Preparing for the LSAT

The LSAT can either make or break a law school application. Though students have historically dreaded the test due to its complexity and high level of difficulty, much of the fear stems from not knowing what to expect. In these videos, you’ll learn time management tips, and you’ll also discover the method to solving the “games” portion of the test.

LSAT Q&A

What is the LSAT?

The LSAT is a standardized test used by law schools to assess the qualifications of prospective students. It is designed to measure the skills critical to success in law school, including critical thinking, reading comprehension, information organization, and argument evaluation. Students interested in applying to law school must take the LSAT prior to submitting applications to any institutions.

Why take the LSAT?

The LSAT score is required for admission to all law schools accredited by the American Bar Association and is one of the most important factors in determining the quality of a prospective student.

When is the LSAT taken?

The LSAT is offered four times per year, typically in February, June, September/October, and December. Most law schools require applicants to take the LSAT by December for admission the following fall semester. To meet application deadlines, the Law School Admission Council recommends students take the test as early as possible.

Where is the LSAT taken?

The LSAT is administered by LSAC-approved testing centers across the United States and at international locations. There are a limited number of seats at each testing center and students are advised to register early to ensure they have a place. LSAC provides a list of approved test centers and their testing dates.

How is the LSAT taken?

The LSAT is a paper-based examination that includes five 35-minute sections. These sections are reviewed in-depth below:

LSAT In-Depth

LSAT Test Section # of Sections # of Questions Section Arrangement Question Types Time Allotted
Logical Reasoning 2 Approximately 25 per section Short text passages to test ability to identify points of argument, apply critical thinking to abstract concepts, discover relevant information within a passage, and critically evaluate and analyze an argument. Multiple Choice: Reasoning, including assumption, strengthen/weaken, flaw, inference, principle, and method of argument. 35 minutes per section
Analytical Reasoning 1 23-24 4 sets or “logic games,” each having 5-6 associated questions. Tests candidate’s ability to determine relationships between concepts, identify how rules impact outcomes and decisions, analyze situations based on specific guidelines, and apply logic to complex scenarios. Multiple Choice: Each logic game starts with a scenario and set of rules known as constraints. There are different types of logic games (ordering, assignment and grouping), which require candidates to categorize the type of game to diagram an answer to the question. 35 minutes
Reading Comprehension 1 25-28 4 sets of passages, followed by 5-8 questions per section. 3 sets are long, single passages while the final reading is a shorter text. Tests candidate’s ability to read and comprehend, identify main points or ideas, decipher relevant information, and draw analytical inferences from the text. Multiple Choice: Variety of subjects, ranging from social sciences to the humanities, and contain complex and sophisticated rhetorical structure and arguments. Shorter passage tests candidate’s comparative reading skills in identifying and developing relationships between two texts. 35 minutes
Unscored Section 1 24-28 May consist of questions from any of the previous sections. It is not identified during the examination and may be placed after any section of the test. Multiple Choice: Questions are used either to pre-test potential new questions for future LSAT examinations. 35 minutes
Writing Sample 1 1 Included at the end of the LSAT; candidates write an essay on an assigned topic. Essay Format: Students make a decision based on two positions of an assigned topic. They must use provided criteria and facts to craft a response. There is no right or wrong position, and writing is evaluated on the candidate’s ability to support their decision. 35 minutes

LSAT Fees

The standard LSAT registration fee is $180, although there are additional fees for additional services. All fees listed below are from the Law School Admission Council and are accurate until September 2017. Before registering, students should check with the LSAC website to confirm fees and registration dates.

Fee Type Explanation Cost
LSAT Registration Basic fee to take the examination $180
Credential Assembly Service Creates a single application file with required materials and a candidate’s LSAT score for applying to law schools $185
Late Registration Charged during the late registration period, which is approximately 11-12 days after the registration deadline $100
Test Date Change Charged as an associated fee for changing testing day within the deadline window $100
Test Center Change Charged as an associated fee for changing testing center within the deadline window $100
Nonpublished Test Center Charged when candidates live more than 100 miles away and cannot travel to an approved testing center Domestic: $285
International: $380
Handscoring Charged if a student contests machine scoring of an LSAT exam and the test must be re-scored by hand $100
Law School Reports Required fee for each law school where a student submits an application $35/each

Time

The exam is comprised of five 35-minute sections, totaling 175 minutes. Test takers are given a 15-minute break after the third section; in all other cases the next section directly follows. A testing supervisor manages the official time, but examinees are allowed to wear an analog watch as well.

