Every future lawyer wants a good LSAT score. After all, it’s the first step to getting into top law schools. Therefore, before you schedule your LSAT, you should understand LSAT scoring, LSAT scores percentiles, and the LSAT score release dates. Plus, it’s important to know what’s a good LSAT score.
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about LSAT scores for law schools. Furthermore, I’ve included an LSAT score chart so you can better comprehend the LSAT score conversion process and percentiles.
In short, your score on the Law School Admission Test is based on the number of exam questions you correctly answered. Law schools compare your score against the LSAT average score to estimate your proficiencies in logical reasoning, your reading comprehension level, and your analytical skills.
When you receive your LSAT Score Report, you’ll actually see several different numbers. Therefore, you need to know how these numbers were calculated and what they might tell law schools about your potential to succeed.
Depending on your test date, your exam will have 99-102 questions. In other words, the test given on each date is a little different so that re-takers don’t see the same exam twice. Moreover, each question has the same weight.
Basically, your raw score is how many questions you answered correctly. So, you are not deducted for incorrect answers. Therefore, your raw score could be as low as 0 (if you answered every question incorrectly) to as high as 99-102 (if you get an LSAT perfect score).
Your LSAT score is actually your LSAT raw score scaled to a number between 120-180. The scale is a mathematical formula unique to that exam. So, your number will fall in that LSAT scores range.
Although we can’t know in advance what the exact LSAT score calculator will be for that exam, we can make some generalizations based on previous tests. The LSAT max score might be 180, but the average LSAT score is closer to 151-152. On the average LSAT exam, if you get about 57 questions right, you’ll get an average score of 151. That will put you right in the middle of the LSAT score range. However, to get into your top law school picks, you’ll want to aim for higher than average.
LSAT scores percentile figures compare how a candidate did on the exam compared to the last 3 years of test-takers. Consequently, you should use this number to gauge your potential against others who are applying to law school. For example, to get into the top law schools, you’ll need a score that places you in the top percentile rank.
On average, if you get 87 out of about 101 questions correct, your estimated LSAT score will be about 170. That places you in the 98% percentile. However, if you only get about 70% of the questions correct, your score will probably be in the 160s and you’ll be in the 80% percentile. So as you can see, getting just a few more questions right can put you in a much higher percentile group.
The following LSAT scoring chart should only be used for estimates. However, it should help you understand what kind of score you’ll need to compete against your peers.
|Estimated LSAT Scaled Score||Estimated LSAT Percentile Rank|
LSAC and law schools understand that your LSAT score is just an estimate of your potential. Therefore, LSAC includes your “score band” in your score report. In other words, the band is the range where your proficiency actually lies. Basically, it reflects the exam’s standard error of measurement, which LSAC estimates to be about 2.6 points. So after rounding, LSAC uses a score band of 7 scaled points.
How important are LSAT scores if you want to go to law school? Although they aren’t the only qualification considered in law school applications, they are highly weighted in admissions decisions. In fact, most law schools use an “index formula” that look LSAT scores, undergrad grade point averages, and admissions essays. However, the LSAT scores are usually weighted the highest.
You don’t have to get a perfect LSAT score to go to law school. But you do need to get a “good” score. After all, the definition of a good score is subjective. However, here’s my opinion: A good LSAT score isn’t necessarily the highest LSAT score. It’s the one that’s going to make you competitive among the other candidates applying to your choice of law school.
If you’ve already picked out a few law schools, look at their students’ LSAT score distribution. After all, that’s the best way to gauge what kind of score you need to aim for.
So for example, the average Harvard Law School LSAT score is 173, and Yale is about the same. The average NYU LSAT score was a little lower at 170 in 2020. A good UCLA LSAT score is 168, while the average Georgetown LSAT score was 167 in 2020. But if you’re thinking about the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida, the average UF LSAT score in 2020 was 163. So as you can see, even if you don’t get the max LSAT score, you can still go to a good law school if your scores are competitive compared to other applicants.
Small improvements in your raw score can really affect your scaled LSAT score and your percentile. Sometimes, a one-point increase in your raw score can yield an increase of several percentile points. For example, earlier I mentioned that in an average year:
However, by getting just a few more questions right, you can see a big jump in your numbers.
As you can see, those extra few correct answers could bump you up into the next cohort and increase your chances of getting into your top choice schools. For that reason, it’s important to study with a good LSAT review course to increase your chances of a good score.
Your score report from LSAC will include the following information:
To clarify, only you and the law schools where you have applied will receive your score report. If you request it, you can also have your score report submitted to the prelaw advisor at your undergraduate institution.
LSAT score release dates range from just a couple weeks after you take the exam to up to a month. The amount of time you have to wait partially depends on whether you took a traditional LSAT at a testing center or the new LSAT-Flex. LSAC determines the LSAT score release date. Click here for the LSAC’s list of all available dates.
On your release date, your score will be posted in your LSAC account. So, go to the LSAT status page to find your score report. In addition, you’ll also receive an email from LSAC when your scores are ready.
LSAT scores are good for 5 years. Therefore, you can log into your LSAC account to see your scores from previous exams.
LSAC has been offering a new score preview service for first-time test-takers since August 2020. Now, candidates can preview their LSAT scores. If they aren’t as high as they would like, candidates can opt to not have those scores included in their official LSAC LSAT transcript. Additionally, they can also chose to not have the scores sent to law schools.
You can select this option through your LSAC account. If you sign up prior to your test, there is a $45 fee. However, if you wait until after you take the exam, the fee goes up to $75.
If you sign up for the score preview, you get access to your scores on the same day as other test-takers who took the same exam as you did. Then, you have 6 days to decide if you want to keep those scores on your transcript or not. If you do, you don’t have to do anything—LSAC will automatically add the scores to your transcript and send your scores to your law schools. However, if you notify LSAC within those 6 days, you can cancel those scores.
LSAT scores are released several weeks after your exam, but the timing depends on the format (traditional in-person tests vs. the new online LSAT-Flex). Click here for the latest information from LSAC about LSAT score release dates.
In the past few years, the median LSAT score has been about 151 or 152.
Simply put, a good score is one that gets you into your chosen law school. For instance, that number varies depending on the school. So, don’t hesitate to ask. But for the top law programs, aim to get as close to the highest score on the LSAT as possible.
It’s hard to know what the average LSAT score is among candidates who don’t study. After all, LSAC doesn’t gather data about whether candidates studied or how long they studied. But take my advice: don’t go into the LSAT blind. Moreover, I suggest reading my article about LSAT prep courses. If you’re curious to know what you’re score might be without studying, I would take a diagnostic exam that some providers made available. At the bare minimum, check out LSAC’s free sample tests and see how you might score.
LSAT scores are valid for 5 years.
Yes. After you receive your LSAT or LSAT-Flex scores, you can request a score audit if you believe there is an error. However, the process takes about 2 weeks. Moreover, thee fees for this service amount to $62.50 to $125. You can find more on LSAC’s score audit page.
No. The LSAC LSAT score preview service is only available for first-time test-takers.