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The LSAT, or Law School Admission Test is a standardized test required for admission to U.S. law schools. It is organized into four scored sections-Logical Reasoning (two sections), Analytical Reasoning (one section), and Reading Comprehension (one section)-as well as one unscored experimental section and a writing sample. The writing portion is not part of the in-person test administration; it can be completed online up to one year after the day you take the LSAT.
|Overview of LSAT Sections|
|Logical Reasoning #1||35 minutes||24-26 multiple-choice questions|
|Logical Reasoning #2||35 minutes||24-26 multiple-choice questions|
|Reading Comprehension||35 minutes||4 passages, 5-8 multiple-choice questions each|
|Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games)||35 minutes||4 logic games, 4-7 multiple-choice questions each|
|Experimental Section||35 minutes||24-28 multiple-choice questions|
|Writing Sample||35 minutes||1 essay prompt|
LSAT scores range from 120 to a perfect 180. The median score is 151. Exactly what score you must earn to gain admission to law school depends on which schools are on your list. For example, students accepted to top law schools typically score well over 160. The LSAT is offered nearly every month on a Saturday morning or Monday afternoon. If you don't get the score you want, you can retake the LSAT up to three times in one admissions cycle, or five times in a five-year period.
There are two Logical Reasoning sections on the LSAT. Both sections have the same structure: 24-26 multiple choice questions based on short argument passages. Within Logical Reasoning, there are several question categories, including Must Be True, Main Conclusion, Necessary and Sufficient Assumptions, Parallel Reasoning, Flaw, and Strengthen/Weaken.
Logical Reasoning questions are designed to measure your ability to analyze and evaluate arguments. You should be familiar with the components of an argument and be able to quickly identify an argument's evidence and conclusion. It's also important to be able to read and comprehend passages quickly because of the 35-minute time constraint for each section.
The Analytical Reasoning section (commonly called Logic Games) contains four short passages ("setups") followed by 5-7 multiple-choice questions apiece. Each setup has two parts: a descriptive list of variables and a list of conditions (e.g. X is bigger than Y, Y is smaller than Z, etc).
The questions ask you to determine what could or must be true, based on the setup's conditions. This section tests your ability to make deductions and does not require any knowledge of law. Knowing how to diagram setups correctly and understanding the meaning of words like "nor" and "or" are essential for success on this section.
The Reading Comprehension section is comprised of four passages followed by 5-8 questions apiece, for a total of 26-28 multiple-choice questions. The passages cover a variety of topics within the categories of humanities, natural science, social science, and law. One of the passages is comparative reading and contains two short texts; the other three are all single texts.
The questions in this section test your ability to compare, analyze, apply claims, draw correct inferences, apply ideas and arguments in context, understand an author's attitude, and derive information a written text. To succeed, you should be able to read passages efficiently, identify main points quickly, and understand how to keep track of a passage's structure. It's important to be able to read the passage and identify the main point quickly.
The writing sample is the final section of the LSAT. It is sent to law schools to help with their admissions decisions, but it isn't factored into your LSAT score. The writing section is comprised of a prompt that requires you to take a stance on an issue. The prompt is structured as a situation with two conditions (listed as bullet points) followed by two options for how to address the situation. You must choose one of the two options and write an essay arguing in favor of it and explaining why you made that choice.
There is no right or wrong answer in this section. Rather, the essay is evaluated on the strength of your argument in support of your choice (and against the other choice). Focus on writing a well-structured essay with a clear point of view, and make sure to both support your choice and criticize the other choice. Although it is not part of your LSAT score, this section is nevertheless important, as many law schools do look at the writing sample when assessing your writing skills.
Every LSAT includes one unscored experimental section. The purpose of this section is to measure the effectiveness of questions and determine difficulty ratings for future LSAT questions. The experimental section, made up of 24-28 multiple choice questions, can be an extra reading comprehension, logical reasoning, or analytical reasoning section.
You'll be able to tell which category has an experimental section by figuring out which category has an "extra" section. For instance, if there are two reading comprehension sections, you'll know that one of those sections is experimental, because the LSAT only has one scored reading comprehension section. However, there's no way of knowing which section is the experimental one, so you must treat every section on the test as though it will be scored.