Aspiring attorneys who are wondering what their target score should be for the Law School Admission Test, commonly known as the LSAT, should start by looking at admission statistics for the J.D. programs they are…
Aspiring attorneys who are wondering what their target score should be for the Law School Admission Test, commonly known as the LSAT, should start by looking at admission statistics for the J.D. programs they are interested in, experts suggest.
“As far as an LSAT score to aim for in order to be competitive for admission to law school, it really does depend on the particular school and how competitive it is,” Kellye Testy, president and CEO of the Law School Admission Council, the nonprofit organization that administers the LSAT, wrote in email.
Anyone who successfully completes the LSAT receives a score between 120 and 180. “In general, scores in the high 160s and 170s are usually considered very competitive,” she says.
Testy advises J.D. hopefuls to look up the 25th-to-75th-percentile LSAT score range and median LSAT score for each law school on their short list so they can get a sense of the score that is usually required for admission to that school.
Law school admissions experts say the minimum LSAT score applicants should strive for is 150, assuming they would be satisfied with acceptance at any accredited law school. However, if the applicant wants to enroll in a J.D. program that ranks among the top 25 in the 2019 U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings, the target should be a score of 160 or better, and if an applicant hopes to get into a top-10 program, he or she should aim for an LSAT score of 170 or more, experts suggest.
Will Haynes, a test prep tutor for The Princeton Review, says LSAT test-takers should consider not only their raw score, but also their percentile rank, i.e. the percentage of test-takers who they outperformed on the test. For instance, a 50th percentile score would be a score that was better than that of 50 percent of all test-takers.
“People often get hung up on the exact score, but they should also consider their percentile rank,” Haynes wrote in an email. “This looks at how test takers compare to each other.”
Haynes says J.D. admissions officers generally view LSAT scores with similar percentile ranks as roughly equivalent. “This means students do not need to chase after a perfect score,” he wrote. “There is barely any difference between a 170 and a 180 in the eyes of admissions.”
Erin Skelly, a graduate admissions counselor with the IvyWise admissions consulting firm, says J.D. applicants should bear in mind that law schools have a variety of LSAT score policies, with some schools only evaluating a student’s highest score and others looking at all scores.
Another important consideration is that law school hopefuls often find it difficult to improve their LSAT scores, she says. Unlike other standardized tests, the LSAT is hard to cram for, she says. “It can be a little bit more challenging to raise a score with the LSAT.”
Skelly advises students who are determined to raise their LSAT score to take an abundance of practice tests and to analyze those tests to see where they tend to make errors so they can learn from their mistakes. Though some people are able to significantly improve their LSAT scores by studying on their own, most people are unable to make a dramatic gain in their LSAT score without taking a test prep class or hiring a tutor, she says.
Nikki Geula, the founder and CEO of Arete Educational Consulting, says the logic games portion of the LSAT, which is a section that many students struggle with, can be addressed through solid test prep. “Logic games can really be mastered,” Geula says. “It’s really just knowing how to set them up and having a strategy for all the types of games that are on the test.”
“Law school is a rolling process for many schools, so the sooner you get your application in, the better off you are,” Geula says. “So, you’re better off with your 168 or 169 applying as soon as applications even open than you are applying right before the deadline with a 170.”
“So there’s more to this … to the game of getting into law school than simply your score,” she says.
Experts say most law schools have a holistic review process, meaning that in addition to standardized test scores, they also consider resumes, transcripts and personal statements.
“Sadly, someone can’t simply score high on the LSAT and expect a direct acceptance into the best law schools; the rest of the application absolutely matters,” Haynes says.