Understanding the LSAT Score Range: Key to Law School Admissions Success


Are you planning to attend law school? Then you should know how important having a good LSAT score is to help you be part of the top law schools. But before that, let’s first define what the LSAT is and how it will affect our admission process.

The Law School Admission Test, broadly known as the LSAT, is supervised by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). It is a standardized test to assess law school candidates’ analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, critical thinking, and reading comprehension. This comprehensive test will measure your knowledge and gauge your fit for the program.

How LSAT Scores Affect Law School Admission

Admissions committees think LSAT scores, alongside other factors such as undergraduate GPA, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities, are essential when evaluating applicants. While all these factors contribute to a comprehensive assessment process, LSAT scores obtain significant consideration because they give an actual evaluation of an applicant’s ability for legal studies.

Law schools rely on these scores as a standard metric to compare candidates’ intellectual capabilities across different academic backgrounds and institutions. A good LSAT score can increase applicants’ chances of acceptance into top-tier law schools with highly competitive admission standards. On the other hand, obtaining the lowest LSAT score may limit options or require additional steps to compensate.

A poster with the letters and acronym for LSAT.

Explanation of LSAT Score Range And Its Significance

The LSAT score scale ranges from 120 to 180 points. This range represents the total number of correct answers achieved by test-takers across various sections within the allotted time frame. Each question on the exam carries equal weight; therefore, scoring is solely based on the number of correct responses without any penalty for incorrect guesses.

The LSAT score range provides a standardized framework for comparing and ranking test-takers’ performance, allowing law schools to establish a basis for evaluating applicants’ relative strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the score range is crucial for applicants to gauge their competitiveness, set realistic goals, and make informed decisions regarding which law schools they should target based on their scores.

Types of LSAT Scores

The LSAT score report typically presents three types:

  1. Raw Score

The LSAT raw score is derived from the total number of questions answered correctly. It’s important to note that despite the LSAT encompassing approximately 100 questions, the highest raw score achievable is roughly 75. This is because of the inclusion of an experimental section within the test, which does not contribute to the final score calculation. 

  1. Scaled Score

A scaled LSAT score converts the raw score into a score between 120 and 180. The LSAT raw scores conversion to scaled score may slightly vary from one test to another to account for differences in test difficulty. As a result, a raw score of 58 might equate to a scaled score of 150 on one test and 152 on another.

  1. Percentile Rank

Your percentile rank measures your performance on the LSAT compared to other test takers from the past three-year period. It provides a broader context for understanding your scaled score. A percentile rank of 85 means that 85% of test-takers scored lower than you. Law schools use percentile rank to compare your LSAT performance with other applicants.

How is the LSAT Scored?

The Law School Admission Council diligently releases percentile rankings for each scaled score, meticulously calculated over three years. 

LSAT Score 2019-2020 LSAT Percentile 2018-2019 LSAT Percentile
180 99.9 99.9
179 99.9 99.9
178 99.9 99.9
177 99.8 99.8
176 99.6 99.8
175 99.5 99.6
174 99.2 99.4
173 98.8 99.1
172 98.4 98.7
171 97.8 98.2
170 97.1 97.6
169 95.9 96.8
168 94.8 95.4
167 93.3 94.5
166 91.5 92.9
165 89.8 91.5
164 87.4 89.5
163 85 87.2
162 82.7 84.9
161 80.1 82.3
160 77 79.2
159 73.6 76.1
158 70.4 73.2
157 66.5 69.6
156 62.9 66.3
155 59.2 62.3
154 55.5 58.4
153 51.7 54.4
152 47.7 50.8
151 44 47
150 39.7 43.4
149 36.3 39.4
148 32.8 36.2
147 29.1 32.4
146 26 29
145 22.9 25.4
144 20 22.8
143 17.4 20
142 14.8 17.1
141 12.6 15
140 10.8 12.8
139 9 11
138 7.5 9.2
137 6.4 7.8
136 4.9 6.7
135 4.2 5.2
134 3.6 4.5
133 3 3.8
132 2.4 3.1
131 2 2.5
130 1.6 2
129 1.4 1.6
128 1.1 1.3
127 0.9 1.2
126 0.8 1
125 0.7 0.8
124 0.5 0.6
123 0.5 0.5
122 0.4 0.4
121 0.3 0.3
120 0 0

Explanation of the Scoring Scale: 120-180

The LSAT utilizes a scoring scale from 120 to 180, with each score demonstrating a specific degree of capability expected to prevail in law school. This scale was developed entirely to evaluate the capacities of a law student precisely.

The score range provides admissions committees with a standardized way to compare applicants and make informed decisions. The scoring scale of 120-180 is divided into small increments, which allows for precise differentiation between test-takers.

Each point on the scale holds critical weight, as even a few changes or decreases can impact a candidate’s chances. For example, moving from a score of 160 to 170 may seem like only ten points, yet it can move somebody from being a typical candidate to excellent standing for admission at top-tier law schools.

