Law School Admission Test (LSAT) : Format, Structure, Types of Questions, and Preparation

More commonly known as the LSAT, the Law School Admission Test is a standardized test developed and administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) in 1948. Its purpose is to test reading comprehension as well as logical and verbal reasoning skills. This test is an important part of the application process for law school and is taken by prospective law school candidates.

Contents

What organization creates the questions for the LSAT?

The Law School Admission Council, more commonly known as LSAC, is the organization that developed the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

What is the LSAT composed of?

Logical Reasoning (two sections), Analytical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Unscored Variable Section are the five sections of the LSAT. These all have multiple-choice questions. At the end of the test, a Writing Sample is administered.

Logical reasoning (Arguments)

The LSAT’s Logical Reasoning questions are meant to test your ability to examine, analyze, and critically evaluate arguments in everyday language. These questions are based on brief arguments taken from various sources, such as newspapers, general interest magazines, academic publications, adverts, and informal discourse. In terms of the types of arguments made and their complexity, these arguments are similar to legal reasoning, though only a few have law as a subject.

The examinee must read and comprehend a brief passage before answering one or two questions about it in each Logical Reasoning question. The questions are intended to evaluate a broad variety of skills related to critical thinking, focusing on skills that have been shown to be fundamental to legal reasoning[1].

Reading comprehension

The LSAT Reading Comprehension questions aim to assess the ability of test takers to read examples of lengthy and complex materials with understanding and insight. These are similar to those encountered in law school. It includes four sets of reading questions, each of which includes a selection of reading material followed by five to eight questions. The reading selections in three of the four sets each consist of a single reading passage, while the fourth set contains two related shorter passages. Sets of two passages are a Reading Comprehension variant known as Comparative Reading.

Analytical Reasoning (Logic games)

The Analytical Reasoning (AR) section of the LSAT consists of 4 logic games with 4 to 7 multiple choice questions each. A total of 35 minutes is given to examinees to finish this section. This section is meant to check one’s ability to think about a group of facts and rules and determine what could or must be true to support those facts and rules. Questions are designed to be answered with knowledge, skills, and reasoning ability that college students and graduates are expected to have[2].

Variable section (Unscored)

The Variable Section is an unscored experimental section in the LSAT. It can be based on the other sections, such as arguments, games, or reading comprehension. It consists of 24 to 28 multiple choice questions that must be completed in under 35 minutes. Through the variable section, LSAC is able to compile and analyze test takers’ answers to experimental questions. Then, test developers integrate this data into the scored portion of the test. They will be able to assign difficulty ratings to each experimental question, which will be factored into LSAT scaled scores. Questions that appeared to have a low assessment value are discarded while those with high assessment value replace the older ones[3].

Writing sample

The LSAT Writing exam is an unscored section in the LSAT. This is administered online and made available by LSAC eight days prior to each test administration. This is administered through a software installed on the examinee’s computer. Candidates can complete the writing sample portion of the LSAT at a time and location that is convenient for them. Its structure is intended to elicit the type of argumentative writing that law school applicants will be expected to produce. Test takers are given 35 minutes to write an essay in response to the prompt they will be given. To see the score or have the score released to schools, candidates must have a complete writing sample in their file[4].

What are the question types in LSAT?

Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning are the three different types of questions in the LSAT.

What Is LSAT-Flex?

The LSAT-Flex is a three-section exam that includes the same question types as the traditional LSAT. These question types are analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension.

When should I take the LSAT?

The LSAT should be taken no later than the summer or fall of the year you plan to apply. Students applying for regular fall admission typically take the test in June or September/October of the preceding calendar year. The application forms should be submitted between late September and early November.

When is LSAT administered?

The LSAT is administered 9 times a year (generally once a month except May, December, and either August or September).

How long is the LSAT?

3 hours. For standard test takers, the exam lasts about 3 hours. The LSAT is divided into four 35-minute sections. Between the second and third sections, there is a 10-minute intermission.

How do I register for the LSAT?

LSAT registration can be done online through the LSAC.org account or through phone by calling 215.968.1001.

To register online, follow these steps:

  1. Create an LSAC account.
  2. Verify your account through the verification email.
  3. Log in to your account at www.lsac.org
  4. Read the terms and conditions then, accept.
  5. Choose the LSAT testing date and location for which you are registering.
  6. Upload a photo following the indicated photo requirements.
  7. Then, click “Submit.”

