How long is the LSAT? You have three hours to complete the test, more or less. You have exactly 35 minutes to complete each of the multiple-choice sections, but if you prepare in advance, you could finish sooner. But when exactly you finish the depends on how well you are prepared for it. There is no advantage to finishing the test earlier, but you should know how to allocate enough time to each section so you don’t hand in a test with missing answers. Because the questions test your analytical and comprehension skills, you’ll spend as much time understanding them as answering them. The LSAT is unlike the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) or the for college; this blog will explain why, break down each of the sections and give you ways to use your time effectively.
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The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) covers your analytical, comprehension, and reasoning skills, as well as your ability to make deductions and identify valid and invalid arguments. It tests all the things that a professional and competent attorney should have to be an effective practitioner of the law.
In this sense, is worlds apart from the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which tests your knowledge in areas specific to medicine such as biology, chemistry, physics and psychology. Reasoning and critical thinking are also part of the MCAT, but what makes the LSAT unique is that it is strictly an analytical exam, so you don’t need any specific background or knowledge to take it.
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The three main sections of the LSAT are:
- Logical Reasoning
- Analytical Reasoning
- Reading Comprehension
These are also the only scored sections of the test. There is a fourth, unscored section, which is one of the previous sections repeated. The addition of this unscored section was meant to test-drive new questions for any future revisions to the LSAT. The unofficial “fifth” section of the LSAT is the .
The LSAT Writing section is where you are given 35 minutes to write an essay based on a prompt meant to elicit an opinion either for or against. This section is done online, either eight days before, or up to a year after your . The number of multiple-choice questions in each section ranges and depends on the section.
Length of LSAT Sections (Questions and Time)
The best way to get familiar with the LSAT is to first read over the questions from each section, and then to take a diagnostic test. You can download a free one from the LSAC website, and complete it whenever you’re ready. You don’t have to time yourself, initially, but doing a timed test first will help you develop a baseline time that you can try to decrease as one of your goals during your prep time.
We’ll talk more about how to get a good LSAT score later, but for now, the easiest way to get a good LSAT score is to answer a majority of questions correctly. Obviously, that’s how to get a good score on any exam! But for the LSAT, this is easier said than done. To answer a majority of questions correctly on the LSAT, you have to be able to understand what the questions are asking, and which answer choice connects with the intention of the question.
To do this, you have to prepare. The only way to truly understand the questions is by studying their setup, structure, wording and phrasing, and trying to understand the internal logic of each question category. Knowing this will help you save time during the test, and the more time you have to answer questions properly, the more likely you’ll answer correctly, and, by extension, get a high score.
The length of the LSAT takes anywhere between 3 hours to 3 ½ hours depending on how well you’ve prepared and whether you stuck to your LSAT test-taking plan. You should go into the test having a plan to write each section in a specific amount of time so you don’t lose or waste time. Three hours is not a lot of time, especially when you’re doing the test, and you’ll be focused on many different things, along with the clock. So, managing the length of the test won’t be as difficult as it is with other, longer tests, such as the MCAT. But what you can, and should, do is to create a routine that you can use right up to your test day that will help you relax, de-stress, and prepare both mentally and physically for taking the test.
Learn How to Relax
The clock will be ticking during the LSAT and that alone is enough to unnerve many people. You have to use the time you have wisely, and not feel like you are constantly behind and trying to catch-up. To calm your mind and body, create a schedule beforehand to devote to each section and stick to it. When you see your time is up for one section, move to the next. But if you do start to feel stressed, take a few deep breaths to calm your mind and to quiet your anxiety. Look around you and focus on the things you see, where you are, anything but the actual test. If you can take yourself out of the test-taking mindset for a second, you’ll be able to quiet that negativity that was bubbling up to the surface.
Be Flexible and Think on your Feet
Sticking to a plan is important, but we all know things don’t always go according to plan. Depending on the LSAT you’re given, it may be harder than you anticipated, with more difficult questions, but don’t use that as an excuse to panic. If you see something new or confusing, don’t let it get to you, and either skip it to do something easier for you, and return to it. You can choose how you deal with unexpected challenges, but the important thing to remember is that you have to accept and deal with things responsibly. Don’t meltdown because you see a question you don’t recognize; accept it and either move on and come back to it later, or deal with it in the moment.
