It’s no secret that applying for law school is a daunting and time-consuming process. Especially if you’re a senior in undergrad and still have classes to worry about, you’ll need to stay organized throughout the process and designate time each week to researching schools and working on applications.
But before you even get to the application process, you have a significant hurdle to face: the Law School Admission Test, better known as the LSAT. School admission boards use LSAT scores as predictions of how well an applicant will fare in law school. According to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), LSAT scores are a better indicator of student performance in law school than their undergraduate grade point average.
LSAT scores also help applicants decide which programs they want to apply for. Knowing both your GPA and LSAT scores and comparing them to each school’s average acceptance rate for similar students, you can determine where you have the best chance of being admitted.
What is the LSAT?
The LSAT is a standardized test required for applicants to most law schools approved by the American Bar Association. It’s important to note that the test does not require and knowledge law or law-related subjects.
Unlike the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), the LSAT gives test-takers a “raw” score, meaning they only receive points for questions they answer correctly. There are no deductions for incorrect answers, and every question on the test is weighed the same.
What is on the LSAT?
The LSAT consists of six sections: two Logical Reasoning sections, Analytical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, a previously undetermined variable section, and the Writing Sample. Test-takers have 35 minutes to complete each section.
- Logical Reasoning
There are two Logical Reasoning sections on the LSAT. They both have the same structure: 24 to26 multiple-choice questions. The purpose of this section is to test your ability to determine the main points of arguments, apply abstract concepts, find relevant information within a text, and evaluate ideas.
- Analytical Reasoning
The Analytical Reasoning section, also called Logic Games, has four short passages with five to seven multiple-choice questions each. This section tests your ability to:
- Understand the effects of rules on decisions and outcomes
- Determine relationships between concepts
- Analyze situations and draw conclusions based on set guidelines
- Apply logic to complex and ambiguous situations
- Reading Comprehension
The Reading Comprehension section contains four passages, followed by five to eight questions each, adding up to a total of 26 to 28 multiple-choice questions. These questions test your ability to draw inferences, determine the main ideas of passages, and find relevant information within texts.
- Variable (Experimental) Section
Every LSAT test includes one unscored experimental section. This section measures the effectiveness of questions, helping the board determine the difficulty rating for future LSAT questions. It can either be an extra Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning, or Reading Comprehension section.
- Writing Sample
This is the final (unscored) section of the LSAT. The essay tests your ability to form an argument based on given facts and use writing to express an idea.
LSAT Test-Taking Tips
The LSAT is a long and dense exam. However, with proper preparation, you’ll know exactly what to expect from the test and how to approach difficult questions. A few LSAT study tips include:
- Take as Many Practice Tests as You Can– The best way to gauge how well you’ll perform on the SAT is to frequently take LSAT practice tests in the months leading up to the exam. Doing so will also help you determine which section or question type you need to spend extra time studying.
- Study Twice as Hard for the Logical Reasoning Section– Because there are two Logical Reasoning sections on the exam, you want to dedicate more time to studying logic questions. Even if you excel in this section, it’s worth dedicating extra time to it because it makes up more of your total score than the other sections.
- Prepare a Test-Day Strategy– Getting ready for the LSAT doesn’t just include studying; you should also form a plan of attack for taking the test itself. For example, train yourself to identify difficult questions that you’re better off guessing on or returning to at the end of the section. You should also practice taking tests with strict timekeeping and in a room with numerous distractions.
Relax—You’ve Got It
While the LSAT is a juggernaut of an exam, it’s a predictable test. If you take tests from previous years or practice tests released by the LSAC, you’ll know exactly what to expect when the big day comes. Keep in mind that if you don’t get the score you’re looking for on the exam, it isn’t the end of the world; you have the option of taking the exam three times within a single testing year.
More College Advice