LSAT Overview

Everything you need to know about the LSAT - all in one place.

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT®) is a challenging test filled with types of questions that many students have never been exposed to. The LSAT questions test for skills that many students have not learned elsewhere in their studies. This makes the LSAT a difficult and intimidating test that can leave first-time test-takers feeling discouraged and possibly even dissuade them from pursuing their interest in attending law school. However, the LSAT is a learnable test. 

That’s right, you have to learn how to do well on the LSAT. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort but, as long as you are determined, you can learn the types of questions that the LSAT asks and the skills and strategies for answering those questions correctly.

 Now that you know that, your job is to learn all you can about the LSAT. To help you do that I have compiled important LSAT information that you will need to conquer the test. I hope you find it helpful.

Since this is just an overview, it is meant to give you the basic information you need to get started on your studying journey without overwhelming you. I have included links throughout the overview that go more in depth on each subject.

The information here is always being updated. Please contact me through the Contact page if you would like to see information added or if you find any information here that is incorrect or outdated.

Table of Contents

The Law School Admission Test

The Law School Admission Test, more commonly referred to as the LSAT, is a standardized test created by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and used by law schools as one criterion by which to evaluate applicants for admission to their school. Law schools use the LSAT to assess applicants’ critical reading, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and persuasive writing skills. 

The LSAT is composed of two parts: a multiple-choice test and a writing section. The multiple-choice test is made up of three different types of sections: Logic Games, Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. These sections test for skills that most students have not learned elsewhere in their studies and use types of questions that most students have never been exposed to before. This makes the LSAT a difficult test for first-time test takers. However, students can learn skills and strategies that will improve their score on the test. If there is only one thing that you take away from all of the information here, let it be this: The LSAT is a learnable test. 

The LSAT is a learnable test, not an IQ test.  The score you get on any practice or official test does not reflect your intelligence. At best, your score is only a reflection of your current understanding of the test. I stress this because students are often unnecessarily discouraged by their scores, under the false belief that they will not be able to improve and reach their goal score.

You can better your understanding of the test and learn strategies for conquering the test. All it takes is time, dedication, and the right resources. It is a test worth learning too. As you improve your LSAT score you also improve your chances of being admitted to better schools and receiving scholarship awards. That will, in turn, increase your earning potential and decrease your debt load. All in all, you can expect a good return on the time you invest into learning about and studying for the LSAT. 

Test Format

*The information here does not apply to the LSAT-FLEX test, which has a different format. You can find information on the LSAT-FLEX format below.*

The LSAT has two parts – a multiple-choice test and a written section. The multiple-choice test consists of five 35-minute sections. There are three different kinds of multiple choice sections: Logical Reasoning, Logic Games (officially called Analytical Reasoning), and Reading Comprehension. 

The test is made up of two Logical Reasoning sections, one Logic Games section, one Reading Comprehension section, and one section called the Experimental section. The Experimental section is an additional Logical Reasoning, Logic Games, or Reading Comprehension section (depending on the test you receive on test day, as it varies for each test) that is unscored.

The Experimental section is used to test questions for potential use on future tests to make sure they fall within certain medians of difficulty. The Experimental section is not graded or publicized, even for disclosed tests. The Experimental section you get on test day is random. It could be an additional Logical Reasoning, Logic Games, or Reading Comprehension section. You will not know until you open up the test on test day and even then you can only know which kind of section the experimental section is and won’t know exactly which section is experimental. (Eg. On test day you get at test with two Logic Games sections. Knowing that only one Logic Games section is scored, you can know that one of the Logic Games sections is the experimental section. However, you won’t know which of the two Logic Games sections is scored and which is the experimental.) Due to this, you have to take every section as if it were scored, doing your best to get as many questions correct as possible in the allotted time .

The order that the sections appear in is random as well. No section type is objectively more or less difficult than any other section type. However, students usually have certain sections that they are more comfortable with and less comfortable with depending on their strengths and what they have been exposed to in their prior education.

