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Scoring the LSAT

Don't pay so much attention to your score

You cannot control your score directly.

Which means you cannot directly change your score.

You can only change your behavior.

When you pay attention to your score, you allow yourself to be emotionally controlled by the Test.

When you pay attention to your behavior you put yourself in control.

The Curve

Your Raw Score is the number of questions you got correct. Each question is worth 1 point. There's no penalty for getting a question wrong.

Your Scaled Score is the measure of how well you did compared to other Test-Takers.

The Scaled Score ranges from 120 (worst) to 180 (best).

  • 150 is just below average.
  • 155 means you did better than about 60% of Test-Takers.
  • 160 = better than 80%
  • 165 = better than 90%
  • 170 = better than 97.5%
  • 173 = better than 99%

This Scaled Score is meant to be consistent over time.

A 165 is supposed to mean you outperformed 90% of all Test-Takers, whether they took the Test in February or August, 2002 or 2022.

But the Tests are inconsistent. Some are easier and some are harder. So the LSAC uses a very complicated formula to transform Raw Scores into Scaled Scores.

To convert your Raw Score into a Scaled Score, you must use a score conversion chart specific to that Test. Most of the conversion charts are available from the LSAC.

The Test Serves the Curve

Every question is meant to sort Test-Takers along the Curve.

That easy question might have been designed to separate the 134 scorer from the 135 scorer. If that's not you, let it be easy.

Conversely, that crazy question might be been designed to distinguish a 180 scorer from a 179 scorer. If that's not you, you don't need that point.

Easier Tests are Actually Harder

When more Test-Takers do better, the Curve must be harsher.

A harsh Curve means you cannot afford as many mistakes. To get the same Scaled Score, you'll need a higher Raw Score.

So when a Test feels hard that might actually be a good thing. A hard Test gives you more breathing room. A hard Test gives you a chance to pass the smart Test-Takers who are freaking out.

Most Test-Takers are Average

Did you notice how many Test-Takers will score between 150 and 160? Fully 33% of Test-Takers will score in the 150s. To pass this herd, you must act and study differently.

To go from a 155 to a 165, you'll have to pass 30% of all Test-Takers. And not any 30%, but the 60th-90th percentile; these are very capable Test-Takers.

To go from a 165 to a 170, you have to pass another 7.5%. This 7.5% is the best of the best.

Not all points are equal

Every point you gain makes the next increase more difficult. The better you do, the harder your competition. It's like a video game where each level gets progressively more challenging.

The Margin of Error

The LSAT is a reliable test. Even the margin of error is consistent at about 2.5 scaled points.

So when you score a "161" that actually means you scored a "158.5 to 163.5."

This means:

  • You can celebrate a 1 point increase (your range went up to 159.5 to 164.5).
  • But don't sweat small swings (they might be meaningless).