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Law schools are known for their demanding admission requirements. To apply to law school, undergraduate students typically write a law school personal statement, polish their resumes, and submit test scores to demonstrate their readiness to succeed in a rigorous curriculum.
The most common standardized test that law schools consider is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)®. The LSAT tests your reasoning, reading comprehension, and writing skills as they apply to concepts covered in law school. Law schools use the LSAT to determine applicants’ eligibility for their JD degree program.
Find out what to expect on the LSAT in this guide, which explores the subject areas of the test, its structure, and how to prepare for the LSAT.
What is the LSAT?
The LSAT, offered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC)®, is a standardized test for prospective law students. The test examines your skills in reading, writing, and analytical and logical reasoning, measuring your potential success in a law program. The LSAT features multiple-choice questions and a writing portion.
The multiple-choice section tests your critical thinking and reading comprehension skills through four 35-minute blocks of questions. The questions cover the following topics:
- Reading comprehension. This section includes reading material typically found in law school. The questions measure your ability to dissect information, draw conclusions, and understand key points. The LSAT includes four reading passages, each with a series of follow-up questions.
- analytical reasoning. This section presents scenarios with facts, rules, and relationships. You will answer questions using problem solving skills to piece together the puzzle of each scenario while adhering to any relevant rules or limitations.
- Logic reasoning. The logical reasoning portion of the LSAT includes source-based passages, each with up to two follow-up questions. The questions cover analogies, flaws in arguments, and patterns of logical reasoning.
The test also includes a section of unscored questions covering one of the subject areas above. LSAC uses these questions to ensure quality and strengthen the accuracy of future tests.
LSAT Writing consists of a scenario indicator with two options. This section requires you to choose one side of an argument and use your reasoning and logic skills to support your choice in a persuasive essay. You complete this section separately from the rest of the LSAT and you have 35 minutes to do so. LSAT Writing is monitored through live monitoring software.
The LSAT counts each question you answer correctly instead of subtracting questions you answer incorrectly from a cumulative score. (In other words, there is no penalty for guessing.) LSAC does not grade LSAT Writing Samples.
The LSAT score scale ranges from 120 to 180. The final score report includes your score, your percentile rank compared to other test takers, and a score band that highlights your proficiency in each area of the test. LSAC sends your LSAT score report and writing sample to the law schools of your choice.
Common questions about the LSAT
How long does the LSAT take?
The LSAT takes 185 minutes to complete, including all five sections and one break. You can take the 35-minute writing portion up to eight days before the day you take the multiple-choice portion of the LSAT.
The LSAT includes two 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions, followed by a 10-minute break. The test then continues with its final two 35-minute multiple-choice sections.
You can request additional breaks between each section if you qualify for accommodations.
How many times can you take the LSAT?
You can take the LSAT up to seven times. However, you are limited to three tests per year and five tests during the current test year and the last five years. These rules only apply to tests conducted from September 2019 to the present. Therefore, any LSATs you have taken before that time do not count toward your limit.
You cannot retake the LSAT if you receive a perfect score in the current or previous five years of testing.
Is the LSAT Required for Law School?
The LSAT is not required for all law schools. Some schools also accept the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)® or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)™. Law schools that accept the GRE or GMAT also accept LSAT scores.
What can you expect on LSAT test day?
The LSAT is administered online with a remote proctor. You have a 10 minute break in the middle of the test. You may leave the room during your break, but you must check in with your proctor before beginning the second half of the LSAT.
LSAC allows one pen or pencil, up to five sheets of scratch paper, and earplugs during multiple-choice sections. You can also keep tissues, a drink, and medication at your desk if needed.
You can take the written portion before or after completing the standard LSAT. The LSAT Writing is also conducted online with a live proctor, but scratch paper and writing utensils are not permitted.
What is a good LSAT score?
LSAT scores range from 120 to 180, and the average LSAT score is about 152. However, each law school determines its minimum LSAT score for applicants, with the most competitive schools preferring scores of 160 or higher.
Common Questions About Writing the LSAT
Is LSAT writing required for law school?
LSAT Writing is not required for law schools that do not require the LSAT for admission; you can take the GRE for these schools instead. However, if your school requires the LSAT, you will need to complete the LSAT writing. Your school will not consider your LSAT complete if it does not include LSAT Writing.
Is LSAT Writing Graded?
No, LSAT Writing is not graded. LSAC sends your writing sample to the law schools to which you apply. Those schools assess your writing sample based on their own requirements.
Do Law Schools Really Read Your Writing Sample?
Law schools that require LSAT scores read each applicant’s writing sample. A school may weigh the importance of LSAT writing samples however it likes when determining whether an applicant qualifies for admission.
Does LSAT writing have a minimum or maximum number of words?
LSAT Writing does not have a minimum or maximum number of words. Instead, test takers should focus on writing a well-planned, organized, and comprehensive essay during the 35-minute test portion.
Common Questions About LSAT Prep
When should you start preparing for the LSAT?
Anyone preparing for the LSAT should study relevant content for at least several weeks. If you have a lot of time to study, you may feel ready after a month or two of preparation. However, some test takers may need three months or more to feel better equipped for the LSAT.
What is the best LSAT preparation strategy?
When deciding how to prepare for the LSAT, test takers should consider using study strategies that have worked for them in the past. This could include making note cards, reviewing sample questions, and reading test preparation books. LSAT practice tests are also good starting points. LSAC LawHub® offers free and paid exam preparation with official practice tests and instant feedback.
Are there free LSAT prep resources?
Yes, there are several free LSAT preparation resources, including the official practice tests from LSAC LawHub. Khan Academy also offers a free online LSAT prep course.
LSAT Prep Resources to Consider
Studying for the LSAT can help you feel more confident in understanding the test material. Below are some of the most popular resources for LSAT preparation.
LSAC LawHub offers the free LSAT Prep program for test takers who want additional practice before taking the exam. The plan includes exam-like test modules and four official practice tests with instant scores to determine critical areas of study.
LSAT Plus® Preparation
LSAT Prep Plus is a paid version of the free LawHub study program, priced at $99 per year. Includes over 75 practice tests, educational resources, and a status tracker for law school applications.
eBooks and LSAT Prep Books
LSAC offers several official eBooks and test prep books for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers. One of his most complete books, The New Official TriplePrep LSAT Volume 1™includes three recent practice tests with answer keys, a score conversion table, and three LSAT writing prompts.
Other books include a single or packet of practice tests. Each book generally costs between $10 and $25.
Khan Academy Official LSAT Prep
Khan Academy’s Official LSAT Preparation Syllabus is a free study resource that identifies test areas you may need to develop. Then use that information to create a personalized plan with lessons and skills practice.
LSAC Approved Test Preparation Companies
Several companies provide official LSAT materials to help students prepare for the test. LSAC approves the content of each company’s official licensed materials before they are made available to the public. However, LSAC does not guarantee the results of any approved test preparation company.
Costs vary significantly depending on the company and the type of program. For example, the 7Sage LSAT course subscription costs $69 per month and includes lessons, 99 practice tests, and custom problem sets. Meanwhile, Odyssey’s LSAT Prep Course offers detailed instruction, mentoring, and access to a Success Coach for $5,500. Some companies, like Access Prep and LSAT Lab, offer fee waivers for prep students.