What Is the Average LSAT Score for First-Time Takers? | How to Perform Better

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LSAT scoring isn’t nearly as straightforward as it seems. Contrary to popular belief. LSAT scores alone aren’t the only measurements taken into account by leading law schools. Percentile rankings and soft skills are also considered alongside LSAT scores, along with extracurricular activities, work experience and so on.

Still, it goes without saying that your application won’t even get through the door unless accompanied by a solid LSAT score. But what is the average LSAT scorefor a first-time taker?

More importantly, what kinds of law schools in the US are happy to accept applications from candidates with an average LSAT score?

In this brief introductory guide, we’ll be covering all you need to know about average scores on LSATs for first-time candidates and what they mean.

And when you’re ready to get started, you’ll find all the study aids and learning resources you need to gain an edge over your fellow test-takers here.

What Is the Average LSAT Score for First Time Takers?

Each year, it’s estimated that approximately 100,000 people take the LSAT in the United States. Unsurprisingly, the content of the LSAT changes radically from one year to the next, in order to ensure that those who retake the test multiple times don’t get an unfair advantage.

Conducted over a series of five 35-minute sections which contain 35 multiple-choice questions each, the highest possible score you can get on your LSAT is 180. The lowest being 120, which by logical reasoning would therefore suggest that the average LSAT score is around 150…which it is, or near abouts.

The importance of getting a good score on your LSAT cannot be overstated. In fact, top law schools across the US openly admit that LSAT scores account for around 70% of the eligibility checks carried out when considering candidates for acceptance.

But what represents a good (or even average) LSAT score for a first-time taker is interpreted differently from one law school to the next. While the New England School of Law will consider applications from candidates with a 150 LSAT score, Harvard won’t spare you a second thought with less than 173 on your LSAT.

Plus, it’s also worth remembering that ‘average’ is a measure determined by how candidates sitting the exam perform that particular year. If during particularly exceptional year many thousands of candidates score 160 or more, 160 may only be interpreted as ‘average’ for this year - rather than ‘good’.

All underpinning the importance of ensuring that whatever it takes, you both get the best possible score and outperform your rival candidates.

LSAT Score Ranges

Simplifying things slightly, LSAT scores can be divided into a series of ‘ranges’ based on the percentiles of test-takers who achieve them, and which law schools are willing to accept them. As you’d expect, you’ll be needing a seriously high score and a prominent percentile ranking to get into somewhere like Yale or Harvard.

Here’s a basic overview of these LSAT score ranges and the schools they could land you a place in.

Below Average LSAT Scores

Any score that hovers around 150 or lower is considered below average by most leading law schools, though is a score range many thousands of candidates find themselves within each year. Not that a below average score is the end of the world, as your application will still be considered by the following law schools:

Pace University Building

Pace University: 151

Vermont Law School: 151

Elon University: 150

Florida Coastal: 150

Golden Gate University: 150

New England School of Law: 150

Northern Kentucky University: 150

Nova Southeastern University: 150

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale: 150

University of South Dakota: 150

Good Enough LSAT Scores

This is basically your ‘average’ tier within the rankings, which will put you in a decent position having outperformed at least 50% of your rival candidates but won’t get you near the likes of Yale and Harvard. Nevertheless, a score of 152 to 158 could still see you being accepted by prominent law schools including:

Texas A&M University Building

Texas A&M University: 157

University of Cincinnati: 157

University of Kansas: 157

University of Oklahoma: 157

University of Oregon: 157

University of Pittsburgh: 156

Syracuse University: 154

University of Arkansas-Fayetteville: 154

University of New Mexico: 153

Loyola University of New Orleans: 153

Competitive LSAT Scores

A competitive LSAT score means that you outperformed at least 75% of your rival candidates and you’re within the top 25 percentile. A score of 159 to 163 could get your application through the door with the following law schools:

Arizona State University exterior

Arizona State University:163

University of Florida (Levin):163

University of Georgia: 163

Indiana University-Bloomington: 162

University of Colorado-Boulder: 162

University of Wisconsin-Madison: 162

Northeastern University: 161

Ohio State University (Moritz): 161

Pepperdine University: 160

Tulane University: 159

Top LSAT Scores

If you manage to get yourself a score of 164 to 180, you’ll be within the top 10 percentile group.This therefore means your application will be given consideration by universities such as the following:

Harvard University entrance

Harvard University: 173

Yale University:173

Columbia University:172

University of Chicago: 171

New York University: 170

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: 169

Washington University in St Louis: 168

University of Texas-Austin: 167

Emory University: 165

Brigham Young University:164

Competition for these prestigious positions is ferocious, but qualifying applications are modest in numbers due to the high LSAT scores required.

