Career Files, LSAT, Pre-Law

What Is the LSAT?

The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) stands between you and getting into law school. It’s a standardized test given by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), and all ABA-accredited law schools require that you submit an LSAT score in the admissions process. Your LSAT score is often the single most important factor in the admissions process. Why this is the case is the topic of another article, as well as the cause of a great deal of late night carbohydrate consumption, but we digress.

The Basics

The LSAT is given four times a year: June, September/October, December and February. It costs roughly $160 to take, and you must register through LSAC’s website.

The LSAT consists of six, 35-minute sections, four of which are scored. The scored sections include:

  • 1 reading comprehension section
  • 1 analytical reasoning section (known colloquially as “logic games”)
  • 2 logical reasoning sections

Unscored sections include:

  • 1 experimental section that can be reading comprehension, analytical
    reasoning, or logical reasoning
  • 1 writing sample

The questions in these scored sections are all multiple-choice, with five answer choices. There is a total of 99-102 scored questions on any given test.

The four scored sections and the experimental section can be given in any order. The writing sample is always given at the end of the exam. In the writing sample, you’ll be asked to write an essay advocating one of two options given in a fictional situation. The writing sample isn’t scored, but it is passed along to any law schools to which you apply.

Your raw score (the number of questions you answered correctly) on the four scored sections gets converted to a scaled score from 120-180. A score of 152 puts you around the 52nd percentile, a 163 puts you around the 90th percentile, while a 173 puts you in the 99th percentile (as well as earning you a trip to a WWF match/roller rink/local bar to celebrate).

What It Tests

Unlike many other standardized examination, the LSAT tests skills rather than content. Whereas you might have to memorize the nervous system structure and function for the MCAT, there’s no information you need to memorize for the LSAT. That includes math. There is no math on the LSAT, a fact for which humanities majors have been profoundly grateful since the first administration of the LSAT in 1948.

How to Study

To prepare for the LSAT, therefore, you need to develop and refine your skills in logic and reading as they apply to the questions on the test. It’s paramount to practice with real questions from past LSAT administrations.

Your options for LSAT preparation include classes, tutoring and studying on your own. Studying on your own is the least expensive option, but because you have to reason your way to the best methods for taking the test without assistance, it can be extremely challenging and often requires the biggest investment of time.

Classes and tutoring can get results by helping you with strategies, supplying structure for your studies, and giving you access to an expert who can answer your questions as they surface. Before you invest in a class or tutor, research your options carefully to make sure you’re spending your money wisely.

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