GRE vs. LSAT: Which exam is best for aspiring law students?

Student Progress / GRE vs. LSAT

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is used to apply to a variety of graduate programs including business or law, whereas Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is specifically for law school admissions and other public policy programs. Both of these tests can serve as law school admissions tests, yet there are notable differences between the two. For instance, GRE includes tests in math and vocabulary, whereas LSAT does not. LSAT includes a logic games section, while GRE does not. For aspiring law students who want to determine which exam is best for them, it is important to note that GRE is accepted only by a small percentage of Juris Doctor programs, while LSAT is accepted at all law schools.

Which is harder: GRE or LSAT?

LSAT is more difficult than GRE. It is often agreed by people who have taken both the LSAT and the GRE. The LSAT is almost entirely a test of fluid intelligence, or your ability to think critically and solve problems in unfamiliar contexts. You won’t be tested on any memorized facts or formulas on the LSAT for it avoids testing crystallized intelligence or anything that can be memorized. GRE, on the other hand, tests both fluid intelligence and crystallized knowledge. Meaning to say, it might test facts and formulas you can memorize. [1]

GRE vs. LSAT: The Differences

Although both GRE and LSAT serve as admission tests for law school, there are still many notable differences between these two. The LSAT is designed exclusively for law school, whereas the GRE is used to apply to a variety of graduate programs. Other than that, the LSAT is almost entirely a test of fluid intelligence, or your ability to understand and solve issues in unfamiliar contexts, whereas GRE is a test of fluid intelligence and acquired knowledge. In that case, the components of each test can differ.

GRE vs. LSAT: The Differences
FormatComputer-adaptive testing and paper-based testingDigital-tablet format
SectionsTotal of six (6) sections:


  • one (1) Writing section
  • two (2) Verbal Reasoning sections
  • two (2) Quantitative Reasoning sections,
  • one (1) experimental or research section

Total allotted time:

3 hours and 45 minutes (Computer test)

3 hours and 30 minutes (Paper-Based)

Total of six (6) sections:


  • two (2) Logical Reasoning sections,
  • one (1) Reading Comprehension section,
  • one (1) Analytical Reasoning section,
  • one (1) unscored experimental section, and
  • one (1) Writing section.

The allotted time for each section is 35 mins

Total allotted time:

3 hrs and 30 minutes

Quantitative Reasoning
  • This section tests basic mathematical skills.
  • Two sections (30 mins each)
  • LSAT has no Math at all.
Verbal Reasoning
  • Vocabulary test is more difficult
  • ⅓ of the test
  • Two sections (30 mins each)
  • Similar to Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension.

GRE and LSAT are both used for law school admission but they have a lot of distinction as discussed above.

I. GRE vs. LSAT: Format

Both GRE and LSAT tests can be offered digitally. The GRE can either be in the form of computer-adaptive testing or paper-based testing, while the LSAT can be taken in a digital-tablet format. The LSAT was traditionally given on paper but has now switched to a digital-tablet version. The GRE is available year-round, whereas the LSAT is only available seven or more times a year.

Read more: GRE Test Sections

II. GRE vs. LSAT: Sections

Both the GRE and the LSAT have six sections. GRE is composed of a writing section, two Verbal Reasoning sections, two Quantitative Reasoning sections, and one experimental or research section. Total allotted time for the GRE is 3 hours and 45 minutes for the computer test and 3 hours and 30 minutes for the paper-based test. On the other hand, LSAT is composed of two Logical Reasoning sections, one Reading Comprehension section, one Analytical Reasoning section, one unscored experimental section, and one writing section. Total allotted time for LSAT is 3 hours and 30 minutes.

III. GRE vs. LSAT: Quantitative Reasoning

One of the most notable distinctions between the GRE and the LSAT is that GRE contains quantitative reasoning while LSAT does not. This is why for students who have not taken math classes in a long time, the GRE might be difficult. The Quantitative Reasoning in GRE has two sections, with 20 questions each. The time allotted for this is only 30 minutes each section.

Read more: Quantitative Reasoning

IV. GRE vs. LSAT: Verbal Reasoning

The verbal component of the GRE evaluates abilities similar to those examined on the logical reasoning and reading comprehension sections of the LSAT. However, the vocabulary component in GRE’s Verbal Section is more challenging compared to LSAT’s. GRE Verbal Reasoning is composed of 2 sections with 20 questions each, while LSAT is composed of 2 sections with 24–26 questions each. 30 minutes per section is the allotted time for taking the GRE Verbal Reasoning, while 35 minutes per section is given for taking LSAT logical reasoning.

Read more: GRE Verbal Questions

GRE vs. LSAT: The Similarities

Logical reasoning-style problems, reading comprehension tests, and writing problems are included in both the GRE and LSAT exam. They may be two completely different tests, but they also have some notable similarities.

