The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is the standardized test you have to take in order to apply to, and be accepted at, a law school in the United States and Canada. It test takes approximately half of one day and is administered four times per year, typically in September, December, February and June. As with any standardized test you have to register early and pay a fee. Sign up to take the LSAT, and find a testing location in your area here.
There are three different types of sections on the LSAT: analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension. These sections are designed to test different skills that you will need to succeed in law school, and in the legal profession as a whole. Analytical Reasoning, often termed the “logic games” section, tests your ability to understand relationships between objects and sequences, as well as your ability to form a set of rules to describe those relationships. The logical reasoning section is designed to test your ability to analyze and evaluate arguments. The questions in this section will ask you to make an argument stronger or weaker, to find flaws in arguments and to identify assumptions that authors make in their reasoning. The reading comprehension section is similar to that on the SAT or ACT, except at a higher level comparable commensurate with the LSAT being a graduate school placement test. This section test your ability to glean main ideas, assumptions, and conclusions from passages.
Each test is broken up into five sections: 1 analytical reasoning, 1 reading comprehension, 2 logical reasoning, and 1 experimental section. The experimental section can be any of the first three but does not factor into your score (however, you do not know which section is experimental, so do not try to guess and approach all 5 sections as if everyone counts). At the end of those five sections there is a timed writing sample which is not scored, but sent to law schools along with your LSAT score.
The LSAT is scored on a curve ranging from 120-180, with the average being around a 150.
The LSAT, at its core, is a test of your ability to manipulate language in a logical way within a limited amount of time. It is a test of skill, not content. You parse arguments, you rip apart and reconstruct language, and you don’t take any statement for granted. The Four Core Skills essential to LSAT success are all reflections of this.
1. Reading Critically
This is the underlying skill all aspiring lawyers must possess. Throughout your career, your primary job will be reading with an eye for important and relevant detail. This is reflected in the LSAT within all three section types, though the RC section especially reflects this skill.
Critical reading is NOT reading, re-reading, and reading so thoroughly that every item in a passage is perfectly clear. You don’t have time for that on the LSAT, and you’ll never have time for that in law school or as a lawyer either.
Read for the most important ideas within the passage, and sum up the gist of each paragraph in the passage. Be sure to underline or highlight.
2. Analyzing Arguments
This is the essence of Logical Reasoning. Arguments on the LSAT must be accepted at face value. Do not argue with the argument. Whatever the author of the statement says is true; take it for truth within that question. If the stimulus’ argument declares the sky to be green, for the purposes of that question, the sky is green. That being said, your job is to criticize and interpret the argument.
You must locate the conclusion – the author’s point. Find and summarize the evidence that relates to the author’s point. Don’t be distracted by red herrings in the argument.
Having dissected the argument, you need to find the connection between the evidence and the conclusion. This is the assumption. The assumption is implicit in the argument. It is the connection from the evidence to the author’s conclusion – what the author assumes to take the evidence to the conclusion.
3. Understanding Formal Logic
Formal Logic is embedded throughout the Logical Reasoning and Logic Games sections. You use formal logic to analyze the arguments of the Logical Reasoning questions, and you use formal logic to manipulate the rules of Logic Games passages.
Logic is all about taking one step at a time – deliberate, organized and consecutive steps.
You take a logical statement and seek out the conditional elements – the if/then or the trigger and result of the trigger.
You also have to understand the difference between something that is TRUE, FALSE, or POSSIBLE.
4. Making Deductions
Making deductions is the key skill to interpreting a Logic Games passage. This is how you take the rules laid out in the Logic Games and work them to set the entities of a situation as firmly into the setup as possible.
With deductions, organization and logical application of the rules is paramount. Your ability to make a deduction takes the rules and combines them to eliminate as much uncertainty from each game so that the questions in the LG section are efficiently and correctly answered.
To find out more information about the LSAT, you can ask your local pre-law advisor, talk to any friends you have in the legal profession, or visit lsac.org
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