How is the LSAT scored?

The LSAT is scored on a scale of 120-180. The average score is about 150, but if you’re looking to get into one of the top 25 law schools, your score should be well over 160. There are about 101 questions in each test, and each question answered correctly accounts for one point of your raw score. This raw score (0 – 101) is converted into a score ranging from 120 to 180 using a formula that is designed for that particular LSAT. For example, a raw score of 99 out of 101 would usually translate into a 180.

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LSAT Scores More Important Than GPA

When determining admissions, some law schools might weigh your LSAT score 70% versus just 30% for your GPA. This means that this 3 1/2 hour test is worth more than four years of undergraduate work!

What's a Good LSAT Score Video Summary

  • 00:00 – The LSAT score you need depends on the schools you want to apply to.
  • 00:06 – The scaled LSAT score ranges from 120-180.
  • 00:09 – The 50th percentile score is a 151, which will get you into some law schools.
  • 00:19 – The most elite schools look for a score of at least 170, the 98th percentile.

Video Courtesy of Kaplan (find Kaplan classes).

Each school has a different policy for weighing GPA and LSAT Scores. For example, a school might use (LSAT score -120) + (GPA × 20) as an index to evaluate each candidate. So, if you have an LSAT score of 160 and a GPA of 3.5, your admissions index would be:

(160 – 120) + (3.5 × 20) = 110

The 10-Point Challenge

10 points on your LSAT score can have a huge impact on law school admissions and be life-changing.

150 vs. 160 Scores Video Summary

  • 00:25 – The LSAT is a curved test. Your raw score is converted into a scaled score from 120-180.
  • 00:43 – Your scaled score is described by your percentile rank, how well you did relative to other test-takers.
  • 01:18 – Increasing 10 points in your scaled score makes a big difference.
  • 01:31 – A 150 is the 44th percentile, while a 160 is the 80th percentile.
  • 01:38 – A 150 gets you into a 204th-ranked law school vs. a 31st-ranked school for a 160.
  • 01:44 – The starting salary for a 150 is $50k vs. $87k for a 160.

How LSAT Scores Are Used

GPA Calculation Video Summary

  • 00:05 – The only GPA law schools consider is the cumulative GPA for your first undergraduate degree.
  • 00:27 – A high GPA can balance out a low LSAT score and vice versa.
  • 00:35 – Law schools report their 25th and 75th percentile ranges for GPA and LSAT scores. But many students don’t fall cleanly in those ranges.

Video Courtesy of Kaplan.

It probably sounds absurd that your LSAT score could be more important than your four-year GPA. Why would something as important as law school admissions be determined by a multiple-choice standardized test? To explain this, consider the weaknesses of other admissions factors:

  • Undergraduate GPA can be unreliable because it is difficult to compare grades from different programs and different schools. Even individual classes within majors vary tremendously in difficulty. Also, classes that tend to be difficult, such as engineering courses, may not be reflective of the abilities needed in law school. Medical schools, for example, have it much easier because their pool of applicants must all take a set of required courses, such as organic chemistry, and those courses can serve as a reasonable standard. Law school admissions officers, however, don’t have that luxury and must compare students from hundreds of different schools, with hundreds of majors, taking tens of thousands of different classes.
  • References may not be objective. It is difficult to differentiate hundreds of applicants all of whose professors claim their students are “excellent.” Professors are often encouraged by school administrators to do anything they can to help their students get into top schools.
  • Application essays are not necessarily reflective of academic ability or even personality. Many admissions consulting programs will help students write their essays. In addition, admissions departments do not have enough staff to read all the application essays. If your LSAT score and GPA are far below the norm, your application essay may never even be read.

Given these factors, it is no surprise that law school admissions officers tend to over-rely on using LSAT scoring for admissions. High LSAT scores are very rare, but high GPA’s are not. As in any supply and demand dynamic, the scarce high LSAT scores will have more value. The good news is that the LSAT is a beatable test and you can raise your score by 20 or 30 percentile points if you learn the ideal strategies and devote the time.

Next LSAT: January 14

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Next LSAT: January 14