An Overview of the LSAT
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is created by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC)and is used for admission to law schools throughout the United States. As the LSAT is the most difficult of all the standardized tests used for graduate admissions, preparation tends to be extensive, often lasting six or more months and involving numerous practice tests. Most students test two or three times, with the dates scheduled far in advance.
The LSAT is a more “traditional” test than the GMAT and GRE: though it will transition to digital administration beginning in July 2019, it is not an adaptive test, which means that students will receive the same pre-selected set of questions regardless of their performance during the test. Inspirica’s approach to tutoring the LSAT focuses heavily on instilling proper technique for all the different question-types so that you can head into test day knowing that you won’t be surprised by anything the LSAT throws at you.
The LSAT consists of five multiple-choice sections, four of which contribute to the student’s score. The scored sections include:
- One Reading Comprehension section
- 27 questions
- 35 minutes
- One Analytical Reasoning section (a.k.a. logic games)
- 23 questions
- 35 minutes
- Two Logical Reasoning sections (a.k.a. arguments)
- 25 questions
- 35 minutes.
- An additional section of one of the above types will be included with each test. Although this section will not affect a tester’s score, it will not be identifiable by the testers in any way, forcing them to complete it as if it were a regular test section. This variable section as it is used by LSAC to pretest questions and new question-type variations for upcoming tests.
The LSAT also includes an unscored writing sample, and as of June 2019, the this portion of the test is administered separately from the multiple-choice test at a time and place of each test-taker’s choosing. Visit LSAC’s Writing FAQs page for complete details on this process.
The LSAT is defined primarily by both its rigor and its pace. Every section forces students to process information of varying types and in varying formats while operating under severe time constraints. Combined with its nearly three-hour length, that challenge makes for a tough afternoon.
This is exemplified by the Analytical Reasoning section, which presents students with several scenarios of varying types; each scenario contains a number of rules, which interact in multifarious and convoluted ways. Students must plot out each scenario and answer questions that either introduce new information or require them to deduce certain immutable facts about the overall scenario, all while remembering to keep an eye on the clock. If this sounds challenging, that’s because it is! Fortunately, our LSAT programs focus heavily on mastering strategies for each distinct question-type, with the primary emphasis placed on the sections with which each individual student needs the most practice; you’ll go into test day fully prepared for the unique challenges of the LSAT.
Test-takers receive a raw score for the test which is simply equal to the number of questions correctly answered. The LSAT does not deduct points for incorrect answers.
Then, using a process called equating, the LSAT will produce an overall scaled score for the entire test that ranges from 120 to 180; this ensures that scores from different LSAT administrations are comparable over time. The scaled score, which is reported along with an LSAT score band, is the best representation of a student’s performance on the LSAT, particularly since the LSAT does not calculate individual section scores as most other standardized tests do.
After each test date, unless cancelled within six calendar days of the test, a student’s scores are added to his or her score report. Each score report includes all of the following:
- the score from your most recently completed test
- results of up to 12 tests completed since June 2013, including notations marking any cancellations or absences.
- An average score, if you have more than one reportable score since June 2013 .
- a percentile rank for each reported score; these percentiles indicate the percentage of testers over the last three testing years whose scores were lower than the tester’s reported scores.
When the student applies to law schools, the entire score report is submitted with the application; the LSAT does not offer the option to pick and choose which scores are submitted.
Three times each year — in June, September, November — the LSAC offers tests “with disclosure.” These tests are released directly to test-takers along with their scores, allowing them to review the questions in full along with their scores. Once released, these tests become part of the publicly available set of official test materials and are never administered again.
Registration and Test Dates
The LSAT is administered every one to two months year-round at test centers approved by the LSAC, and there is no limit on the number of times a student can take the test. It’s generally to your advantage to test more than once: part of beating any test is giving yourself as many opportunities as necessary to succeed, and taking the test multiple times can be a great way to maximize your improvement. To search for nearby test centers and register to take the LSAT, visit the LSAC’s website and follow the corresponding instructions.
Inspirica’s approach to tutoring the LSAT recognizes the differing needs of students applying to graduate programs. We’ve seen every type of student, from those who are in college and want to enroll in law school immediately upon graduation to those who have been out of college and working full-time for years. Our team will work with you to find a tutor who fits your availability, and your tutor will focus both on teaching technique and guiding your independent preparation as you practice those techniques on your own.
Like all other standardized tests, there are certain aspects of taking the LSAT that are impossible to replicate through homework alone, which is why regular practice tests are a staple of our programs. Your tutor will help you set up a schedule of periodic tests that will give you the opportunity to practice the techniques you’ve learned in the context of a full test while also familiarizing you with the experience of taking the full test. Though the format of the LSAT is more traditional than that of either the GRE and GMAT, the experience of taking the test must still be practiced, as the combination of length, difficulty, and timing makes it a grueling experience.
For LSAT programs, you’ll take official practice tests released by the LSAC. After every test, you and your tutor will review the results together in order to pinpoint exactly why and how your right answers were right and your wrong answers wrong. You’ll then use the insight gained during this process to revise your practice plan; you’ll be able to both see the product of your hard work and determine what part of the test to attack next.