When is a Low LSAT Score Too Low?

My most-read blog topics are those dealing with very low LSAT scores; there are a lot of you out there. The original post is from 2008, and since it’s now June 2019, I think it’s time for an update:

So, what constitutes a “low” LSAT score? The LSAT is scored from 120-180, and an average score is about 150.

LSAT Score Ranges

RangeScorePercentile
Low120-147 Bottom third
Mid-Range148-156 33rd-67th percentile
High157-164 70th-89th percentile
Exceptional165-180 Top 10% of all test takers

People often ask me whether their scores are “too low” to attend law school. If your score is 150 or above, it’s not a particularly low score, depending on which law school you want to attend and how your GPA balances your LSAT for that school. Let’s focus this conversation for those of you below a 147 LSAT. In general, if you are in the mid-140’s or above, I have had success helping applicants fulfill their law school admission goals as long as people are flexible about where to attend and you’re willing to pay full price for law school. But once you get below that number, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

What a Low LSAT Score Means

If your LSAT score is in the 130s or low 140s, it’s very hard to find an ABA law school anywhere in the US that will offer you unrestricted acceptance (especially in the increasingly competitive environment). And you’ll be paying full price if you get lucky enough to get in to one of these questionable schools where the outcomes are far from guaranteed.

Conditional Acceptance Programs

It may be possible to gain acceptance to a conditional program at an ABA law school (especially with scores in the low to mid 140s) but even that has its problems. You may get yourself into Nova Southeastern or somewhere to try the conditional course, and then they may only offer acceptance to 2 of the 100 participants. The problem is that once you are unsuccessful in gaining acceptance through a conditional admission program, other law schools will be hard pressed to find a reason to give you a chance at their own school, even with a slightly improved LSAT score.

Re-Taking the LSAT

If you haven’t exhausted your opportunities to take the LSAT, then take it again. However, you must prepare differently than you did before. And don’t rush the process; give yourself time to prepare and keep in mind that there are once again limits on the number of times you can take the LSAT. Make improving your score your focus; without it, the world’s best personal statement, most impressive resume, and illuminating letters of recommendation won’t make a bit of difference. (This is why I often tell people with low LSAT scores to come back to me when they have a higher score; I don’t want you to waste your money!)

Those of you who know me know that I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I will always give my honest opinion in the hopes that this helps you make good decisions about your future.

If you’re concerned about your Low LSAT or Low GPA, you can contact me to schedule a consultation where we can discuss your options.

1,031 thoughts on “When is a Low LSAT Score Too Low?

  1. Hello,

    I graduated last May with a 3.88 and recently took the lsat and scored a 151. My practice tests were significantly higher averaging about a 158. I am scheduled to take the LSAT again in Feb and have improved my average to 160. Is there any way to prevent this significant drop again and what are my chances of getting into a TOP 100 with a 151?

  2. Hi Ann,

    I applied to University of La Verne in Southern California. My GPA is 3.46 and my LSAT is 149. This makes me over the 75% in GPA, ( La Verne’s 74% percentile for GPA is 3.25)but my LAT score puts me just under the school’s 25% for the LSAT.(La Verne’s 25% for the LSAT is 150) In your opinion, what are my chances of eing accepted into this school? Thank you ahead of time for answering my question.

  3. Hi Ann!

    I wrote to you about a year ago after just receiving an OK LSAT score. I ended up following your advice and retook the exam. I improved the second time around and just received admission to the University of Miami School of Law. I am really excited! I understand you are an alumna of that law school. I’m not sure if you’re comfortable sharing specifics in the blog format, but how did you like the school? it is one I am seriously considering and I would love to hear your thoughts/advice/experience while you were there! Also, thanks for all of your help with this blog!

