LSAT Writing

Written by: Will Bond

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LSAT Writing

In order to finish the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), all candidates must complete a remotely administered section that tests their persuasive writing and critical thinking abilities. While unscored, you shouldn’t overlook this assignment because it can play a significant role in your law school application.

This article delves into the nuances of the LSAT’s writing section, providing insights into how to effectively prepare for it, what law schools want to see in your submission, and an official LSAT writing prompt so you can familiarize yourself with the format and style of this section.

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Understanding the LSAT Writing

The LSAT writing is an on-demand, proctored assessment of a number of key skills essential to your success in law school. They include the ability to argue logically in writing and organize evidence in a coherent manner.

During this assessment, you’ll have 35 minutes to write an essay in response to a prompt that asks you to make a decision between two contrasting positions or solutions. The prompt will provide you with details and facts that support both arguments and you must use your critical thinking skills in order to defend the side you believe is correct.

Because both of the prompt’s positions are defensible by design, there are no “right” or “wrong” stances to take on the topic. Instead, you’ll be assessed based on how well you can defend your position in writing.

It’s worth noting that you’ll complete the LSAT writing section separately — at a time and place of your choosing. This occurs online through LawHub along with a secure proctoring software you must download beforehand. You’ll then have up to eight days prior to your LSAT exam to complete this writing section.

How Important is the LSAT Writing?

While your LSAT writing sample will go unscored — and therefore won’t count toward your overall grade — it’ll form an integral part of your overall law school application. In fact, admission committees carefully consider each applicant’s writing sample because a good answer will demonstrate core skills deemed essential to success in both law school and the legal profession.

In particular, law school demands the ability to communicate a number of organized, coherent, and convincing arguments under the time pressure of an exam. The ability to do this — even when you’re thinking on your feet — is vital for a successful legal career.

As a result, the LSAT writing section is highly important because it provides a tangible way for you to exhibit your readiness to excel in law school. This section’s limited time and resources make it a much more raw test of your writing ability and logical reasoning.

How to Excel in LSAT Writing

Now that you understand how the LSAT writing section works — as well as its importance to the overall law school admission process — we’ll share some simple tips to help you excel at this task. We’ll also provide some insights on what law schools actually look for in your submission.

LSAT Writing Tips

While this is a spontaneous essay you must produce without resources or research, you can still follow a number of strategies and helpful tips in order to create an impressive LSAT writing sample.

Read the Prompt Carefully

Because your writing sample should only be informed by the details provided in the prompt, it’s vital to consider all the facts it gives you before you start writing. Reading through the prompt twice is a good way to ensure you don’t miss any small details. It also can help you identify the side for which you can create the best argument.

Often written in a way that balances the supporting evidence for each argument, these prompts can make it quite difficult to choose the side you wish to argue. If you’re struggling to decide, jotting down some pros and cons for each argument can help you identify the one you agree with more.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter too much which side you pick because there’s no right or wrong answer. You should, however, aim to pick the side for which you can create the most persuasive argument. That’s why it’s so important to read the prompt properly.

Create an Outline

Due to the time pressure involved in the LSAT writing section, creating a quick outline of your essay’s structure and key points can help you to make the most of the 35 minutes available to you and ensure you write a clear and cohesive answer.

A good structure to follow when writing your answer involves dividing your essay into three paragraphs:

  • The first paragraph should establish your opinion, provide a justification for it, and address a potential strength of the opposing argument
  • The second paragraph should break down — in detail — why you rejected the opposing argument while also acknowledging a weakness in your own
  • The final paragraph should briefly reiterate your stance as well as the reasons you chose it over the opposing argument

This is where listing a few of the pros and cons of each side of the argument can be a big time-saver — just make sure to stick with the side you chose when writing your outline. Be confident in your decision and ensure your essay doesn’t sit on the fence.

