The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a challenging exam designed to evaluate key skills and cognitive abilities essential for success in law school and legal practice.
In our How Hard is the LSAT guide, we have broken down the exam’s unique elements, and offer an in-depth look at the specific challenges and characteristics that define its complexity. We also share valuable tips on how to effectively prepare for the exam.
Recommended: Interested in getting started? We recommend Kaplan’s LSAT preparation courses, which come with more than 200 quizzes and practice tests, one-on-one tutoring, and interactive online lessons.
Is the LSAT Hard
The LSAT is widely known for its rigorous nature, but what exactly makes this exam stand out in terms of difficulty? It’s not solely the complexity of its content; rather, it’s the unique way the LSAT challenges your critical thinking, setting it apart from other standardized tests.
The LSAT comprises four main sections of multiple-choice questions and one writing section, all designed to assess distinct abilities under a strict 35-minute time constraint. This format demands a deep understanding of the material and the ability to apply your skills quickly and efficiently.
Below we explore how each of these sections contributes to the overall challenge of the LSAT.
In the Analytical Reasoning section, also known as Logic Games, you’ll need to tackle a series of complex puzzles. Each question will present itself as a mini-scenario, where your task will be to decipher a set of rules and use them to organize various pieces of information correctly.
You can think of this like a puzzle, where all pieces will need to fit together, but only in ways that the given conditions allow.
The specific challenge of this section lies in its demand for high-level logical thinking and the ability to rapidly process and apply abstract rules to concrete problems.
This requires sharp analytical skills and the ability to adapt and think creatively under pressure.
Moving on to the Logical Reasoning section of the LSAT, you’ll encounter a different kind of intellectual challenge, which is focused around argument analysis.
In Logical Reasoning, you’ll be presented with short passages or statements, each followed by a series of questions. Your task will be to critically evaluate these arguments, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and understand their underlying logic. You might be asked to identify assumptions, draw inferences, recognize logical flaws, or understand the implications of an argument.
The specific challenge in Logical Reasoning lies in its diversity of content and the subtlety of its logic. Arguments are drawn from a wide range of topics and sources, requiring no specific prior knowledge, but a broad understanding of common logical structures and reasoning patterns. This means you need to be versatile and adaptable in your thinking, ready to engage with any subject matter and discern the essence of complex arguments quickly and accurately.
In the Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT, your ability to understand, analyze, and infer information from complex texts will be put to the test. This section presents you with a series of passages that are typically dense and sophisticated, covering a range of topics from law to humanities and social sciences. Each passage is accompanied by a set of questions that require you to not only grasp the main ideas but also to interpret the author’s tone and intent, as well as the broader implications of the text.
The specific challenge of Reading Comprehension lies in the density and complexity of the material. You’ll be required to quickly digest information that is often presented in a style and format that is similar to what you might encounter in legal documents and academic journals.
This means you need to be adept at quickly picking out key points, making connections between different parts of the text, and understanding subtle nuances.
The Writing Sample
In the LSAT Writing Sample section, you’ll be tasked with a critical component of your assessment — persuasive writing. Here, you’ll be presented with a scenario where you will need to weigh two different options and then articulate a clear argument in favor of one. Keep in mind that this section is all about showcasing your ability to construct a well-reasoned, logically structured argument in an essay form.
This requires you to be able to carefully balance your arguments, providing a thorough analysis that supports your chosen position while acknowledging the merits of the alternative. It’s a direct reflection of the kind of clear, structured thinking and persuasive communication expected in law school and legal professions.
The Writing Sample is conducted separately from the other sections of the LSAT. This separation means that you can complete it at a different time from the multiple-choice sections, often at your own convenience and in a less pressured environment. This setup allows you to focus entirely on crafting a well-organized and compelling essay, without the immediate stress of the timed multiple-choice questions.
While it doesn’t factor into your overall LSAT score, its value shouldn’t be underestimated, as it provides law school admissions committees with a crucial insight into your writing and reasoning abilities.