Explanation of Percentile Ranks and Their Importance in Law School Admissions

Percentile ranks are crucial in law school admissions because they provide a standardized measurement that enables admissions committees to evaluate applicants equally. As law schools receive numerous applications from candidates with varying backgrounds and experiences, the LSAT score percentile helps institutions assess an applicant’s aptitude for legal studies in relation to other candidates. It provides an objective measure that considers the difficulty level of different test administrations and ensures fair evaluation across multiple years.

Law school admissions committees often consider LSAT scores and percentiles when assessing applicants. While a high overall score is desirable, achieving such a score becomes even more impressive when accompanied by a high percentile rank since it demonstrates exceptional performance compared to other test takers.

What is the Preferred LSAT Score to Get into Law School?

A perfect 180 is the highest score you can get on the LSAT. This is considered an exceptional achievement, reflecting a near-flawless performance on the test. It’s important to note that missing a question or two doesn’t necessarily bar you from scoring a 180 due to the equating process.

Prestigious law schools like Harvard University, Yale University, New York University, and Stanford University look for high 160’s and 170’s scores. If you’re applying to law schools that are not among the most competitive in the country, a mid-150’s to mid-160’s LSAT score is frequently considered competitive. 

Although achieving a perfect score is excellent, keep in mind that law schools consider various factors when deciding who gets admitted. They also consider other application components, such as your academic record, letters of recommendation, and personal statement.

Top Law Schools with Highest LSAT Scores

According to U.S. News, the median LSAT score in the fall of 2022 was 157 among 196 ranked law schools. Yale Law School in Connecticut, with a median LSAT score of 175, is the first on the list. Harvard Law School in Massachusetts takes the second spot with a median LSAT score of 174. This shows how significant the LSAT is in your admission to top law schools.

Students wearing academic togas

Impact of LSAT Scores on Getting Into Top Law Schools

LSAT scores are important for law school applications and are frequently one of the top considerations for admissions committees. As a measure of a candidate’s potential for academic success in law school and as a factor in law school rankings, schools give these scores a lot of weight. The LSAT scores of the entering students are one important criterion considered when law schools are rated. That is why schools naturally prefer students with higher scores to boost their overall ranking.

A high LSAT score is advantageous if you want to enroll in prestigious law schools like New York University. Compared to other schools, NYU’s acceptance rate of 29.43% is competitive and comparatively low.  You will have a competitive edge with a high GPA and LSAT score.

However, there are law schools that don’t require the LSAT to lower entry barriers and encourage a diverse student group. The University of Chicago, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, and Harvard represent the top law schools that do not demand taking the LSAT. These schools will consider the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations General Test) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission) instead of the LSAT. However, applicants should remember that this may limit their options to law schools and scholarships. 

Strategies for Achieving a High LSAT Score

Here are a few notable strategies that significantly improve your chances of obtaining a high LSAT score and getting admitted into the law school of your choice.

LSAT Prep Course provides an in-depth review of all subjects covered in the exam and helpful test-taking tips. You will also get free LSAT practice questions and full-length simulation tests to get used to the LSAT’s layout and timing. These practice questions are designed to mimic the actual LSAT, which is crucial in helping you adapt to the exam’s structure. By frequently practicing, you will clearly understand what to expect on test day and develop an efficient strategy to answer the questions.

Consider seeking personalized tutoring if you need that extra push. A tutor can provide a more tailored approach to your LSAT preparation, focusing specifically on your areas of strength and weakness. The one-on-one interaction allows for immediate feedback and clarification of doubts. Plus, the tutor can help keep you motivated and accountable, making sure you stay consistent in your study regimen.

A well-crafted study plan is essential. A good study plan considers your individual learning style, strengths, weaknesses, and daily routine. It helps you systematically review all essential topics while ensuring enough time for practice tests and rest. Remember, consistency is key, and a well-structured study plan can ensure you are studying smart and not just hard.

To get help with your law school application, you can consider engaging with Law School Admission Consulting. These professionals possess deep knowledge about how law schools interpret LSAT scores and GPAs and can guide you in constructing a compelling application. They will work with you to highlight your strengths, experiences, and potential in a way that aligns with what law schools seek. Their guidance could be the difference between applying and getting accepted into your dream law school.

Bottom Line: Achieve the Highest Possible LSAT Score 

Grasping the LSAT score range and its implications on your pathway to law school is essential. Although it may seem daunting, know you need help navigating this journey. Earning a high score goes beyond memorizing facts—it’s about adopting a strategic approach, maintaining resilience, and engaging in adequate preparation.

Your position within the LSAT score range can substantially influence your law school admissions. Hence, understanding its detailed workings can be a significant asset on your route to a thriving legal profession. You can enroll in an LSAT Prep Course or opt for LSAT tutoring to confidently prepare for the test.

The LSAT is a challenging opportunity to showcase your abilities and potential to excel in law school. You can confidently approach the exam with dedicated preparation and a positive mindset. 

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