What is Considered a Good LSAT Score?

For anyone who wants to be a lawyer, the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, plays a huge role in law school admissions. The test is a prerequisite for most law school programs in North America, and prospective law students know this test is an obstacle to clear on the path to law school admission.

While students know the test’s importance, what is less clear is the ideal LSAT score. The following is a breakdown of the basics of the LSAT, including its format, scoring system, and good scores to help potentially gain admission across schools.

What is the LSAT?

The LSAT is the most widely-accepted admissions exam for law school entrance in the United States. The test was first administered back in 1948, and since then, sections of the exam have changed slightly over the years to become the test we know today.

Unlike exams that focus on memorization or recalling long lists of facts, the LSAT measures students’ ability to think logically and analytically through different scenarios. This testing format mimics the types of cases law students, and future lawyers will have to work through.

The Law School Admission Council administers the test. This organization, abbreviated to LSAC, creates and modifies the rules for taking the exam.

Why Take the LSAT?

The LSAT’s intentional design gauges knowledge and critical thinking applicable to the field of law. Some programs of study or test scores are comparable to the LSAT in particular circumstances; for example, the GRE, an exam used for graduate school admission, is sometimes accepted in place of the LSAT at some law programs.

However, the LSAT’s design solely aims for potential law students to showcase their logic and analytical knowledge. Taking this exam provides a more specialized evaluation of your experience and critical thinking rather than general knowledge.

How Long Does It Take to Complete the LSAT?

The length of time to complete the LSAT is three-and-a-half hours for all sections. Each section takes 35 minutes to complete.

How Much Does It Cost to Take the LSAT?

Taking the LSAT costs $200 per test. There are additional fees related to testing sites and fee waivers for some test takers.

What is the Format of the LSAT?

The LSAT is divided into a multiple-choice section and a writing section. Typically, the multiple-choice portion consists of four 35-minute sections that evaluate critical thinking and analytical skills. There is also an ungraded 35-minute section for a total of five 35-minute sections.

Similarly, the writing section of the exam is one 35-minute essay. This addition brings the total test-taking time to 210 minutes or 3.5 hours.

What Does the LSAT Evaluate?

The LSAT evaluates analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension. The test’s questions require analysis of specific reading passages to understand the questions and think outside the box.

How is the LSAT Graded?

LSAT scores range between 120 and 180, with 180 being a perfect score. Scores are usable on applications for up to five years, so you don’t have to take it repeatedly if there is a gap in your education or you step away from law school for a couple of years.

How Do I Get My LSAT Scores?

Students need an LSAC account to receive scores and the LSAC emails scores within 2-4 weeks of completing the exam. On the LSAC website, students can cancel their scores within six days of test completion or report scores to law schools.

What is a Good LSAT Score vs. a Bad LSAT Score?

A good LSAT score heavily depends on the schools where you’re applying. Obviously, a perfect score would gain you admission anywhere, but realistically, there is an ideal score somewhere in the middle.

The average between 120 and 180 is 150, and that is a good starting point for figuring out a good score. According to a U.S. News report, experts say an “excellent” score lies in the higher 160s or 170s. Since not every student aims for the most competitive schools, a score of at least 150 opens the door to admission at good law programs.

In the report, the top 12 law schools list median scores between 169-173, which are on the higher end of the range. These scores suit applicants aiming to apply to the most competitive and prestigious law schools in North America but don’t be discouraged if you earned a lower score.

In another U.S. News report, the LSAC president and CEO said that students should aim for scores in the 25th-to-75th percentile for their desired schools. To figure out a good score for your intended school or program, look up admitted students’ LSAT scores, in particular the median score and the 25th-to-75th percentile range.

How Do I Prepare for the LSAT?

Depending on your test date and current workload, preparing for the LSAT takes anywhere from several weeks to a few months. It’s important to give yourself enough time to understand the types of test questions. However, don’t overdo your studying, either, since this could lead to anxiety or burnout.

Preparation methods for the exam include LSAT preparation books, and popular book brands include The Princeton Review and Kaplan. These companies also provide preparation courses, private tutoring, and timed practice depending on your learning style.

Should I Retake the LSAT?

Retaking the LSAT is a little more complicated than before. Test takers may take the exam up to seven times in their lives; more narrowly, you can take the test three times within a year or five times within a five-year window.

Since there is a limited number of times to take the test, ensure that it’s worthwhile to try again within an allotted time frame, and make preparations for reviewing the material.

LSAT Final Thoughts

The LSAT is almost unavoidable for students applying to law school, and preparing for the exam requires time and dedication. When it comes to getting a good score, aiming for a score above 160 puts you in good shape when applying to top-tier and competitive law schools.

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Michelle Tsou

Contributor at ExamCave. Michelle graduated with a BA in English from Portland State University. She hopes to one day run her own test-prep organization.