What is the LSAT?
The LSAT is the Law School Admissions Test, a paper-only standardized test produced by the Law School Admissions Counil (LSAC) to allow law schools to compare applicants on a standard measure. LSAT scale scores are from 120-180, the average score is 155 and a score above 170 is generally good enough to make an applicant competitive at any law school.
Research on the LSAT has shown it to be the best single predictor of 1L grades--which in turn predict what your job prospects will be for the crucial summer after the second year of law school.
So let's be clear about the basics: the LSAT is the most important factor in your application to law schools.
However, law schools also take into account your undergraduate GPA, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. At the top law schools, weaknesses in any one of these categories could be the difference between getting accepted or rejected.
What should I know about taking the LSAT?
The LSAT is adminstered four times a year in February, June, September/October, and December. As a paper-only test, you must visit a testing site approved by LSAC, and can sign up online, over the phone, or via mail.
|LSAT Admistered||Register by||Change/Withdraw by||Scores Released by|
|June 10, 2013||May 3, 2013||May 17, 2013||July 5, 2013|
|October 5, 2013||TBA||TBA||Est: November 1, 2013|
|December 7, 2013||TBA||TBA||Est:January 3, 2013|
|February 8, 2014||TBA||TBA||Est:March 1, 2013|
When should I take the LSAT?
That depends on your personal schedule, what you want to score (i.e., what you need to score to get in where you want to go to law school), and how much preparation you need to reach that score.
Law school applications typically open for the Fall in September of the year prior to you showing up on moving in day. Ideally, you'd have your LSAT score ready when you submit your application, meaning you'll have taken the LSAT at least 14 months prior to your start date. However, you can take (or retake) the LSAT in October or December of the year before, and still use that score for your application.
Although some schools claim to take February LSAT scores, we strongly advise against using a February test to apply for that same fall start date. The chances of being rejected increase substantially the longer you wait to apply, and scholarship and financial aid money will also be much harder to secure.
Why do I need to prepare so much? Can't I just take it again until I score what I want?
No and yes. About 40% of LSAT takers come back for a second sitting (in fact, one of our co-founders self-prepped from a 172 to a 180), but law schools often average your LSAT scores rather than considering the highest. Be sure to check with the individual law school admissions websites for their policies regarding multiple LSATs.
However, even those that only count the highest score look skeptically on an applicant who has taken more than two LSATs. Also, LSAC will only allow you to take the LSAT three times in any two-year period. This includes times when you take the test and cancel before receiving your score.
More importantly, you don't want to spend your adult life preparing for the LSAT! Do it once, do it right.
There's a finite amount of real LSAT material for you to practice with, and it loses its effectiveness once you've already gone over it once.
What's on the LSAT?
The LSAT has five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions, but only four of the five sections contribute to the test taker's score. LSAC uses the unscored, "experimental" section to pretest new test questions.
After the five 35-minute multiple choice sections, there is also a 35-minute writing sample. LSAC does not score the writing sample, but copies of the writing sample are sent to all law schools to which you apply.
In the four scored multiple choice sections, two will be on Logical Reasoning, and one will be on each of Reading Comprehension and Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games). The unscored, experimental section could be any of the three types, but will appear as one of the first three sections before a 5 to 15-minute break.
Alright, how do I get started?
Make sure you have developed an LSAT score goal--start with our diagnostic or the free June 2007 Sample LSAT--and then start practicing with real PrepTests. Ensure that whatever method you use, only practice with real questions that LSAC has released from old LSATs.
If you're planning on self-prep, you can sign up for Zen of 180's LSAT self-prep analyzer for free, which will guide you through our curriculum and offers free and paid explanations for many of the Official LSAT PrepTests.
If you need some more help, we also offer online tutoring, and we will soon have a full online curriculum to teach you everything you need to know on the LSAT, fully tailored to your weakenesses to maximize your study time.