The 28 Most Frequently Asked Questions About the LSAT
If you’ve just stumbled across this page, you’re likely interested in pursuing a future in law school. If so, keep reading to see a list of the 28 most frequently asked questions about the Law School Acceptance Test.
Take a look below to learn the ins and outs of the LSAT!
What is the LSAT?
The LSAT is an exam used as part of admission to law schools in the United states, Canada, and many other countries. This test is specifically designed to access skills required for success in law school, such as reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning.
Currently, the LSAT is the only accepted test for admission purposes by all ABA accredited law schools and Canadian common-law law schools.
What Does LSAT Stand for?
LSAT is an acronym that stands for the Law School Admission Test. Not to be confused with LSAC (Law School Admissions Council), which is the organization that administers the exam, the LSAT can be taken either digitally or with pencil and paper.
Why Take the LSAT?
The LSAT consists of six sections, each of which is 35 minutes. This adds up to a total of 210 minutes (3 ½ hours). There is a 15-minute break after the third section. However, you must arrive early to verify your identity and complete preliminary information.
How Hard is the LSAT? (and what makes it hard?)
The LSAT is considered an infamously difficult test for three key reasons:
It is a test designed to test skills that undergrad students may not have fully developed. An example of this would be the reasoning skills in the logic games sections, which are typically taught in science majors.
These skills are definitely learnable, but take time to develop. Hence, this is not a test that you will be ready for after only a few weeks of work.
Test takers only have 35 minutes for each section of the test. The LSAT is also designed to stress this time pressure with complicated questions. You will have to solve logical issues at a faster pace than a usual test.
You cannot cram for the LSAT. It is not an exam that simply tests memorization and instead focuses on critical thinking and reasoning skills.
How Long is the LSAT?
The test itself is three hours; however, you can’t just count the hours spent taking the exam.
Each section of the LSAT is 35 minutes long and you will be given a 15 minute break after the third section. This adds up to roughly three hours of test time. Furthermore, you will have to account for travel time to the test location and time spent on checking in. Typically, checking in will take 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the size and staff of the test center.
Ultimately, when taking the LSAT you are looking at a total of 4.5 to 6 hours spent on testing day.
How Many Questions are on the LSAT?
Each time the LSAT is administered, it usually contains around 100 questions. There are four graded sections of about 25 multiple choice questions each, and an experimental section with another 25 questions. After that, there is one 30 minute writing sample.
What Kind of Questions Are on the LSAT? What is the LSAT Like?
There are five sections of multiple choice questions on the LSAT. Each section must be completed in 35 minutes. Four of the multiple choice sections are used for scoring, while the fifth is a variable section used to test new questions that may or may not be used on future versions of the test.
Aside from the variable sections, two of the sections are dedicated to logical reasoning, one section is dedicated to analytical reasoning, and the last section is based on reading comprehension.
The logical reasoning sections contain questions that test your ability to understand the most important point of an argument. They also test to see if you can quickly analyze opposing arguments and bring up your own opinions in an informed and persuasive manner. Each logical reasoning sections contains twenty five questions.
Analytical reasoning sections will ask you to accurately analyze arguments and decisions. Hence, over the course of twenty five questions you will be asked to demonstrate the ability to apply logic to complex and abstract situations.
The reading comprehension section is broken into four subsections with 27 questions total. Three of these subsections will ask you to read lengthy passages; the fourth will have a shorter one. After reading each passage you, will have to answer 5-8 questions designed to challenge your comprehension of what you just read.
In addition to the five multiple choice sections, the LSAT contains a timed essay. You will be given 35 minutes to demonstrate your ability to create and deliver an argument in a clear manner. This essay isn’t scored, but law school admission boards will review it when you apply.
At the bare minimum, you should prepare for the LSAT by taking a practice test under time constraints to learn how long you need to spend on each question.
However, generally speaking you are going to want to put much more time into LSAT prep.
According to the Pre-law Advising Office, these are some of the most important things to do to prepare for the exam:
Review the test format and question types. Doing so will ensure the test looks familiar when the time comes to take it.
Work on sample questions and explanations found on study sites and offered by LSAT prep courses.
Use at least one set of commercial prep materials to learn how to approach difficult sections such as the “logic games.”
Find copies of previous LSAT versions. Many retailers such as Amazon sell these as LSAT prep materials. You can find versions with just the answers or with answers and explanations. Make sure to simulate the real test by timing yourself while working on these practice exams!
Go over every practice exam you take to make sure you know which questions you answered wrong and why. Use this information to learn how to better approach these questions in the future; this is the most important aspect of LSAT prep and you must give yourself plenty of time to work through this!
Finally, make sure to be physically ready for the test. Make sure to get plenty of sleep and eat a good breakfast or all your study efforts will be wasted.