You have your LSAT test date and your time, and you’ve spent up to four months preparing for the big day, but what do you do now? Do you study more? Do you take a few days off from your prep? Well, the answer is up to you. A week before your LSAT test day you don’t want to deviate too much from your normal schedule, but you can allow yourself some time to do something unrelated to your test, or even your law school application, such as spending time with friends or family, doing something outdoors (hike, go for a run, swimming) or maybe catch up on some sleep, so you feel more rested on the day of your test. Keep your celebrations for after the test, so don’t overdo it.
Before the Test
Depending on whether you are taking the LSAT at a testing center or at home, your LSAT test day can look like two different things. But regardless of whether you are taking the test at a testing center or at home, you can do the same things to prepare the night before or a few hours before your test, you can do:
- A final, low-pressure review of the LSAT questions (maybe even completing some to motivate yourself positively)
- Get enough sleep (if you can) before the test so you feel energized and relaxed on test day
- If you can’t sleep, you should tire yourself out the day before; it may be hard to fall asleep if you’re feeling anxious, nervous, excited, or a little of all three, but don’t stress too much if you can’t fall asleep
- Eat healthy, nutritious meals that don’t make you feel tired, but give you energy, and will help you keep your mind focused on the test; avoid fatty, carb-heavy meals, and opt for lean protein, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables
If you’re taking the test at home, you should follow a similar schedule, but also make sure that:
- All the equipment you need to take the test (laptop or desktop PC, monitor and internet connection) are all working and that you have back-ups ready for the test
- You have a quiet, undistracted space to take the test, and that whoever you live with will give you the privacy and quiet you need to take the test for the three hours
- Make sure you have everything you need (pen, pencil, paper, water, some snacks for the break) in or near the room you’re doing the test so you have them close at hand
If you’re going to an LSAT test center to take the test, be sure to:
- Arrive at least an hour before the actual test time, which will either be in the morning or afternoon, depending on when you booked the test
- There will be a short introduction to the rules of the test, so you want to arrive early since you don’t want to miss that
- Try not to socialize with the other test-takers beyond greeting them or wishing them “good luck” before, and during the breaks; there are strict rules about talking about the test with others, and it might also break your focus and concentration if you or they start venting about the test and how hard it its
The answer: 150-170.
An LSAT score anywhere in that range, it can be a “good” score, but, as with an or any standardized test score, the higher, the better. A perfect LSAT score (180) is rare and hard to achieve, but it is possible. But don’t concern yourself with getting a perfect score; anything at or a little above 170 is considered exceptional.
Even though many law schools talk about how they review all applications “holistically” – meaning they give equal measure to all parts of your application (GPA, LSAT, personal statement, resume, letters of recommendation) – a good LSAT score, like an excellent or well-written law school recommendation letters, will certainly help. So, you should strive to get as high a mark as possible, but also put as much effort into other parts of your application.
The three LSAT sections all test something different about you and, to that end, they all use distinct content, although the question formats are usually the same. In this context, question formats means that each “question” is made up of three sections, which are:
- A statement of fact/opinion/prompt
- A question or statement that refers to the initial prompt
- A series of multiple-choice questions (between 4 and 7 questions)
This format is, more or less, uniform across all three sections, with the only changes being what is being tested and how it is tested. For example, the Analytical Reasoning section uses four logic puzzles as its prompts; then, you have to answer a question regarding the puzzle, and determine which answer among the five or seven multiple-choice questions is correct.
The other two scored sections – Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension – use prompts, or “stimuli” that are relevant to them. Reading and analyzing these prompts are important parts of studying for the LSAT, as the more you deconstruct and decipher these prompts to understand what they are asking, the less time you will spend on test day doing the same.
Number of Questions: Around 25
Skills Tested: Reasoning and analytical skills; identify elements of an argument; spot fallacies or inconsistencies; use logic to order a set of variables.
