The Law School Admission Test® (LSAT®) is a standardized test required for admission to law school. The LSAT® measures analytical reading and reasoning skills, both of which are necessary for success in law school and the legal profession. LSAT® score reports have three primary performance indicators: a raw score, a scaled score, and a percentile rank. LSAT® percentiles are designed to let each test taker know how he or she compares to other who take the LSAT®.
The LSAT® consists of an unscored writing portion and four multiple-choice sections, three of which contribute to overall LSAT® percentiles. The multiple choice questions test reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning. The fourth multiple-choice section is an unscored experimental section used to evaluate potential questions for future tests. The final LSAT® raw score is based on the number of multiple-choice questions answered correctly. There is no penalty for guessing and each question is evenly weighted.
LSAT® raw scores are converted into a scaled score ranging from 120 to 180 using a statistical method known as equating. The goal of scaling scores is to compensate for differences in difficulty from one test to another. Scaled scores can be hard to evaluate on their own, which is why the LSAT® report also includes a percentile score. LSAT® percentiles do not reflect the actual percentage of correct answers scored on the test; the percentile is more of a measuring stick provided for performance comparison purposes. For each test-taker, the LSAT® percentile shown in the score report represents the percentage of other test-takers who have received lower-scaled scores.
When it comes to LSAT® percentiles, a higher percentile equals a better performance. For example, a score in the 80th percentile indicates the test-taker scored better than 80 percent of people who completed the exam. The percentile rank is awarded based on three years of compiled test data rather than just the results from each testing period. This improves the accuracy of the percentile for each score and gives test-takers a better idea of their overall performance.
LSAT® percentiles might not be a faultless predictor of law school performance, but they still play a significant role in the law school admission process. For practical purposes, LSAT® percentiles can help prospective law students evaluate the likelihood of being admitted into the law school of their choice. The percentile is the best indicator of performance relative to other potential law school candidates.