Leave Time to Edit

As you hurry to finish your LSAT writing sample, it’s inevitable that the time pressure may cause you to inadvertently make a few errors along the way. While that’s understandable, this essay should showcase your writing skills. Any careless spelling, grammar, or syntax mistakes will just give the admission committee a poor impression of you as a candidate.

For this reason, it’s crucial to plan ahead by saving five minutes at the end of the test. This’ll allow you to identify and correct any errors in your work in a timely manner before handing in your completed writing sample.

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Examples of LSAT Writing Prompts

Below, you’ll find the writing prompt that appeared in the official September 2016 LSAT exam. Practicing with authentic prompts like this is essential when preparing for your LSAT because it’ll help ensure you’re familiar with the typical format and style of these questions by the day of your actual exam.

Be sure to mimic exam conditions as much as possible when doing this practice test. Don’t rely on outside research or write as if you have all the time in the world.

Instructions

Question

Example LSAT Writing Outline

Below, you’ll find an example of a potential outline a candidate could create in response to the official question above.

Introduction

  • Briefly introduce the scenario. Brighter Construction must choose between bidding on the Hilltop Road resurfacing project and the Carlene Boulevard expansion project
  • State the two criteria for the essay. Brighter wants to enhance its reputation and increase its capacity for bigger projects

Argument 1: Hilltop Road Resurfacing

Pros
  • It’s a small project with almost certain profit and on-time completion due to Brighter’s experience and resources
  • Brighter has an established reputation for finishing projects on time and within budget
  • This has the possibility of keeping extra money if completed under budget
Cons
  • Specialization in small projects may limit Brighter Construction’s opportunities for bigger contracts
  • There’s no opportunity for expanding Brigher’s operations or gaining new experience

Argument 2: Carlene Boulevard Expansion

Pros
  • It’s a large project with significantly higher potential profit
  • It’s an opportunity to expand operations and take on bigger projects
  • There’s a chance of winning the contract due to Brighter’s belief in its capabilities
Cons
  • There’s some uncertainty regarding on-time completion and staying within budget
  • There’s a risk of losing money if the project goes over budget

Preference for One Project

Highlight the preference for the Carlene Boulevard expansion project based on the two criteria provided within the prompt. Emphasize the potential for a higher profit, the chance to expand operations, and the possibility of winning the contract.

Acknowledge the risks, but argue that the long-term benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks.

Conclusion

Summarize the main points of the essay and reiterate the preference for the Carlene Boulevard expansion project as the better choice for Brighter Construction based on its potential to enhance the company’s reputation and increase its project capacity.

Unfortunately, this is the only official LSAT writing sample practice prompt available on the LawHub website. If you’d like more writing prompts to practice with, check your LSAT study guide for more examples.

LSAT Writing FAQ

How hard is LSAT writing?

How difficult it’ll seem when you take LSAT writing will depend on the proficiency of both your writing skills and analytical abilities. This section requires the presentation of a coherent, concise argument under time constraints. Effective preparation and consistent practice are instrumental in honing the skills required to approach LSAT Writing with confidence and success.

Do law schools actually look at LSAT writing samples?

Yes, the application boards for law schools review candidates’ LSAT writing samples. While it’s not scored like other sections of this test, you’ll still need a complete writing sample in your file to be able to see your LSAT score. To learn more about the importance of this section, read our LSAT Writing article.

What do I do for the LSAT writing?

In the LSAT writing exam, candidates must analyze a provided prompt thoroughly, construct a clear argument, and substantiate it with evidence — all within 35 minutes. You’ll need to consistently practice LSAT writing under timed conditions in order to ensure you’re able to produce a well-structured and coherent essay on your LSAT test day.

Does the LSAT still have a writing section?

Yes, the LSAT still assesses candidates with a writing portion of the exam. Despite not counting toward your overall LSAT score, it forms a crucial part of the law school admissions process by providing an insight into your ability to construct a persuasive argument within a specific time frame. For more information on the rest of the exam, see our What is the LSAT article.