    -CV

  4. Hi Ann. The first time I took the LSAT I scored a 149 and didn’t study or try at all, that was 5 years ago. I have an IQ of 145 so I have no idea why I didn’t score higher. I have some pretty bad mental disabilities, ADHD and very bad insomnia and paranoia and a frontal brain injury. It took me 6 years to finish my undergrad but I did it. Is there anything I can do to maybe get some kind of extra time the next time I take the test so I have a little more time to focus my mind? I just sit there for like 10 minutes when the test starts like staring at the page unable to focus, then boom it’s like my brain kicks in finally and i’m at 100% mode, but then when the time limit is up there are still like 15 questions left in each section.
    Thanks

  5. Hi Ann,

    I just got my LSAT score back and I scored 140. I realize it’s a low score but it was the first time I have taken the test. I have a 3.3 GPA at USF and I would like to attend The University of San Francisco law school . Do you think I have any chance of getting in? I realize I need to re-take the test in June but would that mean I would have to wait till fall 2014 to attend?

    Thanks!

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Max,
      You are not getting into USF now. (Sorry!) and you should take the LSAT in June and wait and apply in the fall.
      I could make you happy and tell you to apply with your June LSAT score, but it would be a waste of an application fee. USF already has a waiting list for entrance for Fall 2014.
      Think of this as an opportunity to sit back and regroup and do things right for Fall 2014.

  6. Waheed on said:

    Hey Ann,

    I got a 137 the first time I took the LSAT. A 142 the second time. My UGPA is 3.38 overall. I am a senior and an intercollegiate athlete at my university. I have interned at 3 different law firms thus far. And am involved with various organizations on campus. My family are also immigrants from Afghanistan. I have applied to most of the schools in California thus far. Should I retake the June LSAT? And is it possible to reapply to schools in the Fall? I want to go to Law Sxhool for the fall of 2013 and not 2014. I do not want to wait out a year. Do you suggest me applying to other schools? Which ones? I am not too familiar with ABA schools out of California.

    Thank you so much.

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Waheed, you have a lot working in your favor.However, I can’t really answer the other questions because I don’t know what you did to prepare for the LSAT, how you were scoring on practice tests, etc., so I don’t know if you have the capacity to improve your score by retaking it.

  7. Sergio on said:

    Hi my name is sergio iam mexican,these exam is really hard for american people imagine for me that english is my second language ,i just received my lsat score and got a 138 do i have a chance to enter to a law school since iam mexican do you think they take into account that or do you think is better no to lose time trying to apply ? Please answer me asap

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Sergio,
      The law schools look at a lot of factors including:
      – how you did in school (in English language)
      – how you’ve done professionally (in English language)
      A 138 is hard to “talk up” unless you went to a good university in the U.S. and did very well in the classroom. Law schools need assurance that you can succeed in the English language in a very rigorous academic environment. I don’t know your story, how old you are, etc., but you may want to consider working on your English reading comp abilities in addition to studying for the LSAT again using a program or tutor.

  8. Kiesha on said:

    My lsat score was 132. 6 months before the date of the test I took a diagnostic test and scored the same. I discovered my problem was that I could not get through the exam at the required speed; when to took the test during untimed conditions (spending 45 minutes instead of 35) I averaged a 165. When I took the test the first time I had only taken three practice exams and skimmed through a prep book. I can’t say that I studied consistently. I want to retake the test and I am ready to practice and familiarize myself with the exam. With that said, considering my last score, how much time should I study before I take the exam? Any input or advice you can provide will be appreciated.

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Kiesha, It’s about your method, not your time investment. Please take a prep course – you can’t do this on your own given your first score.

  9. Matt Godfrey on said:

    Ann, I have taken the LSAT twice and scored 147 & 145 respectively. My GPA is 3.2. What can I do to increase my chances of acceptance to law school. Georgia State University is my first choice with John Marshall to follow. I have a great resume and extracurriculars such as president of the crim justice honor society. I am worried to death about this. Any ideas or suggestions?

    Thank you! !!!!!!!

