LSAT Overview: What You Need to Know
Anyone aspiring to take up law has a challenging battle ahead, as the law isn’t something you can take lightly. There’s a huge sense of responsibility that comes with a law degree, so it’s only natural that universities offering law courses are looking for the best of the best. That said, don’t let any of that scare or intimidate you.
This guide will focus on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which is an essential part of the application process for most law schools. Read this LSAT overview and find out everything you need to know before taking the test.
Table of Contents
Law schools are looking for students who exhibit critical thinking and reasoning, and reading comprehension. As such, the LSAT is a standardized exam designed to gauge these exact competencies to see if a student is ready to take up law.
The LSAT is managed by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). It’s not so different from other standardized exams such as TOEFL or SAT, which also have a separate council managing registrations and schedules. Of course, aside from the LSAT admissions office will also consider previous grades as well as any type of work history.
You would want to get a high score on the LSAT to be admitted to the top law schools in the country. Thus, you must be familiar with the test’s structure, format, and grading system.
LSAT Structure and Format
Similar to standardized tests, the LSAT is separated into different timed sections: Logical Reasoning (two sections), Analytical Reasoning, and the Writing Section.
As for the structure, it goes like this:
- Number of Questions: 25 (Part 1), 23-24 (Part 2)
- Duration: 35 minutes (Part 1), 35 minutes (Part 2)
In this section, you need to show that you can analyze arguments. As such, critical thinking and comprehension are a must.
- Number of Questions: 25-28
- Duration: 35 minutes
In this section, you will be given scenarios that have a set of rules. The items here mimic the legal problem-solving process required once you are in law school.
- Number of Questions: 4-8 (4 sets)
- Duration: 35 minutes
Law school requires extensive reading. This test measures your reading proficiency and comprehension when reading dense or lengthy texts.
In the LSAT Writing section, you’ll be tasked to write essays based on two different positions. The topics will be provided for you. This section lasts for 35 minutes. It is not scored, but it’s sent to the universities where you have applied.
LSAT questions are pretty similar to an IQ test. It’s meant to measure your logical thinking and critical reasoning. You can then expect the test to be somewhat tricky. If you’re looking for potential samples, IQ test questions will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.
LSAT Registration and Schedule
The registration process is simple. You head to the official site of the Law School Admission Council and follow the instructions to register. Then, you can schedule your LSAT at a convenient date and time.
The LSAT is usually administered in the first half of the year, including January, February, March, June, and July. For the latter half of the year, it is often scheduled in November, so make sure to plan ahead.
You can choose between the two LSAT formats. The first is the paper-based test, which you’ll take in a testing center. The alternative is the digital format. However, the availability of the digital exam depends on your location. Either way, the general format of the exam is the same, so you’ll be tackling the same, whether through paper or the Internet.
LSAT Preparation Tips
Making preparations for the LSAT is vital since you want to get as high a score as possible, so you’re eligible for any law school that catches your eye. If you’re interested in a few tips to help you study, you can try:
- Reviewing LSAT test materials to figure out your plan of action
- Trying out various IQ tests to brush up on your logic and critical thinking skills
- Reading up on various law topics to help prepare you for your course
- Using apt time-management skills and studying techniques
- Forming or joining a study group that can help you understand topics better and provide support
- Finding the right balance of study and leisure to avoid burnout and test anxiety
Law school isn’t something to be taken lightly, so it’s best to take your time and try to manage your responsibilities from the start.
There are three types of scoring in the LSAT, even if there isn’t really a way to fail the exam. These are raw, scaled, and percentile. Overall, you’ll find that most LSAT exams have about 99-101 questions, so the raw score is anywhere between 0-101. If you got 80/99, that means you got 80 questions right.
The scaled score uses conversion to go between 120-180. The lowest score is 120, while the highest is 180. The percentile score is one that relates to all the other test-takers, so if you’re at the 97th percentile, that means your score is in the top three percent based on contextual data.
Retaking the LSAT
There are some good news and some bad news as far as retaking the LSAT goes. The good news is you can retake the LSAT, which means you’ve still got a shot if you didn’t do so well the first time. The bad news is there’s only a limited number of times you can retake the test, at least within a two-year period. Overall, you can only retake the test three times in two years.
It’s also important to remember that law schools tend to check all of your scores rather than your highest, so they’ll take everything into account. This is why it’s important to do well on your first try. However, that does not mean you should pressure yourself too much. Doing so will only make you panic, which can affect your performance.
So, to improve your odds, prepare early and study hard.
A Future in the World of Law
There’s no denying the fact that taking the LSAT can be a stressful process. So it’s a good idea to have a plan, be motivated, and get in touch with individuals who have similar goals as you. While it can be daunting, doing well in the LSAT is more than doable. It all starts with you if you really want to be a lawyer.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.