The multiple-choice test time format is as follows:

Section 1 – 35 minutes
Section 2 – 35 minutes
Section 3 – 35 minutes
Break – 15 minutes
Section 4 – 35 minutes
Section 5 – 35 minutes

Test Content

The multiple choice section of the LSAT is made up of three sections: Logic Games (formally known as Analytical Reasoning), Logical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension.

Logic Games (Analytical Reasoning)

The Logic Games section is often the section that seems most foreign and challenging to students. In fact, Logic Games is most often reported as the most difficult section by students taking the LSAT for the first time. However, this is also the section that students with quality instruction, whether it be from a book or instructor, see the most improvement on. 

The Logic Games section consists of four different games, with each game having 5-7 questions related to it. In total, the section is usually composed of about 23 questions. Depending on how your study resource classifies them, there are 5-7 different types of games that could appear on the LSAT. The game types are called different things depending on which resource, company, or instructor you consult. My advice to you is to pick one classification system and stick to it. There are already a lot of strategies to learn on the LSAT, no need to get confused over labels that don’t have any real impact on the strategy you take to answer the questions correctly.

Logical Reasoning

The Logical Reasoning section is made up of 24-27 questions. Each question has a short argument (usually 1-3 sentences) that goes with it. The questions require you to evaluate the arguments in different ways, depending on the question type. Depending on how your study resource classifies them, there are 7-12 different types of Logical Reasoning questions that could appear on the LSAT. The question types are called different things depending on which resource, company, or instructor you consult. My advice to you is to pick one classification system and stick to it. There are already a lot of strategies to learn on the LSAT, no need to get confused over labels that don’t have any real impact on the strategy you take to answer the questions correctly.

Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension section consists of four sets of reading passages (first three sets of passages are single passages while the last set is a comparative reading set composed of two shorter passages by two different authors), with each passage having 5-8 questions related to it. Depending on how your study resource classifies them, there are 5-7 different types of Reading Comprehension questions that could appear on the LSAT. The question types are called different things depending on which resource, company, or instructor you consult. My advice to you is to pick one classification system and stick to it. There are already a lot of strategies to learn on the LSAT, no need to get confused over labels that don’t have any real impact on the strategy you take to answer the questions correctly.

The sets of readings feature different passage topics. However, these topics are irrelevant and do not influence the strategy that you use to read the passage or answer the questions. There are a lot of things to remember and learn for the LSAT so best to just forget that there are different topics for the passages. You use the same approach no matter if you are reading a passage about science, math, history, or the law.

Writing Section

As of June 2019, the unscored Writing Section of the LSAT is administered separately from the scored multiple-choice portion of the test. LSAC made this change in order to make the testing day shorter for students. The Writing Section is administered digitally through a secure online platform. The administration is on-demand and proctored remotely. This means that the Writing Section can completed at the time and place of the test takers’ choosing. 

When you register for the LSAT you will automatically be able to complete the Writing Section of the test, starting on the day of your official LSAT administration. LSAC encourages students to complete the written portion of the test as soon as possible.  The maximum time students have to complete the writing sample is one year from the day of their official LSAT administration.

The Writing Section is shared with the student and the schools to which they are applying as soon as it has been submitted. Students need to have at least one writing sample on file in order for their LSAT to be considered complete.

In order to complete the digital administration of the Writing Section you will need to have access to a computer running Windows or Mac operating system that has a webcam, microphone, only one connected monitor, and an internet connection. You will be required to download and install a secure browser that remotely proctors the test and show your ID at the beginning of the test. 

The Writing Section is a timed, 35-minute section that requires you to write an essay in response to a given prompt. In the essay you are to take one of two possible positions and back up your positions with reasoning. There is no correct or incorrect position to take. You could take either position and still pass the writing section. The prompt will lay out a conflict, give you the two possible positions you can take, and give you information that you can use to support your position and refute the other. 

The Writing Section is not scored, does not affect the scoring of the multiple-choice test, and is comparatively of very little importance. As long as you write something down it will probably not affect your admission to law school. Just be sure to take the section seriously as skipping it or writing nonsense could keep you from getting admitted. 

It’s best to spend as little time worrying about the Writing Section as possible. Most students find that practicing one Writing Section from a past test is sufficient preparation for completing the official Writing Section.

