The very first question to address is: what does LSAT stand for? It is an acronym for Law School Admission Test. In the United States, Canada, and an increasing number of other nations, the Law School Admission Test or LSAT, is a requirement for admission to law school, just as GRE and GMAT are a requirement for most other graduate programs. The LSAT Test is a standardized test designed to assess the skills needed to succeed in the first year of law school. These skills include critical thinking, analysis, and evaluation of arguments and reasoning, comprehension of texts and inferences are drawn from them, data management and organization, etc. The test results of the LSAT can provide useful insight into law school preparation for both admissions decision-makers and applicants. The LSAT is supposedly the single best indicator of first-year law school results, often better than the undergraduate Grade-Point Average (GPA).
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What is a LSAT?
So, what is LSAT really all about? The LSAT assesses critical reading, analytical thinking, logical reasoning, and persuasive writing skills, all essential for success in law school. All ABA-accredited law schools in the United States recognize the LSAT as the only standardized test, the scores of which are required to seek admission to graduate law programs, such as the Master of Legal Studies.
The LSAT is administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and is taken by over 100,000 prospective law school applicants every year around the world. The LSAT is now divided into two sections as of June 2019. The first component of the examination is a multiple-choice exam held several times a year at various testing centers worldwide. The LSAT Writing section is the second component of the exam and consists of a written essay. The LSAT Writing is taken online using safe proctoring software installed on the candidate’s machine and can be taken from the comfort of their own home or another convenient venue.
Important Update: In the United States (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) and Canada, the multiple-choice component of the LSAT began its transition to digital in July 2019 and became completely digital in September 2019. The LSAT is now available on a tablet in these areas but continues to be conducted in the conventional paper-and-pencil form in other parts of the world.
LSAT Test – Basic Information
- How long is the LSAT?
The LSAT is a three-hour and thirty-minute test that consists of 6 sections of 35 minutes each. There are 99 to 102 multiple-choice questions in the exam. The LSAT is structured so that the average test taker would not be able to finish all of the questions in the time allotted.
- How hard is the LSAT?
The LSAT is not a very easy examination to take up. It requires dedication, determination, discipline, and a well-developed study plan to prepare for it thoroughly, months in advance.
- How many times can you take the LSAT?
Candidates can take the LSAT:
(a) up to three times in a single testing year (the next testing cycle commences with the August 2023 test); or
(b) up to five times with the current and five past testing years (the span in which LSAC reports scores to law schools); or
(c) up to a total of seven times in a lifetime.
- When do you take the LSAT?
The LSAT is usually administered four times a year in:
- September/October, and
- How much does the LSAT cost?
The LSAT costs $200, which also includes the fee for LSAT Writing.
- How long are LSAT scores valid?
Typically, five years is the period in which the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) reports scores to law schools for consideration.
This section covers questions such as, “what is a good LSAT score?”, and “how many questions are on the LSAT”, apart from explaining the format of LSAT.
In all, there are four main sections in LSAT:
- Logical reasoning, which is also known as Arguments;
- Analytical reasoning, which is also known as Logic Games;
- Reading Comprehension; and a
- Writing Sample, which is also known as an Essay.
The LSAT also includes an Experimental Section. Both the Writing Sample and Experimental Sections are unscored sections.
This is the breakup of all the sections in LSAT:
|Section||Nos.||Type||No. of Questions||Allotted Time|
|Logical Reasoning||Two||Scored||24 to 26 Questions each||35 + 35 Minutes|
|Analytical Reasoning||One||Scored||5 to 7 Questions each, for 4 Scenarios||35 Minutes|
|Reading Comprehension||One||Scored||26 to 28 Questions||35 Minutes|
|Writing Sample||One||Unscored||1 Essay||35 Minutes|
|Experimental (Logical Reasoning, or Analytical Reasoning, or Reading Comprehension)||One||Unscored||Varies||35 Minutes|
In all, the LSAT test consists of 6 sections of 35 minutes each, totaling about 99 to 102 questions, and 3 hours and 30 minutes.
