It’s the Law School Admissions Test, and it’s primarily used by American law schools to assess applicant’s abilities. Unfamiliar with American Law? No legal background? No problem! Contrary to popular belief, this is not a test on the law. It is a test of logic and critical thinking.
Format of the LSAT
There are 6, 35-minute sections in total (so it’s a long day!).
They are as follows:
4 scored multiple choice sections
1 unscored experimental section (LSAC uses this to test out future questions)
1 unscored writing sample which gets sent to law schools with your scores.
The scored multiple choice sections are made up of three question types:
- Reading Comprehension- short passages followed by questions
- Analytical Reasoning- popularly known as ‘logic games’, they’re a doozy
- Logical Reasoning- short arguments or prompts followed by a question
Your raw score will be put through a bunch of crazy math and come out as a scaled score between 120-180.
What’s a good score?
Law schools love bragging about their students. Each school has a page (usually in the admissions section of their website) with a profile of the incoming class. This will have info about students’ academic and professional backgrounds, demographics, and, importantly, LSAT scores. For example, here’s Yale’s.
The scores will be divided into quartiles (chunks of 25%). If you’re score is in the bottom 25%, that school is considered a ‘reach’. If you’re in the middle 50% it’s a ‘reasonable’ school, and top 25% (or above) it’s a ‘safety’ school. I would go so far as to say you should score in the top 10% or better to think of a school as a ‘safety’. When setting your goal score, consider all the schools you want to apply to and set a goal that will put you safely in the top quartile of at least one school, and middle quartile of the others.
When should I take the LSAT?
If you want to start law school in the Autumn of, say, 2020, your application will likely be due in the early months of 2020, and you can start applying as early as Autumn 2019. So when to take the test? The test is offered in June, October, December and February. June is prime time to take the exam for two reasons:
- You will have your score before you start applying so you can make realistic choices about safety, reasonable, and reach schools- no guess work.
- You have the opportunity to re-take or postpone the test if you want to for any reason (test score, bad hair day, natural disaster, who knows!)
October is also a good time to take it. December gets tricky as you may want to have sent in some applications by then. February is sometimes too late and should be considered a last resort.
So, if you’d like to attend law school in 2020, take the LSAT in June and/or October 2019.
Do I need a tutor?
American-style standardized tests will be very familiar to U.S. students, but are likely to be completely alien to other students. For this reason alone, having a tutor who’s in-the-know is invaluable. They can help you with the basics which an online course would assume everyone knows.
The LSAT is also a strange beast, even for those familiar with standardized tests, because of it’s focus on logic. There are strategies and methods for taking the test that are not at all intuitive. A tutor who is familiar with the exam can help you use these strategies effectively, where reading about them online can be rather confusing (give it a go). Tutor or no tutor, studying for the LSAT will take a lot of discipline and working outside of tuition hours.
Find great LSAT tutors on Tutorfair that can give you the support you need!