LSAT vs. Future Salary: The Importance of Test Preparation

The decision to take a preparation course for the LSAT is often a difficult one for potential test takers. After all, $395 to $1,295 is a considerable amount of money to spend, especially for the mere possibility of gaining ten to twelve points on a single test.

There is, however, an underlying investment in your test preparation efforts. The following chart lists various LSAT scores from 145 to 170 and the corresponding schools that admitted approximately fifty percent (50%) of applicants with those scores. When graduates from these represented schools are analyzed post-graduation in terms of starting salary and likelihood of securing gainful employment, the LSAT score paints an incredibly accurate picture of what graduates entering the private sector can expect to earn, as well as the unemployment rate those students will find themselves facing at graduation.

Law School

Average Starting Salary Range ($) **

% Unemployed  Upon Graduation ***

Average LSAT: 145 *

Golden Gate University

45,000

67,000

2.7

St. Thomas University

40,000

60,000

9.2

Washburn

34,200

48,000

5.3

New England

40,000

70,000

4.7

Thomas M. Cooley

32,500

55,000

6.0

CUNY- Queens

40,000

46,000

9.0

Touro College

40,000

60,000

17.4

Ohio Northern University

32,000

50,000

14.9

Oklahoma City University

35,000

50,000

14.0

University of Tulsa

35,000

54,000

14.9

Roger Williams University

35,000

65,000

4.7

University of South Dakota

30,000

40,000

5.7

       

Averages for LSAT 145 Section

$36,558

$55,417

9.0%

       

Average LSAT: 150

     

Samford University

40,000

57,500

5.4

California Western

45,000

65,000

8.5

Whittier

50,000

70,000

7.5

Quinnipiac

40,000

70,000

1.9

Widener

38,500

75,600

7.6

Florida Coastal

36,250

52,500

27.9

Mercer

38,500

77,500

1.5

University of Idaho

36,000

52,500

1.2

John Marshall

45,312

86,750

11.4

Drake University

36,250

49,500

6.9

Louisiana State University

44,000

72,800

3.6

University of Maine

36,000

57,500

16.5

University of Baltimore

42,000

72,000

7.4

Western New England

35,000

70,000

6.8

Michigan State University

35,000

63,000

3.1

Hamline University

38,250

50,000

3.8

Creighton University

32,000

50,000

2.9

Albany

40,000

60,000

1.3

Campbell University

30,000

42,500

0.0

University of Dayton

35,000

70,000

5.4

University of Memphis

38,500

57,000

1.6

Gonzaga

35,000

51,500

3.5

University of Wyoming

30,000

42,500

3.4

       

Averages for LSAT 150 Section

$38,111

$61,550

6.0%

       

Average LSAT: 155

     

Arizona State University

43,000

80,000

10.1

University of the Pacific

49,500

70,000

28.6

Florida State University

42,000

60,000

3.2

University of Florida

45,000

71,000

5.8

University of Hawaii

50,000

61,000

5.9

Northern Illinois University

36,000

44,800

2.2

Indiana U- Indianapolis

42,500

75,000

2.1

University of Kansas

42,000

79,000

3.0

University of Louisville

35,000

65,000

0.8

University of Mississippi

40,500

63,750

1.1

University of Montana

34,000

45,000

4.1

University of Nebraska

35,000

55,000

0.8

University of New Mexico

37,720

50,000

3.2

University of Oklahoma

35,000

60,000

6.8

Willamette University

36,000

55,000

12.1

University of South Carolina

39,250

66,000

4.7

University of Tennessee

40,000

80,000

4.5

University of Houston

55,000

110,000

1.0

       

Averages for LSAT 155 Section

$40,971

$66,142

5.6%

       

Average LSAT: 160

     

University of Alabama

50,000

70,000

1.1

University of Arizona

64,000

95,000

4.2

Loyola- Los Angeles

70,000

125,000

16.8

University of Connecticut

58,000

100,000

1.7

George Washington

47,000

125,000

2.7

University of Georgia

57,000

100,000

1.4

Notre Dame

75,000

125,000

0.6

Tulane

65,000

125,000

3.2

Boston College

82,000

125,000

1.6

Washington University- St. Louis

70,000

90,000

0.5

Cardozo-Yeshiva

74,000

125,000

2.5

Vanderbilt

70,000

125,000

0.0

George Mason

50,000

112,500

0.4

       

