When is a Low LSAT Score Too Low?

Law School Expert Blog

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 2024, I think it’s time for an update:

The LSAT is scored from 120-180, and an average score is about 150. Here is a current breakdown of percentiles of scores for 2024 (but note that these may shift after the August 2024 LSAT when logic games will no longer be part of the test):

How to Calculate Your LSAT Percentile

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 into 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.

JDNext

If you do not perform well on standardized tests, you may want to consider being a guinea pig for the JDNext program. Beginning in 2024, many law schools have agreed to admit (or at least consider) candidates who participate in this course and complete its exam in lieu of a standardized test score. However, I anticipate that if you already have a low LSAT score, this is what the law schools will rely upon. JDNext may be worth looking into if you have not yet taken the LSAT.

Re-Taking the LSAT

Law schools use the highest of multiple LSAT scores. Law schools do not average LSAT scores. If you haven’t exhausted your opportunities to take the LSAT, then take it again. However, you must change how you prepare.  And don’t rush the process; give yourself time to prepare and keep in mind that you can take the LSAT a limited number of times. Only retake the test if your practice exam scores are in a range where you would be happy with the outcome. 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.

Should you Take the GRE?

Once you have an LSAT score on record, that’s what law schools will count in your application. However, you may choose to submit a GRE score in lieu of an LSAT score for most law schools. Check school requirements if you’re interested in submitting your GRE scores instead of an LSAT score.

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.

1,043 Responses

  1. Hello Mrs. Levine, I have a question about prospective schools. I took the LSAT 3 times and my highest score was a measly 153 with a 2.83 Undergrad GPA. I’m unfortunately forced to stay in Washington DC because I have a family.

    I know that I can’t realistically get into any T14 or Tier 1 school without curing cancer, so what schools should I apply to in the MD/DC/VA area? App fees are too expensive to give $80 or so to a school if I stand little chance of acceptance. Thank you for this blog.

    Martin

    1. Hi Ann,

      I recently took the LSAT, and scored 144. I’m shocked. I have and undergraduate GPA of 3.00, and a graduate GPA of 3.5. I am holding out hope that my courses in law during my time in grad school, as well as having an MA with a reasonable GPA will help my chances of acceptance into Law School — Is this an unrealistic hope? I want to know whether I should retake the LSAT, but given that the approximate boost in score appears to be an average of only 2 points, I’m not sure that it’s worth it.

      Can you please advise?

      1. I had a 2.98 gpa and 145 lsat score. Only took it once and got into an ABA accredited law school in California

  2. Hi Marshall,
    As your law school admission consultant, I can help you come up with a schools list and to make sure your materials are as strong as possible. If you are interested in these services, please take a look at my web site -www.lawschoolexpert.com

    Happy New Year.

  3. Erika asked me this question:

    Can you please give me some insight. I took the LSAT twice over 2 years ago and received a 145 both times. I did not try nearly as hard and have now decided it was a huge mistake. I did however apply to some schools with this score. As you can guess I was denied. I am looking to take the test again and put everything into it. Does it look awful if I take the test again? And do I have a chance??

    Thank you very much for your opinion.

    Erika – yes, if you take the test again and redeem yourself, you will have a shot at law school. Most law schools keep old applications on file for just two years, so by the time you would apply they probably would not see your application materials even if they would see the scores. You would probably need an LSAT addendum to explain the increase, but the facts you’re presenting – by themselves – don’t scare me. (Of course, this depends upon the schools you plan to apply to but if your schools list is reasonable given your credentials then I don’t count you out.)

  4. Hi There,

    I took the LSAT twice and received a 143 the first time and a 147 the second. My undergrad GPA is a 3.2. I have applied to some law schools and am just wondering if there is a realistic chance of acceptance. Any feedback will help.

    Thanks,
    Danielle

    1. Danielle, That’s a very open-ended question and you won’t get any predictions out of me : )
      I have no idea where you applied. You’re just going to have to sit back and wait. But if the school’s 25th percentile is a 147 then you might have a shot if your application is strong. We’ll have to see what happens and then you can perhaps apply to different schools next year and/or retake the LSAT. But your 4 point jump is great – congratulations!

  5. hello, i had a few questions regarding the lsat.
    i recieved a 139 on first lsat and a 142 on second lsat, clearly i must do higher.
    do i have a shoot of getting into thomas jefferson school of law? they are san diego based school and tier 4. i only wish to get into TJ and hope with my 3.0 from UCSD that i have a shoot.
    i will have to take the lsat again in june, which will be my 3rd attempt and consequently my final attempt.
    does my small increase from 139 to 142 help me in applying or would thay have liked to see huge improvement? i just cant seem to get the LSAT, it is killing me.
    thanks
    alex

    1. Alex,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I do not think your improvement is going to make enough of a difference for you, even given your modest goals.
      I would tell you to try to improve your score for June, but not to take the June exam unless you’re seeing significant improvements in your practice exam scores.
      Good luck with this.
      Ann

  6. Mrs. Levine,

    I received a 145 on my first take and a 147 on my second. I really studied my behind off (did perfect on the games and horrible on reading comp).
    I also have a 3.62 gpa.

    I live in NY and can go as far as Jersey… where can I get in with these numbers?
    Also would applying night/part-time help?

    -Kevin

    1. Hi Kevin – I sent you an e-mail directly. Unfortunately I can’t give such specific advice within the confines of the blog. I do refer you to the LSAC admission calculator and the LSAC ABA Official Guide to Law Schools for information about the acceptance rates for people in your bracket at law schools in your area.

  7. Dear Levnie,

    I have taken the LSAT 5times (137, 141, 144, 145, 145). I am currently on a wait list at Hoftra in NY. I made the same list a year back but did not gain admission. My GPA is 3.28. I can honestly say that I was not well prepared the first 2times I took the test. Do you know of any schools in the NY/NJ area that might consider my scores? I have three years of Paralegal.

    I am considering going for my Masters instead and possibly re-visiting the LSAT in another 5years. Do you think this is a wise idea? I seriously want to get into a law school. Thank you.

    – tania