LSAT Test Scores
How is the LSAT scored? The LSAT is scored on a scale of 120 to 180 points. Candidates should keep in mind that almost all law schools will average the test scores of multiple LSAT results. Therefore, it is best to prepare thoroughly for the exam and take it up only once.
The average test score is approximately 152 points, which means one needs to get about at least 60 questions right out of the 99 to 102 odd questions.
The LSAT percentile compares the candidate’s score with those of others who have taken the LSAT in the prior three years. Small gains in the LSAT score can have a major impact on percentile, as the table below shows:
|LSAT Score||Approximate Percentile|
It is evident from this table that a nominal increase of only five points will make the percentile take a huge leap. However, one should bear in mind that the percentile rank of the score is the percentage of people who scored lower than the candidate (you), which may differ depending on the year in which they are reported. Therefore, these figures should only be considered as estimates and used for reference only.
In conclusion, one could say that a good LSAT score is 160 or higher. Candidates who have scored more than 165 have generally stood a better chance at being admitted into the top 15 law schools in the United States.
Candidates who have the question “how much does the LSAT cost?” on their minds can glace at the LSAT fee list here:
|LSAT (includes LSAT Writing)||$200|
|Credential Assembly Service (CAS)||$195|
|Law School Report||$45|
Auxiliary LSAT Fees
|Test Date Change||Free, if up to 2 weeks before the commencement of LSAT-Flex administration.|
$125, if less than two weeks before the commencement of LSAT-Flex administration.
|Score Preview(for first-time test takers only)||$45 if signing up before the first day of testing for a specific test administration.|
$75 if signing up during a specified period after testing has concluded.
In the case of Refunds, a sum of $50 is refunded against the cancellation of the Credential Assembly Service (CAS).
How to Study for the LSAT
LSAT is generally branded as a rigorous test. But with adequate preparation, the right approach, access to the right materials, dedication, and discipline, one can have a more than fair chance of achieving high scores in this test. How long to study for LSAT depends on the determination and will of the candidate. Some prepare for the test at least a year or more in advance, while others take only a few months to do so, with the recommended hours of study generally being 150 to 300 hours in total. There are three primary ways to study for the LSAT, which are analyzed in the table below:
|Self-Study||The biggest advantage of self-study is the cost; self-study is free! Another advantage is that candidates can pace their studies to suit their needs and study in their unique style.||Self-study can often lead to procrastination and slacking. It is also hard to deduce what is important and what is not and requires immense dedication at all times.|
|Prep Courses||Prep Courses are already designed and structured to follow a study path and plan. They come with ready-to-use material and resources to aid study.||Prep Courses can be expensive to sign up for. They can also be hard to choose from because each course takes its independent approach towards study and preparation.|
|Private Tutoring||Private tutoring offers one-on-one tuition and complete attention to the candidate. It also gives access to ready help, doubt clarification, and personalized lesson plans.||Private tutors tend to charge by the hour, which can be considerably expensive. Additionally, finding the right tutor with the right credentials, specifically ones who are competent with LSAT, is a hard thing to do.|
As far as how to study each of the LSAT sections is concerned, candidates must first understand them and the kind of questions they can come to expect. Here is a quick analysis of all the sections in the LSAT:
- Logical Reasoning
In this section, the ability to identify the central points of an argument, locate pertinent information within a text, analyze and evaluate an argument, and apply logic to abstract concepts is assessed. See sample questions.
- Analytical Reasoning
In this section, the ability to establish relationships between concepts, to analyze situations and draw conclusions based on predefined guidelines, and to apply logic to ambiguous or complex situations is assessed. See sample questions.
- Reading Comprehension
In this section, the ability to locate relevant details within a text, make inferences from it, decide the key points of passages, and comprehend a dense, scholarly text is assessed. See sample questions.