So, is the LSAT Hard?
All in all, the LSAT’s difficulty is influenced by both your academic background and your preparation strategies. If you have a background in philosophy or mathematics, or have engaged in activities such as debate or extensive literature analysis, you’re likely to have an edge in the exam over someone with a less relevant background.
Your target LSAT score — which is closely linked to your law school aspirations — will inevitably also play a key role in how challenging the exam is for you. Striving for a top-tier score, such as in the 170 range, will demand a more intensive preparation approach compared to aiming for a more average score of around 150.
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.
Good LSAT Scores for Law Schools
A good LSAT score, by definition, is one that sits above the national average, which is approximately 152. However, the true measure of a good score varies significantly depending on your target law schools.
Here’s a detailed look at what constitutes a competitive LSAT score for various tiers of law schools:
Top 14 Law Schools:
- Median LSAT: 173-177
- Score Range: 170+ (highly competitive)
- Examples: Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, NYU
Top 50 Law Schools:
- Median LSAT: 160-165
- Score Range: 155-169 (competitive)
- Examples: Duke, Ohio State (Moritz), Texas A&M, Utah (Quinney), Iowa, Michigan
Remaining Law Schools:
- Median LSAT: 150-159
- Score Range: 145-159 (varies depending on program and location)
- Examples: Fordham, American, George Mason, Howard
Keep in mind that, while any score above 152 is above average, aiming higher will significantly enhance your chances of admission, particularly in the highly competitive landscape of top law schools.
For more information, we recommend having a look at our What is a Good LSAT Score article.
How to Prepare for the LSAT
As we enter the preparation stage for the LSAT, it’s important to recognize that while there are hundreds of study guides and materials offered by third-party companies, the most effective strategy often comes straight from the source.
Therefore, we recommend following the guidance of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the administrators of the LSAT, who have outlined the following steps and strategies to help you prepare for the exam.
- Official LSAC Resources: LSAC suggests utilizing their official resources for the most accurate practice. This includes past LSAT exams available on LSAC’s LawHub, which replicate the actual test format and content
- Varied Study Materials: In addition to LSAC’s offerings, incorporating a range of study materials, such as prep books and online courses, enhances your preparation. LSAC provides various resources like The Official LSAT PrepTest series
- Simulating Test Conditions: Especially important for remote test-takers, practicing in an environment that mirrors the test conditions is essential. Ensure your computer meets LSAC’s technical requirements and set up a quiet testing area
- Consistent, Diverse Practice: Timed practice sessions, complemented by varied study methods, are key. This might include group studies or teaching concepts to others
- Writing Sample Preparation: Given the importance of the Writing Sample in your application, focus on writing persuasive essays that are not only clear and well-structured but also compelling in their logic and persuasion
How Hard is the LSAT FAQ
How hard is it to pass the LSAT?
Passing the LSAT can present a challenge as it evaluates essential skills for law school, and its difficulty often varies based on your academic background and study habits. Achieving success in the LSAT is largely about consistent and focused preparation, especially in critical areas such as analytical reasoning and logical thinking. For more information, have a look at our How Hard is the LSAT article.
How long does it take to study for the LSAT?
Most candidates spend two to three months preparing for the LSAT, dedicating 20-30 hours per week. However, this varies based on individual familiarity with the test material and the target score, with some requiring more time to achieve proficiency.
Is the LSAT one of the hardest tests?
The LSAT is often considered one of the tougher standardized tests, mainly because it tests logic, reasoning, and comprehension skills instead of straightforward memorization or fact-based knowledge. Having said that, the right LSAT prep course can go a long way in helping you ace this exam.
Is the LSAT harder than the bar?
The LSAT and the bar exam are hard in different ways. The LSAT focuses on analytical and logical reasoning, while the bar exam tests legal knowledge and application. Success in both requires different skill sets and preparation strategies. Interested in finding out more? Take a look at our What is the LSAT article.