LSAT®  PREP – WHAT IS THE LSAT?

WHAT IS THE LSAT?

What you need to know about the LSAT, LSAT scores, LSAT test availability, and the LSAT sections

ABOUT THE LSAT

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is unlike any test you’ve ever taken in your academic career. The LSAT is a skills-based exam designed to test the critical reading and analytical thinking skills that are crucial for success in law school. Before you begin your LSAT prep, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the exam so you can be prepared for what is on the LSAT.

The LSAT is organized by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).

HOW LONG IS THE LSAT?

The LSAT breaks down into six sections, each 35 minutes long with a 15-minute break after the third section. This adds up to 210 minutes of LSAT test time—or 3 hours and 30 minutes, excluding the break. For the Fall, December, and February administrations of the LSAT, the LSAC requires you to arrive at the test center no later than 8:30 a.m. For the June LSAT, reporting time is 12:30 p.m.

This means that part of your LSAT preparation should include having a healthy and filling breakfast on LSAT Test Day, packing a snack and bottle of water that you can have during the break, and mapping out how you get to the testing center so you can easily find it without any stress.

WHAT ARE THE LSAT SECTIONS?

Section Duration Format
Logical Reasoning – 2 sections 35 minutes each = 70 minutes 24-26 questions each
Logic Games 35 minutes 22-24 questions
Reading Comprehension 35 minutes 26-28 questions
Experimental Section 35 minutes 22-28 questions
Writing Sample 35 minutes 1 essay

What kinds of questions can you expect on each of the six sections of the LSAT? Let’s take a quick look at each individual LSAT section.

Two Logical Reasoning sections test your ability to analyze and evaluate arguments. Logical Reasoning requires you to read short passages and answer a question about each one. This is the section that counts most toward your score—nearly 50%.

Reading Comprehension, worth 27% of your total score, is an LSAT section you’re probably familiar with from past standardized tests. It tests your ability to make sense of dense, unfamiliar prose—but unlike other standardized tests, on the LSAT you need to understand the passages’ structure, purpose, and various points of view, rather than the facts. On the LSAT, you’ll see four passages, each with a set of 5–8 questions to answer. One of the passages will be “paired passages” with questions asking you to compare and contrast the passages. This is the section in which preppers often find it toughest to improve.

Logic Games, worth 23% of your total score, tests you on basic logic, systems of order, and outcomes—or, in simplest terms, analytical reasoning. You’ll be asked to make deductions from a set of statements, rules, or conditions. These questions are posed in sets based on a single passage. This is the section many preppers are most intimidated by at first, and often find most challenging, due to its unfamiliarity.

The LSAT Experimental Section is a wild card. Used by the test maker to see how questions will perform on future LSATs, it is not scored and will look exactly like one of the other sections. In other words, don’t waste test time trying to identify it.

While the LSAT Writing Section isn’t scored, it is sent to law schools along with your LSAT score and can be used to choose between relatively equal candidates, so it is still very important! Your writing sample is most frequently used as a comparison tool to confirm your personal statement.

HOW IS THE LSAT SCORED?

When you receive your LSAT score, it will include the following:

  • One overall score ranging from 120-180
  • A “score band” a range of scaled scores above and below your score
  • A percentile score, ranking your performance relative to the scores of a large sample population of other LSAT test takers

RECEIVING YOUR LSAT SCORE

You’ll receive your score via email approximately three to four weeks after the test. If you take the LSAT more than once, law schools will see all scores earned within the past five years, though most will evaluate your candidacy based on your highest score. Law schools will also see if you canceled a score, withdrew, or were a no-show at a test administration. Your score is only released to you and the law schools to which you apply.

CANCELING YOUR LSAT SCORE

You have six calendar days after you take the LSAT to cancel your score in your LSAC account. You will not see your score before you decide to cancel. If you take the exam more than once, LSAC reports the average score, each separate score, and each cancelation. Most schools will not question one cancelation on your record, but will question multiple ones. Starting with the September 2017 LSAT, there are no longer any limitations on the number of times you can take the test.

