Information about LSAT Scoring

Understanding the LSAT Scoring System

On the LSAT score sheet, LSAC provides test takers with their raw scores, their scaled score and the percentile rank of their scaled score. The LSAT scaled score will be a number between 120 and 180. LSAC also provides a score band, which essentially shows the margin of error. For example, an LSAT scaled score of 170 might have a score band of 168-172. Most law schools are not interested in score bands, and the scaled score is the score that counts.

Typically a score of 151 or 152 is around the 50th percentile; a 158 is the 75th percentile; a 164 is the 90th percentile; and 173 is the 99th percentile. a score of 178 or higher is the 99.9th percentile.

How LSAT Scores are Calculated

LSAC calculates the LSAT scaled scores by taking raw scores (the number right and wrong) and normalizing them. The process of normalizing scores (what LSAC calls equating) is done to ensure that people who take different versions of the test (the version administered in February, versus the version administered in June, for example) get scores that measure their abilities equally. LSAC has pretested all questions on the LSAT to measure their difficulty. If one version of a test is slightly more difficult than another version, the "equating" process will adjust scores to account for the differing levels of difficulty. The equating process is predetermined, meaning it is done before the test is taken, based on statistical data about the level of difficulty of the test questions.

The percentile raking for each scaled score could vary slightly. Because the scaled score is predetermined, meaning a certain raw score will automatically convert to a scaled score of 160, the ranking might vary slightly if more or fewer people scored at 160 that expected. However, the percentile ranking is based on three years of test scores, so the average scores of that large a pool does not shift dramatically.

While LSAC insists that the test is not scored on a bell curve, the adjusted scores end up looking like a bell curve with the vast majority in the middle and the numbers tapering off dramatically on either end.

Retaking the Test

Most people take the LSAT only once. Last year, 66.2 percent of test takers took it only one time. Those who feel that their scores do not accurately reflect their ability may take it again. LSAC data shows that repeat test takers improve there scores on average by a few points. That improvement is an average. The average takes into account that last year slightly more than one quarter of repeat test takers saw their scores drop the second time they took it, which means some on the other end of the spectrum might have seen more significant improvements.

Test takers should be aware that if their scores drop, law schools must have access to complete test records, including the lower second score. LSAC will not honor requests for partial records. Test takers considering retakes should take the LSAT a second time if they feel certain they can improve, not because they wish they had a higher score. LSAC recommends test takers retake the test if they feel external personal or health-related circumstances affected their first test. Unusually large differences in scores between a first test and a retake might be reviewed by LSAC.

Limits on Retakes

The LSAT may not be taken more than three times in a two-year period. This includes situations were scores were cancelled or not reported. Test takers who feel they have extenuating circumstances may apply for an exception to this rule by submitting a signed statement explaining their situation by fax or email to LSAC.