How is the LSAT graded?

LSAT scoring includes three types of scores: raw, scaled, and percentile. The exam typically has between 99 and 101 questions and the total number of questions answered correctly determines the score. Only correct questions are included; wrong answers are not calculated against the final total. The three types of scores are defined below:

Raw Score

Represents the number of questions a test taker answered correctly. For example, a raw score of 91/100 means the test taker got 91 questions correct.

Scaled Score

Represents a scaled conversion of the raw score ranging between 120 (lowest possible score) and 180 (highest possible score).

Percentile Score

Represents the test taker’s score in percentage form as it relates to other examinees. For example, a score of 165 falls in the 91st percentile, which means the test taker is in the top nine percent of all scores for that LSAT.

The example table below demonstrates different conversions between raw, scaled and percentile scores.

Raw score Scaled Score Estimated Percentile
99-101 180 99.97%
89 170 97.37%
83 165 91.71%
74 160 80.37%
65 155 63.80%
57 150 44.37%

Which institutions require the LSAT?

Until recently, all law schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) require the LSAT. In 2014, the ABA announced a relaxation of the LSAT policy, allowing institutions to admit up to 10 percent of an enrolling class without LSAT scores. In early 2015, University of Iowa’s College of Law and State University of New York’s School of Law in Buffalo were the first two programs to announce they would admit students under this policy.

Law schools use the LSAT score alongside several other factors, such as GPA, letters of recommendation, academic record, and work experience, to determine a student’s future success at the institution. Of these, the LSAT is by far the most important component of the application.

LSAT Resources

Law School Admission Council. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) administers the LSAT and provides a range of other services, including a law school candidate referral service, test preparation publications, and law school guides.

The Girl’s Guide to Law School. The brainchild of Columbia Law School graduate Allison Monahan, this blog provides support to prospective and current law students, includes interviews with LSAT prep instructors, and offers advice for passing the LSAT.

Manhattan Prep. Manhattan Prep offers online LSAT training courses, in-person instruction courses, private tutoring, practice tests, study tools, and a community blog.

The Princeton Review. A test preparation and college admissions company, The Princeton Review offers a variety of LSAT support services, including online tutoring, self-paced LSAT preparation, private tutoring, and practice tests.

PowerScore. Focusing on test preparation services, PowerScore provides a spectrum of LSAT resources, including preparation courses, private tutoring, test books, free resources, and admissions counseling.

LSAT Test Prep Advice

Though there is no denying the LSAT is a rigorous test, with the right approach to preparation and lots of determination, it can be passed. The secret? The LSAT is a learnable test. Practice is the most important aspect and generally falls into three categories: self-study, preparatory LSAT courses, and one-on-one tutoring. There are pros and cons to each, and a blend of these study elements has proven effective to many students.

Study Type Pros Cons
Self-Study
  • Low cost
  • Student controls the pace
  • Allows for focus on areas of greatest need
  • Minimal resources to answer questions
  • Requires significant self-discipline and study habits
  • Possible to use questionable study materials
Prep Courses
  • Broad variety of courses
  • Creates a study plan for student to follow
  • Comprehensive materials
  • Can be expensive
  • Less personalized instruction
  • No choice of instructors
One-on-One Tutoring
  • Unique, individualized study
  • Helps improve areas of greatest weakness
  • Student controls choice of instructor(s)
  • Can be expensive
  • Number of instruction hours could be limited
  • Quality is variable

LSAT Study “Hacks”

We’ve discussed the basics of the LSAT: what it is, how it is scored, how much it costs, and the type of questions it contains. In this section, students will learn insider tips and tricks for unlocking their studying potential and preparing to ace the examination. Our top hacks include:

  • Start early.

