Understanding LSAT percentiles is key in stacking up your LSAT score to other test takers. The LSAC publishes score percentiles for all scaled scores for LSAT test takers in a 3-year period, and with these LSAT percentiles, you can calculate how many test takers, in a percentage, scored below you, and just how rare your scaled LSAT score is.
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What are LSAT Score Percentiles?
Your LSAT score percentile directly stacks your score up with all other LSAT test takers from the past three years. Your LSAT percentile shows what percent of test takers scored below you. A scaled score of 168, for example, means 94.8% of test takers scored below you in the 2019-2020 period.
The 3 Types of LSAT Scores
To understand your LSAT score percentile, you also need to understand how you got to your LSAT scaled score. There are 3 types of LSAT scores worth acquainting yourself with: the raw score, the percentile score, and the scaled score. They each have a purpose and usefulness to you, so let’s see how they compare:
Put simply, the raw score on the LSAT is the total number of questions answered correctly across the four sections. A raw score of, say, 60, means you got 60 out of 75 questions correct.
The raw score is beneficial during your studying phase, as it allows you to determine your weakest areas and improve.
Remember, there is no penalty for guessing on the LSAT, so incorrect answers are not deducted from the raw score!
The scaled LSAT score is the number you’re likely most familiar with – it’s your LSAT score that you’ll tell your friends you got when they ask how you did on test day.
Your LSAT raw score is converted for each test and runs on a scale between 120 to 180.
The raw score for each LSAT is converted into the scaled score. A raw score on one LSAT test cannot be compared to a raw score on another LSAT, as the difficulty of each test changes and the scaled score will reflect the same level of performance.
The scaled score is important for measuring what score you’ll need in order to be competitive at your top law school. You should aim for the average of the admitted LSAT scores published on the law school admissions site.
The LSAT scaled score can vary depending on factors already mentioned like difficulty of that iteration of LSAT test as well as the total number of questions on that test. Each LSAT test will have its own raw score-to-scale conversion table.
The LSAT percentile score is the percent of test takers that scored lower than you on the LSAT over the past 3 years. The conversion from scaled score to percentile score tends to be pretty stable with only a few differences over time.
LSAT Percentiles Score Chart
Here is the LSAT percentiles score chart for the year 2019-2020. Taking this information, a student who scored a 163 on the LSAT between these dates would have scored higher than 85% of all test takers during that time.
Is the LSAT Curved?
Technically, the LSAT is not curved but rather uses score equating. A curve would assume there is a predetermined set of students who are going to earn each score. Rather, the LSAT uses “score equating” to make a score from one test be of equal challenge to the score on another test. This is why the score percentiles can change from year to year, because the number of people who do better on a test or are more prepared can alter the percentiles.
Related: When Should You Take the LSAT?
What is a Good LSAT Score?
The answer to the question about what a good LSAT score is depends largely on what law school you hope to be accepted to. To give a bit more detail on what a good LSAT score may be, let’s have a look at some score ranges.
150 LSAT Score
An LSAT score in the 150s puts your right near the median 50%, meaning you’ll likely have scored about half of all test takers. The median score for the LSAT falls around 152.
Scoring in the low 150s will likely get you accepted into law schools, but will not get you into a high tier law school and will likely affect your chances of recruitment into a competitive law firm upon graduation.
160 LSAT Score
If you reach an LSAT score in the 160s, you have become much more competitive and have scored higher than nearly 80% of all test takers. This is when you start to reach “good score” category, as you have a wider range of law schools you can gain admittance to, and can expect to be accepted into some top 50 law schools. This said, a 160 will not get you into a T14 law school and you will likely not be flush with scholarships.
170 LSAT Score
If you score in the 170s on the LSAT, you’re at the top 2-3 % of test takers. This is when you can expect some acceptances into T14 law programs assuming you also have a high GPA at or above 3.8. That said, nothing is a sure thing and you’re not guaranteed admittance into Harvard of Yale even with a 170+ alone, but your chances just got a lot better!
Perfect LSAT Score
If you’re the lucky chosen 0.1% of all test takers who scores a perfect score on the LSAT with a 180, then congratulations!
A perfect LSAT score is not really going to be an attainable goal for most, so shooting for even the 170s can be a lofty score goal.
How Important Are LSAT Scores for Admissions?
Not to cause undue stress, but generally speaking, LSAT scores are weighted above all else in the admissions process. Law school admissions create an index formula for each applicant, which takes into account your GPA as well as your LSAT score. Your LSAT score is weighted for more than half of this decision.
Of course, there are still other factors that are considered, such as your resume, personal statement, and recommendations.
If you’re looking to raise your LSAT scores, you can consider one of these LSAT courses ranked for 2023.
LSAT Scores FAQ
What is the highest LSAT score possible?
The highest LSAT score possible is a 180.
What is the average LSAT score without studying?
The average LSAT score without studying ranges from 145-153. A score in this range will not get you accepted into a top 50 law school.
What is a top 1% LSAT score?
A 175 LSAT score will land in you in the top 1% of all LSAT test takers.
What if I don’t like my LSAT score?
Assuming you don’t cancel your LSAT score before it’s released, there is nothing you can do besides retake the LSAT. Some law schools will look at all your past LSAT exams, while others only look at your highest LSAT score.
LSAT Scores – Wrap Up
Being able to understand LSAT scores can help you to make an effective LSAT study plan for the targeted score you need for your top law school. If you’re looking for some affordable LSAT prep, you can see our list of 39 free LSAT resources to get started.