For more information on the Writing Section of the LSAT, please see LSAC’s website here: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/taking-lsat/about-lsat-writing

Test Administration

The Digital LSAT

Starting in September 2019, LSAC moved to a digital administration of the LSAT. The digital administration of the test allows students to use scratch paper for their work and select answers on tablets that are made available to students at the test center. 

The Digital LSAT test allows students highlight text, flag questions, and view an on-screen timer that gives a five minute warning.  Answer choices are selected by tapping the screen of the tablet. Incorrect answer choices can be crossed out in a similar fashion. To see exactly how the Digital LSAT will  appear on test day, you can take two free practice tests in the authentic Digital LSAT test environment. You can access these tests by following the instructions under “Practice Tests” on the Free Resources page or through LSAC’s website here: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/prepYou will need to create an LSAC account if you have not already done so in order to access the two free practice tests. 

To learn more about the digital administration of the test you can consult the LSAC website here: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/prep/how-prepare-digital-lsat

LSAT-FLEX

Due to COVID-19, LSAC has had to make the LSAT available for students to take at home in order to conduct the test without endangering their health. In order to avoid large gatherings that the administration of the LSAT test has traditionally required, LSAC has introduced LSAT-FLEX. LSAT-FLEX is a remotely proctored administration of the LSAT that can be administered from students’ homes.

Apart from the difference in administration, LSAC has also altered the format of the LSAT with LSAT-FLEX. Instead of having four scored sections and one unscored, experimental section, the LSAT-FLEX will only consist of three scored sections – one Logic Games section, one Logical Reasoning section, and one Reading Comprehension section. That means that the LSAT-FLEX will have one less scored Logical Reasoning section and will not include an unscored Experimental section. The new format will not have any effect on the Writing Section, which will still be taken separately from the multiple-choice portion of the test. 

The three sections will still be 35 minutes each and there will not be a break between sections. The whole test will take approximately two hours to complete. The sections and questions will have the same level of difficulty as prior LSAT tests. LSAC is not double-counting the Logical Reasoning section and there will be approximately the same number of questions in each of the three sections. This means that the test moves from being 50% Logical Reasoning, 25% Logic Games, and 25% Reading Comprehension to a 33.33% split between all three sections. 

LSAC has already administered one round of LSAT-FLEX testing in May. They reported that although some students had some technical difficulties, 99% of the nearly 10,000 candidates who began the test were able to complete it. 

If you signed up for the July 13, 2020 LSAT you will automatically be  registered for the July LSAT-FLEX. If you prefer to take the test in-person, LSAC will issue you a coupon to use for a different test date. The July LSAT-FLEX will take place during the week of July 12, 2020 with most students testing on Sunday, July 12 or Monday, July 13. LSAC will open the scheduling sign-up process for the July LSAT-FLEX test in late June. 

LSAC has said that they may administer additional LSAT-FLEX tests for upcoming test dates if it is not safe to administer the test in person. They plan to return an in-person administration of the LSAT once it is safe for people to gather in groups again.

The LSAC-Flex can be taken on a laptop or desktop computer using the Windows or Mac operating system. The test will be administered using Proctor U. The requirements for your equipment can be found here: https://support.proctoru.com/hc/en-us/articles/115011772748-Equipment-Requirements. Most importantly, Google Chromebooks, tablets, and Linux operating systems are not supported. If you do not have access to appropriate equipment, you can make a note to LSAC in your July LSAT-FLEX options form in your LSAC account no later that 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

If you were approved to receive accommodations for the test, those same accommodations will be provided to you for the LSAT-FLEX administration. 

For more information about LSAT-FLEX and the impact of COVID-19 on the administration of the LSAT test, please see LSAC’s website here: https://www.lsac.org/update-coronavirus-and-lsat/lsat-flex.

Studying for the LSAT

How Long Does it Take to Study for the LSAT?

This is a common question among people studying for the LSAT and an important thing to consider as you embark on your studies. The best answer I can give you is that it depends. 

