The main test that law school admissions committees use to determine a candidate’s readiness for law school is the Law School Admission Test, which is more commonly known by its acronym, the LSAT. This particular law school entrance test was designed to measure important skills that students will need to become successful lawyers. These skills include reading comprehension, analytical thinking skills and the ability to manipulate problems of logic to find the best solution.
Since most law schools in the United States that are accredited by the American Bar Association only accept the LSAT and no other test scores, achievement on this test is a vital part of any successful law school application package. To increase your chances of obtaining a high score on the LSAT, you need to study an LSAT prep book at the bare minimum. You can also enroll in courses at your college or local test preparation center that are designed to maximize your LSAT score.
What Is on the Law School Entrance Test?
There are three types of questions on the LSAT: reading comprehension questions, analytical reasoning questions and logical reasoning questions. Some questions may have multiple correct answers. Well-prepared test takers will be aware of this and will seek to choose the best answer overall.
The LSAT’s reading comprehension questions were designed not only to measure a law school candidate’s reading ability but also to engage the higher-level thinking skills necessary to excel in law school. The test takes samples from long, complex texts much like those that candidates will be reading in their law studies. During the LSAT, test takers will encounter both short and long passages, and they will also be asked to analyze relationships between two passages in comparative reading questions.
How Is Logic and Reasoning Used on the LSAT?
On the LSAT’s analytical reasoning section, test takers will be asked to assess given situations in regard to facts and rules. Questions in this section come in sets accompanied by a single passage that often describes relationships that involve ordering, grouping or both. For example, a question in the analytical reasoning section may ask students to create a time schedule for workers according to outside circumstances that affect when and how long they can work.
The analytical reasoning section contains questions that will test students on their ability to analyze arguments. Readings in this section are derived from common sources such as magazines, advertisements and scholarly publications. However, students shouldn’t let themselves be fooled by a question’s simple language. Each question in this section contains complex logical information that will rival any they will encounter during their legal career.
What Should I Do for LSAT Prep?
Because the LSAT doesn’t test students on any particular subject, cramming or memorization won’t be of much help. Unlike the tests students might be used to from their high school and undergraduate careers, the LSAT is more analogous to a marathon in that daily practice in reading, argumentation and problem solving will be more beneficial than sporadic rote study.
The best way to ensure that you score well on the LSAT is to focus on writing, reading and analytical skills in all of your university classes. Remember to read books that challenge you, and incorporate problem-solving puzzles and games into your everyday life. Beyond shaping your life to focus on academics, there are a few tried and true methods of LSAT prep.
Should You Take an LSAT Prep Course?
One route that many law school hopefuls find useful is to take an LSAT preparation course. These can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, before you spend your hard-earned money, look around for free courses first.
Many colleges offer free classes for students already enrolled in the school. Khan Academy offers free online test preparation resources. You can also buy a test prep book and study on your own.
Which Type of LSAT Prep Is Best for You?
Choose your test prep route based on what you know of your own learning style. If you learn better in person, choose a class that meets where you live. If you learn best on your own, utilize resources you can find at home, like taking a free online LSAT practice test or completing an LSAT prep workbook.
Regardless of the route you take, you should complete at least one LSAT practice test. Doing this will help you determine the areas of the test in which you are the weakest. After taking a practice test as a diagnostic, you will be able to study smarter instead of harder.
How to Start Preparing for the LSAT
Start your preparation for this important law school entrance test at minimum a month and a half before your test date. Preparation with more depth will require several months of study.
Begin by versing yourself with the test format. You should know what the test will be like far before you sit down to take it. Reviewing past test questions will also help.
How to Find LSAT Preparation Materials
Although completing more than one LSAT practice test is advisable, nothing beats the real thing. Real LSAT tests that were administered in the past are available to the public.
You can find some online for free through various test preparation sites. Some universities also keep a collection of old tests, so check with your school’s library before you spend any money.
Advice on Taking Practice Tests
Before you take any practice tests, make sure you have an answer key. An even better option for test preparation is to find a guide that will help you understand the reasoning behind the answers on past tests.
The best materials will use actual test questions from previously administered tests. Be wary of any materials that use “model” test questions, as these may or may not reflect the form of questions that will be on the administered test.
Plan for the Morning of Your Test
Even before you arrive to take the LSAT, make sure you’re mentally and physically prepared for the test. Get a good night’s sleep and eat a balanced breakfast. Do everything you can to avoid stressing yourself. Being relaxed will help you think more clearly and do better on the test.
Plan your route to the testing center the day before your test. Build in extra time so that you can arrive early or compensate for any delays that may happen. If you arrive late, you may not be admitted to the exam.
What Will the LSAT Test Look Like?
On the test itself, you will be answering multiple choice questions in five sections. You will have 35 minutes to complete each section.
One section is reading comprehension. Another section is analytical reasoning, and two more sections contain logical reading questions. A fifth section is composed of experimental questions.
These experimental questions will not be factored into your score. Instead, the Law School Admission Council uses this section to test out new questions before using them on official tests.
What Else Can I Expect on Test Day?
After the multiple-choice sections, you will be given 35 minutes to answer an essay question. Even though this question won’t be factored into your overall LSAT score, you should still aim to compose a fluent and thoughtful argument because this portion will serve as a writing sample.
From start to finish, administration of the LSAT takes about five hours, so mental and physical fitness is key to a fruitful test day.
Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. She loves teaching about literature, and she writes about books for Book Riot, Real Simple, Electric Literature and more.