    You cannot cram for the LSAT. Repeat: You cannot cram for the LSAT. A safe timeline allows for two to three months of solid studying prior to the examination. Remember: the earlier, the better.

  • Develop a plan.

    Studying for the LSAT doesn’t just happen: it takes an organized, planned effort to be successful. Create a daily study calendar, set aside specific studying times, and stick to both.

  • Master the basics.

    Take the time to become comfortable with each type of question—logical reasoning, analytical reasoning and reading comprehension – before diving in and trying to tackle hundreds of study questions.

  • Isolate your weaknesses.

    Take the 2007 LSAT test as a way to get a baseline on your strengths and weaknesses. If logical reasoning comes easily but analytical reasoning feels like an uphill battle, put a plan in place to enhance studying efforts in that area.

  • Develop stamina.

    The LSAT is a long and grueling examination. During the course of test preparation, add more and more time to individual studying sessions. Instead of studying for 30 minutes, block off three to four hours to simulate the actual test environment.

  • Accuracy, not speed.

    When starting the studying process, don’t focus on how long it takes to complete a question, but rather the accuracy of your thought process.

  • Go official.

    LSAC wants test takers to succeed, which is why the organization makes previous examinations available as practice tests. Purchase the official LSAT practice tests and use them religiously.

  • Rely on practice tests.

    The practice test is a vital component of LSAT test preparation. Be sure to only use actual LSAT tests, not ones created by other companies. The number of LSAT practice tests undertaken is up to the examinee: some may want to take 30, while others only need a couple.

  • Quality over quantity.

    Skimming doesn’t work, and looking at the correct answer after completing a practice question won’t help. By taking time to digest the material and read through it thoroughly, you’ll understand the process of how you arrived at an answer and be more able to duplicate the results.

  • Take it down a notch.

    Studying for the LSAT is a marathon, not a sprint. Find ways to take breaks, get some stress relief, and put the study materials down for a little while. Keeping spirits high during the preparation process will make studying much more enjoyable.

LSAT Study Plan

Getting ready for the LSAT requires dedicated and organized effort. While mental burnout and physical stress can be common side effects of the studying process, students who have a set plan of attack in place often experience far less anxiety. The following three-month study plan helps students avoid a crash-and-burn by developing regular study periods.

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1

Introduction to LSAT Diagnostic LSAT Test (June 2007)

Intro to Analytical Reasoning [AR] (Logic Games intro, diagramming, linear games)

Review Diagnostic test

Intro to Reading Comprehension [RC] (Passage outlining)

Untimed RC practice

Untimed AR practice

Break

Week 2

Review untimed AR and RC practice

Intro to Logical Reasoning [LR] (Basics and Argument Structure)

AR (Intro to conditionals and formal logic)

Untimed LR practice

Untimed RC practice

Untimed AR practice

Break

Week 3

Review untimed AR, RC, and LR practice

AR (Grouping games and linear games)

LR (Intro to assumption questions)

Timed AR test

Timed LR test

Timed RC test

Complete Timed Prep Test

Week 4

Review AR, LR and RC test questions

Review full prep test

AR (Intro to matching games and sequencing)

LR (prephrasing answer choices)

Timed AR test

Timed LR test

Complete Timed Prep Test

Week 5

Review AR and LR test questions

Review full prep test

LR (Intro to logic flaws and strengthen and weaken questions)

AR (Intro to hybrids)

Complete Timed Prep Test I

Break

Complete Timed Prep Test II

Week 6

Review Complete Prep Test I

Review Complete Prep Test II

RC (Review different question types)

LR (Intro to parallel reasoning questions and advanced formal logic)