Above are the steps to register online for the LSAT. Take note that the deadline for the LSAT registration is usually 5 to 6 weeks before the test date, but registration opens much earlier.

What is CAS?

CAS is the abbreviated form of Credential Assembly Service. It helps aspiring law students simplify the application process for law school. Through CAS, requirements for law school applications must only be sent once through LSAC. You can also access all ABA-approved law school applications electronically through your CAS account, saving you time and effort. Many law schools, including those accredited by the American Bar Association, require JD applicants to use CAS[5].

How do I register for the CAS?

You should also register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) in addition to the LSAT. This is an LSAC service that includes transcript summarization, the creation of law school reports, the processing of letters of recommendation, and the processing of electronic law school applications.

To register for the CAS, follow these steps[6]:

  1. Create an LSAC account at www.lsac.org.
  2. Make sure your file contains a reportable LSAT score. Note: This is only applicable if required by the law school requesting your law school report.
  3. Give details about the schools you went to.
  4. Send all required undergraduate, graduate, professional, and school of law transcripts
  5. Send all letters of recommendation that are required.
  6. Pay the $195 fee.

Above are the steps to register for the CAS. It is important to register to CAS because most law schools demand that applicants submit their applications through this system. After registration, prepare to pay the fees associated.

How much does LSAT cost?

$200 is the cost of LSAT which includes one free score report. In addition, many law schools require a subscription to the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). This $195 subscription includes one free score report.

Are LSAT fees refundable?

Yes, LSAT fees are refundable. You can ask for a full refund of the registration fee or $200 refund until the full refund deadline for your test. This is the same as the test’s registration deadline.

Can I change my LSAT test date?

Yes, you can change your LSAT test date. If the administration’s Test Date Change Deadline has not yet passed, it is possible to change the test date through the LSAC online account’s LSAT Status page. Keep in mind, however, that there may be additional charges.

How to prepare for the LSAT?

To prepare for the LSAT, plan your study routine, including the hours you can spend studying and the subjects you need to study. Listed below are the important things you can do to prepare for the LSAT:

  1. Create a study plan. Create a study plan and schedule that works for you. Concentrate on your most effective learning methods.
  2. Gather study materials. Selecting the best LSAT study materials is essential to be successful in getting a high score. You may also decide that a prep course is necessary in addition to selecting a good book.
  3. Take practice tests. Dedicating time to complete practice questions will improve your performance on the LSAT. This will also help you become familiar with the different types of questions and how they are structured.
  4. Identity strengths and weaknesses. After answering numerous practice tests, you will be able to identify your strong and weak points. You do not want to avoid the weak areas, but you do want to focus on them and improve.
  5. Prepare for test day. On the day before the test day, plan out the logistics. This includes knowing how you will get to the test center and when you will arrive. Make a list of the things you should bring that the LSAC allows. You can concentrate on performing well and scoring well if you are well prepared for the details of the test day.
  6. Relax. On the day of the test, you should be both physically and mentally prepared. It is best not to attempt to study the night before. Get a lot of rest and do not forget to eat breakfast.

Listed above are study tips to succeed in taking the LSAT. It is essential to make a study plan and stick to it to achieve your dream LSAT score. You’ll be sure to ace the LSAT and get into the school of your dreams if you maintain your focus on both your strong and weak sections.

How much does an LSAT tutor cost?

$25 per hour to $150 per hour is the price range of tutoring for the LSAT. Most commercial LSAT prep companies charge between $90 to $125 per hour.

Are LSAT prep courses worth it?

Yes, LSAT prep courses are worth it, especially when you commit and choose a course that is affordable and right for you. Preparation courses paired with self-study and discipline can increase your score. Hence, investing in an LSAT course is worth the effort and money.

What is the best LSAT prep course?