Some students have had some exposure to the types of questions and skills that the LSAT tests. Some students learn at a faster rate than others. Some students are able to dedicate the majority of their time to studying for the test. Some students are striving for a 170+ score with goal of attending a top school. The length of time it takes for you to study for the LSAT will depend on your prior knowledge, the amount of time you have to dedicate to studying the test each week, and what your goal is. 

That being said, the average student takes around two months to study for the LSAT. It can be done in less and it can be done in more. 

You will probably never feel fully prepared for test day but if you are testing a few points above your desired score on practice tests then you are ready to sit for an official test.

How to Study for the LSAT?

When it comes to studying for the LSAT you have four options. You can self-study, take a course, get private tutoring, or do a combination of these options. 

Self-studying is difficult but possible (hopefully this website will make the journey less painful if you decide to take that route). 

Taking a course is a popular option that allows you to get expert instruction, meet other people studying for the test, and ask questions when you get stuck. Check out the LSAT Prep Courses Comparison or One-on-One Courses Comparison blog posts for a comparison of comprehensive LSAT course options. 

Getting private tutoring allows you to have one-on-one expert instruction that is tailored to your needs and gives you the opportunity to ask questions. Check out the Hourly Tutoring Comparison blog post for a comparison of LSAT tutoring options.

You could also choose to do a combination of these options. Whether you are taking a course or self-studying, you can benefit greatly from tutoring sessions that help you improve on question types or skills that you are struggling with. 

What to Study?

The LSAT is a learnable test because it is a standardized test. If the test was always changing nobody would know what to study and instructors would not know what to teach. Since the LSAT is standardized, we know that the questions that we see on test day will be very similar to the questions from previous tests. So, if you want to do well on test day you should study the questions from previous tests. If you perform well on questions from previous tests you will perform well on test day.

What Resources to Use?

There are many good resources that you can use for studying for the LSAT. There are also bad resources out there that will waste your time and leave you ill-prepared for test day. 

A quick rule for LSAT resources is to only use resources that use real past tests and questions. The way to master the test is to study previous test questions, not to study questions that someone has made up in an effort to mimic the test and avoid licensing fees. 

There are two important resources you will need to master the LSAT. One is some kind of guide that teaches you about the question types and the skills and strategies you need for answering questions correctly. The other is past test questions that you can use to practice what you have learned.

You can find guidance on test questions and the skills and strategies you need for answering them correctly in the form of a book, a course, or a tutor. There are many resources out there but not all of them are quality.

Books:
If you are looking for a book to self-study with, I would recommend The LSAT Trainer by Mike Kim or the set of LSAT Bibles by David M. Killoran.

In-person Course or Tutoring:
If you are looking for an in-person course or in-person tutoring you will have to search for companies that offer courses and tutoring in your area and check the dates and prices to see if any match up with your study schedule.

Online Course or Tutoring:
If you are looking for an online course or online tutoring you have even more options. I would recommend searching online for different options to find one that fits your study schedule and price range. For a comparison of LSAT Prep Courses, One-on-One Courses, and Hourly Tutoring, see the  LSAT Prep Courses Comparison, One-on-One Courses Comparison, or Hourly Tutoring Comparison blog posts.

Official PrepTests:
These are official tests that were previously administered on prior test days. Information about accessing three free Official Preptests can be found on the Free Resources page.

The best, most cost-effective way to get access to additional Official PrepTests is to purchase LSAC’s $99.00 Official LSAT Prep Plus package that includes more than 60 full Official LSAT PrepTests. The package also includes unlimited practice with the authentic test interface, self-paced and simulated exam modes, practice test history, and instant scoring feedback. It’s best simulate test day as closely as possible when studying for the LSAT and the Official LSAT Prep Plus package offer the closest simulation to test day that you can get. You can purchase the package from LSAC here: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/prep 

What to Expect Along the Study Journey?

You can expect to be confused and intimidated by the questions that you see on the LSAT. You can expect to score far below your desired score the first time you take a full practice test. Don’t let either of these things discourage you. 

The LSAT is a learnable test. If the questions seem impossible that just means that you have not learned the skills and strategies for conquering them yet. 

