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After taking the LSAT, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) presents your score in two ways: your LSAT raw score and your LSAT scaled score. The raw score is between 0 and 100 to 103 and is based on the number of questions you answered correctly. The LSAC then converts your LSAT raw score into an LSAT scaled score that ranges from 120 to 180 with 180 being a "perfect LSAT score."
Each LSAT will typically have 100 to 103 questions, with each question being worth 1 point. Only 4 of the 5 multiple-choice sections count toward the LSAT test score. The essay section is not scored. There is no deduction for unanswered or incorrect answers, so even if you are unsure of an answer, you should guess. Thus, the LSAT raw score is always between 0 and 100 or 103, depending on the total number of questions on a particular LSAT.
It is necessary for the LSAC to convert a raw score to a scaled score because the raw score alone does not show how any one student performed on an LSAT compared to students taking other LSATs. LSAT score conversion takes into consideration previous tests, differences in the number of questions on tests, and disparities in the level of difficulty of tests that have an effect on the LSAT raw score. Thus, any perceived advantage of taking one test over another test is removed.
To convert the raw score into the scaled score, the LSAC uses a process called "equating." For example, let's say hypothetically that the February 2013 LSAT was more difficult than the October 2012 LSAT. If a raw score on both tests is 86, the scaled score for the February test would be 169 while the scaled score for the October test would be 167. LSAT score conversion charts are available from the LSAC. Most test prep companies also have LSAT score conversion charts.
While it is important to understand how the LSAC arrives at your LSAT score and to know that the LSAC seeks to be fair in scoring, ultimately your LSAT scaled score is the most important score. Law schools look at each candidate's scaled score when evaluating his or her application. In preparing for the LSAT, make sure you understand the admissions criteria for each law school to which you would like to apply, including the LSAT score range, and work hard to prepare for the LSAT in order to maximize your chances of performing well.