The best LSAT preparation course would depend on different factors such as budget, time, and goal score. Listed below are the most popular and best LSAT prep courses:

  • Princeton Review LSAT. This LSAT course can cost from $800 to $1000 with a score increase guarantee, 6 practice tests, and 8000 practice questions. However, its private tutoring feature can be quite expensive and a mobile application is not available.
  • LSATMax. The LSAT Max courses cost between $600 and $1,500 and include 90 practice tests, a score increase guarantee, live Q & As, a mobile app, and 24-hour phone and email support. It also comes with 4 textbooks, and data analytics which determines one’s strengths and weaknesses that help in maximizing the prep time. Compared to other prep courses, the LSAT Max comes with a free hour of private tutoring. On the other hand, students viewed the explanations on the practice tests as being too little.
  • Blueprint LSAT Prep. Blueprint LSAT Prep features a score increase guarantee, 85 full-length practice tests, and a personalized study plan. It also comes with over 8,500 practice questions with explanations, 100+ hours of instruction along with video lessons and live online classes. However, it has no mobile application and tutoring can be quite expensive.
  • Khan Academy. This prep course is perfect for those who are on a tight budget, as it is entirely free. It features a mobile app and a customized lesson plan for each student. However, it only has a few practice tests and questions, and there is no reliable method to get responses to questions.
  • Magoosh LSAT. This LSAT course can range from $279 to $2148 with a score increase guarantee, mobile application, and email assistance. For its cons, it does not offer tutoring and it has less practice questions compared to other course providers.
  • Kaplan LSAT. The LSAT Kaplan courses cost between $700 to $1200 and include a score increase guarantee, learning materials, practice questions, and mobile application. It also gives its students a chance to interact with instructors. Its cons, on one hand, are fewer hours of instruction, larger class sizes, and it is quite expensive.

The most popular and best LSAT preparation courses are listed above. These prep courses are all effective and excellent courses, but they prepare students for law exams in different ways. In the end, your preferred learning style will determine which course you should take.

How is the LSAT scored?

The LSAT (or LSAT-Flex) score is determined by the number of correctly answered questions — the “raw score.” All test items are equally weighted. What matters for the score is the total number of correct answers, not which specific questions are correctly or incorrectly answered. There are no deductions for wrong answers.

The “raw score” is converted to an LSAT scale to make it easier to compare scores earned across different LSAT administrations. This is the score that appears on your score report[7].

What is the LSAT score range?

The LSAT scale runs from 120 to 180, of 120 being the lowest possible score and 180 being the highest.

How long are LSAT scores valid?

Five years. The LSAT scores are valid up to five years after the test date.

What is a good LSAT score?

A score of 160 or higher is considered a good LSAT score. While it might not be high enough to get in the top tier of law schools, there are many highly regarded law schools with median LSAT scores in this range{8].

What is a bad LSAT score?

120 to low 140s is considered to be the low LSAT score range. This score range falls on the bottom third percentile making it hard for applicants to find an ABA law school[9].

LSAT Score Requirements

Universities have their own set standards for LSAT scores for admissions. Listed below are universities and their score requirements:

What LSAT score do I need for American University?

155 is the median LSAT score of applicants accepted in the American University Washington College of Law[10].

What LSAT score do I need for Arizona State University?

166 is the median LSAT score of the incoming fall 2021 Juris Doctor students of ASU. This is the highest ever at ASU Law[11].

What LSAT score do I need for Berkeley?

166 to 169 is the median LSAT score range of admitted applicants at the Berkeley Law[12].

What LSAT score do I need for Boston College?

164 is the median LSAT score at the Boston College Law[13].

What LSAT score do I need for Boston University?

A score of 163 is the median LSAT score of students accepted in Boston University[14].

What LSAT score do I need for Brooklyn Law School?

157 is the average LSAT score of students in Brooklyn Law School[15].

What LSAT score do I need for Columbia Law?

An LSAT score of 172 or higher is most likely needed to be a competitive applicant to Columbia Law School[16].

What LSAT score do I need for Duke?

A score of 169 is the median LSAT score of students accepted in the Duke University School of Law in 2020[17].

What LSAT score do I need for Fordham?

166 is the median LSAT score of students in Fordham University[18].

What LSAT score do I need for George Washington University?

A score of 167 is the median LSAT score of students accepted in George Washington University (GWU)[19].

What LSAT score do I need for Georgetown?

A score of 167 is the median LSAT score of students accepted in Georgetown University in 2020[20].

What LSAT score do I need for Harvard Law School?