  10. Sergio on said:

    Hi my name is sergio iam mexican,these exam is really hard for american people imagine for me that english is my second language ,i just received my lsat score and got a 138 do i have a chance to enter to a law school since iam mexican do you think they take into account that or do you think is better no to lose time trying to apply ? Please answer me asap…

    ( iam 26 years old, iam a lawyer in mexico)

  11. Hi Ann,

    I graduated from Suny Binghamton with a 3.1 gpa, and scored a 145 on the Feb 2013 lsat. I studied on and off for 2 months, while holding down a full time job and going through some family issues. On my practice exams i was scoring in the 150′s, but I’m hesitant to retake it since I’ll be 25 soon and will have to wait till next enrollment cycle. Do you think I’d have any chance at getting into Touro or NY Law with my current scores? Or, should I retake the exam? Any advise would be helpful. Thanks

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Hi Alex, You also left a comment somewhere else so if it’s ok, I’m just going to answer this one.
      You need to retake the test, I think….. Sorry!

  12. Carl R. Jean-Louis on said:

    Hello Ms. Levine. Thank you so much for this post. I took the LSAT in December 2012, and got a 149. While my Undergrad GPA is about a 3.0 (actually 2.969), I also have a master’s degree, and during my graduate career, I racked up grades no less than a B-plus. My graduate GPA is 3.9. Needless to say my academic trajectory from undergrad to grad has been great. I’ve worked my way through both undergrad and grad school, and currently enjoy (sort of) a career in the mental/behavioral health field, for about 6 years now (I am currently 32 years old). My work with advocacy of the population I serve has inspired me to apply for law school. Supervisors at both of my jobs (yes–both) regard me as an excellent employee and have written glittering letters of recommedation. My graduate school professor, with whom I took the most classes and worked most closely, has also written a flattering letter of recommedation for me, as did my supervisor’s supervisor. I’ve been ON THE FENCE about whether or not to apply to Law schools with my score and credentials; I’ve started applications to several schools in the NY metro area (Brooklyn Law, St. John’s, Hofstra, CUNY Law, etc.), but my gripping fear that my score is not high enough has kept me from completing these applications, and others. I hear from some that I would better off taking the test, getting a higher score, while others tell me that with my score, background, and credentials, I “should” get into a good school. Some of those who say I should just “cross the Rubicon” and apply now based on my current stats include my pre-law advisor, who has said I can get into some “competitive schools” based on my stats, and my sister, who scored in the mid-150’s on her LSAT and is getting ready to graduate from Harvard University Law this May. I’m so torn….what do you think I should do? I’m already registered to take the June 2013 LSAT, and I’m actually thinking about postponing that to the October 2013 LSAT, to give myself more time to study (my being “so torn” about applying has caused me to waste time and study inconsistently since receiving my last score). What should I do? I’ve heard that grad school grades and work experience, regardless of how great, are “soft” admission factors, and pale in importance in comparison to LSAT score, but I’m getting conflicting reports. HELP!!!

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Carl,
      I think it’s a great plan to take the October LSAT. You don’t need another prep course, but you may really benefit from a tutor.
      It’s very late in the cycle to apply to law school now and start in the fall – the schools you are applying to are already receiving deposits from admitted students.
      I think it’s better to take your time and do everything right. While you sure might get into a reach school due to your work experience, goals, diversity, graduate school grades and stellar letters of rec, with a lower overall GPA, you really need to see if you can do the best you can on the LSAT. IF you are still hitting in the high 140s after additional prep then don’t retake the LSAT, but do apply early in the fall. I hope this helps.

      • Carl R. Jean-Louis on said:

        Thanks so much Ms. Levine! I agree with you totally–its so much better to take my time and do everything the right way! I’m going to reschedule the LSAT test (when possible–apparently, its too early to do so right now), and study in the meantime. I will also look into getting a tutor–I understand the concept of the test, and I feel I just need help with my pacing. Thanks again!

  13. Carl R. Jean-Louis on said:

    Hello Ms. Levine. I also wanted to add that I took a practice LSAT test this past Saturday, and scored a 146. Lower than my actual LSAT score of 149, but due to my inconsistent studying over the past month and a half, I’m guessing that this score is the result, and I’m in the same range. I started out with a 130 last year at this time, and my highest has been a 149. I’ve already taken a total of 3 prep courses (2 princeton review and 1 LSATWiz); both have been helpful, and I truly don’t feel I need any more prep courses–just practice, practice, practice! I this a correct self-assessment? Or am I just crazy? Thanks!!!

