The LSAT is a tough exam for many students. The exam does not test your background knowledge for future programs. Instead, it tests your reasoning skills for admissions to law schools. If you want a seat at the top tier law schools in the country, it is imperative to do well in the exam.
So, just how important is the LSAT?
Extremely important. Your LSAT score is a great predictor on how you are likely to do well in the first year of law school. It has been often observed that the higher scorers tend to perform better at law school programs.
The LSAT measures skills that are important for success in law school. Right from reading and understanding complex pieces of text, drawing reasonable inferences from various pieces of information and critical thinking – all are measured effectively through the LSAT.
The LSAT is designed to measure skills that are considered essential for success in law school: the reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight; the organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it; the ability to think critically; and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others. If you do not score high in the LSAT, chances are that you are not thinking like the lawyers do.
Even if you have done pretty well in other parts of your application, a low LSAT score will most likely not land you a place at a top law school. Since the GPAs can vary widely across programs and universities, LSAT becomes a good common ground to compare students.
If you are aiming for one of the top tier law schools, the LSAT plays a very important part in the screening process. Since top schools are spoilt for choices, the other factors become important after the screening process. A score of 180 does not guarantee you a seat at Yale or Harvard. Yes, it improves your chances greatly. You still need a high GPA, good essay and strong application to get into a top notch law program.
With law schools at the lower end of the rankings spectrum, you will still have a good chance if you have scored pretty high in the LSAT. It is in the interest of law schools (read rankings) to admit students with higher LSAT scores. A score in excess of 160 will keep you competitive at most schools.
Remember that LSAT scores are important not only for the admission process. They also play a crucial role in securing scholarships. A high LSAT score could mean lesser strain on your wallet. Always aim high on the LSAT!