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What are the LSAT Score Percentiles?

What are the LSAT score percentiles?-magoosh

If you thought you only had to worry about your scaled LSAT score, think again. LSAT score percentiles help you (and law school admissions committees) compare your score with everyone else who has taken the LSAT in recent years.

Each possible LSAT score falls into a percentile rank, which shows the percentage of LSAT takers who performed below that score. This means that when you see your final LSAT score on your score report, two numbers appear. The first is your scaled LSAT score, which is the number out of 180 that we’re all familiar with. The second is your LSAT score percentile, which shows how you performed compared to other students who have taken the test before you.


Table of Contents

In this post, we’re going to go over:

  1. LSAT Score Conversion Chart
  2. How to Calculate Your LSAT Score Percentile
  3. How Do I Compare to Other LSAT Test-Takers?
  4. LSAT Score Percentiles for Law Schools
  5. Remember: Scores are Part of the Picture
  6. Why is the LSAT Score Percentile Important?

Let’s take a quick look at recent scaled score conversions, and then we’ll dive into how to calculate your LSAT score percentile.

LSAT Score Conversion Chart

Both scaled scores and LSAT percentile ranks change from one test to another, but for a general reference point, you can refer to the snapshot below of the official LSAT score percentile table for 2014-2017:

LSAT Percentiles Table (2014-2017)

For quick reference, you can look at the chart below, find your score in the left column and see your percentile in the right column. These are the most up-to-date score percentiles from LSAC—new percentiles have not been released yet based on 2018-2019 scores.

LSAT Scaled ScoreLSAT Percentile

Note: Expand the percentile chart or use the arrow keys at the bottom of the chart to view the rest of the LSAT percentiles
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How to Calculate Your LSAT Score Percentile

When you take the LSAT exam, you will get some questions right and others wrong (unless you get them all right or all wrong…but let’s ignore these dream and nightmare scenarios for the time being). The sum of the number of questions that you answer correctly is your raw score. LSAC takes that raw score and turns it into a scaled score.

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What is a Scaled Score?

Your raw LSAT score is scaled, meaning that LSAC uses a formula to compare your performance to the performances of the rest of the people who took the same administration as you.

For example, if you took the exam in February 2018, your score compares you to all the other February 2018 LSAT takers. Furthermore, the LSAC averages all of those performances against a group of past test-takers’ performances to make sure that scores over time mean the same thing and account for the slight variations in difficulty and content from one test to another.

In other words, you’re graded on a curve within your own class, and then your class’ grades are standardized to fall in line with those of past classes.

From Scaled Score to Score Percentile

Although your scaled score out of 180 reflects your performance specifically on the test that you sat for, your percentile rank shows you how you performed based on the distribution of LSAT scores in the three years prior to the year you took the test.

Why does the LSAC calculate LSAT score percentiles from previous years? This calculation helps better gauge percentiles with greater accuracy. Given the fluctuations that occur in any one test or any one year, it is more reliable for LSAC to look at a span of time. As a result, you don’t need to worry about dueling the fellow test-takers sitting to your left and right for your percentile—your LSAT score percentile puts you in competition with students who have already taken the test.


How Do I Compare to Other LSAT Test-Takers?

For a quick summary of how to interpret your LSAT score, the diagram below shows a normal distribution of LSAT scores, with a few score benchmarks illustrated.

LSAT score percentile

The higher the curve at any given point, the more test-takers are receiving that score. As you can see, lots of people are scoring in the 140-160 range, but not as many are scoring above 170 or below 130.

This is a simplified version of the distribution: the real thing probably isn’t a perfectly symmetrical bell curve. Also, it might skew slightly to the right or the left, but this is still an effective way to visualize your score.

A score of 150 puts you right in the middle of the pack, whereas a 160 puts you ahead of about 80% of test-takers. As you slide any of those green lines to the right, notice how much of the area under the curve is to the left of the line. That’s the percentage of test-takers scoring lower than the score indicated by the line.

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LSAT Score Percentiles for Law Schools

How do you know if you have a good LSAT score? Most of you are probably taking the LSAT to get into law school, not to brag about what percentage of the LSAT test takers you out-scored.

If you want more information on LSAT score percentiles (and average LSAT scores and GPAs) to determine if you could get into a top tier law school, I highly recommend taking a look at LSAT Scores for the Top 100 Law Schools. This guide features great interactive search tools to help you find U.S. law schools in your score percentile range, plus data on average salaries by law school and LSAT score!

lsat score percentiles for top law schools

Let’s take a look at a few sample scores and see what they could mean for your future law school applications!


Here is a sample of the dozen or so ABA-approved law schools where a 145 would be at or above the 50th percentile:


Here are some of the ABA-approved law schools where a 155 would be at or above the 50th percentile:


Here’s a sample of the ABA-approved law schools where a 165 would be at or above the 50th percentile:

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Remember: Scores are Part of the Picture

While LSAT scores may be an important factor in law school admissions decisions, they are only one factor among many. Undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, your personal statement, and your work experience are seen as equally crucial components of your law school application by many law schools. Additionally, demonstrating that you have overcome adversity or that you have made exceptional achievements in public service or extracurriculars can tilt the balance in your favor.

Even the above lists only account for the 50th percentile of LSAT scores at a handful of law schools. A full 50% of students at each of the listed schools have LSAT scores below the stated threshold.

In other words, remember that your LSAT score opens doors; it does not close them. As you conduct your search for law schools that best fit your needs, look for as many open doors as you can find. That means looking at schools with median scores at or below your own, schools where your score falls within or above the middle 50%, and schools where your score falls a little short of the middle 50%.

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Why is the LSAT Score Percentile Important?

The LSAT score percentile’s true significance comes from its assessment of how you stand relative to other test takers, and relative to other law school applicants. After all, the percentile rank reflects the true difficulty of the LSAT.

In general, the ten-point range from 170-180 is separated by less than three percentile points&mdashbecause very few students score in that range. However, the ten-point range from 140-150 is generally separated by a whopping 30 percentile points&mdashsimply because there are so many more test-takers who fall into that range!

Therefore, by calculating LSAT score percentiles, the LSAC is able to better show law schools how students stack up. A 160 score is relatively impressive since the performance is better than the overwhelming majority of other test takers’ performance. This fact does not go unnoticed by law school admissions officers!

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Editor’s Note: This post was updated in March 2019 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. New content contributed by Travis Coleman, Rita Neumann, and Allyson Evans.


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