Preparing for the LSAT is essential to give yourself the best possible chance to pass. You need to thoroughly study so you can secure the result that gets you into the law school you want.
Something you should add to your study routine is mimicking the routine of the test. The LSAT is divided into several time blocks and sections. You’ll want to get into the habit of focusing for that amount of time so you can perform at your best in the exam. If you prepare yourself by setting up your study sessions in a similar manner, you’ll be in good shape.
The LSAT is 3 hours and 45 minutes long. This time includes a 15-minute break that’s given halfway through the exam.
The exam has about 100 multiple-choice questions in total. Each section has more questions than you’ll be able to answer in the given time block, so you’re not expected to be able to finish every single one. The exam is positively marked, meaning The LSAT only counts up correct answers and won’t penalize you for unfinished or incorrect answers.
Accuracy is important, so don’t allow yourself to work so fast that you can’t answer questions correctly. If you’re unable to answer a question, you can either try to come back to it later or take a guess.
Saving questions for later probably isn’t the best strategy, however. They intentionally give you more questions than can be answered in the allotted 35 minutes, so what you save for later probably won’t be answered at all. On the other hand, since your score is based on correct answers, guessing the questions you aren’t sure about won’t hurt. You’ll at least have a slight chance of getting it right and scoring points for it.
The LSAT is broken up into five 35-minute sections with a 10-minute break between the second and third sections. The five sections are:
- Logical Reasoning (or Arguments)
- Analytical Reasoning (or Logic Games)
- Reading Comprehension
- Experimental/Variable (different on each exam)
- Writing Sample
Knowing what to expect for each section is crucial for proper studying and can calm the nerves on exam day. Each LSAT exam section is organized randomly, so, unfortunately, you won’t know until you get in what you will be presented with first.
Let’s take a closer look at each section so you can get an idea of what to expect.
The logical reasoning section is also called arguments. It consists of two 35-minute sections and has about 25 multiple-choice questions for each section. Sometimes the sections are together on the exam, and other times they’re not.
The purpose of these questions is to test your ability to analyze arguments and display your use of logic in a given situation.
There’s only one section of analytical reasoning, and it has four logic games with about six questions for each one. You get 35 minutes to complete the section.
These games are meant to make you use logic for difficult situations and test you to see if you understand how logic affects a decision’s outcome.
This section is 35 minutes long and has four passages to read. There are about 27 multiple-choice questions about the passages.
The point of this section is to test your ability to quickly decipher between the important and unnecessary information in a text and if you’re able to understand an academic text that’s dense to read while being able to glean the important information.
Every LSAT exam has an unscored experimental section. This section contains new questions that will appear in future exams. However, there’s no way of knowing which questions those are or which section is the experimental section.
However, it is possible to guess which section might be the experimental one on your exam. Remember that each exam has a specific number of each section:
- 2 Logical Reasoning
- 1 Analytical Reasoning
- 1 Reading Comprehension
If you have two analytical reasoning sections, you can assume that one of those was the experimental section. You won’t be able to determine which one that was, however.
This section is unscored, but you should treat every section as if it is scored since you can’t know which is which. Guessing all the answers because you think the section doesn’t matter will greatly affect your score and isn’t advisable.
You’ll have 35 minutes to write an essay to show your ability to make an argument based on facts and support your argument throughout the essay.
This section is also unscored. Once the test is complete, a copy of it will be sent to the schools you’re applying to. One thing to note is that most schools don’t read the essay. Most don’t even bother looking at it. Although it might feel like a waste of time, you should still do your best on the writing portion to prove that you’re able to form and support an argument on the spot. What’s more, competitive law schools will often use this writing portion to determine which candidate to take between two similarly matched candidates.
It’s important to know that while you should utilize your breaks to go to the restroom, get a drink of water, stretch your legs, etc., that you must be back in your seat before the 10-minutes is up. There may also be a security check after each break to ensure there aren’t any contraband items brought into the testing area.
Practicing for the LSAT
There are many LSAT test prep resources available. You should make the most of them by creating mock exams for yourself that are set up just like the real exam.
The best way to do this is to designate a morning or afternoon for prepping. Allow yourself 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete test questions. For accuracy, get two sets of Logical Reasoning questions, one set of Analytical Reasoning questions, and one set of Reading Comprehension questions. Choose another one of those three at random for the experimental section, or choose whichever category you think you need some extra practice with. You’ll also need a writing sample.
If you’re dedicated to recreating the scene of exam day, look over the exam requirements and clear your test area of everything but three pencils, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener — the things you will be allowed in the exam.
Set a timer for 35 minutes and run through the sections. Between the second and third sections, have a 10-minute break.
Of course, all of this isn’t required, but familiarizing yourself with the process will help you. It’s especially beneficial if you experience heightened anxiety on test days or in unfamiliar places.
Passing the LSAT is the first step of your law school journey. Make sure you’re prepared as you head into it. If you’ve studied diligently and can go into it knowing what to expect, then you can be confident you’ll give the best account of yourself and secure your place to study law. Good luck!