How is the LSAT Scored? - dummies

By Lisa Zimmer Hatch, Scott A. Hatch, Amy Hackney Blackwell

The LSAT is scored on a scale from 120 to 180; every year a few people attain the Everest-like peak of 180, and they can pretty much write their own tickets to law school. Although percentile charts vary slightly among test administrations, the average LSAT score is around 152.

Any score higher than 160 is quite good and puts you in the top 20 percent of test-takers (80th percentile). A score of around 164 puts you around the 90th percentile, and a score of 173 or above is where the top 1 percent of test-takers usually reside.

To get a 160, you need to answer about 75 percent of the answers correctly. To get a 150, you need to get about 55 percent. If you get 95 percent or more right, your score will be up in the stratosphere, around a 175.The LSAT scoring is straightforward.

Your raw score is the number of questions you get right; no points are deducted for wrong answers. You plug that raw score into the score chart to determine what your LSAT score would be.

So if, say, your test has 100 questions on it, and you get 75 of them right, your raw score is 75 and your LSAT score may be 161. If you get 44 right, you’d get more like a 144. The raw score to scaled score conversion changes very slightly from test to test to account for the minor differences in difficulty of each test.

The LSAT-writers work hard to ensure that the test is reliable. That means that the same test-taker should get scores in a similar range on two or three different tests, and that luck in getting an easy test shouldn’t be a factor in scores. In practice, luck is always something of a factor, but it shouldn’t be a major one.

Still, you’ve probably taken a metric ton of tests by now, and you know that everyone has good days and bad days, good tests and bad tests (hey, even good hair days and bad hair days!). The combination of a bad test and a bad mood can lead to a misleadingly bad score. If that happens, you can cancel your score and try again.

On the other hand, you may be in the test-taking zone on test day, and every question seems laughably easy to you. It can happen that way. If you have a good day, thank your lucky stars because that’ll probably result in a good LSAT score and law school admission.

What if you get a 160 and your friend gets a 163? Does that mean your friend is a better law school prospect than you? Probably not. Small differences among test-takers aren’t usually due to actual differences of ability.

Your score will be in the range of scores you’re capable of, but if you take the LSAT several times within a short period of time, you probably won’t get the same score every time. It may go up or down slightly, but it should be within 3 points up or down of your original score (though your mileage may vary).