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What is the LSAT

What is the LSAT

Our LSAT guide breaks down everything you need to know to get started.

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The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is meant to assess the key skills needed for success in both law school and in the practice of law, such as critical thinking and analytical reasoning, making it an important step for most aspiring law students.

In this What is the LSAT guide, we break down each section of the LSAT, delineate all of the core information that you will need to know, and offer study tips to help ensure you stay consistent throughout your preparation.

Recommended: Interested in getting started? We recommend Kaplan’s LSAT preparation courses, which come with over 200 quizzes and practice tests, one-on-one tutoring, and interactive online lessons.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan ($799+)

What is on the LSAT

The LSAT is broken down into two parts: Multiple Choice and Writing.

The Multiple Choice part is broken down into three scored sections: Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, and Analytical Reasoning.

The Writing part, while not scored, remains an important part of law school admissions processes.

LSAT Multiple-Choice Questions

Reading Comprehension Section

In law school – and during the practice of law – a significant portion of your time will be devoted to reading and comprehending a wide variety of complex, detailed texts.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Legal case studies
  • Statutory law
  • Commercial contracts & evidential documents
  • Briefs and judicial decisions

Such reading inevitably demands meticulous attention to detail; this is because you will need to be able to discern not only what is explicitly stated but also what is implied or left unsaid. You will also need a range of critical thinking skills, including analysis, synthesis, comparison, and the ability to apply various legal principles to real-life scenarios quickly.

The Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT is designed to evaluate these very abilities. It aims to test each candidate’s proficiency in comprehending and interpreting complex and extended texts that are akin to those encountered in law school (and in legal practice).

This is done through four distinct sets of reading materials (five to eight questions are offered per set). Keep in mind that, in three of these sets, you will be presented with a single passage, whereas one out of the four will contain two shorter passages that are related instead.

The set that contains two passages is a variant of Reading Comprehension, known as Comparative Reading, and has been around since 2007.

What is Comparative Reading?

The Comparative Reading section is meant to test your ability to analyze and interrelate two distinct texts.

This is a skill that mirrors the diverse comparative analysis that is often required in law school, where students are required to scrutinize legal documents, statutes, case law, legal theories, and hypothetical scenarios.

In this section, you’ll be tasked with analyzing the relationship between two texts in terms of generalization and specific instances, principle and application, or contrasting viewpoints. For example, law students might be required to read and compare a trial court’s ruling with an appellate court’s decision that contradicts it or to align a hypothetical legal scenario with relevant case law.

This exercise is crucial for developing an analytical mindset, understanding complex legal discourse, and being able to apply multifaceted legal concepts to real-world situations.

The reading materials for the LSAT’s Reading Comprehension section are selected from a diverse range of fields, including:

  • Humanities
  • Social sciences
  • Natural sciences
  • Law-related topics

Regardless of the field in question, the content of the passages provided is generally characterized in accordance with its density, advanced vocabulary, and intricate rhetorical or argumentative structures. This section will not only test your ability to read and understand complex materials but also examine your capacity to apply critical thinking skills in a legal context.

For more information, we recommend having a look at our Reading Comprehension Section overview.

Logical Reasoning Section

The Logical Reasoning section of the LSAT is central to assessing certain skills that are essential in legal practice – particularly in the domain of argument analysis.

This section forms the backbone of the test by evaluating your proficiency in dissecting, interpreting, and critically examining various forms of arguments. Both in the professional legal sphere (and in law school), the ability to parse through arguments, weigh evidence, and draw logical conclusions is indispensable.

Keep in mind that all Logical Reasoning questions are grounded in everyday language and are extracted from diverse sources like news articles, magazines, academic journals, advertisements, and everyday discussions. This means that they often steer clear of legal jargon.

Each question in this section presents you with a brief passage that forms the basis of an argument. Your task will be to read, understand, and respond to each question (sometimes two) that relates to each passage.

Some of the key skills that are assessed in this section include:

  • Identifying the core components of an argument and understanding how they interconnect
  • Noticing parallels and variances in different reasoning patterns
  • Drawing conclusions that are well-supported by evidence
  • Applying analogical reasoning
  • Spotting areas of misunderstanding or disagreement within an argument
  • Evaluating the impact of additional evidence on an argument
  • Detecting underlying assumptions in arguments
  • Identifying logical flaws and weaknesses in arguments

Note: An important aspect of this section is that it does not require prior knowledge of formal terminology (e.g., words like ad hominem will not be used.). Having said that, a solid understanding of university-level argumentative concepts (e.g., premises, assumptions, conclusions, etc) is crucial.

Analytical Reasoning Section

The Analytical Reasoning section of the LSAT – commonly known as the “Logic Games” – is meant to evaluate each candidate’s ability to understand and apply specific sets of rules to a given set of facts in order to determine what the logical outcome should be.

Each question set is based on a passage that outlines a specific scenario, which can often involve either ordering or grouping elements (sometimes both).

For example, a passage might describe a corporate event with specific guidelines for speaker presentations, including topics, durations, and sequence. You could be asked to deduce the schedule if certain speakers are unavailable or if new speakers are added with their own constraints.

Keep in mind that even though these scenarios are generally not directly related to law, the skills tested are crucial for legal reasoning. This is because they mirror the kind of logical analysis that is required in legal practice (e.g., interpreting contract terms, applying legal rules to specific cases, etc.).

For more information, we recommend having a look at our Logic Games article.

Update: Starting with the August 2024 test cycle, the Analytical Reasoning section of the LSAT will be removed and replaced with an additional Logical Reasoning Section.

