The LSAT Broken Down
The LSAT is the Law School Admissions Test. The LSAT is a standardized, multiple-choice test that helps law schools make admission decisions by providing a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that are essential for success in law school. As of Fall 2023, all applicants to ABA-accredited law schools must take the LSAT or GRE.
The LSAT is usually administered nine (9) times a year. Check this LSAC webpage for specific dates. Scores required for admission vary from school to school. The LSAT is administered through LSAC LawHub® and live remote-proctored via ProctorU. You can take the LSAT at home, or in another quiet, well-lit, private space. Ask for testing accommodations if needed to perform your very best.
Starting August 2021, the LSAT consists of four 35-minute sections, three of which will be scored. The four scored sections include reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. The unscored section is experimental and is used by the test creators to help formulate and calibrate future tests. When you take the test, you will not know which section is the experimental section. This format will be in place for a minimum of 2-3 years. Plan for the LSAT to take three hours, with a break in between the second and third sections.
You will also write a 30-minute essay that will not be scored, but will be sent to all law schools to which you apply.
If you apply to law school and then decide to retake the LSAT to try and get a higher score, LSAC will an updated CAS Report to the law schools your have applied to if your CAS file is current AND the LSAT is taken within the same admission year of your application.
Click below to learn about the different LSAT components.
Half of your LSAT score is comprised of by Logical Reasoning. You are given a series of brief passages that present information and will be asked draw conclusions from the given information. Each passage is followed by one or two questions that require you to give the “best answer,” possibly choosing from more than one plausible answer.
The reading comprehension section includes four sections, three of which contain passages of about 400 to 500 words in length, and one comparative reading section with two shorter passages, each about 200 to 300 words in length. The subject matter of the reading passages will vary, but is likely to be based in the liberal arts and sciences. Each section will be followed by five to eight questions that measure your understanding of the passage. All of the information you need to answer the questions will be contained in the passages.
Students preparing for the LSAT call this section the “logic games” section. There are four “games” in this section and each game is followed by five to eight questions.
NOTE: This section will be eliminated after the June 2024 LSAT administration.
You will be asked to take a position on a given topic. You will not be expected to have prior knowledge about the subject, and there is no right or wrong answer. Admissions personnel will be interested in how well you write and how well you support your chosen position. Unless you have a brilliant idea, stick to a traditional three to five paragraph essay: introduction, including a thesis, one to three paragraphs supporting that thesis, each paragraph built around a sub-thesis, and a conclusion. Take a few minutes at the beginning to plan out your essay so you stay more organized while you are writing.
LSAT Testing Options: Choose Where to Take the Test
Beginning with the August 2023 LSAT, test takers will have the choice of whether to take the test in its current online live-remote-proctored format or in person at a digital testing center. LSAC’s goal in offering two different test modes is to give each test taker a choice of which option works best for them.
Please note that regardless of whether one chooses to take the LSAT remotely or at a test center, the content of the test will remain exactly the same.
The highest score for the LSAT is 180. Each law school’s admission team has a range of LSAT scores they target. The score range is usually published on their admissions page. To give you a broader sense of what some of the more competitive law schools might be looking for, here is a breakdown of LSAT score percentiles.
The LSAT is offered nine times a year and students register for the test on the Law School Admission Council’s website. Prospective applicants should sign up for the LSAT test early (preferably 3 months in advance) in order to get their preferred testing site. The testing dates tend to be January, February, March, June, August, October, and November but check LSAC’s website to confirm.
Whether or not you choose to enroll in a commercial course depends on your individual circumstances.
Khan Academy is an excellent resource for a free diagnostic LSAT and general information about the test. We recommend taking the diagnostic test and reviewing the study plan before potentially investing in an LSAT prep course in order to determine how far you are from your goals.
We recommend taking the diagnostic test through Khan Academy and determine how far you are from the score you need based on the law schools you are interested in.
*** NOTE: Khan Academy’s content will be moving to LawHub in June 2024, which will require you to make a free account.
In general, LSAC recommends 250-300 study hours to prepare for the LSAT. Plan several months ahead and create a study schedule for yourself, using an LSAT prep book and other materials from LSAC and Khan Academy as your guide. If you plan on studying with a friend, we recommend studying with who has different academic strengths and weaknesses than you.
LSAC LawHub offers 4 free practice tests. Take advantage of the practice tests to gauge your progress in getting closer to your target LSAT score. If your score differs significantly from what you were hoping for, or if you have a difficult time motivating yourself to study independently, you may benefit from taking a commercial prep course.
Depending on which company you choose, the cost of a single course is usually between $1,000 and $1,400. The length of the course, the material provided, and the size of the class vary greatly from company to company, so we strongly recommend you do some research before signing up. You might also want to ask friends or acquaintances who have taken prep courses before for their opinions on how effective the course was and whether it really helped them improve their scores.
In addition to the free LSAT prep resources available from Khan Academy, there are many test preparation companies that offer virtual and/or in-person prep resources. The companies include the following:
Please take your time to look at student reviews of the services the companies provide and think about which ones will support your unique learning style the most effectively. Note: Some of the test prep companies attend the annual Law School Fair to help connect with students who might be interested in their services.
LSAT self-studying refers to the process of preparing for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) independently, without enrolling in a formal LSAT prep course or hiring a tutor. Many applicants choose to self-study for the LSAT due to various reasons such as flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and personal learning preferences. Here are a list of reccomended LSAT books that are beneficial to self-studying:
Aside from books, there are effective resources available for you to study the LSAT on your own.
Yes! LSAC offers fee waivers for their services and resources to students with financial aid. Learn more about the LSAC fee waiver here.
Also, several LSAT Prep Services also offer free/reduced price programs to student who have received an LSAC Fee Waiver