“What is on the LSAT?” is a standard question to ask if you want to start preparing to take the test and get into law school. The exam is a near-universal requirement for law schools, and if you want to go to any of the or you have to take the test. Studying for and taking the LSAT is good practice to develop the skills you’ll need as a law student. We've compiled some of the most effective studying strategies for the LSAT and broken down each of the test’s sections to give you an idea of what to expect.
Listen to the blog!
- Logical and analytical skills
- Ability to interpret and apply rules
The LSAT also aims to test whether you understand how to apply logic, how to structure an argument and how to make inferences from a small amount of information, which are all skills that you will need as a law student and lawyer. The LSAT has three scored sections dedicated to examining different aspects of your knowledge, as well as two unscored sections.
The first unscored is a new, unscored variable section that is a repeat of one of the previous sections that will be chosen randomly on the day of your test. You also won’t know the order in which the sections will appear, as the order changes every test day.
The second is a separate, unscored LSAT writing portion of the test that you have more flexibility on when to take. You can write your essay before your test date, or you can wait for up to one year after you take the test to submit it. However, if you submit the essay before your test date, your scores will be released sooner, as your test is considered complete. If you wait to submit after the test, your scores will be withheld until you upload the essay. You can write the essay online and you have 35 minutes to complete it.
Applying to Harvard Law School? Check this out:
The kinds of questions you’ll find on the LSAT are unlike any “questions” you’ve ever read before. They are distinct to each of the three sections but each of them can be described as a jumble of facts, timelines, variables and rules that you need to unpack to understand what’s going on so you can select the right answer from the multiple-choice answers that accompany them.
They are also distinct from questions you’ll find on other standardized tests such as the , which are based on the knowledge you have of academic subjects like math, science and English. LSAT questions test skills you might not use every day (reasoning, logic), which is what makes the test hard for a majority of people.
Each section has a different number of questions and you also have a set amount of time to complete each section: 35 minutes.
But whatever the section, the questions more or less follow the same format. They give you a passage or series of passages, and ask you to:
- Apply a rule
- Settle a dispute or take a side
- Determine a solution from the information you’re given
- Show you understand how to order and figure out logical puzzles
- Find flaws or weaknesses in an argument
By taking an or hiring an , you can get used to the sometimes-unorthodox questions and puzzles and develop strategies to answer them. But you can also work on your timing and how to work under the pressure of a ticking clock.
1. Logical Reasoning
The Logical Reasoning section bombards you with information to test whether you can comprehend arguments and any weaknesses they might have. But it is not the amount of information that is the problem; in fact, it’s the opposite – you have to understand what is going on with the smallest amount of information, which is the challenge behind the Logical Reasoning section. You’ll be given between 25-28 questions in this section, which will have two parts:
- A prompt in the form of an opinion or statement of fact
- The question-and-answer section
The prompts are deceptively simple and are often only a few sentences, but the questions asked complicate things, and you’ll be left rereading to ensure you understand everything. But that is what the Logical Reasoning aims to test – whether you can connect disparate arguments or facts and draw the right conclusions. The Logical Reasoning section is also unique because there are several types of questions you might be asked.
The three main types of questions that might appear on your LSAT are:
- Assumption questions
- Find a flaw questions
- Inference questions
There are many more question categories (from Paradox and Strengthening or Weakening to Method of Argument to Principle) that each gauge how you approach and interpret the arguments made in the passage. You can prepare for these types of questions by reading over LSAT practice questions and isolating keywords such as verbs, understanding the premises in the argument and questions, and finding evidence that supports your answer within the question or prompt.
2. Reading Comprehension
As we mentioned, the Reading Comprehension section is probably the most familiar for anyone who’s already completed their undergrad, as a lot of university exams use the same format. You are given four different passages, each of which comes with its set of questions, around 6-7. Again, this may sound easy, but the experience is akin to entering a law library, taking out a random text and having to unpack its arguments, remember minute details, and what the author’s intent was, as a complete novice.
Mimicking real legal texts, the passages are often written in a non-linear style with multiple viewpoints presented at the same time, all of which makes them hard to understand on first reading. They might also contain a lot of jargon and can be based on a topic that you are unfamiliar with, although, they will not require you to know anything specific. They are basically as written as complicated as possible to make it harder for you to comprehend them, which describes what law students and lawyers have to do every day.
3. Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games)
If you like doing puzzles or logic problems, then you might have fun doing the Analytical Reasoning section of the LSAT. This section tests whether you can take apart a given passage and determine, by the questions asked, the logical relationships between all the various elements involved. But you could also be asked to choose between true and false statements, make deductions from the information provided, and provide order to a set of variable and invariable elements.
The section with the least number of questions is the Analytical Reasoning or “Logic Games” section. This section presents you with four logic puzzles each with an accompanying set of 4-6 multiple-choice questions, and, make no mistake, the puzzles are not easy. They are a step above the average brain teaser, as you have more things to consider, and evaluate, such as rules and pre-determined outcomes.
There are often rules included in these questions, which means you also have to problem-solve and arrive at a solution within the given parameters. But, for extra fun, the question might also include hypothetical information that alters or confounds everything you’ve just read, so it takes a lot of mental acuity to make sense of it all.
To answer these questions, you have to pay extreme attention to all the details given and not make any unnecessary assumptions to order these elements in your head. Everything you need is right there in the question so don’t waste time and confuse yourself by adding anything. If things don’t seem clear at first, re-read the question and passage. Also, don’t be afraid to draw diagrams to help you visualize the structure of the relationships in question. It can help save time and makes things clearer.