This means that the structure of the exam will consist of two Logical Reasoning sections, one Reading Comprehension section, and one unscored section – which can be either LR or RC.

LSAT Writing

The LSAT Writing is meant to allow law school applicants to showcase their persuasive writing abilities.

While this section will not actually contribute to your overall LSAT score, it will play a significant role in law school admissions. This is because the writing sample you produce is reviewed by the admissions committees of the law schools you apply to and is used to evaluate your writing in relation to reasoning, clarity, organization, language usage, and writing mechanics.

During the LSAT Writing section, you will encounter a prompt that presents a decision-making scenario. You will then be required to choose between two positions or courses of action and defend your choice through a persuasive essay, which you’ll have 35 minutes to complete.

It’s important to note that there are no “right” or “’wrong” choices here; this exercise has solely been designed to assess your ability to argue effectively in writing – regardless of what position you hold.

Keep in mind that LSAT Writing is administered separately from the multiple-choice sections discussed above and is conducted online using secure proctoring software, which you can install on your own computer. This remote administration allows you the flexibility to complete LSAT writing at your own convenience, which can be done as early as eight days before your scheduled multiple-choice test.

Recommended Course

Interested in getting started? We recommend Kaplan’s LSAT preparation courses, which come with over 200 quizzes and practice tests, one-on-one tutoring, and interactive online lessons.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan ($799+)

How Much Does the LSAT Cost

Your LSAT cost will depend on several factors.

Below, we’ve included a table with all of the fees that you will be required to pay when registering for the examination. We’ve also included a few services that are optional:

LSAT Registration$222Yes
Credential Assembly Service (CAS)$200Yes
CAS Report$44 per ReportYes
LSAT Score Review$45-$75No
Official Candidate LSAT Score Report$50No
Score Audit$75-$150No
Test Date Change$0-222No

Keep in mind that your total LSAT cost may end up being significantly higher than what’s indicated above. This is because you will likely purchase additional preparation materials, online courses, and/or tutors, which can add anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Note: You do not need to sign up for CAS when you register for the LSAT; having said that, this should be done at least four to six weeks before your first law school application deadline. You will also be required to submit a CAS Report with each law school application.

For a more in-depth overview, we recommend having a look at our LSAT Cost article.

How Hard is the LSAT

The LSAT exam is considered to be extremely challenging, primarily due to its focus on critical thinking, logical reasoning, and comprehension skills.

Having said that, difficulty is always subjective, so it’s hard to definitively state how easy or challenging the exam will be for you. This will depend on several factors, such as your academic background, current analytical skills, and persuasive writing experience.

For some, the logical puzzles and complex reading passages tend to come naturally, while for others, these areas may require significant practice. The time-pressure nature of the exam adds another layer of challenge, making it more difficult for those not used to proctored examinations.

Regardless of your background, however, getting a great score on your LSAT examination is definitely manageable and can be made a lot easier through the use of the right preparation resources, tools, and – most importantly – the right amount of time.

For more information, have a look at our How Hard is the LSAT article.

How to Study for the LSAT

As you reach the end of this LSAT guide, it’s vital that you consider how best you can go about handling your exam preparation. This is important because the LSAT isn’t just a hurdle to clear; it’s an opportunity to sharpen the skills that will help you operate successfully in the practice of law.

First of all, you will need to ensure that you pick the right study materials. Whether it’s comprehensive prep books, interactive online courses, or sample tests, you will need to choose the resources that will both align with your learning style and keep you engaged.

Consistent practice is undoubtedly crucial, but remember that it’s equally important to practice smart. We recommend replicating the test environment during your study sessions from as early on as possible in order to build stamina and reduce the chance of you making any accidental errors due to time constraints.

Another helpful tip is to try to maintain as much variety as possible. This can involve switching between different types of questions, associating with different study groups, or even explaining concepts to your friends and/or family.

This will not only keep you engaged but also deepen your understanding of the examination’s core material.

Above all, you should view your LSAT prep as a journey that’s going to mold you into a better thinker, a sharper analyst, and a more articulate communicator – skills that are invaluable in both law school and law practice.

Stay positive, stay curious, and embrace each step of the journey. The LSAT is your gateway to the legal profession, and with a thoughtful, dedicated approach, you’ll be sure to set yourself up for law school success.

For more information, you can have a look at our preparation resources:

For more information, you can have a look at our preparation resources:

What is the LSAT FAQ

What is a good LSAT score?

This is difficult to say, as the notion of a “good score” will ultimately depend on what your personal goals are. Having said that, law school admissions generally recommend striving for at least 150. If your aim is to get into a top-tier law school, this will need to be in the 170 range. See our What is a Good LSAT Score article for more information.

How many questions are on the LSAT?

The LSAT consists of approximately 100-103 multiple-choice questions. These are divided into five 35-minute sections, covering logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension. Keep in mind that one of these sections is unscored and used for test development.

How long is the LSAT?

For standard test takers, the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) should be approximately three hours. This is composed of four 35-minute sections, with a 10-minute break between the second and third sections. Have a look at our How Long is the LSAT article for more information.

How many times can you take the LSAT?

As of September 2019, candidates are able to take the LSAT for a total of seven times. It may be possible to sit the exam more than seven times through an appeal with the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), although this is extremely rare. It will likely also not be necessary.

Are there testing accommodations available for the LSAT?

Yes, testing accommodations are available for the LSAT in order to ensure all candidates have a fair testing experience. If you have a documented disability or require special arrangements, you can apply for accommodations like extended time, additional breaks, or alternative test formats.