HOW IS YOUR LSAT SCORE USED?

Your LSAT score is a crucial factor in determining where you go to law school—or if you go at all. Law school admission committees look at your LSAT score to determine if you have the skills required for success in law school. It helps admissions officers compare your record with those of students from other schools.

Most law schools use an “index formula” — a weighting of your LSAT score and undergraduate cumulative GPA to determine your application’s objective strength. Almost universally, the LSAT score has a greater weight than your undergraduate GPA, accounting for more than 50% of the admissions decision

HOW CAN YOUR SCORE HELP YOU?

If your grades are lackluster‚ an outstanding LSAT score can help make the case that you are capable of handling the academic rigors of law school. Alternatively‚ if you’ve been out of college for some time‚ your score can show that you still have the skills necessary to succeed.

An outstanding LSAT score won’t necessarily get you into your target school; however, a low score will certainly keep you out.

WHAT IS A GOOD LSAT SCORE?

What LSAT score do you need? As you consider an LSAT score goal, it’s always wise to look at average scores at the schools to which you’re applying. For starters, though, here are the basics you might need to know about your LSAT score:

The LSAT is scored on a 120-180 scale. The average LSAT score is about a 151. This relatively small range of scores means that small improvements in performance can increase your score quite a bit. It also means that small improvements in your score can make a big difference in your percentile ranking (sometimes, a one point increase in your score can boost your percentile ranking by as many as 5 points).

Consider these average LSAT scores of candidates admitted to top U.S. law schools:

Top 5 Top 10
Harvard University: 173
Yale University: 173
Columbia University: 172
University of Chicago: 171
New York University: 170
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: 169
Washington University in St Louis: 168
University of Texas-Austin: 167
Emory University: 165
Brigham Young University: 164

Note that an LSAT score in this range would put you in the top 10% of all test takers

HOW IS THE LSAT SCORE CONSIDERED FOR LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS?

Your LSAT score is a crucial factor in determining where you go to law school—or if you go at all. Law school admission committees look at your LSAT score to determine if you have the skills required for success in law school. It helps admissions officers compare your record with those of students from other schools.

Most law schools use an “index formula” — a weighting of your LSAT score and undergraduate cumulative GPA to determine your application’s objective strength. Almost universally, the LSAT score has a greater weight than your undergraduate GPA, accounting for more than 50% of the admissions decision.

“What’s a strong LSAT score” may vary by law school program, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s most recent survey of law school admissions factor, but poor performance on the exam can severely damage your chances of getting in. According to the nearly 100 admissions officers we spoke with in 2018, 49 percent say a low LSAT score is “the biggest application dealbreaker”; a poorly written personal essay placed second at 22 percent.

So while Law School Admissions officers often rank LSAT as the number one factor in law school admissions, your LSAT score does not stand alone. Whether or not you are admitted to law school depends on other factors, too, such as GPA, recommendations and personal statement. In addition to focusing on getting the best LSAT score possible, you should also work on obtaining the best GPA possible, writing a spectacular personal statement, flattering professors and professionals into writing outstanding letters of recommendation, and rounding out your resume.

WHEN TO TAKE THE LSAT?

The LSAT is administered up to 9 times a year, not more than once a month.

The admissions cycle is the most important thing to consider when deciding when is best to take the LSAT. Law schools have rolling admissions. That means, getting your application in sooner gives you a significant advantage in the admissions process. Application periods open in the fall, and a good rule of thumb is that you should have all your applications in before New Year’s. June, July, and September test dates are most popular for that because they allow for plenty of time to get scores back before applications need to be turned in. And so the moral of the story is to take the LSAT when you know you’re going to have a good amount of time to spend studying for it, but early enough to be on the top of the pile when application season opens.