LSAT Scoring Scales and Curves Explained
Scoring on the LSAT
The LSAT comprises 99-101 scored questions. You earn one raw point for every question that you get right, and (unlike what you remember from the SAT), you neither gain nor lose any points for questions that you miss.
This means that if there are any questions on the test that you don’t answer, you must guess. Part of your strategy may be to leave some questions unanswered in an effort to get all the other questions right. This is an appropriate strategy for almost everyone taking the LSAT. On questions that you don’t answer, we recommend that you bubble (D) for Dave. Or whatever . It doesn’t matter in any real sense, but whichever letter you choose, you should use only that letter for any guesses you make anywhere on the test; it’s the simplest and surest way to maximize your potential for getting questions right by guessing. And that’s more than enough talk about guessing. Let’s talk about the questions you’ll learn to get right.
Score Conversion Overview
First, know that the raw points you earn do not indicate your LSAT score in any absolute or necessary way. As do all major standardized tests, the LSAT employs a scaled scoring system, in an attempt to compare student performance across different test administrations. The June test administered in 2008 is not the same test as the October test in 2008. Simply because they’re different, they may vary slightly in difficulty, and scaling scores allows LSAC to account for those minor differences. Therefore, although on any given test a student will need to answer about 81 questions correctly in order to get a 164 (currently the 90th%), on some tests, 79 points will get you there, and on others, it may take as many as 83.
In other words, if a test is more difficult, you will be “rewarded” with a higher scaled score for the points you earned, simply because the scale is a measure of how you compare to other students who took the test, not really a measure of how well you did on the test in absolute terms.
However, the test is pretty well standardized by this point, so we can say that there is a pretty close correspondence between points earned, percentile rank, and scaled score. Like this:
|People who score:||Typically get about this many questions right:||And have done better than this percent of all testers:|
Score Conversion Charts
LSAT Score Scales
Since October 2000, on average, testers have needed to get 61 questions right to score a 152 (the current 52nd% - the closest score to the overall median), 81 questions right to score 164 (the current 90th%), and 92 questions right for 173 (the current 99th%).
Below is a list of all LSAT PrepTests administered over the last decade, plus a measure of their relative difficulty. The higher the relative difficulty indicator, the more difficult the scaling.
For example, in December of 2005, it took 85 points to earn a score of 164. By contrast, in December of 2002, it took only 78 points to earn that same 164. This tells us that the 2002 test was relatively more difficult, so test-takers were more heavily rewarded for the questions they got right.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, a more difficult scaling indicates that the test itself was easier - it means that more people got more questions right, so that for any given scaled score, a tester would have had to earn more raw points than they would have on a test where more people missed more questions.
So, negative numbers mean more-generous scaled scores on harder tests. Positive numbers mean stingier scales on easier tests.
50th Percentile Difficulty Curve
90th Percentile Difficulty Curve
99th Percentile Difficulty Curve
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