Studying for the LSAT can be a trying time for most students. The questions test your ability to reason and synthesize, making them substantially different than most college exams we’re all used to. To top it off, test takers are told that you have to do well to get into the school of your choice. That is way too simplistic to be useful, so here’s the scoop on how the LSAT actually affects your choices.
First, know this is not the SATs. You are not being tested on whether you have the background knowledge necessary to take the basic courses of the school. Nor are you being tested on what level of classes you can take. The LSAT is designed to be a predictor of how well you are likely to do in your first year of law school. If you’re scoring particularly low, it indicates that you’re likely not analyzing arguments the way you need to as a lawyer.
That said, the immediate concern for most test takers is not how they’ll do in the first year of law school, but just making it to that first year of law school. Your LSAT score is the single most important factor in acceptance (no pressure). An average LSAT score is 150, meaning that a 150 is generally in the 50th percentile. At ManhattanLSAT, average is not the goal. It’s time to put a number on “good.”
A good LSAT score is one that is likely to be accepted by the majority of law schools. Note; that’s not the same thing as you getting accepted to the majority of the law schools. Those schools will look at your GPA, essay, and a variety of other factors, but a good LSAT score means your application is at least in the running. The number value on a good score? Right around 160. If you’re scoring in the 160’s, you’re doing well.
Top tier law schools aren’t satisfied with “good.” If your goal is to get into Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, or any other especially highly ranked school, you need to perform exceptionally. Those schools tend to look for scores in the 98th percentile, which generally fall in the 170-180 range.
The takeaways from Law School vs. LSAT? Your ideal score depends on your desired school. Most people should be happy with a score of 160 and higher, though a few need to shoot for the 170s. Rather than stressing about a low score, it may be worthwhile to step back and see what logical changes need to be made. You’ll hold these skills with you as you continue to law school, so take the opportunity to learn how to think analytically.