- Writing Sample
In this section, which is unscored, the ability to construct an argument based on given evidence, endorse one, and express an idea in written English is assessed.
- Experimental Section
This section, which is also unscored, may contain other components such as games, reading comprehension, or arguments.
LSAT Prep – Step By Step Guide
Studying and preparing for the LSAT test is not necessarily a walk in the park! LSAT prep requires a lot of time and hard work, spanning many months. Here is a simple yet effective step-by-step guide on how to study and prepare for the LSAT:
- Step-1 Get a head startAllowing enough time for LSAT preparation is the first step candidates should take. The LSAT is rigorous and can be rather grueling, which is why starting early and preparing well ahead of the test day is always recommended.
- Step-2 Understand the RequirementsBefore beginning with LSAT prep, candidates must understand the requirement of LSAT – its various sections, topics that may be covered, types of questions, etc., instead of blindly hitting the books.
- Step-3 Set a TargetPrepare a list of preferred Law schools to seek admission to and check each school’s requirements of LSAT scores and/or percentiles. Based on this, set a target to aim at.
- Step-4 Test the WatersTake an old LSAT test (say about some 6 to 8 years old) just to see what this test is all about and to get a better idea of its structure, format, and questions. The score for this test should not be taken into consideration, as this test is only to better understand the ‘look and feel’ of the LSAT and not to check proficiency or knowledge.
- Step-5 Prepare a Study PlanAfter factoring in steps 2, 3, and 4, prepare a study plan complete with topics, sections, objectives, timelines, and any other information one desires to put in. Be realistic with schedules and daily goals.
- Step-6 Get Down to the BasicsNow that steps 2 to 5 are complete, candidates should start their preparation by building up, strengthening, and mastering the basics for each type of question. Having strong fundamentals will go a long way in tackling more complex areas as the study advances.
- Step-7 Identify Strengths & WeaknessesAfter a fair amount of study, identify strong areas that could do with lesser attention and weaker ones that may require more concentration and focus, and then adjust the pattern and/or schedule of study accordingly.
- Step-8 Build up on AccuracyInstead of focusing on how long it takes to answer a question, candidates would do well to focus on getting the question right instead of improving their basics and thought processes. After all, the LSAT is deliberately not designed to be entirely completed in the stipulated time.
- Step-9 Test Along the WayIt is always best for candidates to periodically take up practice tests to gauge their progress, strengths, and weaknesses. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) administers official LSAT practice tests, which should be preferred over third-party options that are available elsewhere.
- Step-10 Stay SharpRather than concentrating their efforts on the actual answer to a question, candidates should instead stay sharp by building up their analytical, rational, logical, and critical thinking skills. In other words, mastering the ‘process’ – or how the question has to be approached and then answered, will yield more accurate results.
- Step-11 Build EnduranceMake it a habit to gradually build up study times, going up to three and a half to four hours at a stretch. Doing so is important because the LSAT is an arduous test that will require the candidate to be seated, pinned down, and focused for a good three hours and thirty minutes.
- Step-12 Pause & BreakLast, but not least, the LSAT preparation should be considered more of a marathon than a quick dash to the winning post. Candidates should take reasonable pauses and breaks from their prep and find ways to unwind, relax, and de-stress. This will give the brain some much-deserved rest and refresh it, ready to take on more.
The Day Before LSAT Test
The day before the LSAT Test is a very important day indeed! Doing and not doing a few things on that day will go a long way in helping candidates perform better in the next day’s LSAT. Here is a small checklist that can be of use:
- Prepare a Ready Reckoner/Flashcards
At the start of the previous day before the LSAT, consider making a ready reckoner of sorts or flashcards for tricky or critical points that have always proven difficult. But make sure that these are not too long or too many. That done, take the rest of the day off from any studying or preparation for LSAT.
- Check & Confirm the Admission Ticket
It is always best to log in to the LSAC website and review all details of the admission ticket along with all instructions once again. Check for any last-minute official updates and announcements as well.
