If you’re considering attending law school, chances are you will have to take the LSAT for admission. The LSAT is offered four times a year in February, June, September, and December all around the United States and around the world. The actual dates vary by year as the LSAT is offered on Saturdays, with an alternative of Mondays for those who observe the Saturday Sabbath. The test starts at 8:30 am sharp, but you should arrive at least 15 minutes early to check in, find your test room, use the restroom, and make sure you have everything you need for the exam. Not every test location offer the LSAT during each of the four exam administrations. The cost of the LSAT is currently $180 per exam. You can sign up here.
The Sections of the LSAT
The LSAT consists of six sections: five multiple-choice sections each with 35 questions and one unscored writing sample at the end of the exam. The multiple-choice sections are divided into one Reading Comprehension section, one Analytical Reasoning section, and two Logical Reasoning sections. There is a fifth multiple-choice section does not count towards your final score as it is often used to pretest new exam questions. However, make sure you complete all sections of your exam as you don’t know which section is the unscored section!
Even though the writing sample is not scored, it is sent to all the law schools you apply to, so it’s essential that you spend some time preparing for the writing section during your studying for the LSAT. It would be beneficial to actually write out responses to practice questions during your study, but if you’re tight on time, at least outline your answers to the essay questions.
The LSAT measures skills considered critical for success in law school: reading comprehension, inference drawing, critical thinking, and ability to analyze and evaluate arguments.
- The Reading Comprehension section tests your ability to read and understand long and complex texts similar to court cases you will read in your law school textbooks. This section presents four sets of reading questions, three of the readings contain a single passage whereas the fourth reading has two shorter passages of a related topic. Each set of reading is followed by five to eight questions. Comparative Reading questions for the dual passages relate to the relationships between the two passages. The questions typically ask about main ideas or primary purpose, explicitly stated information, inferred information, meaning of words or phrases used in context, organization or structure, applying information to new context, functioning principles in the reading, analogies, author’s attitude as revealed by tone of passage or language used, and impact of new information on claims or arguments in the passage. There could be multiple reasonable answers for a single question, but your job is to pick the BEST answer to the question according to the passages presented.
- The Analytical Reasoning section tests your ability to understand structures of relationships and draw logical conclusions from those relationships. Questions are presented in sets with each set based on a single passage and measure deductive skills, which include determining solution to problem based on structure of relationships, “if, then” formulations, inferring what could or must be true from given information and/or new information, and identify condition or rule that makes two statements logically equivalent. Diagrams are typically helpful in this section to help you flush out the important information in easy to read form.
- The Logical Reasoning questions measure your ability to analyze, evaluate, and complete arguments. A question or two is asked about each short argument presented. The questions assess recognition of parts of arguments and their relationships and similarities and differences between patterns of reasoning; drawing well-supported conclusions from the text; reasoning by analogy; recognition of misunderstandings or points of disagreements; determination of how additional evidence affects arguments; detection of assumptions made by particular arguments; and identification and application of principles or rules, flaws in arguments, and explanations. Below is a video outlining how to tackle the logical reasoning (logic games) sections.
How the LSAT is Scored
The highest score on the LSAT is 180. Each multiple-choice question is weighed equally. There is no penalty for a wrong or blank answer. The number of questions answered correctly creates a raw score which is then transferred into a score between 120, the lowest possible score, and 180.
Should You Take an LSAT Preparation Course?
LSAT prep courses are available, though not required, nonetheless most people do sign up for some sort of course whether online, in person, or self-study. The most important thing is to put in the time to study and do practice questions. Familiarize yourself with each section and the directions and then practice, practice, practice! When you’re considering whether to take a LSAT prep course, you should factor in your desired score range how much you want to spend in preparing, your need for structure, your strengths and weaknesses are, etc. For a more in-depth discussion of LSAT prep courses, check out our LSAT course comparison.