An LSAT diagnostic test is the first step many prelaw students take before starting their LSAT studying journey. Taking this first practice test is a low-stakes way to learn the LSAT, and it doesn’t count towards . Completing a diagnostic test has many benefits, and it can be the key to starting your LSAT prep right with better study strategies and a clearer understanding of this challenge. In this blog, we’ll look at why you should take an LSAT diagnostic test, how it can help you, what test you should use as a diagnostic, and how to use your results to build a great personalized study schedule.
Listen to the blog!
Taking an LSAT diagnostic test is one of the best first steps you can take if you want to ace the test and . Why? As the name implies, an LSAT diagnostic test can determine how prepared you are to write the official Law School Admissions Test, diagnose any weaknesses you need to address and prescribe the best way to close these gaps.
An LSAT diagnostic test is essentially a first, dry run-through of the exam. It has all the same features of the real test, just with a lot less pressure since the score you get won’t be seen by anyone but you. It eliminates the uncertainty and demystifies this challenging standardized test so you can better prepare for it, earn a better score and overcome any hurdles.
So, why take an LSAT diagnostic test? How does it benefit you? Let’s dive into how an LSAT diagnostic test can help you.
Understand the LSAT Difficulty Level
The first thing an LSAT diagnostic test can answer for you is ? You may have heard of the section, which is often one of the trickiest for test-takers. You’ll get to try out these questions yourself, see how they work and how complex they are. But a diagnostic test will give you an idea of how difficult it is to answer the LSAT’s hardest questions in a limited time. The difficulty of the LSAT lies not just in the questions or complexity of those questions, but in the long length of its content and intensive time pressure.
In truth, you might find the LSAT easy, or very challenging. Either way, you’ll know what to expect from this beast of a test. And, it’s the first step to figuring out how to master it.
Experience the LSAT’s Structure
Your diagnostic LSAT will also introduce you to the test’s overall structure, format and the many different LSAT question types. You’ll also get to see and what kind of time constraints you’ll be working under. This will be especially telling if you struggle with time management when answering multiple-choice questions, since the LSAT has some of the toughest time limits of any standardized test.
You’ll get to see the different and how they are structured, as well as what type of questions to expect. While certain parts of the test may be familiar if you’ve previously taken a standardized admissions test, the LSAT may present unique content pertinent to the legal field that you may not have seen before, particularly in the reading comprehension section of the test.
Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Once you’ve finished your diagnostic test, it should be fairly clear to you which sections or questions types were hardest and which were easiest for you. Although you might think you should spend all your time studying logic games and how to master them, don’t neglect any sections you found easier. Your score across all sections can be improved from your first practice test, and you’ll use your knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses on this test to build your study schedule.
For example, maybe you found that you didn’t have time to complete all the sections. This indicates that your LSAT timing can use some work. The answer to improving this skill is to add more timed practice tests to your studying. Or you discovered the LSAT reading comprehension was unexpectedly difficult. This means you should start gathering challenging reading materials at the same level of the LSAT, or even find some legal-related texts to practice with, such as court decisions or briefs. Your results will tell you based on your performance.
Learn About the LSAT’s Scoring
When you receive the scores for your LSAT diagnostic test—and you should complete a test that gives you a score—you can learn about how the test is scored and the . The average LSAT ranged score is 150, out of 180, so an LSAT diagnostic score near this mark is excellent! If your score is lower, don’t be discouraged.
Remember, you’re taking this diagnostic test without any prior preparation, so your score can only go up from here. Your diagnostic test is a tool you can use to improve your score and make your studying more effective and efficient. Start with this base score and decide how many points you need to improve to get into the law school of your choice. Not sure what score you need to get accepted? Check out and find the average accepted LSAT scores at your target schools. This is what you’re aiming for.
An LSAT diagnostic test, or any practice LSAT test for that matter, should mimic the real thing as closely as possible. This means the same sections, the same number of questions in each section, the same question types, the same level of difficulty and the same time constraints.
There are many examples of out there, and many different LSAT practice tests, from the more official to simulations. We recommend using practice tests or questions that most closely resemble the real LSAT and your diagnostic test, in any of your study sessions. This means you should set up an (if you’re completing a timed test) and use the same time limit as the real LSAT and use that simulate the real thing.
The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), which administers the LSAT, has free, you can use as your LSAT diagnostic test. The advantage of using these official tests is that they are previously administered LSATs, so the questions, format and content will all be similar to the test you’ll write. They also include a timer and a digital interface that functions exactly like the real test.
