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How Is The LSAT Scored?

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

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I often get questions about how the LSAT is scored and how it works. I was surprised by how many people have a target score without any idea of what it means. Remember--to beat the LSAT you must know this test. Let's break down the crucial factors that play a role in your LSAT score, and how you can use this to your advantage.

The Makeup of the LSAT

The LSAT is comprised of five sections--three graded and two ungraded. Within the graded sections, you will have one Logical Reasoning, one Reading Comprehension, and one Logic Games (Analytical Reasoning). Within the ungraded sections, you will have one Experimental and one writing section.

The writing section is taken separately from the other sections and is not factored into your overall LSAT score. The Experimental section can be any of the three section types (Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Logic Games) and is intended to be used to consider the types of questions that will be used in future LSAT exams.

Overall there are about 100 multiple choice questions you will need to take in one sitting, but keep in mind that only about 75 of them will be graded, since the Experimental section is not part of your overall LSAT score.

Keep in mind that practice tests do not include the Experimental Section. So, make sure to add an additional section if you are planning to simulate an actual LSAT to get a more accurate reflection of what you can expect on test day. I have a post dedicated to how you should utilize your practice tests if you are interested in learning more.

The Raw Score

The raw score on the LSAT is just another way of saying how many questions you got correct on the exam. This is ultimately what is used to determine your scaled score, which we will get to in just a minute.

Since the LSAT score is based on how many questions you get correct, there is no penalty for missed questions. This means you should always answer all of the questions, even if that means you guessed. This does NOT mean you should rush, as I discussed in my post about why your LSAT logical reasoning section is not improving. Instead, make sure you are fully engaged with each question as you go through the exam, but if you have several questions left with a couple minutes to spare, go ahead and guess on the remaining answer choices.

Even with guessing there is a strategy--statistically speaking, you are more likely to get a question correct if you select the same answer than if you were to pick random answers.

For example, suppose on the LSAT you have two minutes left in a section with 5 questions remaining. You should then select the same answer choice (such as answer choice 'C') for all the remaining questions. Then, with the remaining time you can reattempt as many of those questions as you can.

It's also worth noting that all LSAT questions are weighted the same. This means you should focus on the questions that are easiest to improve on first. There's no point in spending more energy and more challenging LSAT questions when you could have improved on other questions which much less effort.

In general, students rank the order of difficulty of improvement for each LSAT section in the following order:

  1. Logic Games

  2. Logical Reasoning

  3. Reading Comprehension

For this reason, it makes sense to focus on the sections in this order. Also, keep in mind that all the sections have related concepts. You will be able to apply the skills you acquired through Logic Games toward Logical Reasoning, and so on.

The Scaled Score

Although the raw score is undoubtedly important, it does not tell the whole story because some LSAT exams are a bit harder than others. If your raw score was reported, law schools would find it a bit more challenging to determine your aptitude as a result.

That's where the scaled LSAT scores come in. The scaled scores range from 120-180 and take into account the difficulty of the exam to provide a score to law schools that give them a better idea of your skill level. Each scaled score also comes with percentiles to indicate how you performed in comparison to others who took the same LSAT. Although each LSAT does have slight differences, the raw score needed for a specific scaled score should not change much from test to test.

Each LSAT exam has its own conversion chart. After you calculate your raw score, look it up on the conversion chart to determine what your scaled score would be. To view some example scores and percentiles, check out my post about what qualifies as a good LSAT score.

What does this mean for you? It means you should not only look into the scaled score when you are setting up your target score. Just because you get an additional question correct, that does not necessarily mean your scaled LSAT score went up a point. If your target LSAT score is a 165, find out roughly how many additional questions you need to get correct because this will give you a better idea of how much you truly need to improve and will provide a better perspective.

The Score Band

Here's something a lot of people are unaware of-- The LSAT score report submitted to law schools includes a Score Band, not just your individual score. Even the LSAC (The creators of the LSAT) understands that even the scaled score is not a perfect indication of your proficiency. Therefore, they provide a Score Band to law schools, which includes a range of LSAT scores your scaled score falls under, as an additional measure of aptitude. This is to account for any measurement errors that could exist within the test.

For example, if you scored a 157, your LSAT score would be reported along with a score band of 154-160. There are some complex calculations that go into this, but generally the LSAT score band will range by about 7 points.

Understanding how the LSAT is scored and reported is important to understand, as it helps you find out how you should prioritize your studies.

Learn more about how the LSAT as scored at the LSAC website.

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