The LSAT is an entrance exam taken by aspiring law students to test their knowledge and competency to learn law–related curriculum. With scores ranging between 120 and 180, law schools use it as one of the ways to measure the quality of applicants. It is helpful to know how the scoring and LSAT percentiles work to set realistic goals to shoot for on the day of the test and know how to interpret the results once they arrive.
It is also important to prepare properly to give yourself the best chance possible at achieving a good score that helps you get accepted into your desired law school. Here at TestMaxPrep, we offer detailed study and practice test content to help individuals who plan to take the LSAT.
The following is a complete overview of what LSAT percentiles are exactly and how to interpret them properly. We also outline other scoring data that will show up on the testing results documentation, and we explain what law schools look at related to LSAT when determining an applicant's admission status.
How are LSAT percentiles calculated?
LSAT percentiles tell the test taker how their score ranks in relation to others who have taken the test that year. Due to score variations and test difference year by year, it allows law school programs to precisely distinguish which students performed best on the examination. The LSAT percentile, along with other testing data, is used along with other considerations to determine if an individual qualifies for a particular law school program.
To fully understand LSAT percentiles, it is important to know the other scores that show up in your testing results. The most straightforward LSAT score is raw score, which is essentially the same number of questions you answered correctly. For example, a raw score of 73 indicates you answered 73 of the 100 to 103 questions correctly.
The raw score is then used to calculate the scaled score, which is between the range of 120 to 180, and the higher the number, the better the test–taker performed. A true score is also provided, which indicates a likely range around the scaled score that might indicate a more accurate range of where the applicant's knowledge is currently.
Percentile, the last statistic, ranges between 1 and 99 and tells you what percentage of test–takers you 'beat' on the test. A score in the 75th percentile means you did better than 75 percent of test takers. A test in the 99th percentile puts you in the top percent of test–takers, and you beat 99% of the other candidates. Percentile exists because the test can vary year to year in difficulty and length. Test score measures you against the test, percentile measures you against your peers.
Law school programs use all of the testing data to make an informed decision about admission, and their main intent is to enroll only the most qualified applicants. Of course, there are other factors outside of the LSAT that they utilize, but it is often essential to perform reasonably well on the LSAT to be accepted into the law school of your choice.
What is a Good LSAT Percentile?
In general, anything above fifty percent is relatively promising as it indicates you performed better than half of test–takers on the examination. Considering the fact that the bottom 25% will have a tricky time getting in to any school, though, and a better target is the 65th percentile. To score around this percentile, you would need a scaled LSAT score of approximately 155–160 depending on the year.
So what is considered an above–average score? A score in the 80th percentile or higher will give you a good chance at most schools. This requires a scaled score around 160 and a raw score of approximately 78 or 79.
Above the 90th percentile and you should be able to easily get into a top 50 school. To achieve this, you realistically need a scaled score of 165 or greater, which translates to a raw score of around 85. In other words, to score in the top ten percent of applicants, you need to answer approximately 85 of the 100 questions correctly.
Now, let's talk about average to below–average LSAT results. It is important to keep in mind that approximately half of all who take the LSAT score below 150, so a score around this mark is not intended to be discouraging. With that said, we encourage those within 40th to 60th percentile to take the LSAT again, unless of course the law school program they desire to go to typically accepts lower scores.
A well below average score is considered by many to be anything below the 25th percentile, which typically indicates a score of 145 or below. Do not be discouraged if your LSAT percentile is below average, rather use it as motivation to study harder and use better preparation material to ensure quality results the next time you take the examination. You can take the LSAT multiple times, so a poor score on your first attempt does not have to be much of an issue if you can get up and do it again.
What LSAT Percentile is Required for Top–Tier Schools?
In the section above, we've laid out the different levels of performance, ranging from a well above average percentile to a score that ranks in the bottom quarter of LSAT participants. While a percentile rank above 80 percent is likely to be viewed positively by top law school programs, a score that is in the 50th percentile or below might make getting accepted into your desired school far more difficult.
So what exactly should you aim for on the LSAT to get accepted into a top–tier school? Of course, the answer depends largely on what you might consider top–tier. For what most would consider some of the best law schools in the country — such as Harvard and Columbia — you likely need to be in the 90th percentile or higher. However, most programs view an LSAT score of 160 — which falls around the 80th percentile — with high regard.
In other words, every law school program is unique, and each has its own requirements. Of course, some value the LSAT results more strongly than others, and some programs may value factors such as GPA and practical experience more strongly than your LSAT test results.
If your score is below the 50th percentile, which usually means a score of 150 or below, then you may find it hard to gain admission into your ideal law school program, or even a top 50 program. In this instance, do not be discouraged and remember that half of all who take the LSAT are in the same situation, and many who score in the higher percentiles did not perform well on the LSAT initially either.
You can retake the LSAT multiple times, so you have plenty of opportunities to show law school programs your knowledge. However, we encourage you to make your next LSAT your last one. Through consistent preparation with TestMaxPrep over the course of several weeks, you can feel confident on the day of your test, knowing you prepared the right way and in a position to put yourself in a top–tier percentile.
How to Score Higher on the LSAT with TestMaxPrep
The difference between the ones who do well and the ones who hover around the average is preparation and persistence. By using the right resources to prepare and putting in the effort to do well the next time you take the LSAT, you can improve your score significantly.
To prepare properly, it is important to know where you stand. A common mistake made by many is assuming they are ready, either from taking misleading practice tests that suggest they are in the top percentile or for a lack of pre–LSAT prep at all.
Here at TextMaxPrep, we offer detailed LSAT practice tests that give you a clear indication as to where your knowledge stands currently. Our tests are often challenging, and while it may seem discouraging initially to struggle early in the preparation process, we offer quality study resources and give you an accurate idea as to how prepared you actually are, ensuring you have the best chance possible to crush it on the day of your LSAT.
Our sign–up process is easy, and we even offer free practice tests to give you an idea of where you stand and how TestMaxPrep can help. Feel free to look through our free resources and contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
The Bottom Line
The LSAT test is often a stressful experience for prospective law school students. Here at TestMaxPrep, we understand the importance of a quality performance on the examination, and we provide all of the study material and practice tests needed to prepare yourself properly.
Whether you plan to take the LSAT for the first time or want to improve upon your initial score, preparation is essential and we are here to help. Now that you have a better understanding of what a good LSAT percentile is and how to work towards achieving your desired score, you can make sure you are ready.