Learn what a good score on the LSAT is - and how to achieve it. The LSAT, or legal scholastic aptitude test, is used as a standardized measure in law school admissions. It is a high stakes test as this test is considered a predictor of first-year law school performance. Many students with dreams of going to law school hope to score well enough to get into the top law schools in the nation, so the competition is fierce. Understanding the test and how it is scored can help you develop a study plan to get your best score on the LSAT.
What is the LSAT?
The LSAT is a skills-based exam designed to test the critical reading and analytical thinking crucial for success in law school. Law schools rely on LSAT scores to determine the likelihood that an applicant will succeed in their respective institution. While GPAs may vary depending on academic settings, grade inflation, and the different levels of rigor in undergraduate programs.
Most law schools use an "index formula," a weighting of your LSAT score, and an undergraduate cumulative GPA to determine your application's real strength. The LSAT score has a greater weight than your undergraduate GPA, accounting for more than 50% of the admissions decision. While schools publish both the GPA and LSAT scores, the LSAT score is taken more seriously as an indicator than GPA.
How is the LSAT Structured?
The LSAT is administered in two parts. The first part consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. Four of the five sections contribute to your score. These include a reading comprehension section, an analytical reasoning section, and two logical reasoning sections.
The second part of the LSAT consists of a 35-minute, unscored writing sample. The LSAT Writing section is administered online using secure proctoring software that you can install on your computer.
What is included in the five sub-sections of the LSAT?
The LSAT breaks down into six sections, each 35 minutes long, with a 15-minute break after the third section. It all adds up to 210 minutes of LSAT test time, or a total of 3 hours and 30 minutes, excluding the break.
- Reading Comprehension, worth 27% of your total score tests your ability to make sense of dense, unfamiliar prose—but unlike other standardized tests, on the LSAT, you need to understand the passages’ structure, purpose, and various points of view, rather than the facts.
- Analytical Reasoning, worth 23% of your total score, tests you on basic logic, systems of order, and outcomes. You’ll be asked to make deductions from a set of statements, rules, or conditions. These questions are posed in groups based on a single passage.
- Two Logical Reasoning sections, worth 50% of your total score, test your ability to analyze and evaluate arguments. Logical Reasoning requires you to read short passages and answer a question about each one.
- The LSAT Writing Section isn’t scored, but it is sent to law schools along with your LSAT score and can be used to choose between relatively equal candidates. The LSAT Writing prompt presents a decision problem. You are asked to choose between two positions or courses of action, and defend your choice. There is no “right” or “wrong” position; the writing sample lets you demonstrate your argumentative writing skills. Law schools are looking at the reasoning, clarity, organization, language usage, and writing mechanics you display in your sample.
Scoring of the LSAT
The multiple-choice section of the LSAT is a three-section exam measured out of a 180 scale. The three sections are Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning. A score on each of these sections is then summed to produce a total score.
Be sure that you answer every question on the test. When you do not know the correct answer to a question, first eliminate the responses that you know are incorrect and then make your best guess among the remaining choices. Do not be afraid to guess, as there is no penalty for wrong answers.
When you receive your LSAT score, it will include:
- One overall score ranging from 120-180 (scaled score)
- A "score band" a range of scaled scores above and below your score
- A percentile score, ranking your performance relative to the scores of a large sample population of other LSAT test-takers.
What is a Good LSAT Score?
The average LSAT score is 152. Schools will compare you to other applicants by relying on an LSAT percentile, which is a percentile calculated against the scores of everyone who has taken the LSAT in the last three years. The percentile ranking represents the percentage of test -takers who scored lower than you on the LSAT. If your score, for example, was a 160, your percentile is somewhere around 80 percent.
According to the Law School Admissions Council, an exceptional LSAT score will be approximately 172, which is the 99th percentile. If you scored 172, you scored better than 99 percent of all test takers. A score of over 175 or better almost guarantees acceptance at the top 6 elite law schools: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, NYO, and the University of Chicago.
The table below shows the approximate percentiles of LSAT scores.
LSAT Score Percentiles
|LSAT Scaled Score||Approximate Percentile|
LSAT Scores by School Rank
Top law schools are very selective. Lower ranked law schools, however, have much lower acceptance standards. The table below shows the LSAT scores (25th, 50th, 75th percentiles), median GPAs, and acceptance rates of the top 200 law schools (grouped in bands of 20). This table will help you determine what LSAT scores you may need to get accepted into your school of choice.
LSAT Scores by School Rank
|Law School Rank||LSAT Score (25th%)||LSAT Score (50th%)||LSAT Score (75th%)||Median GPA||Acceptance Rate|
How to Study for the LSAT
No matter what your GPA was, you will need to study your tail off for the LSAT. These tips will help you prepare for the big day.
Establish your baseline. Take a practice exam before you begin studying. The practice exam will show you what you already know and what you don’t know, so you know which areas to concentrate your studying.
Visit our directory of LSAT practice tests to see where you stand.
Make a study schedule and stick to it. The LSAT is a skills-based test, so you'll want to prepare over several weeks or months and learn how to apply LSAT strategies efficiently and consistently. A good benchmark is devoting about twenty hours per week for three months. You should have a good idea of what you need to accomplish during each study session and plan accordingly.
Set one hour per week to work on vocabulary review. The LSAT requires a high level of verbal competency and uses sophisticated vocabulary. As you take your practice exams and study, write down any words that you don’t know the meaning. Then make some flashcards and drill regularly. Improving your vocabulary will pay off by raising your LSAT scores.
Take practice tests frequently. Take a practice exam before you begin any studying to establish a baseline. Throughout your study plan, continue to take periodic practice tests. Taking practice tests under time constraints will help you estimate how much time to spend on each question. It will also identify which question types you need more practice . Knowing in advance what the test instructions and the question types look like will minimize distractions from your main focus on test day.
Consider an LSAT prep course. If your LSAT scores on your practice tests are low or you are interested in applying to a selective law school, you should consider an LSAT prep course. See our reviews of the best LSAT prep courses to help you decide whether you need one.
Keep a log of your practice test scores. You will want to log your progress so you can see how close you are getting to your goal. In your journal, write down; the number or name of the LSAT prep test, the amount of time it took you to complete each section, the number of questions, and the number you answered correctly. Write notes to describe things like timing issues that you ran into, the type of question that you got wrong, etc.
A good LSAT score is a score that gets you into a law school that has the programs of study that you want to focus on in a location you want to go. Taking a practice LSAT will give you a general idea of your score. Commit to a study plan, stick to it, and you could raise your scores by 10 to 20 points. Your LSAT score and your high school GPA should give you a realistic view of what law schools you have a good chance of getting accepted.