What Does The LSAT Score Mean?

If you’re taking any type of test, whether it’s the LSAT, the MCAT, the SAT, or the ACT, it’s very important to break down the criteria and the curve. Knowing how exactly you are scored puts yourself in a strategically well-placed position to succeed. For the purposes of law school applications, the LSAT scores range from 120-180, but it doesn’t tell a simple story of what questions you got right, and what you got wrong. The LSAT score can be broken down in these categories: The Raw Score, the Scaled Score and the Percentile score. We’ll break down what these mean, and what you can do to set yourself up for acceptance to your top schools. 

Your Score Breakdown 

Raw score – This is simply the number of questions you answered correctly on the test. 

Scaled score – This is the number your raw score is converted to. For example if you correctly answered 65 questions right, that would give you a scaled score of 156. For future reference, use a table to see what your scaled score is for various raw scores. 

Percentile score – This is the famous “LSAT curve.” This number shows how well you did relative compared to other test takers over a 3-year period. Take that same raw score of 65, which is a scaled score of 156, this would mean you’re in the 70th percentile. This curve has minor variations over the years, but for the most part it is relatively stable. If a test is particularly hard, the curve might work for you, in that you’re allowed a few more questions wrong while still obtaining a reasonable scaled score and percentile.

Now, you can figure out what is the minimum amount of questions you need to get right in order to achieve your desired scaled score and percentile. Take note that it’s worthwhile to answer every single question, as every question is worth the same amount. Like any standardized tests, there’s no penalty for guessing. You’ll want to answer all of the easy ones first, save the hardest for last, and guess on the ones you truly don’t know the answer to. 

What do I need to get into my top school? 

If you’re interested in the top 10 law schools, the highest median score for 2021 is Yale Law at 173, and the lowest among the top 10 is University of Michigan at 168. Think about how you can get a score at least in the 95th percentile, then think backward; what scaled score range should I target, and how many minimum questions do I always need to get right? Break down what score you desire, what seems attainable based on your prep, and what schools you want to get into. Test tasking is necessary to measure how well you’ve grasped the material. Not everyone is the best test-taker, but anyone can be strategic and realistic. 

What are some good LSAT Resources? 

Here’s a list of excellent, top rated test prep books: Kaplan’s LSAT Prep Plus, The Princeton Review’s LSAT Premium Prep, The LSAT Trainer, and 10 Actual Official LSAT PrepTests

What’s the best model of practicing? 

The LSAT is a test that takes months of preperation, and daily dedication to practice tests. Yes, ultimately, the best way to prepare for a test like this is practice, practice, practice, however, simply taking tests and tallying results isn’t going to suffice. Do an error analysis. Look at every question you got wrong, and assess what your weaknesses are. What types of questions do you tend to get wrong and why? What can you do to strengthen your ability to answer those types of questions? 

Some people are better test-takers than others. It doesn’t take away from your mental capacity to score well, and your intellect. It’s simply a matter of assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and focusing on the weaknesses, and making them strong. If you don’t consider yourself a great test taker, take as many practice tests as you can and really analyze what you’re getting wrong. Do more of those questions, and understand why the content of those questions confuses you more. Consult online community boards, blogs and journals to help you with strengthening those hard questions. The great thing about standardized tests like the LSAT is that there is always a plan of attack to do your best. There are a myriad of online and offline resources at your disposal to help you get your goal score. It’s just a matter of using them efficiently and consistently.