An LSAT score in the 170+ range will help you be a competitive applicant and gain admission into Harvard[21].

What LSAT score do I need for John Marshall Law School?

A score of 149 is the median LSAT score of students accepted in John Marshall Law School in 2020[22].

What LSAT score do I need for Loyola Law School?

159 is the median LSAT score of applicants accepted into Loyola Law School[23].

What LSAT score do I need for Northwestern?

A score of 169 is the median LSAT score of students accepted in Northwestern University in 2020[24].

What LSAT score do I need for NYU?

An LSAT score of 169 is needed to be a competitive candidate at NYU Law School[25].

What LSAT score do I need for Pepperdine?

164 is the median LSAT score of the current Pepperdine Caruso School of Law. This is the 87th percentile of all the LSAT takers[26].

What LSAT score do I need for Rutgers?

155 is the median LSAT score of the class 2025 in Rutgers Law School[27].

What LSAT score do I need for Seton Hall?

160 is the median LSAT score of the first-year class in Seton Hall University[28].

What LSAT score do I need for SMU?

162 is the median LSAT score of the first-year class in Southern Methodist University (SMU)[29].

What LSAT score do I need for Stanford?

An LSAT score of at least 171 must be obtained to be able to study in Stanford Law School. Since the university is highly selective, only 9 to 11 percent of applicants get accepted[30].

What LSAT score do I need for the University of Florida?

A score of 163 is the median LSAT score of students accepted in the University of Florida in 2020[31].

What LSAT score do I need for the University of Chicago?

A score of 171 is the median LSAT score of students accepted in the University of Chicago in 2021[32].

What LSAT score do I need for the University of Michigan?

An LSAT score of 169+ is needed to be a competitive applicant at the University of Michigan[33].

What LSAT score do I need for University of Washington?

An LSAT score of 163 or higher must be aimed to be able to study at the UW Law School[34].

What LSAT score do I need for Upenn?

169 is the average LSAT score of incoming law students accepted in the University of Pennsylvania Law School[35].

What LSAT score do I need for USC?

166 is the average LSAT score of students accepted at the University of Southern California[36].

What LSAT score do I need for University of Texas Law?

An LSAT score of at least 167 or more is needed to be a strong competitor at UT Law[37].

What LSAT score do I need for Yale?

An LSAT score of at least 173 or preferably 175+ must be aimed to be accepted in Yale Law School[38].

LSAT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Questions frequently asked about the LSAT by test-takers are listed below:

Which countries administer LSAT?

Countries where the LSAT is offered are the following[39]:

  • Canada
  • Caribbean
  • Europe
  • Middle East
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Mexico
  • South America
  • Mexico

Which is harder, the GRE or the LSAT?

The LSAT is more difficult than the GRE according to a majority of people who have taken both tests[40].

Can you guess on LSAT?

Yes, you can guess on the LSAT because there is no scoring penalty for incorrect answer choices. Therefore, you should always guess on almost any question that you cannot complete in the allotted time. You should not, however, guess at random because some answer choices have historically been more likely to occur than others[41].

Can anyone take the LSAT?

Yes, anyone who wants to pursue law school can take the LSAT.

Can I cancel LSAT registration?

Yes, you can cancel your LSAT registration if you are unable or no longer want to take the test.

Can I take LSAT more than once?

Yes, you may retake the LSAT. You may take the LSAT three times in a single testing year[42].

Can I take LSAT online?

Yes, the LSAC has decided to administer the test online due to the ongoing uncertainty and disruption caused by the COVID-19 emergency in many regions[43].

Can I retake LSAT writing?

Yes, you may retake the LSAT writing.

Can LSAT make up for GPA?

Yes, it is possible for LSAT to make up for GPA. A high LSAT score can and frequently does outperform a low GPA. Keep in mind that a low GPA may keep you out, but a high GPA will not get you in unless you also have a high LSAT score[44].

Is LSAT required for law school?

Yes, law schools are required by the American Bar Association (ABA) to use LSAT as part of the admissions or application process. However, there are a number of universities that require other admissions tests[45].

Is law school as tough as the LSAT?

No. Law school is way tougher than the LSAT. Law school requires more work than simply test preparation.

Is 4 months enough to practice the LSAT?

