The majority of law schools in both the United States and Canada require applicants to sit for the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT®, as one of a handful of admission requirements. Aside from submitting at least one valid score, there are no firm LSAT® requirements for law schools. Most schools count LSAT® scores as one of many factors when deciding whether to grant admission. While high scores are usually weighted heavily, few schools have actual score requirements.
No standardized tests can paint a complete picture of the test-taker, and the LSAT® is no different. As such, the LSAT® requirements for law schools generally ask the applicant to sit for the exam at least once within a period of five years leading up to the date of application. The five-year expiration date is set in part to ensure that applicants’ scores still reflect current abilities, but also to enable some flexibility for schedule changes and life circumstances. Most of the time, applicants can sit for the exam up to three times within that five-year window, and schools usually only consider the highest score.
LSAT® scores are calculated from students’ performance on five sections that include questions on reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. Raw scores are converted to numerical scores on a 120 to 180 scale. Each score is assigned a percentile ranking, indicating how the test-taker’s score compared with other candidates on that exam date. Law schools receive score reports with these numbers, but they are not able to assess performance in any one section and are not able to see students’ answers to individual questions. Accordingly, there are no LSAT® requirements for law schools based on subject-matter performance.
The only piece of the LSAT® exam that law schools see is an unscored sixth section, which is a writing sample. After completing the five multiple-choice sections, test-takers are given 35 minutes to answer a written prompt. That prompt is not graded and does not factor into a student’s scaled score, but it is transmitted to all schools that receive a score report. LSAT® requirements for law schools often include reasonably strong performance on the writing sample portion of the LSAT® test, as a demonstration of thinking and communicating under pressure.
Law school admissions in both the United States and Canada are typically quite competitive, and a high LSAT® score can distinguish one candidate from another. The median LSAT® results typically hover around 150 to 151, but the average score of students admitted to the best-ranked schools is usually much higher, usually at least in the low 160s. Of course, these numbers are just averages. There are no score-based LSAT® requirements for law schools, and students with lower scores still can and frequently do gain acceptance to even the top schools, depending on the strength of their other credentials.