Most applicants to law school dread taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a half-day standardized test required for admission to all law schools that are members of the Law School Admission Council. What is the LSAT and what does it measure? Let's explore the content of the LSAT as well as the pragmatics: when it's offered, how to register for it, and more.
What does the LSAT measure?
The LSAT is designed to provide a standard measure of reading and verbal reasoning skills that are essential to success in law school. The test itself is a marathon of sorts requiring 175 minutes plus a 30 minute writing sample.
The test consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. Only four of the five sections will contribute to your score. These sections include one reading comprehension section, one analytical reasoning section, and two logical reasoning sections. A fifth section is used to pretest new test items, and is not used to calculate your score, but you won't know which section is the test section. Finally, a 30-minute writing sample is administered at the end of the test. Specifically, the LSAT includes:
- 2 logical reasoning sections with 24-26 items in which you are asked to analyze statements for errors in logic.
- 1 analytical reasoning section with 24 items in which you are asked to solve complex deductive reasoning puzzles
- 1 reading comprehension section with 26-28 items in which you are asked to read passages and answer questions
- 1 experimental section, which can be any of the above (you won't know which section is experimental, so do your best on all)
- 1 writing sample in which you'll have 30 minutes to write an essay on a specified topic. The writing sample is not scored, but it is sent with your application to law schools to demonstrate your writing and thinking skills.
The LSAT is scored on a scale from 120 to 180. While the average score is about 150, top law schools typically accept applicants with scores over 160. Contact law schools that you're interested in to learn about the average score of accepted students.
How Do You Take the LSAT?
The LSAT is administered four times a year at hundreds of locations around the world. Generally you should take the LSAT by December for admission the following fall, but most students take it earlier (in October or even June) so that they can retake it, if needed. Learn more about registering to take the LSAT on the official LSAT page published by the Law School Admission Council.