LSAT Scores Explained
Parts of the LSAT Score
The LSAT scores are comprised of three different numbers. These make up the score report. Each means something different. The first score is the raw score. This is simply the number of questions answered correctly. There are between 100 and 103 questions. There is no penalty for incorrectly answered questions, and all correct answers are given the same value or weight. In this sense, answering a larger quantity of questions correctly is obviously better. Answering more questions increases your odds of getting a better score. It follows that wasting time on one particularly difficult question isn't necessarily better than moving on and answering a larger quantity of questions correctly.
The second score is the percentile, which shows rank. The percent denotes the number of people who have scored below you. The number is based on LSAT scores distributed over a three-year period directly prior to when the test is taken.
The last score is the scaled score. The raw number is converted to show the scaled score. The range for this score is 120-180, 120 being low, 180 being the highest score. The conversion process used to calculate it is called equating. Equating shows which scores can be compared on different forms of the test. If a student takes the LSAT twice in the same year, and scores the same on both tests, the scaled score accounts for which of those tests was the easier or more difficult one. This would show as a higher scaled score on the more difficult test. Regarding the adjusted score, there is a slight difference in the number of questions (3-5), between a score of 175 and 180, but between 155 and 160 the difference is much higher, around 9.
Why is a Good Score Important?
LSAT scores can be canceled within six calendar days of taking the test. The university will know that you took the test, but no score is released. There is no 'passing score'; each university has a different average score that they use as a benchmark. It's smart to know these averages so that you have an idea of what your score needs to be in order to get into the school or schools of your choice. A high-ranking law school will obviously have higher average LSAT scores than a lower ranking school. You can take the LSAT three times within a two-year period.
A good score is important because it is often given the most consideration by admissions officers. While a reference can't be entirely reliable as an objective resource, and many times your admissions essay isn't even read, the test score and your GPA are two numbers which are more measurable. Universities can weigh a GPA and an LSAT score slightly differently, but it's a mathematical equation often with the LSAT having more weight than the GPA. It can also be an indication of how well a student will do in his first year of law school.
The Law School Admission Council has conducted studies on the correlation between scores and how well a student will do in his first year of law school. It is posited that a better score means that the student will do better in his first year of school. Since schools look at both the GPA and LSAT scores, they calculate the 'correlation coefficient' as 1, meaning the scores are believed to be accurate predictors of success. This is why LSAT scores and GPA are given more attention than the other elements of your application.
Receiving the Score Report
Students can receive their score by e-mail or by mail. For confidentiality reasons they are only sent by e-mail and by mail, never by fax. Scores are also released only to the universities or institutions to which you have applied. Hard-copy score reports are available by mail four weeks after the test. E-mail is a quicker way, being available three weeks after the test, and it's free. There is a one-time fee for getting a hard copy by mail. Test takers should have an account at LSAC.org. Helpful dates and deadlines are also listed on LSAC.org, so you know when exactly to expect your scores. If you have more than one reportable score, meaning you have taken the test more than once in the allowable amount of time (three times in two years) an average is also calculated. Scores of tests taken after June 2006 will be reported, according to how many times you sat for the test. Score bands, which are reported for all scores on the 120-180 scale, are a range of scores that have a particular probability of containing your 'true' proficiency level. They are calculated to include this 'true score' 68% of the time.
Getting a good score is much more likely with good study habits. Give a lot of time to preparing and taking practice tests. The LSAT isn't taking a test so much as it is writing one. Research the test and it's different sections as well as the universities you want to attend. Every step of the way from your day-to-day study habits to the materials and identification you'll need to produce on the day of the test should be examined and planned ahead of time.
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