How to Get A Perfect LSAT Score: Strategies From A 180 Scorer


ABSTRACT: This article provides an overview of the LSAT scoring system, detailing how raw scores are converted to scaled scores and percentiles. It delves into specifics of the perfect LSAT score, explaining the exam’s structure, scoring, and rarity of achieving a 180. Furthermore, it offers practical tips for LSAT preparation, emphasizing the importance of familiarizing oneself with the exam, extensive practice, thorough review of mistakes, tracking progress, and finding effective test-taking strategies.

Part 1: Introduction

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the test most students seeking admission to U.S. law schools will need to take. The test is administered by LSAC, the Law School Admissions Council, and it’s the only admissions test accepted by all ABA-accredited law schools. Your LSAT score is a critical part of your law school application and factors heavily into admission decisions.

The LSAT is a difficult, timed exam designed to assess the skills needed in the first year of law school and beyond. Though the perfect LSAT score might seem elusive, this post will contain important information explaining what you need to know to achieve that goal. We’ll cover the LSAT scoring system, scoring statistics, and tips to achieve the perfect score, in addition to answering some frequently asked questions.

Part 2: Overview of the LSAT scoring system

A perfect LSAT score is a score of 180. Understanding how that score is computed can help you achieve it.

Typically, each LSAT exam consists of five sections and has 100 or 101 graded questions. Each correct answer contributes one point to your raw score, and no points are deducted for incorrect answers.

Your raw score (the number of correct answers) is then converted into a scaled score. The scaled score ranges from 120 to 180. The score is scaled to ensure consistency in scoring between tests.

Consistent scoring between tests is important because sometimes the difficulty amongst tests may not be uniform. Scaling the score produces a dependable marker of tests so admissions officers only need to look at the individual score instead of having to also consider the specific exam. Each exam has a specific score conversion chart. These vary from exam to exam, but for the most part, there are not large deviations. For example, on the December 2010 test, four incorrect answers would have yielded a 179, while the same number would have yielded you a 177 on the June 2015 LSAT.

Within the range of the 120 scaled score and the perfect 180 LSAT score, there are 61 possible scores.  Along with your raw and scaled scores, you’ll also receive a percentile. Instead of being based on your specific exam, percentiles position your score relative to the scores from the previous three years.  The percentile provides admissions officers with your performance relative to other students.

Your score report, called the Candidate Item Response Report, will also feature your score band.  The score band is designed to account for error and list a range of your scaled score plus and minus three points. It’s calculated to account for the standard error of measurement for individual scores of 2.69 points.

Your Candidate Item Response Report will list the LSAT Score Band, LSAT Score, LSAT Percentile Rank, and Administration Date for each exam you have taken, even if you canceled the exam, you were absent, or your score was canceled.  Exam registrations that were withdrawn will not be listed.

LSAT exams feature two ungraded portions: the experimental section and the LSAT Writing Section. These sections will not appear on your Candidate Item Response Report.  Now that you know a bit more about LSAT Scoring, let’s talk about the Perfect LSAT Score.

Part 3: Specifics of the perfect LSAT score

Achieving the perfect LSAT score will require top performance on the exam. The standard LSAT exam consists of one reading comprehension section, one analytical reading section, two logical reasoning sections, and an ungraded experimental section.

The experimental section can be either reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, or logical reasoning. The experimental section will not be marked and can appear in any of the five sections. The graded sections also do not appear in a set order.

The LSAT Reading Comprehension sections include 26–28 multiple-choice questions. The LSAT Analytical Reasoning sections include 22–24 multiple-choice questions. LSAT Logical Reasoning sections include 24–26 multiple-choice questions. Each multiple-choice question, regardless of the section it appears on, accounts for one possible point towards your raw score. If you answer the question correctly, you receive one point. If you answer incorrectly or do not answer the question, you receive zero points.

Though 180 is the perfect LSAT score, you can often miss one or two questions and still achieve the perfect 180. Comparing the score conversion charts for LSAT exams since 2005 shows that on some tests, you can miss as many as three questions and still achieve a 180. However, one or two questions tend to be the maximum of incorrect answers that still yields a perfect 180 LSAT score.

As mentioned before, each exam has a score conversion chart. The score conversion chart will determine how many raw points are required for a 180. Similarly, the score conversion chart will explain how many missed questions will still permit a perfect 180 LSAT score. Across exams in 2018–2020, only 0.1% of test-takers received a perfect LSAT score of 180. Getting a perfect LSAT score is rare, but not impossible. Let’s cover some tips to help you achieve the perfect 180 LSAT score!

Part 4: How to achieve the perfect LSAT score

Tip #1: Familiarize yourself with the material

To achieve your best score, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the exam. It will be helpful to know the structure of each section and the types of questions they have, as well as specific tools to be successful. To learn more about each section, check out our other posts that cover Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning. In addition to knowing the content and structure of the exam, it’s also important that you attack each section of the exam with a well-developed and hand-tailored strategy.

