Official Website : www.lsac.org
The Law School Admission Test® (LSAT®)
The LSAT is an integral part of law school admission. The purpose of the LSAT is to test the skills necessary for success in the first year of law school. Those skills include reading comprehension, reasoning, and writing, and the test results help admission decision makers and candidates alike gain valuable insight as to law school readiness. Studies have consistently shown the LSAT to be the single best predictor of first-year law school performance, even better than undergraduate grade-point average. While LSAC believes the LSAT is important, we strongly encourage schools to include it as just one part of a holistic admission process that considers the skills and lived experience of each candidate.
The LSAT is the only test that helps candidates determine if law school is right for them. Some law schools will accept tests other than the LSAT for admission. However, students who want to maximize their chances for admission and be best prepared for law school are encouraged to take the LSAT.
Components of the LSAT
Multiple-Choice LSAT Questions
Persuasive writing skills are key to law school success. Law school faculty care about their students’ ability to organize evidence into a position and argue logically in writing that is structurally sound. In fact, in LSAC’s most recent LSAT Skills Analysis Study, law school faculty identified these writing skills as among the top 10 skills needed for success in law school.
LSAT Writing is included in the LSAT® to give law school candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their persuasive writing skills. Although LSAT Writing samples don’t receive a score, they are considered by law school admission committees when reviewing individuals’ applications. Each law school uses LSAT Writing in its own way. However, most law schools view LSAT Writing samples as an integral part of their admission decisions.
LSAT Writing is a proctored, on-demand writing exam that is administered online using secure proctoring software that is installed on the candidate’s computer.
LSAC’s approach to this section has shortened the LSAT test day and provides more flexibility for candidates taking the exam by letting them complete the writing portion at a convenient time and place of their choosing. LSAT Writing opens eight (8) days prior to every test administration. Candidates must have a complete writing sample in their file in order to see their LSAT score or have their score released to schools.
LSAT Writing uses the same decision-prompt structure that schools and candidates are already familiar with from previous LSAT administrations. This structure is specifically designed to elicit the kind of argumentative writing that candidates will be expected to produce in law school. Candidates will still be given 35 minutes to write an essay in response to the prompt that is presented to them.
Given the expressed preference of the substantial majority of test takers, LSAC will continue to administer the LSAT in an online, live remote-proctored format through June 2022.
Parts of the LSAT Exam
The LSAT is a written exam that tests students in 5 critical areas. It lasts almost half a day.
Exam takers are given 35 minutes per area, with a 15-minute break after the third section. Each section is composed of around 25 — 28 questions presented in multiple-choice style format.
To give you an idea, here are the areas of testing when you take the LSATs.
The majority of the section will present short paragraphs. You will need to deduce the correct answer by finding relevant pieces of information and using your ability to reason. You’ll apply critical thinking and analysis skills, as well as sound arguments and smart assumptions.
This section is all about logic games. You’re given a scenario with a set of rules, and several objectives (like ordering or assigning items). You’ll then be asked to make assumptions or conclusions based on them to arrive at the correct answer. These are meant to simulate the same analysis you’ll make when solving legal problems in the future.
You’ll need to rely on superior logic and critical thinking to analyze specific situations to get the correct answer. Many find the logic game question to be the most difficult and challenging out of all the categories in the LSAT.
Here, you’ll be given long, academic passages to read and comprehend. You then need to deduce the logic, structure, and purpose of the text in order to choose the correct answer successfully. You’ll also be asked to compare texts talking about the same topic and comparing the two to identify relationships and differences between them.
Most of the topics covered are from the areas of humanities, social sciences, and, of course, law. This section is meant to test your ability to make sense out of even the densest and long-winded of text passages, a situation you’ll often find yourself in a law career.
Experimental / Variable
The fourth section is an Experimental one. This is the only unscored part of your test, meaning it won’t impact your grade. This variable section is used to experiment with questions for future tests and is intended for the developers of the LSAT.
And before you try to discover these sections, we’re telling you right now — don’t even try it. It’s blended well into the rest of the sections, that finding it is futile. We recommend just trying to do your best in every question, and you’ll be fine.
The final section of the LSAT is the Writing Sample and is the only one not presented in multiple-choice. It is, instead, in an essay format.
This section requires you to pick one of two options on a given topic, usually something neutral. You’ll then need to defend your choice and cite your arguments, given the facts and data about the subject.
It’s important to note that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer in the Writing Sample section. Instead, the test is there to see how well you present your arguments, a necessary skill when practicing law.
The Writing Sample is also not factored into your final score. Instead, it’s sent to law schools as part of your admission and used as they see fit to evaluate your application.
The LSAT, or the Law School Admission Test, is taken by students across the world who want to enter Law School in the United States, Canada, and a growing number of law schools in other countries (e.g. Australia). It is designed to test the logical, thinking, and written communication abilities of test takers, with additional sections that test Reading Comprehension skills.