- Pack Only What is Necessary
Keep in mind the guidelines and rules to be followed for being admitted into the test room, and pack accordingly. (Check the next section that lists out these guidelines.)
- Do not Practice
It is best to avoid taking practice exams on the day before the LSAT. Doing so will potentially increase anxiety and nervousness levels and not provide additional knowledge in any way.
- Unwind and De-Stress
It will do a world of good to simply relax and unwind by speaking with friends, watching TV, or doing any simple activity that can de-stress. Stay away from doing anything related to LSAT, especially post noon or late noon.
- Eat Right & Sleep Well
Having a light meal and sleeping early is always recommended. Make all arrangements for a comfortable and peaceful night’s rest, such as a comfortable mattress and a suitable room temperature. This will help in waking up early, fresh, and well-rested, ready to take on the LSAT.
LSAT Test Day Instructions
The day of the LSAT Test can make students quite nervous. It is always better to know what one can do, cannot do, bring along, and not bring along to avoid last-minute confusion and anxiety. The LSAT testing process is well structured and organized, with strict guidelines to be followed. Here are a few important points to note to drive away some of that nervousness and anxiety:
- Arrive Early
Arrive at the test center at the reporting time or preferably well before allowing for easy and smooth check-in. The test commences only once all candidates have been checked in and assigned their seats.
To successfully check-in, candidates are to produce a printed copy of only Page 1 of their admission ticket. Beforehand, the admission ticket mentions the exact test date, reporting time, and reporting address and displays the photo that was uploaded through the LSAC online account. (Note: Since October 2019, candidates are required to have electronically signed the LSAT Candidate Agreement, which outlines all the rules and conditions for taking the LSAT.)
Candidates are required to present a physical and valid Government-issued ID, which is current (or has expired within six months of the test date) and which displays a recent and recognizable photo. The first and last name on the ID must match the first and last name printed on the admission ticket. Some common forms of acceptable ID include but are not limited to:
- Passport Book
- Passport Card
- Driver’s License
- State- or Province-issued ID Card
- US Military ID Card (Common Access Card, or CAC)
- US Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
- Canadian Permanent Resident Card
- National ID Card
- Consular ID Card
- Certain Canadian Health Care Benefits Cards
Important: The following forms of ID will NOT be accepted for access to the test center: Social Security Card, Social Insurance Card, Birth Certificate, Credit Card (including those with photo), IDs that have expired more than six months before the test date, Photocopied IDs, Employee IDs (even government employees), or Student ID.
- Permitted Items
(a) Candidates are allowed to bring one clear plastic Ziplock bag into the test room. The size of this bag must not exceed 1 gallon or 3.79 liters and must be stowed away under their chairs. This bag may be accessed only during the stipulated break and may strictly contain ONLY the following items:
- Valid ID
- Keys or Car-Key Fob (provided it does not feature a data port)
- Feminine Hygiene or Medical Products (including diabetic testing supplies and emergency medication)
- No.2 or HB Pencils (Note: Candidates taking a paper-and-pencil LSAT should bring three or four sharpened pencils to the test room. Mechanical pencils are not allowed)
- A Highlighter (for paper-and-pencil LSAT only)
- An Eraser (mechanical erasers or erasers with sleeves are not allowed)
- A Pencil Sharpener
- A beverage in a plastic container or juice box, and a snack (Note: Aluminum cans are not allowed. The plastic container should not be bigger than 20 oz or 591 ml. The beverage and snack may be consumed only during the break.)
Important: All the items listed above must fit into the Ziplock bag, and the bag must be sealed. It is standard practice for test officials to check the contents of the bag for prohibited items thoroughly.
(b) Candidates are allowed to wear only an analog (non-digital) wristwatch. The watch may have an altered faceplate or rotating dial (diver’s bezel) but must not have any functionality other than telling the time, such as a countdown timer or stopwatch. All other kinds of watches, including smartwatches, are disallowed.