Yes, 4 months is enough to study for the LSAT. This is most helpful if you plan to study for 4 to 6 hours weekly[46].

Is the LSAT difficult?

Yes, the LSAT is viewed to be very hard. Students who took this test said that the examination is ridiculously hard[47]. LSAT is difficult for the following reasons[48]:

  1. It is a test designed to assess skills that may not have fully developed in undergraduate students.
  2. Each section of the test has a time limit of 35 minutes.
  3. It is intended to emphasize the time constraint by posing difficult questions.

Does the LSAT have math?

No, the LSAT does not have traditional math sections. However, numerals are present, and mathematical concepts may appear in one or more of the logic, reasoning, and comprehension sections[49].

References:

[1] https://www.lsac.org/lsat/taking-lsat/test-format/logical-reasoning

[2] https://www.lsac.org/lsat/taking-lsat/test-format/analytical-reasoning

[3] https://www.manhattanreview.com/lsat-unscored-variable-section/

[4] https://www.lsac.org/lsat/taking-lsat/about-lsat-writing

[5] https://www.lsac.org/applying-law-school/jd-application-process/credential-assembly-service-cas

[6] https://www.lsac.org/applying-law-school/jd-application-process/credential-assembly-service-cas

[7] https://www.lsac.org/lsat/taking-lsat/lsat-scoring

[8] https://law.onu.edu/news/whats-good-lsat-score

[9] https://www.lawschoolexpert.com/when-is-a-low-lsat-score-too-low/

[10] http://american.lawschoolnumbers.com/

[11] https://law.asu.edu/why-asu-law

[12] https://www.law.berkeley.edu/admissions/jd/applying-for-jd-degree/faqs/

[13] https://lawschooli.com/school/bc/

[14] http://bu.lawschoolnumbers.com/

[15] https://collegedunia.com/usa/college/1065-brooklyn-law-school-brooklyn/admission

[16] https://lawschooli.com/what-lsat-score-do-you-need-to-get-into-columbia/

[17] https://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/view/32

[18] https://www.fordham.edu/info/30028/selection_criteria

[19] https://www.law.gwu.edu/jd-entering-class-profile

[20] https://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/view/44

[21] https://lawschooli.com/what-lsat-score-do-i-need-to-get-into-harvard-law-school/

[22] https://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/view/55

[23] https://testmaxprep.com/blog/lsat/getting-into-loyola-law-school-los-angeles

[24] https://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/view/73

[25] https://testmaxprep.com/blog/lsat/nyu-law-school-lsat-gpa

[26] https://law.pepperdine.edu/admissions/juris-doctor/faq.htm

[27] http://rutgers.lawschoolnumbers.com/

[28] https://law.shu.edu/prospectivestudents/class-profile.cfm

[29] https://www.smu.edu/Law/Admissions/FAQs

[30] https://testmaxprep.com/blog/lsat/lsat-stanford

[31] https://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/view/129

[32] https://www.law.uchicago.edu/jdfaq/about

[33] https://lawschooli.com/what-lsat-score-do-you-need-to-get-into-university-of-michigan/

[34] https://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/view/175

[35] https://testmaxprep.com/blog/lsat/university-of-pennsylvania-law-school-lsat-gpa

[36] https://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/view/165

[37] https://lawschooli.com/what-lsat-score-do-you-need-for-university-of-texas-austin-school-of-law/

[38] https://www.shemmassianconsulting.com/blog/how-to-get-into-yale-law-school

[39] https://www.nationaljurist.com/prelaw/9-things-consider-taking-lsat

[40] https://theartoflawschool.com/is-the-lsat-or-gre-harder/

[41] https://www.powerscore.com/lsat/help/guessing.cfm

[42] https://www.lsac.org/lsat/frequently-asked-questions-about-lsat

[43] https://www.lsac.org/update-coronavirus-and-lsat

[44] https://lawschooli.com/5-harsh-truths-law-school-admissions/

[45] https://www.kaptest.com/study/lsat/is-the-lsat-required-for-law-school/

[46] http://prelaw.umass.edu/topics/LSAT_prep

[47] https://testmaxprep.com/blog/lsat/is-the-lsat-hard

[48] https://www.mvorganizing.org/is-the-lsat-the-hardest-test/

[49] https://lsatclarity.com/lsat-sections/