For an Indian student, the road to the best law schools in the world starts at the LSAT. The LSAT is the most important part of your law school application, so getting as close to the magic 180 score as possible is the aim!
Below, you can find the answers to the questions that we are most frequently asked about the LSAT.
Why is the LSAT so important?
There are three reasons for the importance given to the LSAT: first, the highest weightage in the application is given to the LSAT, over and above GPA, professional profile, essays, and LoRs. Second, the LSAT has proven to correlate very strongly with academic performance in law school; do well on this test, and you’ll probably go ahead to do even better. Finally, the LSAT is also a good predictor of salary in the first job after law school. Hence, this is an exam which can guarantee or predict your success in the short, medium, and long terms.
When should you take the LSAT?
The LSAT is offered 6 times a year (though, in India, it is usually only offered 4 times a year) with an approximate gap of two or three months between test dates.
Most law schools require an applicant for the fall semester intake to have taken the LSAT before December of the previous year, though taking it earlier is ideal (in case you want to improve your score.
What is the sections and test pattern of the LSAT?
The LSAT is an examination that lasts for about three and a half hours, and that has six sections (each of which last for about 35 minutes). Of these, four sections are scored, one is never scored, and one (the writing sample) can be used by law schools or not, as they choose.
The Reading Comprehension section has approximately 25 questions, and consists of four passages, each of which has 5-8 questions asked pertaining to it. To do well in this section, you should be able to quickly determine the main idea in a passage and be adept at finding relevant information. It is not very different from the RC section in the GMAT / GRE.
The Analytical Reasoning section is also logic based, and gives you 4-5 problems related to groups, and requires you to use the information to come up with conclusions. This can be made very easy with the right preparation. If you are able to use tables and diagrams to simplify information, you can get accuracy and speed in this section.
There are two Logical Reasoning sections. Each of these is centric on an argument, and candidates are required to dissect the argument and come up with counter-arguments, and tests of validity.
One variable section is unscored and is used to test out potential future questions, but it is never clear which one it is. Finally, the Writing sample is also unscored, and can optionally be used by law schools to test how clear and concise your writing skills are. More than 60% of schools say they make some use of this in their selection process, so it is useful to spend some time on this during your prep cycle.
What is the best way to prepare for the LSAT?
For an Indian student preparing for the LSAT, the key is practice. The LSAT, unlike many Indian exams, emphasizes mental agility and reasoning above rote memory. Therefore, the only way to get good at this is through multiple practice drills.
There are three key success factors for you to get a high LSAT score. First, choose a good mentor – this is ideally an institute where you can get access to many mock tests, and where you can be told how to improve on your weak areas. Second, give yourself enough time for preparation; for this, it is important that you start thinking about the LSAT early enough that you are able to give yourself 6-12 months of prep time.
Finally, you need to give yourself the chance to go through 10 to 12 realistic exam simulations. A large part of your competition will do the same, so you need to step up the preparation, rather than making the common mistake of thinking that, since the LSAT is logic or common sense based, it does not require careful preparation. The prep is needed to help you manage both accuracy and limited time in an exam situation.
When and Where Can You Take the LSAT?
The LSATs are administered four times each year. The current schedule is every February, June, September, and December. In some years, tests are given in October rather than September. It’s held in testing centers all across the United States
It’s important to note that seating is limited in each LSAT season and that most law schools require that you take the LSATs a few months before the admissions season starts. Hence, it’s wise to take the LSATs as early as possible.
What is the LSAT test fees?
The test fees for the LSAT amount to $190.
Basic LSAT Fees
The Basic Fee to apply for the LSAT is $200 (US dollars). This includes the test itself, plus the LSAT writing sample section. If you attempt to book a test date after the registration deadline, and an additional fee of $100 is charged, up to 12 days after the deadline date.
For those who cannot physically take the exam in a certified testing center, you can request that LSAC establish one near your area. This requires Nonpublished Test Center Fees of $295 for those living in the US and $390 for all other international locations.
You can also request to change the date or location of your testing center after you have booked it. This costs $125 per change (either date or location). Note that requests are subject to seat availability and if the deadline on your target testing center has not yet passed.
LSAT tests are all machine-scored. If you suspect there’s an error in your scoring, you may request that it be rechecked by hand. To do so, simply pay the Handscoring Fee of $100. Any discrepancies detected on the hand scoring will be updated accordingly on your LSAT results.
Other LSAT Fees
The LSAT fee is about all you need to take and receive your scores, but you can avail of other added services to make your application experience much more straightforward.
One of the most common services availed is the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which costs $195, good for five years. With it, you can compile all of your law school admission requirements into one convenient location, which law schools can access online. This includes all of your LSAT scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
Note that some law schools require that applicants use the CAS service.
To send your CAS credentials, however, you will need to get a Law School Report, which costs $45 each. This is required for each law school you apply to, per admission year. So even if you apply for the same school in previous years, you still need to get a new report for each subsequent year you wish to apply.
Take note that Law School Reports are requested by the law school. You can’t personally request that your report be sent to any person or institution.