How is the LSAT Scored?

The basic scoring principles of the LSAT are relatively simple. The test itself consists of several sections with 35 multiple choice questions, each of which contributes one point to your ‘raw’ score. At the end of the test, the number of raw points you have is used to determine your LSAT score - which can be anything from 120 to 180.

As mentioned, the credibility assigned to any specific numerical score is somewhat variable and may shift from one year to the next, this is where percentile rankings come into the equation, which are also taken into account by law schools and universities.

For example, you could come out of your LSAT with a relatively modest score, but due to the disproportionately challenging nature of the test that year, you still scored better than the vast majority of your rival candidates. Hence, while you’d have normally ranked within the 50th percentile, you actually find yourself within the 75th percentile.

The same could also be true in reverse - a high score could be somewhat diluted by a comparatively low percentile ranking, if a disproportionate number of test-takers did surprisingly well that year.

In any case, a high score is always better - irrespective of how your fellow candidates do. It’s also worth bearing in mind that major law schools take a variety of additional considerations into account, such as extracurricular activities, work experience and the strength of your application in general.

LSAT practice

Expert LSAT Tips for First-Time Takers

Rounding things off, I figured I’d share a few of my own personal favorite tips and guidelines for first-time LSAT takers. Having been through the whole thing twice (and completely aced it the second time around), I can personally vouch for the following as just about as important as it gets:

  • Take Practice Tests

Nothing will prepare you better for the real thing than a whole bunch of practice tests, molded around the actual LSAT itself. This will help you get used to the format of the whole thing, while also boosting your speed and stamina to ensure you get through it with total confidence.

  • AnalyzeYourPerformance

When taking these practice tests, take as much time as necessary to analyze your performance and identify your areas of weakness. Don’t simply keep taking test after test to chase a perfect score, but instead, find out what needs to be improved and focus on it.

  • Play Plenty of Games Beforehand

Logic games never fail to scare the living daylights out of newcomers to the LSAT, which at first glance look almost impossible to comprehend. The good news being that there’s a ton of sample games from past tests and mock exams you can play online, which you should.

  • Don’t Leave Anything Blank

Skipping over questions and referring back to them is fine, but under no circumstances should you leave any questions unanswered. There’s no penalty whatsoever for incorrect answers, so even an educated guess is better than nothing and could work in your favor.

  • Allocate Your Time Strategically

The general progression with tests like these is from easier questions at the start to more challenging questions towards the end. In which case, it’s advisable to get through those first simple questions as quickly as possible, giving yourself extra time to deal with the tough stuff later.

  • Don’t Stress if You Don’t Know

In a similar vein, there’s nothing to gain by torturing yourself with questions beyond your comprehension, only to rob yourself of time you could have used to answer questions you’re far more confident with at a later point in the test.

  • Picture Your Best Mock Test Result

Last up, walk into the test facility on the day while visualizing your very best performance while taking your mock tests. Convince yourself you’ll be just as successful and that the test today we’ll go just as smoothly…and there’s a much better chance you’ll be right in both instances.

LSAT scoring isn’t nearly as straightforward as it seems. Contrary to popular belief. LSAT scores alone aren’t the only measurements taken into account by leading law schools. Percentile rankings and soft skills are also considered alongside LSAT scores, along with extracurricular activities, work experience and so on.

Still, it goes without saying that your application won’t even get through the door unless accompanied by a solid LSAT score. But what is the average LSAT scorefor a first-time taker?

More importantly, what kinds of law schools in the US are happy to accept applications from candidates with an average LSAT score?

In this brief introductory guide, we’ll be covering all you need to know about average scores on LSATs for first-time candidates and what they mean.

And when you’re ready to get started, you’ll find all the study aids and learning resources you need to gain an edge over your fellow test-takers here.

Leonard Haggin
 

I created this site to help students like you learn from the experiences my team had learned during our extensive academic careers. I am now studying Law at Stanford, but I also make time to write articles here in order to help all you fellow students advance in your academic careers and beyond. I hope our efforts on Study Prep Lounge will arm you with the knowledge you need to overcome whatever trial or test you find in front of you.

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