The LSAT scoring process feels mysterious for many test-takers. If you’re taking the LSAT, you may be wondering how scores are calculated. You might also be curious about what’s consider a good LSAT score. If you have questions about how the LSAT is scored, read on to learn all about the scoring process and what you’ll find on your score report.
The LSAT is scored on a scale of 120 to 180—120 is the lowest possible score and 180 is the highest. Here’s what you need to know about how LSAT scores are calculated.
There are three scored sections on the LSAT: Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, and Analytical Reasoning. There are around 30 multiple choice questions in each section. There are about 100 questions on the LSAT overall. To get your ‘raw score,’ a computer counts up all the questions you got right. So, if you got 90 questions right, your raw score is simply 90.
Your raw score isn’t what’s on your score report, though. Instead, you’ll see what’s called a ‘scaled score.’ After you get a raw score, it will be converted to a score on the 120 to 180 scale. If you got 100 questions right, your scaled score will be around 180. If you got 75 questions right, your scaled score will be about 158. You can check out a full conversation chart on LSAC’s website.
Your scaled score is calculated using a process called ‘equating.’ Equating is done to account for slight variations in difficulty between exams. If the LSAT you took in June was more difficult than the one in February, equating ensures that your score isn’t unfairly impacted.
As an example, if you got 80 questions right, your scaled score might be 161. On the other hand, your score might be 160 if your exam is considered easier than average. Or, your score might be 162 if your exam is considered harder than average.
While it’s helpful to understand how equating works, the most important thing to focus on is getting as many questions right as possible. That’s the best way to get a good LSAT score.
On some standardized tests, harder questions carry more weight than easier ones. This isn’t the case on the LSAT, though. Every question has the exact same weight, no matter how easy or difficult it is. Because of that, if you’re running low on time, try skipping difficult questions. Answer all the easy questions first, and then go back to the harder ones.
The LSAT doesn’t punish you for giving wrong answers. If you aren’t sure about an answer, you should always guess. Even if you have no idea what the answer is, by guessing, you’ll still have a chance to earn points.
The LSAT Writing section features one argument-based essay. You’ll do the essay on a different day than you do the rest of your test. While the essay is sent to law schools, it’s not actually graded. However, many law schools use the essay to assess applicants’ writing ability. So you still want to do the best you can on this essay.
Your LSAT score will typically be available about three to four weeks after you take the test. Once your score report is ready, LSAC will email you. The email will contain your scaled score and percentile. You can log on to your LSAC account to see your full score report.
You can also cancel your LSAT score. But there is a catch: you have to cancel the score before you see it. You’ll have to cancel your score within six days of taking your test. Law schools will also see that you canceled a score on future score reports. You won’t get your money back if you cancel your score.
Think very carefully before canceling your score. After a tough three-hour test, you’ll be tired and you may feel like you did worse than you actually did. Unless something happened during the test, like you got sick and couldn’t finish it, canceling usually isn’t a good idea.
Once you see your score, you can start sending it to different law schools. You’ll do this through LSAC’s website. You’ll have to pay a small fee each time you send your score.
Your LSAT score report contains three sections: a scaled score and score band, reportable tests, and percentile rank. Here’s what you’ll find in each section.
At the top of your score report, you’ll see your scaled score, which will be somewhere between 120 to 180. Next to your scaled score, you’ll see a ‘score band.’
LSAC recognizes that the LSAT isn’t a perfect measurement of a student’s proficiency in the skills tested. A student’s actual proficiency may be a bit higher or lower than what their LSAT score shows.
This is where the score band comes in. The score band shows a range of scores that are slightly above and below the test-taker’s LSAT score. For example, if a test-taker’s scaled score is 157, their score band would be 154 to 160. The range is usually about seven points.
If you’ve taken the LSAT more than once, LSAC will have a better idea of your proficiency. Because of that, your score band will most likely be smaller. For instance, if you got a 160 on your second LSAT attempt, your score band may be 158 to 162.
Your percentile rank shows how your score compares to other LSAT test-takers. The percentile shows the percentage of students you scored higher than. For instance, if you got a perfect 180, that would put you in the 99th percentile. Percentile ranks are helpful for comparing yourself to other test-takers. Many law schools also weigh your percentile rank very heavily.
Underneath your score and percentile rank, you’ll see all of your reportable tests. You’ll see the scores for every LSAT you’ve taken. If you canceled a score, that will appear here too.
Some test-takers worry about the fact that law schools can see all their scores. Generally, law schools will look at your highest score and use that on your application. Still, if you’re worried about this, the best course of action is to take the LSAT as few times as possible. Create a study plan and do tons of practice tests. Only sign up for the LSAT when you feel completely prepared.
One of the best ways to raise your LSAT score is by doing practice tests. These tests give you a feel for the LSAT’s question formats. They also show you what’s in each section of the test. Plus, they help you understand the timing of the test.
LSAC has one free practice test on their website. They provide an answer key to help you grade the test yourself. If you want to do more practice tests, consider purchasing LSAC Prep Plus. LSAC Prep Plus costs $99 per year. Here, you can access every past LSAT. This includes over 80 tests.
If you decide to do an LSAT prep course, many include LSAC Prep Plus in the price of their course. Many courses also have useful features to go along with your LSAC Prep Plus access. This includes interactive score reports, graphs that show your progress over time, and analytics pages.
It’s also a good idea to do practice questions. You’ll find some free LSAT practice questions online. There are also free or low-cost apps that have practice drills. You’ll also find practice questions in prep books. Or, you can sign up for a prep course and get access to thousands of practice questions. Doing practice questions gives you a great sense of what test day will be like.
One of the trickiest parts of the LSAT is the limited time you get in each section. You only get 35 minutes per section. This time goes by fast. Learning time-saving strategies can make the difference in your LSAT score.
There are lots of resources online that offer LSAT time-saving strategies. Prep books and prep courses also teach you strategies. While you’re doing practice tests, try some of these LSAT strategies.
The LSAT is a tricky test with a scoring method that isn’t completely straightforward. To get the best LSAT score possible, do practice tests and try some practice questions. This will help you feel prepared and ready to get the best LSAT score possible on your test day.