Overview of the LSAT
This site wouldn’t be complete without a detailed overview of the LSAT, so here goes.
LSAT stands for Law School Admission Test. It’s administered by the LSAC (Law School Admission Committee) and is accepted by every law school in North America. It’s a standardized test that measures logical thinking skills and requires no specific background knowledge, although effective study and knowledge of a few techniques can raise one’s score greatly.
Your LSAT score is the greatest determinant of what law schools you will be admitted to, and because the legal field is incredibly competitive and saturated, micro-differences in law school rankings can have a huge effect on employment and salary statistics. Therefore, since the LSAT is a learnable test, it behooves every aspiring lawyer to devote serious and disciplined study to it.
The LSAT consists of six 35-minute sections, but only four of them count towards your score: two Logical Reasoning sections, one Analytical Reasoning section, and one Reading Comprehension section. Each section has about 25 questions for a total of about 100 questions. All questions are multiple choice, A-E.
In addition, there is a fifth experimental section, which is also 35 minutes long and takes the form of one of the three aforementioned section types (Logical Reasoning/Analytical Reasoning/Reading Comprehension). This section doesn’t count towards your score, but, when you take your test, these five sections will be in random order and you won’t know which is the one that doesn’t count. (You will, however, be able to figure out the section type of the experimental section, judging by how many of each type you get – i.e., if you get two Reading Comprehension sections, you’ll know one of them was experimental, or if you get three Logical Reasoning sections, you’ll know one of them was experimental, and so on.)
Finally, there is a sixth section that is always last – the Writing Sample. This section does not impact your numerical score, but a copy of it is sent to law schools along with your application.
The sections are all taken back to back, except for a 10-15 minute break between the third and fourth sections.
Overview of the Section Types
Logical Reasoning sections are comprised of 24-26 short paragraphs, each followed by a skill-testing question.
Analytical Reasoning sections are comprised of 4 “logic games”. Each logic game contains a set of logical rules that pertain to that game, followed by a few questions within the context of those rules.
Reading Comprehension sections are also divided into four parts: 3 long reading passages, and 1 pair of shorter Comparative Reading passages, with a set of questions after each.
The Writing Sample presents a prompt – a situation and two possible courses of action. You must choose one of these courses of action to make an argument for, and write out your argument in essay form.
LSAT scores are curved on a scale from 120-180, with a median score around 150. Depending on the curve, it’s possible to make a couple of mistakes and still score a perfect 180. Scores of 170 or higher are seen as elite scores that unlock acceptance into the top law schools, and represent the top 1 or 2 percentile of LSAT-takers.
Registering for the LSAT
The LSAT is administered 4 times each year by the LSAC – February, June, September/October, and December. You can register by phone, mail, or online at www.lsac.org.
Generally, you may take the LSAT a total of 3 times in a 2-year period. When you apply to law schools, however, they will see all of your scores. (The only exception is if you decide to cancel your score within a short window after taking the test, before you get your score.) Scores are generally disseminated about 4 weeks after the test.
Law school admissions generally begin in the fall for the following year, so the sooner you have your LSAT score relative to that, the better. Spots go quickly, so applying with a September/October score is more advantageous than applying with a December score. Many prospective students opt to first take the test in June, so that they can have time to retake it in the fall if they miss their target score, and still apply to law school for the following year. February scores are generally late for getting into law school in the same year, especially for top schools.
Ok, great – you know about the test now. The world of LSAT study can be overwhelming, though. Click here to see where to start and exactly what you have to do to get that coveted 170+ score.
I’ve also compiled a free study guide, which will tell you exactly what you need to do to reach a 99th-percentile score on the LSAT. You can download it for free here.