The advantages of this are that you can get a first look at the real LSAT before you even start studying. You’ll even be given a score after your diagnostic test so you can see how well you did and how much you need to improve. Taking the official LSAC practice tests will be the most accurate diagnostic test for the LSAT. Once you’ve finished your first practice test, you can review all the answers, check your score and start making an .
Once you have your LSAT diagnostic test results and have reviewed your answers, how do you use this knowledge to start your LSAT prep? Next, we’ll cover some concrete steps and tips on how to use your diagnostic test to study better and study smarter for the LSAT.
1. Set an LSAT Score Goal
As we said earlier, your diagnostic test score can help you determine how far away you are from your target LSAT score. If you’re not sure , take a look at the law schools you want to get into. On their websites, you can often see the average accepted LSAT scores of their current students. This is the LSAT score you want to aim for, and ideally, you want to surpass it. Of course, this means that some schools will be harder to get into than others. For instance, the often have accepted LSAT scores above 170.
When you have a large gap between your diagnostic score and your ideal score, this is a good indication you might benefit from expert help, such as a tutor or LSAT prep course. Or, if you’re comfortable with self-studying and are confident in your studying habits, just give yourself a longer studying period and more studying hours to reach your goal.
2. Evaluate What Skills to Focus On
Your diagnostic test should have revealed which sections were your best or the easiest for you, and which ones were the hardest. It may have shown you that your test timing was a special struggle for you or that specific question types in each section stumped you.
While practice tests and practice questions are the best overall study strategy for the LSAT, there are other study strategies you can use to target specific skills or areas of the LSAT’s content. If you are not a strong reader or found the reading comprehension section tough, brush up on your . If you dread writing the LSAT’s unscored essay, read some and get some practice in now.
3. Breakdown Your Studying Time
Logic follows that you should dedicate more studying hours to your weakest LSAT sections or skills, and fewer to your strongest ones. Your goal should be to prepare for all the sections, but creating an ideal schedule means dividing up the time you have to study wisely.
So, if the logic games section is your weakest, add in extra practice questions for this section. If you want to become better at reading comprehension, include daily reading assignments. For students who struggle with the LSAT timer, take more timed practice tests throughout your studying hours. Make the most of the time you have to study and focus the bulk of your efforts on the sections you feel you can most improve.
4. Decide How Long to Study
? Ideally, 3-4 months is a good timeline for this test. Some students use 2-3 months, and ambitious students may use only 1 month to study for the test. It depends once again on your diagnostic test results and how close you are to that ideal score.
It may also depend on your own personal studying habits, whether you enroll in a prep course or hire a tutor, and how many studying hours you can dedicate within a specified time frame. For most students, 200 hours of LSAT studying is a good goalpost to aim for, although your schedule can be adjusted to suit your own goals.
5. Decide on an LSAT Test Date
If you haven’t picked an , your diagnostic test can help solve this problem for you. Once you’ve decided how long you need to study based on your results, factored in your law school application deadlines and scheduled commitments, you’ll have a better picture of the ideal test date.
1. What is an LSAT diagnostic test?
A diagnostic test is the name given to a first full-length practice test. It’s essentially like writing the real LSAT, but the scores are “unofficial.” It's a tool you can use to "diagnose" how ready you are for the test and how to better prepare for it.
2. Should I take an LSAT diagnostic test?
Yes! Taking an LSAT diagnostic test is a very good idea and can make all the difference in your LSAT prep. Taking a practice test can eliminate uncertainties and make your studying sessions more efficient.
3. Where can I find an LSAT diagnostic test?
The LSAC has official practice LSAT tests available for free, and more available for a subscription fee. The LSAC practice tests are a good resource for diagnostic tests since they are official past LSATs and simulate the real thing closely.
4. What does an LSAT diagnostic test do?
An LSAT diagnostic test can you tell you where your current score is at, gives you a first understanding of how the test works and pinpoints your strengths and weaknesses. You can use this to inform your studying schedule and make your LSAT prep much more effective.
5. What is a good LSAT diagnostic score?
The average LSAT score is around 150, so a diagnostic score close to this range is very good!
6. How do I improve my LSAT score?
To improve your LSAT score, regular practice is the key. Taking an LSAT diagnostic test will give you a first look at the test’s content and format, but subsequent practice tests will let you master the different question types and the LSAT timing.
7. How many LSAT practice tests should I take?
The key to acing the LSAT is regular practice tests, and it’s one of the best ways to master the different LSAT questions. So, it’s a good idea to take multiple LSAT practice tests, until you are consistently earning the score you want.
8. How long should I study for the LSAT?
Most students take 3-4 months to study for the LSAT, although you may decide to take less time depending on the results of your diagnostic test. There’s no one right answer, but you should aim to put in around 200 studying hours to earn a very good score.