Complete Timed Prep Test I

AR Timed test

Complete Timed Prep Test II

Week 7

Review Complete Prep Test I

Review Complete Prep Test II

RC Timed Test

AR Timed Test

Complete Timed Prep Test I

Review Complete Timed Prep Test I

Complete Timed Prep Test II

Week 8

Review Completed Prep Test II

Break

Focus on problem areas in AR, RC or LR

Complete Timed Prep Test

Review Complete Timed Prep Test

Break

Complete Timed Prep Test

Week 9

Review Complete Timed Prep Test

Focus on problem areas in AR, RC or LR

Complete Timed Prep Test

Review Complete Timed Prep Test

Focus on problem areas in AR, RC or LR

Complete Timed Prep Test

Review Complete Timed Prep Test

Week 10

Deep dive into AR

Deep dive into RC

Deep dive into LR

Complete Timed Prep Test

Review Complete Timed Prep Test

Complete Timed Prep Test

Review Complete Timed Prep Test

Week 11

Break

Writing Sample Practice

Review Writing Sample Practice

Deep dive into problem areas (LR, AR, RC)

Break

Complete 5-section, timed prep test

Review Complete 5-section timed prep test

Week 12

Work on individual strategies for each section: AR, RC, LR

Final complete 5-section, timed prep test

Review Complete 5-section timed prep test

Break

Break

TEST DAY

 

Tutoring for the LSAT

When undertaking self-directed study, seeking one-on-one tutoring can help prospective test takers focus their LSAT preparation strategies. The major benefit of hiring a tutor is customization. Tutors can craft a study schedule aligned to the student’s pace that both identifies their weaknesses and enhances their strengths. Those interested in individualized assistance should contact a commercial test preparation company or a private tutor.

Commercial Test Preparation Companies. There are numerous test preparation companies offering private LSAT tutoring, both in-person and online. Some of the common providers include Kaplan, Manhattan Prep, TestMasters, PowerScore, Blueprint LSAT Prep, and MyGuru. These organizations typically offer tutoring packages that include a set number of tutoring hours along with study materials and practice books. Most providers also offer customized, private tutoring on an hourly basis for students who want to focus on specific learning needs.

Private Tutors

The marketplace for individual LSAT tutors is not well defined, which can lead to difficulties when trying to find a highly qualified private tutor. One option is to select a private tutor from a commercial company. These professionals can be found through Craigslist, referrals from faculty members, friends, and online exchanges.

What to consider when selecting an LSAT tutor

No matter if selecting a commercial or private tutor, there are several factors to consider before signing on. Some of the top considerations include:

Qualifications

What score did the instructor get on the LSAT? Some companies only require tutors to score above 160, while others may have higher requirements. Whether hiring a commercial-based instructor or a private tutor, be sure to ask about their background, professional experience, familiarity with the LSAT, and approach to helping students study for the exam.

Cost

LSAT tutoring is expensive. Hourly rates can range from $50 to $250 per hour, depending on the tutor. Hourly packages from commercial companies can cost more than $8,000, though most are in the $1,250 to $4,000 range. Prospective test takers should weigh the value of a tutor’s support versus going it alone.

Reputation

Before hiring a tutor, ask about their success rate. What are their students’ average LSAT scores after receiving tutoring? It’s a good idea to do an online search to see if other test takers have reviewed the tutor.

Teaching ability

Before signing the dotted line, ask if a trial run session can be arranged. It’s important to know if their teaching style complements your learning format and if the experience will be beneficial.

LSAT Practice Tests

Earning a competitive score on the LSAT does not come without preparation. Practice tests are an integral resource, allowing examinees to familiarize themselves with the structure of the LSAT, learn about the different types of questions, and get comfortable answering questions within set time constraints.

What are practice tests?

Practice tests are study materials that include questions similar to those on the actual LSAT. Both LSAC and third party companies, such as PowerScore and The Princeton Review, offer practice tests. LSAC also makes previous official tests available, including not only a complete exam, but also a score conversion table, answer key, and writing sample. Four of the most recently available official practice tests from LSAC are given below:

How to use practice tests?

Because of their extremely complex nature, practice tests are the cornerstone of LSAT exam preparation. When purchasing a third-party practice test, students should ensure that questions are from previous examinations and not simulations. In addition to paid PrepTest offerings, LSAC also has a free official practice test known as The Official PrepTest 2007 (link below).

Tips for getting the most out of your practice test include:

  • Use recent tests

    Although older practice tests are available, experts recommend test takers rely on more recent exams to gain an understanding of what they will encounter on test day.

