LSAT – Scoring a Perfect 180
NOTE: The information below refers to the in-person LSAT which, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been suspended indefinitely. In its place, LSAC now administers the virtual LSAT-Flex, an online version of the LSAT that prospective law students take at home. Each test taker is paired with a remote proctor who monitors the test-taking environment before and during the test.
Because of proctoring issues and other considerations, the LSAT-Flex is significantly shorter than the in-person LSAT. Rather than four 35-minute sections, the LSAT-Flex includes only three 35-minute sections, one each of Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games). There is no second Logical Reasoning section, nor an experimental section. Another important change is that, unlike the in-person LSAT, the LSAT-Flex is offered over multiple days of test week at many different times.
At this time, it is unclear how long the LSAT-Flex will be administered in place of the in-person LSAT. This in part because of the unpredictability of the COVID-19 crisis and in part because LSAC may or may not continue administrating the LSAT-Flex for the foreseeable future, regardless of what happens with the pandemic.
If you are preparing to take the LSAT-Flex, click here for a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions.
Getting an LSAT score of 180 or a “perfect score” is extremely rare. According to data published by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), from 2006-2009 of all LSATs administered, approximately 144,000 per year, only 0.1% received a 180. The advantage for the student who earns a 180 LSAT score is that he or she is more likely to be accepted into a top-tier law school. Yale Law School reports that for its class of 2014, the LSAT score range was 154-180, with over 75% of enrolled students receiving an LSAT score of 177 or above. However, most law schools report that in making admissions decisions, while LSAT scores are weighed heavily, the admissions committee carefully considers the entire application package.
LSAT scores range from 120-180. The “raw” LSAT score is based on the number of questions answered correctly. Each LSAT will typically have 100 to 103 questions, with each question being worth 1 point. Only four of the five multiple-choice sections count toward the LSAT test score (the fifth is experimental, for data-gathering purposes), and the essay section is not scored. There is no deduction for blank or incorrect answers. The raw LSAT score is between 0 and 100 to 103. LSAT raw scores are converted to an LSAT scaled score that ranges from 120 to 180. Students who receive a LSAT scaled score of 180 have a raw score of between 99 and 103.
Students who achieve high LSAT scores tend to have four things in common. They spend a massive amount of time preparing, they understand the LSAT question types, they are accustomed to taking the full-length, timed LSAT, and they took an LSAT prep course. While some who achieved a 180 on the LSAT spent 60-70 hours a week for 2 months preparing, there is no magic number of study hours needed to ensure a high LSAT score. However, it is necessary to make sure that you have at least 8-12 weeks to prepare and that you are able to design a study schedule that allows sufficient time to regularly work on LSAT preparation.
Students who achieve high LSAT scores tend to be intimately familiar with the question types, as well as the commonalities of correct answers and incorrect answers. The LSAT is a very consistent, predictable exam. Students who take practice exams and who carefully work to understand explanations to difficult questions soon understand what a correct answer typically looks like. This does not happen overnight. It takes hours and hours of answering practice questions, reading the correct answers and understanding the incorrect answers, and for this reason, the best action if you can afford it is to enroll in an LSAT prep course (more on this below). Many companies also offer a free practice exam so you can gauge your personal starting point and how much improvement you’ll need.
Taking full-length, timed practice tests helps prepare students both mentally and physically for test day. The LSAT takes about 4 to 5 long, mentally-taxing hours. No matter how well you understand the LSAT questions, if your mind becomes worn out during the last hour of the exam, your score will reflect that. Taking full-length, timed practice tests once a week, and then more often in the four weeks before the test, will help avoid this problem. Use the remaining study time to complete practice questions and timed practice sections. This method helps students to become familiar with the level of energy it takes to complete the LSAT and gives you the opportunity to spend concentrated periods of time reviewing mistakes and working question types you find challenging.
Students with very high LSAT scores almost universally take an LSAT prep course. While there are plenty of LSAT prep books available, taking a course is an effective way to help students understand LSAT questions. Also, many prep courses, in addition to classroom instruction, provide loads of materials such as workbooks with hundreds of practice questions as well as access to every LSAT released. The classes are expensive, but those who scored in the top LSAT score percentiles will argue that the prep class was worth the fee.
Ultimately, there is no magic LSAT score predictor and each student who receives a 180 LSAT score will tell a differently story about his or her road to success. Work out a study plan that you believe will work for you, keeping in mind that the journey to 180 involves a great deal of work.