The First Step to a Law Career
If you find yourself enumerating the reasons your kids cannot stay up until midnight or arguing the importance of eating all their broccoli—and enjoying the argument—you might want to think about law school. The first step on the way to becoming a lawyer is sitting for 3 hours and 45 minutes to take the LSAT, or Law School Admissions Test.
Preparing for the LSAT
Most law schools require applicants to submit their LSAT scores, although some school accept GRE, or Graduate Record Exam, scores. The LSAT measures prospective lawyers' analytical skills, writing competency, logical reasoning and reading comprehension, all skills important to succeeding during an often stressful and competitive three years of law school.
The LSAT is administered four times a year at testing centers around the world. Most students spend several months studying for the test and getting familiar with the types of questions that will be asked. Most law schools require the test to be taken by December for admission the following fall. However, some students get a head start by taking the exam in June or September.
Taking the Test
The LSAT begins at 8:30 a.m., except during the June test administration, when it starts at 12:30 p.m. The test consists of six 35-minute sections, for a total of 210 minutes of testing. There is a 15-minute break after the third section, during which students can get a snack or go to the bathroom.
There are four 35-minute, multiple choice sections and two unscored sections. These include:
- Two logical reasoning sections with 25 to 26 questions each.
- One reading comprehension section with four passages and questions.
- One analytical reasoning section consisting of four logic games.
- One experimental section that is like one of the sections above. While it is not scored, students will not know which section this is while they are taking the test.
- One writing sample based on a prompt. While this section is not scored, the writing sample is sent to law schools as part of the score.
What's the Score?
Scores are sent to students approximately three weeks after they take the exam. LSAT results are scored from 120 to 180. The average score is 150. However, the top 25 law schools are looking for scores of at least 160, and often much higher.
Students can repeat the exam if they are not happy with their scores, but because the test is offered only four times a year, they need to plan in advance. Some schools will use the highest score received when making admission decisions, while others will take an average of the scores.
Barbara Ruben has been a journalist for over 25 years. She has written extensively for the "Washington Post" and served as editor for an international health-care magazine and a group of newspapers for older adults. She earned a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University.