Tip #2: Practice, practice, practice

There are more than 60 real LSAT tests available for you to use as practice for your exam.  Practice tests can help you gauge and track your score, as well as illuminate opportunities for improvement. Practice tests can also help ease nerves and build confidence. 

As you take practice tests, make sure you treat them as real exams. Try to simulate testing conditions as close as you can.  Test in a quiet place with no distractions and turn your devices off. If you can, emulate the physical conditions of your testing environment as closely as possible. For example, if your test will be in a university lecture hall, try to take your tests in a similar environment. In addition, try to visit your testing site prior to your exam date to avoid surprises on your test day!

Another helpful way to practice is to have a friend or family proctor the exam if possible.  If that’s not an option, look online for audio recordings of LSAT proctors. It can also be helpful to take a test alongside another studying for the LSAT.

You want to take as many full-length practice exams as possible under LSAT timed conditions, which means 35 minutes per section with a 15-minute break between the third and fourth sections.  Most LSAT tests available will only feature four sections. To build your stamina, you may want to set aside tests that you can use sections from as the fifth “experimental” sections for your practice exams.

Some students may want to begin with individual sections or approach the test without timed conditions. That process can work to build familiarity at the beginning or to study specific sections. Ultimately, though, full-length practice tests will be the closest option to the real exam, mimicking the conditions you’ll face as you pursue your perfect 180 LSAT score.

One final point: as you prepare, try to save more recent tests for later on in your studying to account for trends in LSAT question types that occur over the years.

Tip #3: In-depth review

Taking the exams is only one part of your LSAT preparation. As you take full-length practice LSAT exams, you’ll want to capitalize on your hard work.  The extra step of thoroughly reviewing the exams you take will be where you really find improvement during your LSAT preparation.

Your review should be slow and methodical. You’ll want to review your test before grading the exam so that you can review it without knowing the correct answer.  This method allows you to revisit questions without the pressure of time and think about them again. Make note of if you changed your answer the second time, and you can grade a second answer sheet with your reviewed answers.

Some students will only review the questions they had trouble with. If you have the time, try to review the entire test.  This will help catch errors on questions you may have been confident about beforehand. Additionally, it will help solidify your thought processes for approaching the questions. As you take the test the first time, it may be helpful to mark questions that you struggled with or were unsure about.

After you review, score the exam. Revisit any questions that were still incorrect after you reviewed them. Pay special attention to these questions, as well as questions that you initially had correct but changed upon review. For questions that were incorrect either before or after your review, write down why you got the question incorrect and the explanation for the correct answer. This will help you identify patterns in the question types you tend to miss.

Tip #4: Keep track of errors and scores

Another supplement to taking practice tests is keeping track of your results. You’ll want to keep notes of your score for each exam you take. You can also record your review score and any notes. Was there a distraction while you took your test? Did you not get rest the evening before? Keeping track of these conditions can help you optimize your test-day routine as well as understand how certain factors impact your performance.

When you review your exam, keep track of which question types you answer incorrectly.  Having a record can help you see patterns, and these patterns will make it easier to troubleshoot specific issues. 

Another bonus of creating this record is it gives you another measure of growth outside of your total score.  Maybe your overall score isn’t improving but perhaps you’re getting better at a specific section or question type, or you’re feeling less nervous when you take the test.  These benchmarks can keep you encouraged during your journey to the perfect LSAT score.

Tip #5: Learn which approaches work for you

As you take the exam, learn which approaches work for you.  Our guides to the Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning sections feature different approaches for tackling each section. 

Taking practice exams will allow you to try different tactics and see which ones are best for you.  As you experiment, think about which methods deliver the best results, allow you the most speed, and keep you calm.

Another part of your LSAT approach is understanding which sleep and eating patterns and other test day conditions—like mental warmups—work best for you. For example, some students are served by warming up with a few ungraded, untimed questions from each section and perform best when they work out early in the morning while others begin their day with a light meal and timed questions. Whichever conditions are most effective for you, make them a routine that’s ready for test day. Generally, you’ll want to make sure to optimize your rest, energy, and focus.

Tip #6: Trust yourself and be positive

The LSAT journey—especially the one to the perfect LSAT score—can be long and, at times, stressful. As you work, try to be positive and affirm yourself. Remind yourself that you’ve worked hard to get to this point, so trust yourself and your skills. Most struggles students face on the LSAT can be reduced with practice and a deep breath!  When you get discouraged, take a pause and then move forward intentionally. Review the tools in our LSAT blog posts and try again.

Final thoughts

As you move forward, use these tools to achieve your best score. Taking practice tests will be critical to your improvement because they allow you to actually see your mistakes and then correct them. Through it all, try to keep a positive mindset.

The LSAT is only one portion of the application and many students experience success without a perfect LSAT score. Understand that what matters the most is achieving your best score. Good luck and happy practice testing!

This article first appeared on shemmassianconsulting. Read the original here.