lsat scores

The Ultimate Guide to LSAT Scores

Written by: Kristine Thorndyke

When you’re calculating your LSAT score and overall percentile, you won’t be calculating just one number. “LSAT score” is an ambiguous term that can refer to several scoring types: your raw score, your scaled score, or even your percentile rank. Each score is calculated differently from the others. Each has a different meaning, so the type of score you calculate varies depending on what you’re trying to measure and what year you try to do so. For this reason, understanding the differences between the LSAT scores is crucial.

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LSAT Raw Score

The LSAT has one hundred questions in total. When you calculate your LSAT raw score, you’re simply counting the number of questions you got right. If you have a raw score of 82/100, this means that you answered eighty-two of the one hundred questions correctly. Your raw score is most useful when you’re still studying for the test. You can easily compare your performance performance on each section and calculate which areas require more in-depth study. If you had a raw score of 25/25 on your Logic Games section, but you had a 10/23 on your Reading Comprehension section, you should put more time into analyzing passages than doing games. Psst, if this actually sounds like you – check out the best Analytical Reading book.

It’s important to simulate the LSAT testing environment accurately when you study. Many students fail to prepare themselves for the actual test environment, and it negatively affects their LSAT scores. The following tools are important for an accurate simulation of your LSAT testing environment:

  • An analog watch
  • Audio of the real instructions for the test
  • Realistic background sounds to simulate potential distractions

If it sounds too difficult to find a way to use these tools, don’t worry. There’s an LSAT Proctor App from 7Sage which allows you to use proctoring instructions, a virtual analog clock, and background sounds while you study. It’s the best way to simulate an authentic testing environment.. and it’s free.

LSAT Scaled Score

While the raw score is helpful for you while you’re studying, it’s not relevant in any other environments. Law schools don’t look at the raw scores of their incoming students. Instead, they examine the scaled scores of the students. Most students entering Harvard Law score somewhere around a 175. When you’re gauging your potential eligibility for a law school, you should use the scaled scoring system. If you’re aiming for admission into a certain law school, you should find out what the average scaled LSAT score for that particular school is and aim for it.

Generally, the scaled score for the LSAT is distributed. This means that the majority of students receive an average score. A middling score is around a 152. To be distinguished from the rest of the students, you must perform exceptionally well (or exceptionally poorly) on the LSAT. As you move further from the middle, it will become harder and harder to increase your distance.

There will be about fifteen extra questions to distinguish a student from a score of 150 to 160. Following that, there will be about fifteen extra questions to distinguish them from 160 to 170. This latter set of questions will be more complex than the former set of questions.

Because the scaled score is based on the performance of both you and the other students, there’s no “one conversion rate” from raw score to scaled score. The exact scale will vary each year. Sometimes you can gauge an average scaled score based on the scales employed in previous years, which you can find later in this post, but you  really have no way of guaranteeing that this measurement will be accurate for the year that you test.

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LSAT Score Percentiles

The last score you receive will fall into an LSAT percentile that ranks your score compared to others.  Every scaled score is given a percentile rank. This percentile rank directly measures your success against that of other test takers. A higher percentile range is better, because your percentile score will tell you what percentage of test takers scored lower than you. For example, scoring in the 95th percentile means that you did better than roughly 95% of other LSAT test takers.

With the LSAT, a scaled score of 173 will place you in the 99th percentile. This means that you’ve scored better than 99% of other test takers, and your score is in the top one percent. The exact conversion from scaled score to percentile rank will vary slightly from year to year, because percentile is calculated according to how other students perform.

Percentile rankings help to separate students in a more tangible way than the scaled scores. If you didn’t have percentile rankings, you might think that a difference of 160 versus 150 points and 170 versus 160 points were the same. But this isn’t true. A student who scores a 160 has performed substantially better than a student who scores a 150. Meanwhile, the student who scores a 170 has not had such a substantial performance improvement over the student who scores a 160.

Broken down with the percentile rankings, a 150 might qualify as a score in the 44th percentile. Meanwhile, a score of 160 would be in the 80th percentile. This is a percentage increase of +36. But a score of 170 is in the 98th percentile, which is only a percentage increase of +18. Meanwhile, a score of 180 will put you almost in the 100th percentile–but the difference between 170 and 180 is a percentile range of only +2.

Scoring as high as possible on the LSAT is a good idea, but it isn’t the end-all approach to your law school applications. If you score a 170 or higher, you’ve already beaten out 98% of your potential opponents. At this point, the applicant pool is so small that a difference of 180 versus 170 doesn’t matter as much. Instead, colleges will be looking at your recommendation letters and personal statement.

Related: Get into your top school with these law school resume tips 

General LSAT Score Conversion Table

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About this LSAT Score Conversion Table

This LSAT score conversion table is an approximation using past scores. When you take your LSAT, you will receive a different raw to scaled score conversion as well as LSAT percentile. This can be helpful when studying to get a general idea of how you are stacking up against others.

What’s a Perfect LSAT Score?

A perfect score on the LSAT is a score of 180. This is extremely rare. The LSAT has one hundred questions; to receive a perfect score, you would need to answer all one hundred of them correctly. With that said, you don’t need to achieve a perfect score to be considered by top law schools. As previously mentioned, any score above 170 will place you in at least the 98th percentile of law school applicants. Once you’ve reached this level, law schools don’t weigh who scored a 177 and who scored a 180. Instead, they make their decisions based on the other aspects of your submitted application. New research shows, however, that high LSAT scores are on the rise, resulting in anything less than a 165 to result in rejection from top law schools. Reaching a perfect (or near perfect) LSAT score does not happen by chance. You should, of course, figure out when to take the LSAT and then make an effective study plan given your prep timeframe. 

Are you trying to improve your LSAT scores? Read on for more information on how long to study for the LSAT to reach max score potential.

How Long Are LSAT Scores Valid?

The means through which an LSAT score is calculated vary from year to year. For this reason, your results will only reflect the particular year that you took the test. You won’t be able to measure your results against the results of students from previous years.

That said, the LSAC will only keep your LSAT score on file for 5 years after you take the LSAT. If you retake the LSAT multiple times, then the score on file will be an average of all LSAT scores you have received. Read on to see how many times you can take the LSAT

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