The Logical Reasoning section is all about “arguments”; not making arguments, necessarily, but knowing how to assess an argument and whether it has holes or not. You’ll also be tested on whether you can make the right connections between the individual parts of a multi-faceted prompt or stimuli. The section follows the above question format (stimuli; question(s); multiple answers), but it also makes things difficult for you by scrambling the arguments in a non-linear order, so they are hard to piece together. But that is the nature of all the LSAT questions - discerning truth from a set of facts, interpretations, rules and arguments. You should use your scratch paper to keep all the elements in order; understanding the relationships between facts will be important to answer correctly.
Number of Questions: 4 logic puzzles; 6-7 questions
Skills Tested: Analytical skills; deduction; predict outcomes; analyze and interpret rules; order disparate elements
This section is often thought of as the hardest, and the most difficult to prepare for. Here, you have to analyze a set of scenarios, rules, and other parameters to make logical conclusions. The appropriately titled “logic games” can sometimes operate like games, with rules, and guidelines that you have to work around when formulating your answer. You also have to be able to isolate facts and certainties within the stimuli and then make connections between them to be able to answer the questions correctly. The descriptions of the situations and characters involved are frustratingly short, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking the questions are missing information. You only have to work through the information given and make them all fit together in a way described by the questions.
Number of Questions: 25-26 questions
Skills Tested: ability to understand difficult texts; identifying and considering various viewpoints; identifying a thesis and how authors defend them; finding evidence within a text
Reading Comprehension may seem easy, but the difficulty comes in trying to understand the opaque wording, and esoteric subject matter. You have to read four different passages; three of them written by the same authors, and the fourth divided into two representing opposing viewpoints. You will have to identify the main points of each paragraph, and similar to the other section, establish in your mind how all these different parts relate to each other to be able to answer the questions. You will also be expected to draw conclusions from the content to refute or support the claims raised by the questions.
Your final LSAT score is based on your performance in the three scored sections of the LSAT; the LSAT Writing and unscored Supplemental section are not scored. Your “raw score” consists of all the questions you answered correctly out of all the 100 or so questions on the test. But your raw score is then used to calculate two other LSAT scores, which fall into two categories:
- Percentile Score (your score compared to other test-takers that year)
- Scaled Score (your raw score converted to a scaled score between 120-180)
Your highest Scaled Score is usually what is reported to law schools when you submit your LSAT scores. However, if you are not happy with your Scaled Score, or your score report, in general, you can opt to cancel them and take the test again, if you have time.
You won’t be punished for wrong answers, which is why it is important to answer every question on the LSAT on the off chance that it might be correct. Even though it is not scored, your LSAT Writing essay will be released to all the law schools you applied to, and they will review it along the rest of your application.
1. Take a Diagnostic Test
The first step you should take in your LSAT prep is to take a diagnostic test. You can download one from the official LSAT site run by the Law School Admission Council () and time yourself to discover your initial test time. With your first test time, you can:
Most people take between three and four months to study for the LSAT, and they use a combination of different study strategies that usually involve taking as many tests as possible. You should not limit your preparation only to taking practice tests, though. You also need to understand the meaning and mechanics of each section, particularly their questions, which can help you cut back on how much time you spend deciphering each of them.
2. Discover the Question Categories
One of the best ways to prepare for the LSAT is to go in-depth with understanding the various question categories deployed in each section. However, it is only the Logical Reasoning section that uses different question categories and you should find out what they are, what elements they contain and what they are trying to test so you don’t waste time trying to uncover these things during your test. There are 10 different types of questions asked in the Logical Reasoning section, but not all of them are used every year. You should expect to find the following three types of question asked every year:
- Assumption questions (where you make inferences based on the information given)
- Finding flaws questions
- Supporting or disproving argument questions
Once you know the components of each of these questions, and identify them, it will be easier to understand and interpret the questions on the real test.
3. Get Professional LSAT Help
Taking diagnostic tests and reading LSAT practice questions can only get you so far. But if you want to both shorten your time and increase your chances of getting a high score, you should think about investing in an or hiring an . Using professional resources such as a prep course or tutor can help guide your efforts when studying and give you professional strategies and resources to study effectively. They can also help you build up the foundational skills you’ll need to ace the test such as reading comprehension, analytical skills and reasoning.