  14. Carl R. Jean-Louis on said:

    I’m sorry Ms. Levine….I also wanted to add that my undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology and clinic psychology, respectively. I’m also an Afircan American male who is aware of Law School’s desire to maintain a diverse student body. What do you think I should do? Thanks!

  15. Hello Ms. Levine. I am a horrible test taker and I got a 137 on my LSAT. I did poorly on my ACT and GRE as well. I am planning on taking it again in October. However I graduate with my Masters from a Big East school with a 3.9 in Political Science. I had to turn down a Ph.d. chance at an SEC school because of cost. My undergrad GPA was a 3.7. With having a masters and undergrad GPA so high will it help balance out my low LSAT? I am really only looking at law schools around Louisville, Cincinnati, or Lexington. Both University of Louisville or Chase Law school offer part-time will this be the best avenue for me? Thanks

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Kyle,
      I’m glad you have strong grades from undergrad and graduate school. However, you absolutely need to do much better on your LSAT – at least 10 points better, in order to be considered. Look at the 25th percentile LSAT scores for your schools as a guide for what you should be aiming for.

  16. Hello Ann,

    I cancelled my 1st LSAT score and got 144 on my 2nd attempt and 146 on my 3rd attempt. I’m considering doing the LSAT for the 4th time in one year from now. I have narrowed down the issues as to why I was not able to score higher. The main issue is that I did not take enough practice LSATs under timed conditions. Most Canadian law schools state that they take the highest for admission purposes. Will it affect my chances if I have done the LSAT four times and my fourth score being significantly higher than the previous scores?

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Sam, if you can get a score that is significantly higher then law schools will forgive your lower scores although you’ll need to explain the reason for the increase because the pattern will look strange.

  17. Colleen on said:

    Hi Ann,

    I am currently a senior at the University of Maryland.I will be getting my UG in BA Economics with a 3.5 gpa. I am afraid that my gpa is too low, particularly because I am coming from a state school. Do you think I have a chance at a top law school (assuming I get a decent score on my lsat)?

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Colleen,
      A 3.5 is nothing to be ashamed of, especially with a difficult major like Econ. Don’t count yourself out!

  18. Hi Ann,

    I am an AA URM retaking the June LSAT. I have a 2.7 GPA. Some people have told methat if i score exceedingly well I can be a splitter for this cycle and may have a chance at a school like Georgetown or Northwestern. I s this really feasible? Moreover, Does applying early help my chances? MY goal is to apply no later than August with the June LSAT score.

  19. Kelvin on said:

    Hi Ann,

    I am a AA Male taking the LSAT in June. I have had extensive practice on the LSAT and average around a 163-166 on the practice tests. Additionally, I am a double major in Political Science and Criminal Justice with a 3.92 GPA. Do you think this will be competitive enough for UNC or Georgetown’s Law School? Thanks.

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Kelvin, YES I do! With a strong application you will absolutely be in the running for those schools (and higher up too!).

  20. Andre on said:

    Hi Ann,

    I am a US citizen and I graduated from a top University in the UK with a degree in Politics and International Relations with a decent equivalent gpa (around 3.0-3.4). I had taken the LSATS in 2009 with a 137, but then took it the next year with the help of a prep course and scored 147. I was commuting down to London to take the course which made it a bit harder. After working full time I am reconsidering going into law and even looking into things like JAG. I have recently moved back to Texas and wondering if I have any chance in getting into a decent school?

