What Is The LSAT?August 15, 2022
Whether your hero is Atticus Finch or Elle Woods, you may dream of becoming a lawyer. The Law School Admission Council operates the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a standardized test that schools use to assess law school applicants.
In 2021, over 132,000 people registered for the LSAT. Many people are vying for law school spots, so it’s important to understand what the LSAT entails and how to prepare for it.
What Is LSAT?
College students that want to attend law school after graduation take the LSAT. It’s accepted by thousands of schools in the United States and Canada; most prominent law schools require the LSAT over other standardized tests.
The Law School Administration Council designed the LSAT to test students’ skills necessary for the first year of law school. It takes approximately three hours to complete, and it’s made up of four 35-minute sessions.
The LSAT is scored on a scale of 120 to 180, with 180 being the best possible score.
What Does the LSAT Exam Cover?
The LSAT test has three scored sections:
- Reading comprehension: The LSAT will provide you with passages to read, then ask you to answer questions based on the information stated or implied within the passages.
- Analytical reasoning: The LSAT will present you with a series of short scenarios and ask you to identify conclusions based on the information provided.
- Logical reasoning: The LSAT will provide you with sets of statements, then ask you to identify relationships between those statements or make deductions based on them.
There is also a fourth, unscored section. It’s variable, and the LSAT uses it to design new test questions for future use. These sections are multiple-choice, and each section takes 35 minutes. There is a 10-minute intermission between the second and third sections where you can take a break and get a snack.
If you don’t already have a writing sample on file, you will also have to complete a writing exam. However, the writing exam can be taken separately from the multiple-choice portion.
The writing exam is not scored, but it’s still important, as law schools will use it to see whether you can create a compelling argument — a critical skill in law school.
How to Prepare for the LSAT Test
To get ready for the LSAT exam, follow these seven steps:
- Register well in advance: The LSAT is offered on specific dates and times of the year. Spots can fill up quickly, so register well in advance. Once you have secured your spot, you can prepare for the exam. Register and pay the LSAT fee online.
- Start your prep early: The LSAT is an intensive exam covering material you may not have studied previously. Experts recommend that you start studying for it two to four months before your exam date.
- Create a study schedule: You likely have other responsibilities, such as work and family duties, to take care of while preparing for the LSAT. To avoid overburdening yourself, create a study schedule that allows you to spend a portion of each day preparing for the exam — that’s why it’s so key to start early!
- Take free practice exams: It can be a good idea to take the LSAT practice exam before you begin studying — it will tell you where you are and what areas you need to work on. You can take practice exams online for free at LSAC.org.
- Read books on the LSAT: The Law School Admission Council releases books on the LSAT that feature real test questions and explanations. You can purchase them online, or you can see if your local library has them available.
- Consider guided study: If you need additional help, you may want to think about joining a guided study program. The Law School Admission Council recommends Khan Academy, which provides personalized practice plans, study schedules, and detailed videos.
- Perfect your setup: Through at least 2023, the LSAT is administered as a live, remote-proctored exam. You’ll need a computer, high-speed internet access, and a webcam to take the exam. You may be eligible for a loaner device if you don’t have a computer. And students that don’t have a quiet, private space to take the exam may qualify for help securing a hotel room. Contact the Law School Admission Council to see what accommodations may be available. When you take the exam, you’re allowed a limited amount of supplies on your desk, and you’ll have to show each item to the proctor. Permitted items include:
- Five (5) sheets of blank paper
- Government ID
- One or more writing tools (pens, pencils)
- Pencil sharpener
- Ear plugs
Taking the LSAT Exam
If you want to attend law school, completing the LSAT is a critical first step; it’s what law schools look at when deciding whether to admit you into their programs. Start preparing for the test several months in advance, and create a study schedule to ensure you’re ready for your test date.
As you think about your future, make sure you consider how you’ll pay for law school. Various financial aid options are available, including private student loans for graduate students. ELFI’s law school loans allow you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance, and you can have up to 15 years to repay your loan.*