1. Effective Time Management
Getting a good LSAT score and having a good LSAT test time do not correlate, exactly. Finishing the test quickly may or may not have any impact on your final score, but finishing the LSAT quickly should not be among your priorities. However, at the same time, you should not dismiss the time constraints either. Using your time effectively is important to making sure you answer all the questions, correctly, which, in a roundabout way, can lead to improving your overall LSAT score.
Writing timed and untimed practice tests will help you find a way to create a timetable to dedicate to each question. Once you’ve discovered which parts of the test take up most of your time, you can either dedicate more time to studying them, or, if you don’t have enough study time, you can spend more time on them than the parts of the LSAT that are easier for you.
The LSAT does not test your knowledge of the law or any other subject; but it does test abilities that you may have developed during your undergrad but do not use all the time, like analyzing, making educated guesses, and understanding a point-of-view from a jumbled set of facts, rules, conditionals and “if-then” statements. The more you refine these abilities, and the more you understand the format and structure of particular LSAT questions, the easier you will be able to piece together the various elements of the stimuli, so you don’t waste time during the test trying to figure it out.
2. Answer Every Question
Essentially, getting a good LSAT score comes down to you answering more questions correctly than incorrectly. Because of the timed nature of the test and the difficulty of the content, there will be questions that you cannot fully unpack or decipher, meaning you will have to guess some answers. This is perfectly fine. You aren’t penalized for incorrect answers and given the multiple-choice format you will be better off making the best guess you can and possibly getting it right, then leaving a question completely blank.
How long is the LSAT is something you should consider when doing your LSAT prep, but, don’t let it monopolize your study time. You have to be aware of the time when you take the test, but if you prepare by studying the types of questions asked and how to identify their main points, you will be able to give the right amount of time and attention to each of the other questions, which, hopefully, means you get more answers correct.
1. How long is the LSAT?
The LSAT can take you anywhere from three hours to three hours and forty-five minutes, depending on how much time you spend on each section, and, of course, how well you are prepared.
2. What is on the LSAT?
The entire LSAT is made up of four sections, or two parts. The first part, or the first three sections, are scored and consist of the Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension sections. The second part consists of two unscored sections – the Experimental section and the LSAT Writing section, where you write an essay defending your stance on a specific opinion.
3. Should I take the LSAT?
You do not have to take the LSAT if you apply to , but if you want to go elite law schools such as , or , all of whom require you take the LSAT, you have to put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the LSAT.
4. What is a good LSAT score?
As we mentioned before, getting a good LSAT score means falling within a range, and not a specific number. So, a “good LSAT score” is the score you need to get into a particular program, which depends on the school you are applying to and how much weight it gives to the LSAT. But if you are thinking about applying to the or, even the , you should aim for at least a 153 and higher.
5. Why is the LSAT so hard?
Compared to another standardized tests such as the MCAT, which takes almost an entire eight-hour day to complete, the LSAT is not that difficult. But the LSAT is unique among standardized tests for its analytical nature, meaning that it tests your ability to understand different types of arguments as stated or presented in various formats, which is not easy to do for anyone, if they do not prepare.
6. How can I prepare for the LSAT?
You can prepare for the LSAT by taking as many diagnostic tests as possible (at least one per week, or more, if you have the time), but you should also go over LSAT questions for each distinct section. If you uncover the structure of the questions and are able to identify their various elements (wording, verb-usage, signal words) you won’t spend as much time figuring out what the question is asking, giving you more time to choose the correct answer.
7. How can I get a good LSAT score?
Your LSAT score depends on how much time you put into preparing. If you have enough time to allocate up to four months to prepare, then you will have a better chance of getting an above-average score. You can maximize your preparation time by either hiring professional help, or studying with fellow pre-law students so you can all test and support each other.
8. What is the hardest part of the LSAT?
The hardest part of the LSAT is subjective. Some students will have natural abilities and talents that make deciphering the questions from specific sections easier, while others will struggle in those same areas. All three scored sections of the LSAT are meant to be difficult and confusing, so each of them has their particular challenges, which means you have to spend the same amount of time studying for each of them.