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Understanding Your LSAT Score

What is a Scaled Score?

Your LSAT score is scaled, meaning that it compares 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 June 2015, your score compares you to all the other June 2015 LSAT takers. Furthermore, all of those performances are averaged against a group of past test-takers’ performances in order 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.

 

How do I Compare to Other Test-Takers?

The posts How does LSAT Scoring Work? and What is the Average LSAT Score? provide some great background on how to interpret your own scaled score. For a quick summary, the diagram below shows a normal distribution of LSAT scores, with a few score benchmarks illustrated.

Average LSAT Score - Bell Curve -magoosh

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 perfectly symmetrical and it might skew slightly to the right or the left, but this is still an effective way to visualize your score.

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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.

Okay, but what does My Scaled Score Mean?

In other words, how do you know if you have a “good/” enough LSAT score? Most of you are probably taking the LSAT to get into law school, not to brag about what percentage of the population you out-scored. So, let’s look at a few sample scores and see what they might mean for your law school applications.

 

145

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

There are over 30 ABA-approved law schools where a 145 would fall within the middle 50% of scores, including:

 

155

Here are some of the 117 ABA-approved law schools where a 155 would be at or above the median:

There are over 140 ABA-approved law schools where a 155 would be within the middle 50% of scores, including:

For more on this range, you can read our post on having an LSAT score in the 150s.

 

165

Here’s a sample of the 186 ABA-approved law schools where a 165 would be at or above the median:

Here are some of the schools where a 165 would be within the middle 50% of scores:

 
If you want to do some searching for yourself, I highly recommend starting with LSAC’s online Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools or visiting startclass. Both feature great interactive search tools to help you find as many options as possible.

 

LSAT 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, and work experience are seen as equally important components of applications 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 median and middle 50% of LSAT scores at law schools. A full 25% 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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