The Law School Admission Test was created by
an organization of law schools (the Law School Admission Council,
) to provide an objective standard of measure for law school
applicants. Specifically, it is meant to measure acquired reading
and verbal reasoning skills.
The LSAT's purpose is to help predict
success in law school. Theoretically, the better one does on the exam,
the better they will do in school. While there are other important
factors that affect law school success (like discipline, work ethic,
and determination), the skills and abilities measured on the LSAT
appear to play a meaningful role. LSAT scores have been shown to be
the single best predictor of law school performance, and show a measurable
correlation with law school grades, especially when combined with
The LSAC describes the exam in the following
The LSAT is designed to measure skills that are considered
essential for success in law school: the reading and comprehension
of complex texts with accuracy and insight; the organization and management
of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from
it; the ability to think critically; and the analysis and evaluation
of the reasoning and arguments of others.
Pg. 1, LSAT & LSDAS
Registration and Information Book.
The LSAT was developed
to help differentiate between tens of thousands of yearly law school
applicants. Many possess strong grades and academic backgrounds, so
law schools needed another tool to help distinguish between them.
Today, the exam is the single most important factor in law school
admissions -- most schools weight it about 2-4 time as heaviy as your
While some see the LSAT as an arbitrary and unfair
evaluation of their abilities, the truth is that the exam can be a
considerable asset. For talented students who have not fully applied
themselves in college, due to financial/time constraints or excessive
socializing, the LSAT represents an opportunity to display their true
intellectual abilities. Students who have shown the ability and discipline
to achieve a solid G.P.A., on the other hand, should have no problem
performing adequately on the exam. The same abilities and discipline
that produced their grades should also produce a solid LSAT score,
especially with proper preparation.
While most people initially struggle
with the exam, the good news is that it responds very well to training.
Percentile increases of 30 points or more are not unheard of. It is
therefore important that anyone taking the test engage in at least
some kind of prep. As stated by the LSAC, “very few people achieve
their full potential without some preparation.” Pg. 59, LSAT
& LSDAS Registration and Information Book.
Mechanics of the LSAT:
LSAT is administered four times a year: June, October, December, and
February. Registration deadlines generally fall about a month before
the exam. To register on-line, order the information booklet, or simply
review all official information about the test, check the LSAC website
. Usually, most students prefer the June and
October exams, as this gives them a chance to focus on the exam with
less academic distractions, and allows for an early application,
which tends to enhance admission chances. (Most students
take it after their Junior year, or early in their Senior year, so
they can apply for the following academic year.
June exam also has the benefit of a later (noon) starting time, while
the October exam allows students to pepare all summer for the
test. However, what is most important is that the student is
in fact fully prepared before taking the exam, and this should be
the primary consideration when selecting a test date. Students
can always postpone a given test date if not ready, and this is advised.
The LSAT measures three areas: Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning,
and Analytical Reasoning. No outside factual information needs to
be brought to the exam. No math or general knowledge skills are tested.
What is required is that the student read carefully and be fully familiar
with various question types.
The test includes five 35-minute sections
of multiple-choice questions. These will include one valid reading
comprehension section, one valid analytical reasoning section, and
two valid logical reasoning sections. One remaining section (which
could be any of the above) will be experimental, and will not be counted.
However, it will not be identified, so you'll have to treat each section
as if valid. There is a short break of about 10-15 minutes after the
There are approximately 25 questions in each section,
with five potential answers for each question. There is no penalty
for wrong answers, so you should never leave a question unanwered.
Simply guessing can often end up raising your score several
There will also be a 30-minute, unscored writing sample administered
at the end of the exam. Copies of the sample will be sent to the law
schools you apply to.
The LSAT Scoring Scale:
The LSAT is scored on
a scale of 120 to 180. An average score is a 151, which tends
to be around the 50th percentile. (This means that the student in
question did better than 50 percent of all test takers.) A desirable
score for many students is a 160, which would place a student around
the 85th percentile (better than 85 percent of all test takers.) Many
“top-tier” schools require around a 160 on the test.
To get into a
top "national" school, you generally need to get a 165/166 or higher
(95th percentile). A truly excellent score would be anything above
the 99th percentile, which translates to a score of 171 or above.
However, it's important to remember that you don't normally need to
do this well. Even at the very best schools, the scores of many, if
not most students, are below 170.
It's also important to remember
that the LSAT is not scored like conventional exams. While there are
normally 101 questions on each exam, you can miss more than you might
expect and still do well. For example, if you miss a third of the
questions on a standard college exam, you'll get around 66%, or a
D grade. But if you miss a third of the questions of the LSAT, you'll
still end up in the top third of test takers, with a fairly decent
score. Similarly, if you miss 25% of the questions on a standard exam,
you'll end up with a 75, or a fairly mediocre C grade. But if you
miss 25% of the questions on the LSAT, you can still end up with a
very good 160. And you can miss 10 or more questions on the LSAT and
still end up with over a 170. This is why it's so important to approach
the LSAT strategically, and avoid getting hung up on tough questions.
(You can miss several questions and still score a 180.) It's more
about the points you get than the questions you miss.
that with guessing factored in, you can correctly solve even fewer
questions and still get the scores noted above. For example,
even if a student only correctly solves half the questions on
the exam, and simply guesses on the rest, they could easily end up
with a score above 150, and do better that most students. Again,
strategy is crucial.)
more information about the LSAT, and how to approach the exam, we
offer a free LSAT prep summary which provides general tips and
techniques as well advice for working through practice exams.
Simply contact us through the "Contact Us
" link above to request a