What Is the LSAT®?
Discover what you need to know about the LSAT, LSAT scores, LSAT test availability, and the LSAT sections.
About the LSAT
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is unlike any test you've ever taken in your academic career. The LSAT is a skills-based exam designed to test the critical reading and analytical thinking skills that are crucial for success in law school. Before you begin your LSAT prep, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the exam so you can be prepared for what is on the LSAT.
First, let’s take a look at the different LSAT sections, including length of time and how questions are presented.
How long is the LSAT?
The LSAT breaks down into six sections, each 35 minutes long with a 15-minute break after the third section. This adds up to 210 minutes of LSAT test time—or 3 hours and 30 minutes, excluding the break. For the Fall, December, and February administrations of the LSAT, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) requires you to arrive at the test center no later than 8:30 a.m. For the June LSAT, reporting time is 12:30 p.m.
This means that part of your LSAT preparation should include having a healthy and filling breakfast on LSAT Test Day, packing a snack and bottle of water that you can have during the break, and mapping out how you get to the testing center so you can easily find it without any stress.
What's on the LSAT?
What kinds of questions can you expect on each of the six sections of the LSAT? Let’s take a quick look at each individual LSAT section.
Two Logical Reasoning sections, worth 50% of your total score, test your ability to analyze and evaluate arguments. Logical Reasoning requires you to read short passages and answer a question about each one. This is the section that counts most toward your score—nearly 50%.
Reading Comprehension, worth 27% of your total score, is an LSAT section you’re probably familiar with from past standardized tests. It tests your ability to make sense of dense, unfamiliar prose—but unlike other standardized tests, on the LSAT you need to understand the passages’ structure, purpose, and various points of view, rather than the facts. On the LSAT, you’ll see four passages, each with a set of 5–8 questions to answer. One of the passages will be “paired passages” with questions asking you to compare and contrast the passages. This is the section in which preppers often find it toughest to improve.
Logic Games, worth 23% of your total score, tests you on basic logic, systems of order, and outcomes—or, in simplest terms, analytical reasoning. You’ll be asked to make deductions from a set of statements, rules, or conditions. These questions are posed in sets based on a single passage. This is the section many preppers are most intimidated by at first, and often find most challenging, due to its unfamiliarity.
The LSAT Experimental Section is a wild card. Used by the test maker to see how questions will perform on future LSATs, it is not scored and will look exactly like one of the other sections. In other words, don’t waste test time trying to identify it.
While the LSAT Writing Section isn’t scored, it is sent to law schools along with your LSAT score and can be used to choose between relatively equal candidates, so it is still very important! Your writing sample is most frequently used as a comparison tool to confirm your personal statement.
Understanding your LSAT score
When you receive your LSAT score, it will include the following:
- One overall score ranging from 120-180
- A "score band" a range of scaled scores above and below your score
- A percentile score, ranking your performance relative to the scores of a large sample population of other LSAT test takers
Receiving your LSAT score
You'll receive your score via email approximately three to four weeks after the test. If you take the LSAT more than once, law schools will see all scores earned within the past five years, though most will evaluate your candidacy based on your highest score. Law schools will also see if you canceled a score, withdrew, or were a no-show at a test administration. Your score is only released to you and the law schools to which you apply.
Canceling your LSAT score
You have six calendar days after you take the LSAT to cancel your score in your LSAC account. You will not see your score before you decide to cancel. If you take the exam more than once, LSAC reports the average score, each separate score, and each cancellation. Most schools will not question one cancellation on your record, but will question multiple ones. Starting with the September 2017 LSAT, there will no longer be any limitations on the number of times you can take the test.
How is Your LSAT Score Used?
Your LSAT score is a crucial factor in determining where you go to law school—or if you go at all. Law school admission committees look at your LSAT score to determine if you have the skills required for success in law school. It helps admissions officers compare your record with those of students from other schools.
Most law schools use an "index formula" — a weighting of your LSAT score and undergraduate cumulative GPA to determine your application's objective strength. Almost universally, the LSAT score has a greater weight than your undergraduate GPA, accounting for more than 50% of the admissions decision
How can your score help you?
If your grades are lackluster‚ an outstanding LSAT score can help make the case that you are capable of handling the academic rigors of law school. Alternatively‚ if you've been out of college for some time‚ your score can show that you still have the skills necessary to succeed.
An outstanding LSAT score won't necessarily get you into your target school; but a low score will certainly keep you out.