Many students see 10-15+ improvement on their scaled score over the course of their studies. This improvement does not come overnight, it usually requires months of dedicated studying. 

Throughout your LSAT journey you can expect to improve a point or two each preptest that you take as long as you have invested time into studying question types, skills, and strategies between each preptest. 

Most students also experience a plateau where they don’t see improvement on their scaled score despite their best studying efforts. Some students even experience a drop in their score by couple points at some point in their studies. Don’t get discouraged by this. You are learning and your are getting better with each hour you spend studying and with each preptest you take, even if your score doesn’t reflect that. Plateaus and score decreases can be discouraging but know that you can overcome them.

LSAT Scoring

The LSAT consists of either 100 or 101 questions and is scored on a scale. Since it is a scaled score, there is not one set formula that you can use to translate your raw score – the number of questions you answer correctly – to the scaled LSAT score, the number between 120 and 180. 

That being said, the LSAT is a standardized test which means the scale doesn’t vary much from test to test. Some practice tests have a conversion chart at the end of it that converts your raw score to a scaled score. If a conversion chart is not included with the preptest you take, you should be able to find the conversion chart online. Apart from your raw score and your scaled score you will also receive a percentile score that ranks you among other test takers. 

Your raw score is just the number of questions answered correctly. You are not  penalized for incorrect answers. Thus, it does not make sense to leave a single question blank. Even if you just guess you have a one in five chance of getting it right. A 20% shot at the right answer is better than a guarantee that you don’t receive points.

What Score Do I Need to Get Into Law School?

There is no one score that is akin to “passing” the LSAT. If you know what schools you are interested in attending you can look up their ABA 509 Report to see what the LSAT medians for their past years’ incoming class were to get an idea of what score you might need to get in. 

The higher a law school is ranked the more competitive the admission is, which means you need a higher score to be admitted. 

For more information on ABA 509 reports check the ABA 509 Reports blog post or the Free Resources page.

How Important Is My LSAT Score?

The LSAT is the part of your law school application that is given the most weight, making it the most important part of your law school application. The next most important part of your application is your GPA. If you are studying for the LSAT it’s likely that there isn’t too much you can do at this point to improve your GPA. That gives the LSAT an even greater importance. 

Your LSAT score can determine whether or not you get into your dream school and whether or not you receive a scholarship. Thus, it is worth it to invest time and money into performing to the best of your ability on test day. 

Can I Retake the LSAT?

Yes! Starting in September 2019, you can retake the LSAT up to three times per testing year (June 1 to May 31), five times within the current and past five testing years, and a total of seven times over a lifetime. This LSAC policy is forward looking so any tests taken prior to September 2019 do not count towards your limit. Test takers who have already scored a 180 within the current or past five years are not permitted to retake the LSAT. (This rule does apply retroactively.)

The LSAT-FLEX tests do not count towards test limit totals. 

If you did not get the score you wanted then retaking the LSAT is a great option. It can be the difference of getting accepted into a better school (which can lead to better employment prospects) and/or additional scholarship money. 

Registering for the LSAT

When is the LSAT Offered?

Date                                                                    Time                Registration Deadline

Week of August 14, 2021                        Varies                 July 2, 2021
Week of October 9, 2021                        Varies                 August 25, 2021
Week of November 13, 2021                Varies                 September 29, 2021
Week of January 15, 2022                      Varies                 December 3, 2021
Week of February 12, 2022                    Varies                December 29, 2021
Week of March 12, 2022                          Varies                January 26, 2022
Week of April 30, 2022                              Varies                March 16, 2022
Week of June 11, 2022                              Varies                April 27, 2022

How to Register?

LSAT or GRE?

While the GRE can be taken in place of the LSAT for admission to some law schools, less than a third of law schools currently accept the GRE. Currently, the LSAT is the only standardized test accepted by all ABA-accredited law schools. To view the list of schools currently accepting the GRE in place of the LSAT, go to https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/about/law/.

Where Can I Learn More?

You can learn more about the LSAT at https://www.lsac.org/

LSAT is a registered trademark of Law School Admission Council, Inc.