Important: Any other item that is not on the ‘permitted items’ list is deemed to be prohibited, including cell phones.
- Key Guidelines
- Candidates taking the paper-and-pencil LSAT must record their answers on their answer sheets using only a No.2 or HB wooden pencil.
- Answers recorded in the test book will not be considered or scored.
- There should be no stray marks on the answer sheet.
- No extra time will be given to clean up the answer sheet or transfer answers from the test book to the answer sheet after the test.
- Test officials will ensure that candidates mark their answer sheets as they should and are working in the appropriate section of the test (each section has a time limit of 35 minutes).
- A remaining-time warning of five minutes before each section will be sounded out by the room supervisor, who is also the official timekeeper.
More information on how to print the admission ticket, and Frequently Asked Test Day Questions, are available on the office LSAC website.
FAQs about LSAT Test
|Q: When to take the LSAT?|
|A: The LSAT is offered seven times a year. It is best to schedule the test early enough to send in the score to the first law school and meet its application deadline. The official LSAT test schedule should always be checked to apply in time.|
|Q: What is the average LSAT score?|
|A: The typical average LSAT score is about 152 points but can vary each year, depending on several factors.|
|Q: How to register for the LSAT?|
|A: Interested candidates should register themselves on the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website, log in and fill up the application form, upload documents that may be asked for, and pay all requisite fees.|
|Q: Can anyone take the LSAT?|
|A: The LSAT is designed only for admissions to law school graduate programs, such as the Master of Legal Studies. No other graduate school programs accept LSAT scores. The only requirement for taking the LSAT is reading and writing English, except in Puerto Rico, where Spanish will do just as well.|
|Q: How long does it take to prepare for the LSAT?|
|A: The length of time it takes to prepare for LSAT is very subjective, varies by student. Some take two to three months while others may take a year or more, all depending on several factors, including the number of hours put in daily or weekly (the recommended range is 20 to 25 hours per week), and the pace of the candidate’s study.|
|Q: Can you retake the LSAT?|
|A: Yes, the LSAT can be retaken up to three times in a single testing year, or up to five times with the current and five past testing years, or up to a total of seven times in a lifetime, depending on certain conditions.|
|Q: Is the GRE easier than the LSAT?|
|A: Yes and no. The GRE also has similar sections like what the LSAT has but is distinctly different in more ways than one. Both are competitive and rigorous examinations that cater to different needs and different kinds of graduate programs. Whether one is easier than the other is entirely dependent on the candidate’s competency, academic prowess, and skills.|
|Q: Is the GMAT easier than the LSAT?|
|A: As with the answer to the previous question, whether the GMAT is easier than the LSAT or not is highly subjective. GMAT too is just as rigorous as LSAT (and GRE), and only a student’s skill set, approach, abilities, and academic strengths can determine which one is easy or hard.|
Additional Resources for LSAT Test
When preparing for the LSAT Test, candidates could do with all the help they can get. Here are a few resources to get started or to further one’s study:
- Velocity Test Prep
Velocity Test Prep has some very useful resources for LSAT candidates, including explanations, information on question types and scoring, online courses, and more.
- Manhattan Prep
Manhattan Prep provides a host of free LSAT resources for prep, such as practices and events. It also has a blog and forum that connect candidates to an ever-growing LSAT community.
- Khan Academy
Khan Academy’s Official LSAT Prep is arguably the gold standard in prep courses. Recognized by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), Khan Academy offers prep material of high quality and a deeper insight into LSAT on the whole.
- Law School Admission Council
Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is quite naturally the best place for students to say up to date with the latest LSAT and is the official guide for test preparation. There are detailed guidelines, data, and resources, and this site is where candidates need to register for the LSAT. Help on applying to law school is also available.
PowerScore offers private tutoring for LSAT preparation. The site also has a wide range of LSAT resources, prep books, admissions consulting, and free resources.