4. LSAT Writing Section
Actually, the is probably the one that will be most familiar, as it is a straightforward writing assignment, albeit one that you will only have 35-minutes to complete. We already talked about how you have the option to complete the Writing section either before or after you write the multiple-choice section of the LSAT, but you should try to write it before, for the reasons we mentioned because the quicker you find out your LSAT score, the faster you’ll be able to decide if you need to take it again.
You can write the essay starting eight days before your in-person test, and up to one year after your test day. The Writing Section is done online, and you’ll have to respond to a given prompt, opinion, or statement of fact, the same way you would respond to a . There are no word limits and you can write as much as you want, but you should keep it as short as possible, as long as you can:
- Present a relevant answer to the prompt
- Use well-founded arguments
- Present your argument concisely and eruditely
The prompts usually force you to make a decision or choose a side. You’ll be presented with two viewpoints and your essay will basically agree or disagree. The important thing to remember about the LSAT Writing section is that it is not scored, so there is no wrong or right answer, although there is a right and wrong way to write. Don't worry about whether you are saying the right thing, but how you are saying it.
Your essay won’t be scored, but you will be timed, so you should focus more on editing than writing. There’s no word limit so you should write as much as possible in the first ten or fifteen minutes and then spend the rest of the time organizing what you have, like putting together a puzzle. This approach gets at the heart of the writing section, which assesses how you organize your thoughts, how you express yourself, and how you try to convince your reader of your argument.
#1 Take Practice Tests, a Lot of Them
Three hours is the average amount of time it takes to complete the LSAT, so you can fit a few practice tests into your week as part of your . You can do timed or untimed tests, but try doing the untimed tests first so you don’t feel too much pressure. As you become more familiar with the structure of the test and the questions, you can start timing yourself to get the full experience. However, doing a timed test early on will also help you decide and how much time you need to prepare. The time it takes to write the first practice test should be your starting line, which you can then improve one with each subsequent practice test.
#2 Start Preparing Early
As we talked about, when you take your first practice test, use your time to set up a study schedule for how long you need to prepare and structure it around . The average time it takes to study for the LSAT is about four months, but you may need more or less time, depending on what that first practice test shows about your performance. Aside from doing the practice tests, you’ll also need to focus on each individual section, by reading over questions and trying to classify each question category, which will give you an idea of what the correct answer is.
#3 Break Down LSAT Questions
We talked about how the Logical Reasoning questions or Logic Games can be the most difficult questions, because they have so many categories and structures. During your LSAT prep, you should take apart and identify each of the parts of the question (premise, viewpoints, rules) so you can quickly formulate the correct response without spending too much time arranging all the parts in your head. There are many different types of Logical Reasoning questions with distinct parts, and deconstructing them should be part of your preparation to help you save time during the test.
#4 Answer Every Question
As the LSAT is multiple choice, you should put down an answer, even if it's only your best guess, for every question. Striving for absolute certainty in every response, especially if it’s a tough question, will only slow you down. You have to be able to read a text quickly or only a few times to understand it, which is a big part of coming up with the correct answer, but the questions don’t make it easy, which is why reading LSAT practice questions beforehand is vital to preparing.
If you know what is on the LSAT, the more likely you’ll be ready for the actual test. You should think of the LSAT differently than other tests that measure your knowledge. In your preparation, don’t try to memorize or recall, but look for patterns, and how the prompts are structured, which will then key you in onto which answer is correct. And don’t make assumptions. The worst thing you can do is complicate an already complicated situation. You have everything need to ace the LSAT on the page, and because you’ve put in the time to prepare.
1. What is on the LSAT?
The LSAT consists of four sections (three scored, one unscored) and a written part that you can complete online.
2. What does the LSAT test?
The LSAT tests your ability to understand arguments, identify between strong and weak arguments, your ability to organize facts and relationships between disparate facts, solve problems, your ability to make arguments, and much more.
3. Do I need to take the LSAT?
4. Should I take the LSAT?
The LSAT gives you a glimpse of the things you’ll be doing as a law student and lawyer (reasoning, deducing, problem-solving) so you’ll learn a lot from preparing and taking the test. If you are applying to a law school that requires it, then, there is no question. But if you prefer not to take the test, then you’ll have to choose a law school that does not require it.
5. Is the LSAT hard?
The LSAT is very challenging because it is a unique test and has no equivalent that most test-takers are familiar with. You aren’t tested on your knowledge, but more about how you think. You’ll have to develop, if you don’t already have them, a new set of skills, which is also the point of the LSAT – to prepare you for being a law student.
6. What is a good LSAT score?
The usual minimum LSAT score required by law schools that have it as a law school requirement is 150. But as with any minimum score, you should strive to get something higher. Usually, an LSAT score between 160 and 170 is considered more competitive.
7. Does everyone pass the LSAT score?
There is no pass/fail component to the LSAT, as you are only given a score for how you did, which is then included in your law school application. However, based on the median LSAT score that law schools require, only 30-33% of LSAT test-takers get a “passable” LSAT score to meet law school requirements.
8. How can I prepare for the LSAT?
To prepare yourself for the LSAT, first take a practice test, and use the time to figure out your study schedule. If your time is slow, you need more time to study. The other thing you need to do is to change your mindset from memorizing and retaining information to analyzing and problem-solving. You need to be able to analyze a situation quickly to ace the LSAT, and that takes time to master.