Averages for LSAT 160 Section

$64,000

$110,962

2.8%

       

Average LSAT: 165

     

U Cal- Berkeley

115,000

125,000

1.4

U Cal- Los Angeles

80,000

125,000

0.9

Southern California

115,000

125,000

1.1

Georgetown

99,000

145,000

0.9

Northwestern

125,000

125,000

0.0

Boston University

80,000

125,000

0.0

Cornell University

125,000

125,000

0.6

Duke University

100,000

125,000

0.0

University of Pennsylvania

75,000

125,000

0.0

University of Texas

84,000

115,000

0.4

University of Virginia

90,000

115,000

0.0

       

Averages for LSAT 165 Section

$98,909

$125,000

0.5%

       

Average LSAT: 170

     

Stanford University

125,000

130,000

0.6

Yale

100,000

125,000

0.0

University of Chicago

125,000

125,000

0.0

Harvard

115,000

125,000

0.4

Columbia University

125,000

125,000

0.3

New York University

125,000

125,000

0.2

       

Averages for LSAT 170 Section

$119,167

$125,833

0.3%

Data as given under ** and *** below is based upon graduates responding to surveys by both the Law School Admission Council and by the individual law schools, and, therefore, likely does not represent 100% of graduates from a particular institution.

* The average LSATs used are those that fall well within the 25% - 75% range for past years' acceptance for that particular school.

** Salaries listed are the midrange of full-time private sector (representing employment in either a law firm or in business/industry) salaries for graduates. Private sector employment is typically understood to represent the highest salaries graduates receive when compared to graduates employed in academia, government, judicial clerkships, etc.

*** "Unemployment" represents graduates seeking employment yet still unemployed six (6) months after graduation (please note that these numbers are not a complete percentage of all unemployed graduates, as some pursue further degrees and some do not seek immediate employment).

It should be immediately clear that even a five-point increase in your LSAT score can ultimately produce a huge difference in your starting salary upon graduation. Most notably, the five-point differential between an LSAT score of 155 and 160 results in an average salary increase of $33,924.50 (155: $53,556.50; 160: $87,481.00) for the first year of employment. When considering an LSAT preparation course such as those offered by PowerScore, you should be aware that increases greater than five points are commonplace. In fact, students have seen their scores improve by ten, fifteen, even twenty points or more, resulting in a tremendous increase in their potential salary based on the law of averages represented in the chart above. To hear what some students had to say about their PowerScore experience, read these Student Comments.

The importance of LSAT preparation is further increased by that fact that, for the vast majority of law school applicants, their GPA is already established. The LSAT, then, is one of the few real determining factors that the student can affect.

A second trend of increasing LSAT scores is, on average, an increasing level of employment. The statistics given here represent graduates from particular colleges who actively seek employment and are unable to find it for at least six months. Actual unemployment figures for the universities listed above are slightly higher, as some students pursue further degrees and others do not seek immediate employment upon graduation, but the important percentage to consider is that of graduates unable to find employment they deem appropriate.

When evaluating salaries, you should remember that these are typically considered high-end salaries, that is, starting salaries from the private sector are, on average, higher than those of the public sector (the public sector includes government employment, judicial clerkships, academic employment, etc.). While the majority of students are employed in private sector areas upon graduation, average salaries for all graduates are going to be slightly lower for each school listed. Also, the salaries here are only for the first year of employment. In other words, the nearly $34,000 separating the starting salaries for a 155 and 160 very likely applies to the years that follow the first year of employment. So, assuming constant pay rates, after three years that five point LSAT difference is worth over $100,000!

It should be clear from the information above that even a seemingly small improvement in your LSAT score can open doors to a future you may have never considered possible. While there is no guarantee that a particular score, or even enrollment in one of the schools listed, will result in a salary that falls in the given range, a vast number of test takers (and, eventually, law school graduates) will find themselves with the opportunity to earn an amount that corresponds with their initial LSAT results. That said, do not gamble with your financial future when an opportunity to help secure it is well within reach. Click here to enroll in a PowerScore LSAT Course.