  21. Hi Ann,
    First, I have to thank you for this website and your willingness to answer our questions. I am in a bit of a different place than the previous writers, having attended law school before. I was dismissed after my first year because my GPA fell below the 2.0 minimum GPA. To start with, I did not have the most stellar stats (LSAT: 147 and UGPA: 2.6, but a graduate GPA of 3.5). The school was a lower third-tier and definitely not the right fit for me, I attended because it was the only school that gave me an outright acceptance and was in the NYC metro area (big mistake!).
    It has been over two years since the dismissal (the artificial “sit out” period, which the ABA claims doesn’t exist, but law schools do), and I have since completed a legal internship, earned my paralegal certificate from an ABA-approved program with a near 4.0 GPA, and have worked in a law office. I did a thorough self-assessment, to see if I have what it takes to be a lawyer, I believe I do. Prior to attending law school, I had very little exposure to the legal process and an unrealistic idealized concept of a lawyer. That romanticism has gone out the window, now that have more experience. Also, I mis-prioritized my goals and over-committed to extra-curricular activities. Now, I have a clear understanding of what it takes to succeed and am ready to head back to law school.
    I am applying to schools in the third and fourth tier, but really feel branded by the prior dismissal. In your experience how do law schools view candidates with prior dismissals and a low UGPA/LSAT? How will my subsequent experience and education be weighed against the dismissal? I plan to re-take the LSAT, originally I prepared on my own, but plan to get a tutor this time and hope to increase my score. I apologize for such a long post and thank you in advance for any insight you can provide.

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Hi Lois,
      I think it’s a complicated situation but worth trying because you have shown serious commitment to law and if you can raise your LSAT score and show that that time in your life is behind you, it could be persuasive. However, I can’t say you’d get into a school higher than third tier (not sure what “lower third tier” means since tiers weren’t ranked within each tier, last I checked). Your GPA and academic probation in law school are going to be hard to overcome since it looks like your numbers did in fact predict your law school performance. If you can significantly increase your score, that would of course help you, but I don’t want to be overly optimistic about you getting into a “better” school than you already attended.

  22. Richardson Marx on said:

    Getting into a T1 or T14 school requires that we get AT LEAST 95th percentile.

    That is the equivalent of getting a 135 IQ assessment.

    Only those who hit the 95th percentile mark will enter schools that allows 1/3 to 1/2 of them to get the coveted BIGLAW jobs.

    How many of us actually have a 135 IQ?!? The average IQ is ~85 in the US.

    Even if we get a bump (6 points or so) for a Special Status (cough cough) it still such a herculean effort to pull off. Let alone once you enter one of these genius factories, measuring up with the top 33% plus or minus that guarantees you that BIG LAW, 175K A YEAR JOB.

    How does this make any sense to us?!

  23. RobertK on said:

    I am in the U.S Army and plan on attending the law school in 2016 on the Post 911 GI bill. I had studied abroad at Sweden’s Uppsala University in a dual master programs and was 15 credits left until I ran out of the money and return back home where I join the army and finishing my master in International Development specialization i finance online from University of Maryland College University on line. I am planing on taking the LSAT and is new at this whole thing and will highly appreciate your advice.

  24. David G on said:

    Hello Ann,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the posts and your replies, most of which answered many of my questions. Although I do have just one more question. I have a 3.92 Undergrad GPA from Cleveland State University in Political Science and have scored a 164 on the LSAT, should this not qualify me for a scholarship?

    I appreciate any advice you may have.

    Thank you,
    David

    • Ann Levine on said:

      David,
      You should be getting scholarship offers to law schools but of course it depends where you are applying.

  25. Amber on said:

    I took the June lsat and got a 156 and currently have a 3.3 GPA at Auburn Univ. I took a class for the lsat and was scoring around 156-159 on my practice exams, I ranked 67th percentile and was very unhappy with my score. My school of choice is Loyola Chicago and I was wondering if I should retake the LSAT. Their med. LSAT is 160 and med. GPA is 3.37. I still have one year left of undergrad so My gpa can go up from here. Should I retake or accept the score I have and start to prepare my school applications?

  26. Hello,

    I just took the June LSAT and got a 159. I go to NYU and I have a 3.3 gpa. Do you think my chances of getting into the top tier schools are decent? I’ve held legal internships so I have experience and I am very active in the NYU and NYC community, in regards to extracurriculars. I have a strong resume, good recommendations and a well-written personal statement. I’m just worried my score and gpa aren’t good enough to keep me in the running. Will I even be considered? Money is an issue so I don’t want to spend a lot applying to schools if it’s just unrealistic.
    Thanks so much for your time.

    Best,
    Lisa