  • Use a timer

    In order to become acclimated to actual test day demands, take each practice test under timed conditions. Set a 35-minute timer for each section and only take a break after the third section to simulate the real thing.

  • Take it in a public location

    The official LSAT is administered in a public test center with other test takers sitting in close proximity. Taking a practice test at a library or other public setting is a great way to get comfortable with the environment you’ll encounter on test day.

  • Rinse and repeat

    Depending on the student, prospective LSAT candidates should plan on taking anywhere from 10 to 30 practice tests prior to sitting for the actual examination.

  • Review each practice test

    The final piece of the preparation puzzle is self-examination. After each practice test, conduct a performance review. Don’t focus only on right or wrong answers, but how you arrived at each. Understanding your own thought process is central to success on the LSAT.

LSAT Practice Test Resources

LSAT Test Day Tips

The LSAT testing process is highly structured, extremely organized, and strictly administered. By understanding what to expect, students can alleviate some of their test day jitters. Top things to know include:

Admission

In order to receive admission to the center, test takers must bring their LSAT admission ticket with a passport-style photo attached and a government-issued photo ID that matches the name on the LSAT ticket.

What to bring

Test takers are allowed to wear an analog watch and can bring a handful of items in a clear, gallon-size plastic bag. Items may include ID, wallet, keys, three to four No. 2 or HB pencils with erasers, snacks, and a beverage.

What not to bring

LSAC has a list of disallowed items ranging from electronic devices to rulers. For a complete list, refer to LSAC’s list of prohibited items at testing centers.

What to expect

The LSAT testing process is managed by test supervisors, who oversee everything from seating to timing and material collection to monitoring test takers. Examinees should plan to use the restroom before taking their assigned seat, as time away cannot be made up once the test begins. Other things to expect include:

  • No starting late

    After the test has started, latecomers will not be admitted.

  • Testing process

    The supervisor will distribute testing materials and announce when to start and stop for each section of the test. Multiple-choice sections will be administered first, followed by the writing sample.

  • Break period

    The only break takes place after the third section and lasts 15 minutes. Before dismissal, the supervisor will collect all tests. Examinees must show their IDs before the tests are redistributed after the break. Remember, test takers are not allowed to leave the test center or use their cell phones during the break.

  • Food and drinks

    Snacks and drinks are only permitted during the break period.

  • Sign the answer sheet

    Test takers are required to sign their answer sheet prior to submitting their test.

LSAT Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities

Test takers with disabilities may request testing accommodations from LSAC. A diagnosed disability or other health condition does not automatically qualify a test taker for accommodations; examinees must submit documentation and rationale. LSAC recommends filing accommodation requests and required documentation well in advance of registration deadlines to ensure requests are processed in a timely manner. Steps to keep in mind when requesting LSAT accommodations include:

Register for the LSAT first.

Examinees are not eligible to request accommodations until after registering for the LSAT.

Testing accommodations vary.

LSAC reviews each request individually and makes decisions on a case-by-case basis. LSAC offers a non-comprehensive list of 29 example testing accommodations, including:

  • Braille version of LSAT

  • Use of a reader

  • Extended time (up to double the standard allotment)

  • Screen-reading examination

  • Wheelchair accessibility

  • Separate testing room

There are different eligibility requirements.

Test takers with documentation of prior accommodations on standardized tests have different eligibility requirements than those who are requesting first-time accommodations. LSAC will approve identical accommodations for the LSAT if the candidate has documented proof from the test sponsor of the LSAT, GRE, GED, GMAT, DAT, MCAT, SAT I or SAT II examinations. Individuals requiring first-time accommodations must submit the appropriate documentation (Candidate Form and Evaluator Form) based on the disability. Each disability has different requirements and the LSAC provides a checklist for documenting accommodation requests with more information.

Steps to File an Accommodation Request
  • Register for the LSAT. You may register online, by paper submission, or by phone

  • Download and complete the Candidate Form and Evaluator Form (if required)

  • Make sure all required forms are completed, signed and dated

  • Submit accommodation documentation to LSAC