What is the LSAT syllabus?
The LSAT syllabus differs from section to section.
For Reading Comprehension, the actual passages could be sourced from anywhere. However, the skills tested are fairly well known. The four most important skills are identifying the main idea of a passage, finding specific information when required from a long, dense passage, using information from a passage in a different context, and inferring the meaning of words or phrases based on the context of their usage.
The Analytical Reasoning section tests whether a candidate can identify structures of a relationship between objects in an argument. The key skill here is to take a given condition, and to find out what it might imply. For example, if one is asked to arrange four friends around a table, and given a constraint, one will need to understand what arrangements are ruled out by the constraint.
The two Logical Reasoning sections test five basic skills. The first, and most important, is to be able to break down an argument to its constituent parts, and to recognize the relationships between each part, and how they affect each other. Next, candidates have to be able to use analogy to better understand each part of an argument. Many arguments might have small errors; the third important skill is to identify such fallacies. To do this well, a candidate will need to recognize what is assumed in an argument, and to check each such assumption carefully. Finally, one will have to take all the information gained above, and come up with a coherent set of conclusions that are logically complete, and that do not contradict the logical portions of the argument.
The Writing section primarily tests one’s ability to draw out or present a logical, well reasoned argument in the minimum number of words possible.
How do you register for the LSAT?
Registering for the LSAT is a simple process. First, you need to create an account on LSAC.org. Once you provide personal information and create your username and password, you can log in using these credentials for further registration.
Next, you need to choose a test date at your venue of convenience. As noted above, it is best not to wait till the last date in the year, since you do not get your LSAT score to send to law schools immediately. Once you choose a test date and time, you pay the LSAT test fee, and you are all set!
You can also use your LSAC login to assemble your profile credentials so that your applications to law school post LSAT become way easier.
How the LSAT is Graded and Understanding It.
LSATs are graded similarly to your typical test. Correct answers are tallied to your final grade. The grading system, however, makes use of three types of “scoring” to give a much better view of your results to admissions officials.
The first is the Raw Score and tells officials how many questions you answered correctly. For example, a raw score of 80 / 100 means you answered 80 out of 100 items correctly. This is the usual scoring we’re used to.
The second is a Scaled Score and is a scaled conversion of your raw score to fit in the 120 — 180 range. This is done because LSATs are normalized; meaning, it is adjusted to account for inconsistencies and differences in difficulty from one administration to the other.
The last is your Percentile Score. This is a comparative score that tells you how well you did in relation to other LSAT examinees. For example, a 95% percentile score means you’re in the top 9% out of all LSAT takers.
Compared to the raw score, a percentile score generally gives a more excellent picture of how well you did in the LSAT. It also takes into account the general jumps in difficulty between test administrations over time.
The majority of law schools use an index formula that takes your LSAT and undergraduate GPA into account. In most cases, the LSAT has a higher weight, pinning more importance into this than ever.
When you think about it, this is actually an excellent thing. Doing good on your LSATs will give you a fair shot at going to law school, even if you did horribly during your undergraduate years. This also takes into account those who might have irregular experiences in college, and might not have an impressive GPA as a result.
In other words, LSATs are an excellent yardstick to measure your future success in law school.
Getting Your Scores, Retakes, and Cancellations
You can get your LSAT scores as early as three to four weeks after you’ve taken the test. You usually get this via email.
You also have the option of canceling your LSAT scores up to six days after taking the exam, before you receive your scores. Admissions officials will still see that you have taken the LSAT exam on that particular session, but the score will be withheld.
If you feel there were mistakes with your exam or test scores, you can formally file a complaint with the LSAC. In the past, successfully resolved claims included misconduct by exam supervisors or (rarely) an unfairly administered question.
You can also retake the LSAT up to seven times over your lifetime. This doesn’t include any attempts you may have made prior to September 2019, when this rule was created. Law school admissions officials will see all of your scores from all your attempts, but they generally only take your highest score into account.
From these points, it will be clear that the LSAT is a very important exam, both when it comes to entry into law school, and as a predictor of success in law school (studies have shown that a good LSAT score is more closely correlated with law school success than even the undergraduate GPA). Preparing for the LSAT Exam
While being known to be one of the most challenging exams in the world, the LSAT is by no means impossible. In fact, with some practice, you can easily ace the exam regardless of your previous academic experience.
Practice factors in significantly with the LSAT. Since the exam tests your skills and not your knowledge, learning how to answer the questions correctly is much more critical than knowing cold, hard facts.
The nature of LSAT questions used every year used is pretty much consistent, therefore allowing prospective takers to practice on previous year’s questionnaires.
In fact, the LSAC highly recommends that you give ample time in preparing for the LSAT. At the minimum, you should allow three months of practice and preparation, more if you want to ace it. Don’t even think of cramming for the LSAT — that’s just a recipe for disaster!
With that said, there are plenty of ways to prepare for the LSAT, some officially endorsed by the LSAC, while others are more “do it yourself.”