The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) - The Key to Getting Admitted to a Master's in Law in the U.S.

Many of you are probably incredibly fond of the idea of practicing Law in the United States because it’s very intriguing, straight forward and intense. But to get there, you need to complete Law school and if you also want to prepare for becoming a hot shot lawyer in the U.S., you’ll first need to overcome an additional hedge, the LSAT.

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What is the LSAT?

LSAT stands for Law School Admission Test and it is a standard part of the law school admission process required for prospective law undergraduate students in the United States. In order to get into law school, you will need to complete a college undergraduate degree. However, your degree does not necessarily have to be related to law studies. Your undergraduate major can be philosophy, literature or anything else.

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The LSAT is meant to evaluate candidates’ reading comprehension, logical and verbal reasoning competences and knowledge. The LSAT is administered by the U.S. Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and it is considered a crucial method of differentiating law candidates.

Along with the LSAT, part of the admission process will include:

  • GPA (the higher the score the better)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement

Here is a list of American Law schools that require the LSAT admission test.

Where and when can you take the LSAT?

You have the option to take the LSAT four times a year in February, June, September/October, and December.

Since there is a limited number of available seats at each testing centre, you should register early to make sure you will have a place.

Tip: If you take the LSAT in June, September or October, you’ll avoid late applications to law schools. Additionally, in case you want to re-take the test, you still have time before applications for enrolment in the next academic year end.

Check the available sessions for which you can apply for taking the LSAT. 

If you are located over 100 miles (160 km) from any of the test centres and are unable to travel, you can take the test at a nonpublished test centre. You’ll have to send a special request to the LSAC.

Important details you need to know about the LSAT

  • Candidates can take the LSAT only three times in a two-year period.
  • The overall duration of the LSAT test is 3 hours and 30 minutes.
  • Average cost(fee): 175 USD.
  • Depending on each American Law school, they give a smaller or higher value to the results of an LSAT. Many American law schools will consider your LSAT score far more important than your GPA.

The five parts of the LSAT

The LSAT is divided into five main parts:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Logical reasoning
  • Unscored variable section
  • Essay section

1. Reading comprehension

27 questions, 35 minutes to complete

The reading comprehension part of the test has four sections, three of them involve longer passages and one with a short reading passage. After you have read each of the passages, you have 5 – 8 questions that you will have to answer – all of them are meant to examine if you understood the main idea, or you will have to find specific information from the passage or to interpret a part of the text.

2. Analytical reasoning

25 questions, 35 minutes to complete

The analytical reasoning, also called “the logic games” section, comprises a set of four games that involve grouping, matching, and ordering elements. You will have to determine relationships between concepts and based on given premises, you have to draw logic conclusions to ambiguous or complex situations.

3. Logical Reasoning

2 sections, each containing around 25 questions, 35 minutes for each section

In this part of this exam, you will have to apply logic arguments to abstract concepts, find relevant information within a text, and overall you will be tested the ability to analyse the range of possibilities embedded in a set of rules.

4. Unscored Variable section

35 minutes to complete

The unscored variable section is more like an experimental part that comes more as a “surprise’ for examinees.

This part is meant to test new questions for future LSAT exams and the performance of the candidate will not be calculated or taken into account for the final score. However, the placement of this section is variable and the examiner won’t tell you when the variable section begins. In fact, you won’t know which was the unscored section until you receive your score report.

5. Writing/essay section

35 minutes to complete

The writing sample is the final section of the exam. You will be presented a problem and given two criteria to make a decision to solve that problem. Based on these given facts, you will have to write an essay, outlining the arguments of your decision and also explain the arguments against the counter-position.

There is no “right” or “wrong” answer in the essay section and the LSAC does not score this part. Your essay will be digitally imaged and sent to admission offices along with the LSAT score.

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Scoring the LSAT

The scoring of an LSAT is calculated based only on the number of questions answered correctly, called the raw score. This means that your total score will not go down for the wrong answers and it doesn’t reflect test takers' percentile, as opposed to SAT Test scores for instance.

The normal score for an LSAT starts at 120 (the lowest number of points) and the highest one is 180, counting the answers from 101 questions. A raw score of 99 out of 101 would usually translate into a 180.

The average score is around 150, but scores over 160 will get you into one of the top 25 law schools.

Candidates usually receive their scores by e-mail in three to four weeks after the exam.

If you took the LSAT more than once, every score within five years is reported to law schools during the application process. Examiners will summarize your performance based on three main aspects: most recent, highest, and average scores.

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Final tips for acing the LSAT

1. Review official practice tests (Prep Tests) to get accustomed to the types of questions before you take the actual LSAT.

2. Take practice tests to get used to the timing conditions and you will also figure out where are your strengths and weaknesses.

3. The recommended time to prepare for the LSAT is around 2-3 months for 150-300 hours. As you prepare and revise the right answers, first understand what and why your answers were wrong before you move on to new material.

4. During the LSAT, allow yourself to guess if you don’t know the answer to a question, especially since you won't be penalized for wrong answers.

5. Answer easy questions first.

6. During the reading comprehension, answer the questions based only on the information offered in the reading passage.

7. During the writing section, try to first organize your thoughts before you begin to write.

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