Understanding the LSAT – Fact vs. Fiction

By Dave Killoran, PowerScore LSAT Preparation

Fact: The LSAT is Extremely Difficult

Each year over 100,000 people take the LSAT but only about 30 achieve a perfect score of 180. Or, to look at it another way, if you have a 180 and are in a room of 10,000 test takers, you have one of the three highest scores. But on many LSATs, you can miss up to three questions to achieve that “perfect” score, meaning there’s plenty of room for error.

The situation is also the same at lower scores. For example, to get a 170 (97% percentile), on many LSATs you must correctly answer around 89 out of 101 questions. In other words, you can miss 12 questions, and still be above 97% of testers. The conclusion you can draw from these numbers is that the LSAT is a very, very difficult exam.

But there is good news here because in difficulty lies opportunity! The LSAT is a learnable test, and you can improve your performance by studying and preparing properly. Why is that? Because this is a standardized test, and you can learn about the standards and protocols used in the making of the test. The LSAT will always be difficult, but you can improve and you don’t have to be anywhere near perfect to do very well.

Fiction: There’s a Limit on the Number of Times You Can Take the LSAT

While there used to be a limit of taking the LSAT of three times in any two-year period, that limitation has been lifted, and there is now no restriction on how many times you can take the test!

Because law schools focus on your high score (more on that below), this means you can overcome a low score by retaking the test and improving on your performance. So if you have a bad day, you can erase that memory with a better performance later on.

Fact: Not Every Test is Released

While many LSATs are released to the general public after being administered, some are not. These non-released tests are known as nondisclosed LSATs, and aside from your score you receive no information about the test.

Most importantly, you do not receive the test or your answers. Does that matter at all? If you score well, it doesn’t. But if you don’t do as well as hoped, then how will you learn from and improve on the test you just took if:

  • You have no idea how you performed on each section.
  • You have no idea what kinds of questions you struggled with.
  • You can’t study off the test.
  • You can’t work through and figure out why you got certain questions wrong.

Because of these negatives, it is generally better to take a disclosed LSAT than a nondisclosed LSAT if possible.

Fiction: The LSAT Tests Legal Concepts

The LSAT is a not a test of legal concepts or cases, but rather a test of the kinds of reasoning skills that students need to excel in law school. So, while the test makers occasionally throw in references to the law or the judicial system, you do not need to have any legal knowledge prior to taking the LSAT.

Fact: Law Schools Only Care About Your Highest Score

One of the most persistent law school admissions myths is the notion that schools consider every LSAT score—or the average score—for individual applicants when assessing their admissions profile. While this used to be true, it is happily no longer the case!

The American Bar Association (ABA) now requires that law schools submit only the highest LSAT score for each candidate, and thus the high score is the only score US News & World Report will use when computing their schools rankings. Thus, the high score is all that matters and all other results are essentially meaningless for reporting purposes. Because of this, any lower scores on your record (before or after your high score was achieved) have no effect.

Questions about the facts of the LSAT? Feel free to reach out to us directly at www.powerscore.com!