What LSAT score do you need? As you consider an LSAT score goal, it’s always wise to look at average scores at the schools to which you’re applying. For starters, though, here are the basics you might need to know about your LSAT score:
The LSAT is scored on a 120-180 scale. The average LSAT score is about a 151. This relatively small range of scores means that small improvements in performance can increase your score quite a bit. It also means that small improvements in your score can make a big difference in your percentile ranking (sometimes, a one point increase in your score can boost your percentile ranking by as many as 5 points).
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LSAT Score Ranges
Scores that will put you in the top 10% of all test takers
SCALED SCORE: 164-180
[ GOOD TO KNOW: LSAT Scores and GPAs for Top Law Schools ]
These scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all test takers)
SCALED SCORE: 159-163
These scores put you ahead of the pack (50%+), but won’t be as advantageous when applying to highly competitive programs
SCALED SCORE: 152-158
These scores may be enough to get into a wide variety of law schools, but will be below average compared to the testing population
SCALED SCORE: 151 or below
How is the LSAT scored?
The test-taking world would be such an easier place to understand if every test was scored on a 1-100 scale. However, the LSAT is on a scale that ranges from 120- the lowest score possible- to 180- a perfect score.
The scoring on the LSAT might seem strange because there are not, in fact, 180 questions on the test. Thus, getting one wrong answer does not equate to one lost point in your overall score. Rather, your raw score, the number you get correct out of the roughly 100-101 questions on the test, is converted into a 120-180 score based on a mathematical formula specific to that particular test. This method, with different conversions formulas for each LSAT, is designed to minimize the variance in scores across the four LSAT administered each year, and across LSATs over different years.
On average, getting a raw score of 87 (out of 101) or above converts into an LSAT score of 170 or above. Note that a score in this range places you, on average, in the 98th percentile, meaning that only 2% of all those who take the LSAT score a 170 or above. To get a score in the 160s you should aim for getting 70-85 of the questions correct, or around 70%. A score in the 160’s will place you in roughly the 80th percentile.
While this scoring may seem complex at first, after you gain familiarity with the LSAT it will start to make more sense. For information on what the average LSAT scores are for students attending a particular law school you can visit that law schools website, or see a list of average scores here.
Monika Moore, LSAT Tutor and Teacher
“It is all about quality over quantity. So many students think that if you take a certain number of prep tests to prepare, you will get a good score – but that is not often the case. You are much better served to take fewer tests and to spend significant time analyzing and reviewing the material to learn from your mistakes.”
What to know about LSAT scores: Raw, Scaled and Percentile Scoring
You will receive not one, not two, but three scores on Test Day:
- A raw score (0-~101), the total number of scored questions answered correctly translated into…
- A scaled score (120-180), the score by which law schools will evaluate your candidacy; and
- A percentile score, comparing test-takers across various testing cohorts
Since there is no wrong answer penalty on the LSAT, you score is determined solely by the number of questions you answer correctly. On a typical test, approximately 57 right answers will produce a score of 151 and land you squarely in the 50th percentile, better than half of all test takers. If you add just five correct answers, you’ll move to a 154 and be in the 60th percentile. To a lot of students, that jump of three scaled points (from a 151 to a 154) doesn’t sound very impressive, but when you consider that around 130,000 people take the LSAT each year, that increase means that you’ve passed around 13,000 competitors, applicants potentially vying for the same school(s) you’re trying to get into. Notice that each time you add four or five correct answers, you make a comparable leap past the other test takers. That should tell you just how much you can accomplish, even with the limited time before the next test. It should also underline how important it is to get additional correct answers wherever you can on the test, including sections in which you’re already relatively strong.
Your LSAT score is a crucial factor in determining where you go to law school—or if you go at all. Law school admission committees look at your LSAT score to determine if you have the skills required for success in law school. It helps admissions officers compare your record with those of students from other schools.
Most law schools use an “index formula” — a weighting of your LSAT score and undergraduate cumulative GPA to determine your application’s objective strength. Almost universally, the LSAT score has a greater weight than your undergraduate GPA, accounting for more than 50% of the admissions decision.
What’s a strong LSAT score may vary by law school program, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s most recent survey of law school admissions factor, but poor performance on the exam can severely damage your chances of getting in. According to the nearly 100 admissions officers we spoke with in 2018, 49 percent say a low LSAT score is “the biggest application dealbreaker”; a poorly written personal essay placed second at 22 percent.
So while Law School Admissions officers often rank LSAT as the number one factor in law school admissions, your LSAT score does not stand alone. Whether or not you are admitted to law school depends on other factors, too, such as GPA, recommendations and personal statement. In addition to focusing on getting the best LSAT score possible, you should also work on obtaining the best GPA possible, writing a spectacular personal statement, flattering professors and professionals into writing outstanding letters of recommendation, and rounding out your resume.
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