I. GRE vs. LSAT: Logical Reasoning

LSAT and GRE both have tests on logical reasoning or often called Analytical Writing in GRE. The LSAT features a specific “Logical Reasoning section,” but logical reasoning questions on the GRE are found under the Reading Comprehension, a subsection of Verbal Reasoning. The two tests are fairly similar in that you are required to analyze and reason arguments logically. Although, the LSAT has a substantially higher proportion of logical reasoning types of questions compared to GRE.

Read more: GRE Logical Reasoning

II. GRE vs. LSAT: Reading Comprehension

The GRE and the LSAT both have tests on reading comprehension. The GRE doesn’t have a section directly named after “Reading Comprehension” unlike the LSAT’s, but reading comprehension can be found in the Verbal Reasoning section. These two tests are similar in that you are required to read and analyze passages efficiently.

III. GRE vs. LSAT: Writing Portion

The LSAT and GRE both include a writing portion where each participant is required to write at least one essay as part of the exam. However, the similarities between the two tests end there because the LSAT doesn’t score the essay portion while GRE does. The GRE essay part, also known as the AWA (GRE Analytical Writing Assessment), involves two different 30-minute essays. The LSAT writing sample, on the other hand, is a single 35-minute essay that you complete on your own time, separate from other parts of the examination.

Read more: Analytical Writing

How long does it take to prepare for the GRE and LSAT?

50 to 200 hours of study preparation is recommended for studying for the GRE. The hours of study vary depending on the difference between the applicant’s baseline and desired scores. Meanwhile, it is recommended by top LSAT study programs that students commit between 150-300 hours to study preparation.

Read more: GRE Study Plan

Which Law Schools Are Accepting GRE Scores?

The law schools that accepts GRE scores are listed below :

United States

  • Albany Law School
  • American University Washington College of Law
  • Boston College Law School
  • Boston University School of Law
  • Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School
  • Brooklyn Law School
  • California Western School of Law
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
  • Columbia Law School
  • Cornell Law School
  • Duke University School of Law
  • Faulkner Law School
  • Florida International University College of Law
  • Florida State University College of Law
  • George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School
  • Georgetown University Law Center
  • Harvard Law School
  • Hofstra University – Maurice A. Deane School of Law
  • Indiana University Maurer School of Law
  • Kern County College of Law
  • LMU Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
  • Massachusetts School of Law at Andover
  • Mercer University School of Law
  • Monterey College of Law
  • New England Law | Boston
  • New York University School of Law
  • Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  • Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law
  • Pennsylvania State University Dickinson Law
  • Pennsylvania State University — Penn State Law
  • Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso School of Law
  • San Luis Obispo College of Law
  • Seattle University School of Law
  • Seton Hall University School of Law
  • Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
  • St. John’s University School of Law
  • Suffolk University Law School
  • Syracuse University College of Law
  • Texas A&M University School of Law
  • University of Akron School of Law
  • University of Alabama School of Law
  • University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
  • University of Baltimore Law School
  • University at Buffalo School of Law
  • University of California, Davis, School of Law
  • University of California, Hastings College of the Law
  • University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
  • University of Chicago Law School
  • University of Dayton School of Law
  • University of Hawai’i at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law
  • University of Illinois Chicago School of Law
  • University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
  • University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law
  • University of New Hampshire School of Law
  • University of Notre Dame Law School
  • University of Oklahoma College of Law
  • University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
  • University of Southern California, Gould School of Law
  • University of South Carolina School of Law
  • University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • University of Virginia School of Law
  • Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Washington and Lee University School of Law
  • Washington University School of Law
  • Willamette University College of Law
  • Yale Law School
  • Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Read More: Do all schools accept GRE?

Is Harvard Law accepting GRE or LSAT?

Yes, Both GRE and LSAT are accepted by Harvard Law School. Harvard Law School announced in the Spring of 2017 that it would also accept GRE in addition to LSAT for admission to its three-year J.D. program. Harvard Law stated that their decision is intended to increase access to legal education by making application easier and more affordable. The GRE is offered in more locations and more frequently throughout the year. “Harvard Law School is continually working to eliminate barriers as we search for the most talented candidates for law and leadership,” stated Martha Minow, Dean of HLS. [3]

GRE vs. LSAT: Which is the right choice?

If a test taker is confused between taking GRE or LSAT. The Pros and Cons for taking the GRE for law school are the following:

More career choicesSome law schools don’t accept GRE
Offered more frequently throughout the yearPersonalized adaptive exam
Doesn’t have LSAT’s logic questions (logic games)GRE has math and vocabulary questions

GRE assesses more areas of skills with the above-mentioned pros and cons.

The Pros and Cons for taking the LSAT for law school are the following:

Accepted in vast majority of law schoolsNot open to other career paths
LSAT has no math and vocabulary questionsChallenging logic game problems
Mainly designed for law school applicantsAll LSAT scores are being reported

LSAT is exclusively used for law school programs with the above mentioned pros and cons.

Additional Reading

Read more: GRE vs SAT, GRE or GMAT