Are you prepping for your Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or researching colleges that offer J.D. degrees? If so, then a top question you have is, "What LSAT score do I need to get into law school?"
Although the average score hovers around 151, many law schools accept lower scores or require higher results. Furthermore, better scores may give you access to more scholarship and grant funds. To determine what score you need, it's essential to understand each school's requirements.
Learn how LSAT scoring works, what different scores mean, and how to achieve your desired outcome for the best chances of getting into your top schools.
When you take your LSAT, you'll get a raw score, scaled score, and percentile score. Your raw score is the number of questions you answered correctly, whereas your scaled score uses a Score Conversion Chart to give you a result between 120 and 180. Lastly, your percentile score shows you where you stand compared to all test-takers over three years.
Many schools provide details about their LSAT percentiles. This information tells you about the percentage of accepted students with various LSAT scores. If you fall into the 25th percentile, 75% of accepted students had scores higher than you.
Before taking the LSAT, it's vital to examine your list of law schools. Doing so helps you pick an LSAT goal and predict your chances of acceptance.
According to U.S News, "Among the 193 ranked law schools that reported the median LSAT score for incoming full-time students in fall 2019, the overall median was 155. Meanwhile, among the 12 ranked schools with the highest-scoring students, including ties, the overall median score was 170."
To find out what LSAT score you'll need, examine information about each college’s J.D. program and application process. Specifically, you're looking for the school's median scores, LSAT percentiles, and acceptance rate data. Typical LSAT score ranges include:
- 120-147 Low
- 148-156 Mid
- 157-164 High
- 165-180 Exceptional
Find your school on the LSAC official guide to ABA-approved law schools. Click on the school, then scroll to the bottom of the page. Here you'll find a chart showing the applicant profile for the college. You'll see a list of LSAT score ranges on the left side, and along the top, you'll find GPA ranges. The graph shows you which combinations improve or reduce your chance of acceptance.
Are you wondering what a good LSAT score is? Although that factor is mostly defined by individual law schools, for many colleges, you'll need a score of over 150.
Keep in mind, you may be able to balance an LSAT score that barely meets a school's requirements with a stellar GPA, resume, and well-written personal statement. Don’t let a disappointing result get you down. Instead, develop methods to get a better score next time or prove yourself in other ways.
Some schools accept lower scores. In fact, LASC recommends schools avoid using a cut-off score. But, it's important to read each school's FAQ pages, as this is where colleges may report the average lowest score they typically accept.
This information, combined with the median range of LSAT scores for that school, gives you a good idea of what score you need. You'll also find further details about how to offset a poor score using your application or supplementary materials. Take time to review each school’s prerequisites and requirements while you’re there.
ONU Law provides a summer starter program to help those with lower LSAT scores. Once you complete ONU’s eight-week summer program, you'll be automatically enrolled in the fall entering class.
Every LSAT test imposes strict time limits, and it's a hard exam requiring logical thinking and reading comprehension. There are anywhere from 99 to 102 questions on the test. This means you need to get 73 to 77 right answers to get an LSAT score of 160. Or 90 out of 101 questions to get a 170.
Typically, all LSAT scores are reported to schools, but they only use your highest result during the admissions process. The LSAT is offered nine different times per year. But, LSAC applies the following rules so that you may take the LSAT:
- Three times during a single testing year (from June 1 to May 31)
- Five times in the current and five past testing years
- A total of seven times during your lifetime
So, yes, you can retake the LSAT, but it's essential to consider each effort equally important and avoid taking the official LSAT as a form of practice.
Your LSAT score makes the difference between getting a small scholarship or getting 75% of your school cost covered. For example, at ONU, the median score in 2020 was 150. Students scoring this number or higher may qualify for various scholarships and grants.
However, U.S. News details an LASC report, saying, "Over the last 10 years of admission cycles, the number of applicants with 160 to 180 LSAT scores declined 34%." This suggests that scoring in this range gives you access to more scholarship and grant monies.
Once you've determined your LSAT score goal, then it's time to develop a plan. Preparing for the LSAT takes months. Of course, you'll want to study and study some more. But there are other things you should do to ensure your LSAT score gets you into a good school. Use these test prep and J.D. degree planning tips for promising results.
Prioritize your list of colleges and get familiar with at least one school that accepts lower scores. While you don't want to aim for a low score, you should give yourself options to keep in mind.
Explore schools using the 2020 Law School Rankings from the Internet Legal Research Group (ILRG). You can sort the list of 200 schools according to GPA, LSAT scores, acceptance rates, and more. For instance, 2019 data for ONU shows:
- Low LSAT score: 147
- Median LSAT score: 151
- High LSAT score: 152
- Acceptance rate: 42.2%
Head to each law school's website for FAQ pages and guides. You'll find information about their range of scores and reasons why they'd accept a lower LSAT score. Many colleges also offer additional application details that explain how supplementary documents can help you get around a low score, such as writing an addendum.
Some law schools, like ONU, provide summer starter programs to help those with lower LSAT scores. For instance, once you complete ONU’s eight-week summer program, you'll be automatically enrolled in the fall entering class.
It isn't a good idea to try and wing your LSAT test. Nor should you take it the first time as a practice for yourself. Instead, use official LSAT practice exams. These accurately mimic the pressure and time limits that you’ll face during your real exam. Putting yourself under this pressure while exploring sample questions gives you an accurate sense of the test-taking experience.
Furthermore, practice tests give insights into your strengths and weaknesses. Spend extra time improving your weak spots to avoid missing too many questions in certain areas. You can access section-specific study guides and other resources to strengthen the spheres you struggle with. Free or low-cost sources include:
- Law School Admission Council LSAT sample tests
- LSAT prep books
- LSAC official prep tests and exam modes
- Kaplan on-demand prep tests
- The Princeton Review free prep test
Whenever possible, get outside help in prepping for your LSAT test. Start by checking to see if individual schools offer free resources or counseling. Next, consider enrolling in an LSAT prep course. You'll find on-site and online options that deliver 30 to 100+ hours of instruction. Prep classes may give:
- Access to prominent law instructors
- Self-paced, live, and interactive courses
- Various prep exams, practice sets, and on-demand content
- LSAT improvement guarantees
- Extra coaching sessions
If you find that you're really struggling with a specific section of the LSAT, consider working with a tutor. A tutor can offer new study and test-taking tips, assess your weaknesses, and provide solutions. However, if you notice you're having issues staying on track with your studies, you may benefit from a coach or mentor. Coaches and mentors support your wellbeing while helping you reach goals. For instance, a coach will hold you accountable for your objectives.
Don't let a school's LSAT score range put you off. Instead, look for ways to achieve that score and get into your most desired schools. If you struggle with test-taking, consider selecting a variety of schools that accept lower results or commit to retaking the test. So, weigh your options, set a goal, then work hard to achieve the outcome you need.