Introduction to the LSAT

What is the LSAT?

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a half-day standardized test required for admission to all ABA–approved law schools, most Canadian law schools, and many non–ABA–approved law schools. It provides a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. The test is administered four times a year in February, June, September/October and December at hundreds of locations around the world.

The LSAT consists of five sections:

  • 2 Logical Reasoning Sections (Brief Arguments)
  • 1 Reading Comprehension Section (4 half page reading passages)
  • 1 Analytical Reasoning Section (4 logic games)
  • 1 Experimental Section (a repeat of one of the above)

Each section includes 22-28 questions and you are given 35 minutes per section. All questions are multiple choice and there are a total of 98-102 questions on the LSAT.

In addition to the above five sections there is a written section however this is not included as part of your final LSAT score. You have 35 minutes for the writing section.

A key to preparing for the LSAT is time management. The test is designed to limit the time you have to answer the questions correctly. Many people find they can answer most or all of the questions correctly if they take their time, however, when given the limited time constraints of 35 minutes per section it suddenly becomes more difficult. The AlphaScore LSAT course will teach you to answer more questions correctly within the time constraints of the LSAT.

Logical Reasoning Section

The logical reasoning questions make up approximately 50% of your LSAT score. There are five sections on the test, only 4 of these are scored and 2 out of those 4 are logical reasoning. Each logical reasoning section has 24-26 questions. Each question consists of a short argument and a question about the argument. There are only a limited number of question types in this section such as the Parallel Reasoning questions: “Which of the following most closely parallels the argument?” or the Paradox questions “Which of the following explains the apparent paradox?”. The key to the Logical Reasoning section on the LSAT is learning how to approach and answer each of these question types and managing your time effectively.

Analytical Reasoning Section (Games)

The Analytical Reasoning Section (also know as the logic games section) of the LSAT is 1 out of the 4 scored sections of the LSAT and includes 23-24 questions making up approximately 24% of your final LSAT score. Each analytical reasoning section contains 4 games. Each game includes an introductory paragraph, a set of rules and 5-7 multiple choice questions about the game. The introductory paragraph describes the game layout, gives you a list of entities and may even provide you with a rule or two about how the entities are to be placed. Next we have a list of rules about how the entities will fit into their positions within the game. For example your introductory paragraph may tell you that you have 3 fruit stands and that there are 4 types of fruit to distribute amongst the fruit stands (apples, oranges, mangoes and pears). Then you will have a list of rules that will include things like “Any fruit stand with oranges must also have pears.” and “The first fruit stand must have apples.” The key to success on the analytical reasoning section of the LSAT is being able to summarize the introductory paragraph and rules into a quick and easy to understand diagram and then applying this to the question types.

Reading Comprehension Section

The Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT is 1 out of the 4 scored sections of the LSAT and includes 26-28 multiple choice questions making up approximately 27% of your final LSAT score. Each reading comprehension section includes 4 reading comprehension question sets. The reading selection in three of the four sets consists of a single reading passage of approximately 450 words in length. The other set contains two related shorter passages. Sets with two passages are a new variant of reading comprehension, called comparative reading, which were introduced into the reading comprehension section starting in June 2007. Each passage is followed by 7-8 questions such as “What was the main idea of the passage?” or “Which of the following statements would the author most likely agree with?” To succeed on the Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT you not only need to be able to read quickly and closely but you need to understand the types of questions that will be asked and how to answer them efficiently in the time provided. The AlphaScore LSAT course will provide you with a variety of strategies for success on the Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT.

Experimental Section

The Experimental Section of the LSAT is simply an additional section that will be one of the 3 types listed above. It will either be Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning, or Reading Comprehension. The experimental section is not identified as such on the LSAT so you have no idea which one it is during the LSAT. The experimental section will not be included in your LSAT score. The experimental section is used by the makers of the LSAT to test out new questions and new question types to determine how difficult they are for LSAT writers. It also serves to make the test longer and more challenging. The experimental section almost always occurs as one of the first 3 sections of the test.

The Writing Sample

The LSAT also includes a 35 minute writing sample section. This is not scored or included in your final LSAT score. It is sent to each law school to which your LSAT score is sent, however, law schools rarely make use of the writing sample in determining admissions. Admissions committees put limited weight on a messy handwritten writing sample written after a 3 hour exam when you are at your worst. Also, they have a much better sample of your ability to write in your personal statement, and finally they have your entire educational history as an evaluation of your writing abilities. For these reasons you should not be overly concerned with the writing sample, however, you should still take the time to do a couple of practice samples and to complete the question on the actual LSAT. The writing sample can be more of a factor for admissions in the case of ESL applicants. The writing sample serves as an additional sample of writing for fraud prevention. In the writing sample you will be presented with a decision and asked to choose from two options. Chose one and make an argument as to why it is the best choice. There is no right or wrong answer as there are arguments to be made for either option.

How is the LSAT Scored?

Each LSAT includes 98-102 questions and you are given one point for each correctly answered question. Note that you do not get more points for answering the difficult questions nor do they subtract points for wrong answers. Your total number of correct questions is your raw score which is then converted into a scaled score between 120 and 180 and then a percentile between 1%ile and 99%ile. We have a LSAT Score conversion chart if you need to convert your score from raw to percentile or scaled.

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