a pretty good score on the LSAT, (although I haven't written any practice tests yet). My GPA isn't the best, sitting around a 3.0-3.3, but my extra-curriculars and involvement are significant.

Funny enough, I overheard a conversation the other day on campus where a poli-sci student with a similar GPA to yours was very confident on getting a 169 on the LSAT despite not yet writing a practice test. His friend thought he was being overly-confident, to which he replied that he was "not a business major" and has "taken a couple of philosophy courses" so he's set up to do well on the LSAT. I can only speak for myself, but I had to take the LSAT twice. It was a humbling experience. I wish I just got the LSAT right away, but I did not. And my major usually gets one of the highest, if not the highest, average LSAT score relative to other majors. 

I hope you kill the LSAT, but I would not take a high LSAT score for granted. Consider applying to internships and such so that if law school does not work out, you still have something to fall back on. All the best!

Edited by Twenty
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10 hours ago, Philosothicc said:

So if I manage to be one of those few with an exceptional LSAT score and my OLSAS GPA bumps up to around a 3.5/3.7... I might have a chance at a decent Ontario law school? If in my next two years I'm pulling a 3.7+ s/cGPA, how well does the OLSAS GPA system reward/punish this significant upward trend? 

I totally agree with @realpseudonym - it is too early to worry about this. You need to develop the habits to get the best grades you can and see what those are. You say your "extra-curriculars and involvement are significant." It is a common misconception that ECs can save an application and get you into law school. They will not overcome bad grades. So you may need to cut back on these if they are interfering with your time available for schoolwork to the detriment of your grades. Then as realpseudonym says, you need to make sure you are attending class consistently, doing the readings consistently, handing work in on time, studying for tests and exams, regularly and promptly going to your professors' office hours if you don't understand something in the material, making sure you have the writing and research skills, and so on. Make sure you're selecting courses that interest and engage you and use the skills you have and not because you think they're good courses for law school (ie. don't take Philosophy just because you think it will give you a leg-up on the LSAT - take it if it genuinely interests you. Don't take political science, criminal justice or business because you think they'll be good for law school. If Physics or German or Womens' Studies speak to you more, take those.) 

If you start seeing that upward trend in your grades, then you can worry about the LSAT. With better grades, I don't know if you need an "exceptional" score, but you do need one that is good. While I said earlier that it doesn't "require" studying, you certainly can get practice tests and do them and there are all kinds of discussions on this site about books and prep courses that people take to increase their scores, so when the time comes, there are things you can do to maximize your score. 

* to add - another thing you can do is make an appointment go over the work you get back, and all your exams, with the professor. Do that even if you're satisfied with the mark you got but it wasn't perfect. Ie. if you get a test or assignment back and you have 81% and that's an A at your school, don't think "Oh, I got an A, that's good." You missed 19% worth of questions/points, which is a fair bit. Go find out why and what mistakes you made that you can avoid on the final, or in future courses. You learn more from your mistakes than from anything else, in my experience. Plus if you are looking for references from a professor for law school, that will turn the generic "this person showed up and got 81% and is a good student" to "this student was highly engaged in their learning, showed great dedication" etc. 

Edited by providence
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14 hours ago, Philosothicc said:

I am currently a second-year student at UofT majoring in Philosophy and Political Science. With my background in logic and critical thinking from philosophy, I expect to have a pretty good score on the LSAT, (although I haven't written any practice tests yet). My GPA isn't the best, sitting around a 3.0-3.3, but my extra-curriculars and involvement are significant.

When I accepted my undergraduate offer at UofT, my goal was ultimately to get into UofT law. However, I now know how notoriously difficult it is to get into, so I will probably apply all over the province. McGill is also an option since I am (essentially) bilingual. For schools like UofT and Osgoode, what kind of things do they look for on applications? Does involvement really matter that much if my grades aren't excellent? 

