The LSAT Scoring System
All students who have taken the LSAT will receive an official score report. This report includes the total LSAT score (120 to 180), a percentile rank (where the test-taker ranks in comparison to others over the past three years), and a score band (a range of scores meant to account for the test's margin of error). Test-takers who have sat for the LSAT more than once will be given a score average and individual scores for all completed test attempts within the last five years. For disclosed LSAT administrations, students will also have access to their test questions and answers, which will allow them to calculate their raw sectional and total scores (the number of correct answers to the multiple-choice questions). This service is not offered for nondisclosed LSATs.
The LSAT has between 99 and 102 total scored questions (excluding the experimental section), with 100 being the most common number. The scaled score is calculated from the raw score through a process known as "equating," in which specific raw scores are linked to each possible scaled score outcome. On test editions with 101 questions, for example, it is sometimes possible to get a perfect score of 180 with only 100 correct answers. Equating may also preclude certain scores within the scale (it may be impossible to get a scaled score of exactly 177 on certain test versions, for instance). Generally speaking, the score discrepancies brought about by the scaled scoring process are relatively minor, involving no more than a question or two. Equating is used to control for variance in test difficulty.
Percentile rankings allow students to learn how they performed in comparison to the overall group of test-takers during the three most recent test years. A student who receives a percentile ranking of 72, for example, knows that 72% of his or her peers received a lower score. LSAT score percentiles are mostly stable from year to year. According to published LSAT scoring statistics, a scaled score of 168, for example, had a percentile ranking of 95.6 in 2014-15, 95.4 in 2015-16, and 95.9 in 2016-17. The median LSAT score for the same three test years remained between 151 and 152. There has been some fluctuation in the number of test-takers who got a perfect scaled score of 180. In 2014-15, just 22 students achieved scaled-score perfection, which increased to 43 in 2015-16 and then decreased to 20 in 2016-17.
LSAC reports score bands to enhance the LSAT's accuracy and assessment value by considering the test's margin of error. Score bands are meant to reflect students' actual range of ability rather than how they did on a specific test administration. According to LSAC, the standard error of measurement for most test-takers is approximately 2.6 points on the scaled scoring scale, which is typically rounded up. If a hypothetical student receives a scaled score of 160, for example, his or her score band would be about 157 to 163. Students with scores at the extreme top or bottom of the scale are subjected to a more complicated score band calculation, which LSAC has not disclosed.
Although it is not possible for anyone to name the exact score necessary to gain admission to a specific program, there are certain score ranges widely associated with differing levels of testing proficiency. Scores of 170 and above are generally regarded as elite, and LSAT statistics show that only about 3% of all test-takers are able to achieve this level of LSAT fluency. Scores in the 160s should be considered good to very good, while scores in the 150s are in the average range. Any score under 150 is obviously below average, and scores below 140 are well below average.
LSAT scores are released three to four weeks after the test date. The LSAT scoring process begins with the transport of completed exams from test centers around the world to LSAC headquarters in Newtown, Pennsylvania. The exams are then processed to screen for any testing irregularities, such as copied answers or identification issues. This process of preparing the exams for grading explains most of the delay in the release of scores. Grading for the LSAT is done electronically. Test-takers may have their exams scored by hand for a fee of $100, but this request must be submitted within 40 days of the test date.