If you still don’t feel prepared enough, you can take an LSAT prep course. There are many such courses on offer with varying price ranges. Most review courses offer multiple choice questions and simulated tests as well as study notes and lectures. Additionally, some even include private tutoring. These LSAT prep courses can be taken either online or in person.
Is the LSAT Hard? How Long Should I Study For It?
Most test prep services (such as Kaplan) will recommend that you study for a two to three month period. During this period, you should be spending 20-25 hours a week studying for a total of 150-300 study hours. These hours do include any classes and private tutoring you’re utilizing. At the bare minimum, you should spend 120 hours on preparation, but in most cases that just isn’t enough time.
Some people may recommend starting preparation six months to a year in advance. This is generally a bad idea as it can lead to burnout due to studying too hard for too long. A timeframe this long is only advised if you can’t spend more than ten hours each week on studying.
However, the LSAC isn’t the only place you can find practice tests.
Many LSAT prep courses include both free and paid practice tests, including Princeton Review, Kaplan, and Varsity Tutors. Your mileage may vary on the quality of each prep course’s test, but most of them pull questions from previous versions of the LSAT. Consequently, it is highly recommended to try and simulate the actual timed testing experience with these LSAT practice tests.
Are LSAT Prep Courses Worth it?
LSAT courses are expensive, especially when compared to the price of self study materials. They can cost anywhere from 300 to 1500 dollars on average. However, if a prep course increases your score by a minimum of 2-5 points it’s already worth your money.
Law schools offer scholarships to the strongest candidates from the LSAT. That 2-5 minimum point increase could save you $50,000 to $100,000 on tuition. In the face of that, prep course costs become much more negligible.
Additionally, prep courses have distinct advantages in terms of studying that self study does not. Courses cover everything you need to know on the test. Alternatively, when self studying it is tempting for many students to ignore or skip portions of the material that is considered unnecessary, which can lead to a drop in test performance. Live instructors can also alert you to your weaknesses and work with you to overcome them. They can even find weaknesses that you didn’t know you had. Furthermore, courses also periodically give formal and timed practice LSATs that will provide you with valuable test-taking experience.
Are LSAT Prep Courses Tax Deductible?
According to the IRS, LSAT prep courses are not tax deductible. College entrance exams are not considered qualified education expenses; therefore, neither prep courses not exam costs can be deducted.
The reason prep courses and materials purchased for the LSAT are not deductible is because the LSAT is considered as changing your career instead of career advancement. Continuing education classes required by lawyers, by contrast, are deductible because they further develop your pre-established career.
Where do I Take the LSAT?
The LSAT is offered at testing locations around the world.
However, it’s generally recommended to register as early as possible so you can maximize your chances of getting a seat at your preferred location.
To find and register for a test center near you, create an LSAC account and select the administration you are interested in. You will then be given a list of test centers based on your current location. This list is updated in real time. In some rare instances, an LSAT test center will unexpectedly close. When this happens, you will be reassigned to the nearest available center.
The LSAT is administered six times a year at designated testing centers: typically in January, March, June, July, September, and November. Because the test is so long, it is usually administered in the morning or early afternoon.
If your religious observations do not allow you to take the test on a Saturday, alternate LSAT test dates are available. Typically, these fall on a Monday. In order to register for that alternate date, you must send in a signed letter from your religious institution confirming the authenticity of your request. The letter can be sent by mail, fax, or email.
For more information about LSAT test dates, visit the LSAC page on registration.
When does LSAT Registration Open?
Registration for June and July test dates are currently open and must be completed before April and June respectively. To stay up to date with registration news, make sure to regularly check back with LSAC’s registration page.
Where do I Get My LSAT Photo?
Any photo you wish to use to be admitted to the LSAT test center must meet the following requirements:
Your LSAT photo must be a recent picture of you with only your head and shoulders in frame
Test supervisors must be able to identify you on test day when comparing you to your photo
Your facial features must be clearly visible with no obstructions such as shadows blocking you
The background in your LSAT photo must be plain and not obscure identity
The uploaded photo must be different from the one test administrators will see on your government-issued ID.
Your photo must completely fill the 2×2 photo display box
When Should I Take The LSAT? When Should I Start Studying?
Most applicants begin studying for the LSAT during the summer before their senior year of college. These applicants then take the LSAT exam in the fall in September or October. Unfortunately if you fail the test then your only chance to retake it before law school applications is in December. This could mean that you will be sending admissions out as late as January.
In a more general sense, you should start studying for the LSAT around three months before the exam itself. Preparing for any longer than that can lead to burnout; starting later can leave you under-prepared. How much studying a person can take before burnout varies between applicants, so be sure to start preparation based on your own experiences.
