Anyone who has made the decision to pursue a career in law has likely planned to take the LSAT. Whether you have taken the test already and want to improve your score, or you haven't taken the test yet and want to know what to expect, the best thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the test and its contents so you have the best chance of shooting for a perfect score.
A perfect LSAT score is 180.
What Is the LSAT?
The LSAT is the qualifying test that all applicants to law school must take before submitting their applications to law schools. Similar to the SAT that students must take before applying to college, the LSAT is the standardized test that all students must complete as a prerequisite for admission. "LSAT" stands for Law School Admissions Test.
It may seem like a strange thing for students who have not previously studied law to take the LSAT before applying to law school. However, the LSAT doesn't require students to have familiarity with the elements of the law. Rather, the LSAT measures verbal knowledge, critical-thinking abilities, reasoning and analytic abilities. These are all qualities that are highly important in the law profession.
The test measures aptitude so that evaluators can see whether or not the student is academically and analytically prepared for the work that law school will entail. Students in law school need to be able to evaluate arguments, display knowledge of basic logic and be able to read scholarly and often very dense legal passages and identify the main ideas and important points presented therein. The test is meant to measure that capacity to determine whether or not a student is prepared for the rigor of law school and the legal profession.
How Is the LSAT Structured?
The perfect LSAT score is achieved by performing well in all four sections of the test. The test is comprised of two sections on logical reasoning, a section on analytical reasoning and a section on reading comprehension. Each section is equally important, and it's critical to prepare for each section separately, as they each require different skill sets.
The Logical Reasoning section of the test is perhaps the largest section on the LSAT. If you're aiming to get a 180 on the LSAT, your LSAT 180 study plan should most certainly focus heavily on logical reasoning. Logical reasoning is the section that determines your ability to assess arguments. Not only will you have to evaluate whether an argument is strong or weak, but you'll also need to be able to clearly identify what makes an argument strong or weak.
The Analytical Reasoning section of the test focuses on your ability to find logic in data and information that is supplied to you. The questions may require combing through text and being able to find structure and organization in the data presented. Finally, the Reading Comprehension section presents test takers with passages from scholarly texts and other sources of a sophisticated nature. This section prompts the test takers to read the material provided and go on to identify themes, main ideas and other pertinent information.
Why Do I Need a High LSAT Score?
The goal of the LSAT 180 study plan is to get your LSAT score as close to 180 as is possible for you. Similar to the SAT, the LSAT is looked at by law schools in conjunction with everything else about a student. Your undergraduate transcript, your professional history and your essays will all be taken into account when you apply. However, the LSAT is a test that lets the school know your overall aptitude when it comes to the kind of thinking and deduction that is required in the legal profession.
For many people, the goal of a high LSAT score is to get into one of the nation's top law schools. While schools like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Georgetown, NYU and others may consider your academic record and your professional experience as more important than your standardized test scores when making admission decisions, the fact is that a low LSAT score will likely keep you out of the top schools. The median Harvard LSAT score, for example, is 173. It's not a perfect 180, but it's close.
For most of the more competitive schools that lead to the best jobs after graduation, the LSAT score indicates whether or not a student will be able to handle the rigorous and significant workload of the law school curriculum. Many students who may make fine lawyers or law professionals may simply not be ready for the rigor of an Ivy League law school curriculum and may find a better fit elsewhere. However, if you are determined to be in a top school with access to the best jobs, you'll need a high LSAT score.
Building an LSAT 180 Study Plan
While it is not expected or even necessary for every student who takes the LSAT to score a perfect 180, that should be the goal for every test taker. The first thing to do is to take a practice LSAT and see how you do. If you do well on a practice LSAT, you know that your next few months of preparation can help to raise your score so that you get even closer to that 180 for which you are shooting.
Practicing for the LSAT 180 experience can feel daunting, especially if your first practice test indicates that you need a lot of work. Something to keep in mind is that improving your score is possible if you put in the work. In the movie "Legally Blonde," Elle Woods's LSAT score jumped considerably after only a few months of preparation. Yes, it was only a movie, but the fact is that real people can improve their score by dozens of points with only a few months of preparation if they have the right study plan.
Building an LSAT 180 study plan is about being aware of the material and getting comfortable with it. If you have access to an LSAT prep book, the first thing you should do is read through it. Don't try to take the test yet and don't try to solve the problems. Just look at all the pages and try to understand what's on them. This will not only give you a sense of the challenges you may face as a test taker, but it will also very likely help you get familiar with the language used in the test.
Going for the LSAT 180 Experience
Once you have gotten familiar with the test material, it's time to take your first LSAT practice test. When you score your test, don't panic. Even if your score is low, you have time to improve. The best way to improve your test score is by troubleshooting, and the best way to troubleshoot is by identifying the areas where you're not doing well. If you find that your reading comprehension score is fairly high but your logical reasoning scores are giving you trouble, then this is the basis of your LSAT 180 study plan.
Once you have your test date, work backward. Build a schedule that allows you to study all the material that you need to cover while paying special attention to the subjects with which you are struggling. Take practice tests after a month of studying and preparation and then troubleshoot your study plan again.
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience writing about education for a variety of organizations and educational institutions as well as online media sites. She has written for Pearson Education, The University of Miami, The New York City Teaching Fellows, New Visions for Public Schools, and a number of independent secondary schools. She lives in Los Angeles.