In addition, how much do "person profiles" matter in terms of acceptance? I am (not visibly) biracial and technically live below the poverty line, the first in my family to attend university and I am female. As far as I'm aware, none of these have had any impact on any other kind of affirmative action practices. Do law school admissions teams consider demographic factors for applicants as well or is it primarily LSAT and GPA?  

As well, I am particularly interested in restorative justice, constitutional law and justice system reform in Canada. Are there any schools that are well-known for these specialties? Thank you all so much in advance. I am very goal-oriented so if you can tell me what steps exactly need to be taken in order to get into law school, please, be as blunt and straight-forward as necessary, I take criticism well. :-)

I see no one answered the rest of your questions, so:

1) The #1 thing any school looks for on applications is GPA and LSAT. Different schools look at different aspects of GPA - some take your best 2 years, some your best 3, some will drop a certain number of your worst courses, some look at it all. So you’ll need to do your homework on that. Some schools seem to be moving towards prioritizing grades over LSAT.  The lower your grades, the more you need a high LSAT, and the higher your grades, the lower the LSAT you can get away with.

2) Extracurriculars are secondary to grades and LSAT but can be good tie-breakers. Some schools are more “holistic” and will give some weight to them but it’s difficult to know how much because there’s no formula that they provide for that. If you have top grades and LSAT you will get in without many ECs. As the stats get lower, ECs may play more of a role, but usually not enough to completely overcome poor grades/LSAT.

3) As is often said here, the ECs that stand out are much more impressive than you may be thinking ie. everyone is in university clubs, student government, volunteering, tutoring, working abroad etc. Those are a given and won’t be looked at as special. The people standing out are going beyond that ie. competing nationally in sports, publishing books, starting successful foundations, being successful recording artists etc. 

4) Re: race, gender and socioeconomic status - Canada does not have “affirmative action” in law schools other than for indigenous people. Women are well-represented in law schools so gender is not an issue. Some schools will allow you to write an essay or fill out a form declaring your race, socioeconomic status etc. You can also mention it in personal statements. Like ECs, it’s hard to know how much schools consider that. Whether or not you are “visibly” biracial, the question is whether it has posed barriers to you and how you have overcome those, and whether it influences your future career intentions.

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Thanks so much for all your replies. Is it worthwhile to consider doing a fifth year of undergrad to get a b3 average >3.7, or does that look bad on transcripts? It's looking like I'm going to close off second year right around the 3.0 mark, which is less than satisfactory. First two years sitting around a 3.0 and aspirations of skyrocketing GPAs in third and forth, from what I read, have varying effects on admissions. Just to clarify, cGPA is across your entire undergraduate career and not only your l2 or b3, right? Y'all are so helpful. Although I've been freakin' out about some of your replies, the anxiety makes me want to try harder. :'-) 

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11 minutes ago, Philosothicc said:

Thanks so much for all your replies. Is it worthwhile to consider doing a fifth year of undergrad to get a b3 average >3.7, or does that look bad on transcripts? It's looking like I'm going to close off second year right around the 3.0 mark, which is less than satisfactory. First two years sitting around a 3.0 and aspirations of skyrocketing GPAs in third and forth, from what I read, have varying effects on admissions. Just to clarify, cGPA is across your entire undergraduate career and not only your l2 or b3, right? Y'all are so helpful. Although I've been freakin' out about some of your replies, the anxiety makes me want to try harder. :'-) 

I agree with most of the responses you’ve received. I would just add that although ECs might not make up for bad grades, not having any or very few may negatively affect your application. In my case, I have a 3.71 cgpa and a 162. I am above the medians for gpa and LSAT at osgoode and  western and still have not received an acceptance from either school. Although I could still hear back from them later in the cycle, it looks like I won’t be getting in. I don’t know forsure why they don’t like my application, but my best bet would be that very little ECs negatively affected my chances. If I were you I would look to have good ECs even if they won’t make up for poor grades.

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