If you’re wondering how long LSAT scores are valid, you’re not alone. Many people wonder this. Like most standardized tests, LSAT scores only remain valid for a limited period of time. The LSAC will keep your scores valid for five years after you take the test. Even if you took the test multiple times, the LSAC keeps all of them on file and will even average them out for you as well as give you a list of each score you achieved.
After five years have passed, the LSAC will remove older scores. For example, if you take the test in April of 2019, that score will be removed in April of 2024.
How Are LSAT Scores Calculated?
Your LSAT score is based entirely on how many questions you answer correctly (AKA your raw score).
All questions on the test are weighted exactly the same so all sections are equally important. The total number of correct questions is what matters for your score, not which questions you got right.
Furthermore, there are no score deductions for wrong answers. This means there are no risks when guessing the answers to questions you don’t know.
After the test, raw scores are converted to a scale from 120 to 180, with 120 being the lowest possible score and 180 being perfect. Visit this page to see how to convert raw scores from your practice tests.
When Will LSAT Scores be Released?
LSAT score release dates follow a fairly standard pattern. Typically, scores are released about one month after tests have been administered. In recent years results have been coming out faster, bringing LSAT score release dates down to about three weeks after the test.
You can check the release dates from previous tests to help you make an informed guess as to when you will receive your test results. Please note that people who receive their scores by traditional mail will have to wait a few extra days for their scores to arrive.
Many people unsatisfied with their scores want to know one thing. Can you take the LSAT twice? Luckily for them, you absolutely can!
You can actually take the test up to three times in a two year period. Many aspiring students take the LSAT in June. Therefore, if they are unsatisfied with their scores they have time to take it one more time before law school admissions.
One thing that’s important to note about retaking the test is your target law school’s admission policy towards multiple LSAT scores. Most schools only take the highest score you achieved, but some average your scores and some take each individual test score into consideration. Make sure you know what your school’s policy is before you attempt to retake. Even though chances are high that they only care about your highest score, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
On the LSAT scale of 120-180, a 150 is considered an average score. If you’re looking to get into a top law school, your score should be a 160 or higher. Although it’s common to talk about the LSAT in terms of score, big schools also like to look at your percentile. This means that small score increases can lead to a dramatic change in percentile and your chances of success.
Listed below is a table of common scores and percentiles:
Most law schools do not average scores when looking at your LSAT results. Instead they primarily only look at your highest score when looking at admissions.
The LSAC will show you an average of your test results if you check your scores on their page, but they also provide a list of all your scores. The option is available to both you and the colleges you choose but rarely will either of you need to worry about an average score.
To learn more about individual school policies on average scores check this page.
What LSAT Score do I Need for Harvard?
Even though there isn’t any “cut off” score for Harvard, they still only allow admission to a small number of applicants. If you want to beat if the competition for enrollment, a good Harvard LSAT score would be 170 or higher.
However, you’re going to need more than a good LSAT score to get into Harvard. If you have a high GPA to combine with your Harvard LSAT score you will be a competitive applicant. According to Harvard, their accepted class of 2021 applicants had an median 3.9 GPA and 173 LSAT score.
What LSAT Score do I Need for Yale?
Yale has similar requirements for admission to Harvard. A good Yale LSAT score would be higher than a 170. Yale’s statistical profile for the class of 2021 shows that their GPA median was 3.92 and their LSAT score median was 173. It requires plenty of hard work and studying to get in to a law school as prestigious as Yale.
It’s also important to note that GPA and a good Yale LSAT score are not all you need to be accepted. Yale looks at personal statements, essays, and letters of recommendation.
What LSAT Score do I Need for NYU?
NYU is considered to be a very competitive law school that only accepts 34 percent of its applicants. According to Law School Numbers, Yale’s class of 2022 students had a median 3.78 GPA and 169 LSAT score. That means that a good NYU LSAT score would be a 170 or higher. You can probably get in with a lower score but only if you show strong performance in other areas of your application.
What LSAT Score do I Need for Columbia?
To be considered a competitive applicant for Columbia, you need a 172 or higher on your LSAT and an undergraduate GPA of 3.72 or higher. Columbia’s class profile reveals that their entering class of 2018 had an average GPA of 3.73 and an average LSAT score of 171.
Although people have gotten in with lower GPAs and LSAT results, you will still want a higher Columbia LSAT score.
What LSAT Score do I Need for UCLA?
UCLA’s admission standards are easier to meet than other competitive schools. Typically a good UCLA LSAT score would be 168 or higher with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. UCLA’s site states that the median GPA for their 2018 admissions was 3.72 and their median LSAT score was 168. If you can achieve similar results you will more than likely get into UCLA.
Hopefully this information answered some of your burning LSAT-related questions! If you’re still curious about some aspects of the LSAT, feel free to look at some of our other articles and reviews or leave a comment below.