Anyone looking to take the leap to apply to law school should know the ins and outs of the LSAT test, which is one of the most important factors in most law schools during the admissions process. Moreover, the test can be the deciding factor in getting into the law school of your choice.
Table Of Contents
- 1 The LSAT Exam
- 2 The Test’s Format
- 3 How Long is the Exam?
- 4 LSAT Scores
- 5 The Importance of LSAT
- 6 GPA
- 7 References
- 8 Application Essays
- 9 How to Prepare for the Exam
- 10 Conclusion
The LSAT Exam
The LSAT exam – which stands for the Law School Admission Test – is required by most law schools upon admitting new students into their programs. More than 98.5% of American Bar Association-approved law schools will use the exam’s results as part of the admissions process.
The best law schools in the country only admit students who have nearly perfect schools on the LSAT (or score better than a 170 out of 180). This means that if you’re planning to go to one of the highest-ranked schools nationwide, then aim to get a high score on the LSAT.
This skills-based exam tests for both critical reading and analytical skills, all of which are required throughout law school.
The Test’s Format
Students who are taking the LSAT should expect five sections of multiple choice questions; each of these sections is timed and lasts for about 35 minutes. Included in the sections are Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and two Logical Reasoning sections.
In this section, similar to other standardized tests, you’ll find academic articles and texts to test whether or not you can correctly pick the main idea out from passages, draw conclusions and make extrapolations.
Often referred to as “Logic Games,” this section tests your skills in basic logic, including deductive reasoning and being able to make sense out of data. Some questions require matching skills and others require sequencing skills.
This section tests for the test taker’s ability to examine and evaluate arguments, including pointing out weaknesses in some arguments.
There is also an unscored or variable section so results from four out of the five sections will go toward the student’s final result. The variable section is often used to try out new questions not yet introduced in the official version of the test. However, while taking the test, you will not know which section is the variable one, but you will be able to find out once you receive your results.
Another component of the LSAT is a 35-minute writing sample, which is not scored. These writing samples are sent out to your preselected law schools. While you will not know which order the other sections are in before taking the exam, the writing sample section always comes at the end.
How Long is the Exam?
Including the writing and variable section, the entire test is composed of six sections, each of which takes 35 minutes. Test takers will be able to take a 15-minute break after the third section. Not taking the break into account, the entire test lasts 2 hours and 55 minutes.
LSAT scores sit on a sliding scale from 120 to 180 – 120 being the lowest score possible and 180 being the highest. This score is calculated based on all the correctly answered questions. Each exam will contain between 100 and 103 multiple choice questions, with each worth 1 point, meaning that the raw score is based on 0 and 100 to 103.
However, when you receive your report card, the score will already have been converted to the final score that ranges on the scale of 120 to 180. In addition to providing the final score, the test results will also show a percentile rank, which shows how well you did compare to everyone else.
The average score for the LSAT hovers around 150, but this is not good enough to get into one of the top law schools, which require at least a 160.
The Importance of LSAT
The importance of LSAT scores for prospective law students has a lot to do with the weaknesses in the admissions process, which often requires an undergraduate GPA, references and writing samples or essays.
Because the applications received by a particular law school might come from all over the country, with students taking classes in different departments, using an undergraduate GPA can often be unreliable when compared with other students.
The LSAT provides a way for admissions officers to level the playing field and more easily compare all applicants against one another.
References also have a similar problem of not being reliable as they might not be objective, as some can be really vague describing a student as “hardworking.”
These letters might not really be reflective of a student’s abilities, as law schools know that professors are encouraged to write tons of recommendation letters to help get their students into the top schools.
Even though the law schools themselves require prospective students to write an application essay, many cannot be able to read them all. Also if they are able to read them, the essays might not always be the best indicator of a student’s personality or ability, as counselors often will help students write these essays.
How to Prepare for the Exam
Due to the length of the test, it is recommended that you spend at least 4-6 hours a week studying for the LSAT, four months before taking the test.
Look at Older Tests
Because the LSAT tests don’t change much from year to year, try to review previous LSAT tests, which you can purchase online through Amazon. The Law School Admission Test also has official LSAT material that you are able to buy online – this material should include a collection of previously administered tests.
Time yourself and work through all the questions; the more practice tests you do, the more prepared you’ll be when test day rolls around.
Buy Prep Materials
Several companies such as Kaplan and PowerScore offer prep classes, as well as different approaches and strategies to solving the types of problems you’ll encounter on the test. This is important for the section on “strategy games.” It is also really important to buy best LSAT prep books for your studies.
Given the LSAT’s significance in the admissions process, prospective students should be aware of the amount of work that needs to be put into preparing for the exam. Even though it might take a lot of work, in the long run, studying for the LSAT could better prepare you for law school, in addition to getting you into the school of your choice.