When thinking about preparing for the LSAT, the image that comes to mind is far more likely to involve lengthy hours hitting the books at a campus library than diagramming logic games on your tablet, but, due to the LSAT’s 2019 switch to a digital format, plus the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, your LSAT test prep is almost certainly going to be online. Fortunately, Inspirica offers LSAT test prep online, allowing you to prepare for your test from the comfort—and safety!— of your home. This guide will walk you through what you need to know about the LSAT during COVID times, including LSAT 2020-2021 registration and test dates, LSAT score preview, and the new 2020 LSAT-flex format so you can go into your test with confidence.
LSAT Format 2020-2021: Traditional vs. Flex
The LSAT format had been consistent for nearly 30 years—a pencil-and-paper administered test with four scored sections and one unscored experimental section in a random order—until its switch to a digital format in the summer of 2019. Unlike the GRE or the GMAT, however, it remains a more ‘traditional’ test in that it is not adaptive; that is, your performance on a given question or section has no bearing on the questions that follow.
Since the LSAT is one of the more difficult graduate school exams, focusing on logical reasoning skills that are rarely taught as part of a standard college curriculum, LSAT test prep tends to be extensive. Programs may last for six months or more and entail numerous timed practice tests, formal logic training as necessary, and significant time spent outside of session refining diagramming, logical forms, and critical reasoning.
The LSAT is defined by its rigor, pace, and random ordering of sections, and this is by design—that is to say, the format of the LSAT is integral to its difficulty. Simply by familiarizing yourself with the LSAT format, you are giving yourself a huge head-start in the LSAT test prep process.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-2021 LSAT format has gone through an additional change. Enter the LSAT-Flex, a remotely proctored exam that pares the LSAT down to its bare essentials. First administered in May of 2020, the LSAT-Flex removes one of the Logical Reasoning sections, leaving the test-taker with a three-section test. Timing remains the same for the remaining sections, and the writing sample must still be completed at a separate time before a score report can be generated. As of now, the LSAT-Flex is the only testing option for students until at least April of 2021. Whether this represents a permanent change to the LSAT or is purely a pandemic-times offering remains to be determined.
The LSAT-Flex has the same scale as the traditional LSAT, and its score report will notate that it was an LSAT-Flex administration. Check out our complete LSAT-Flex guide for more information!
Currently, the 2020-2021 LSAT-Flex format is as follows:
One Reading Comprehension Section
- 27 questions
- 35 minutes
- 4 passages
One Analytic Reasoning Section (i.e., Logic Games)
- 23 questions
- 35 minutes
- 4 games
One Logical Reasoning Sections (i.e., Arguments)
- 25 or 26 questions
- 35 minutes
Finally, there is the unscored writing sample, which takes the form of a pro-con argumentative essay based on a given prompt. As of June 2019, this section is administered separately at a time of the test-taker’s choosing. While it is not scored, it must be completed in order to get your score report, and it is made available to all schools to which a test-taker applies.
Traditional LSAT Format 2020-2021
As the future of in-person testing remains uncertain, but still possible, you should familiarize yourself with the traditional LSAT format as well. It is certainly possible that the in-person digital LSAT will make a return in a post-COVID world. The LSAC administered the traditional LSAT three times in 2020 before switching to the LSAT-Flex due to COVID concerns.
The traditional LSAT format differs from the LSAT-Flex in a few key ways. Notably, it includes two Logical Reasoning sections instead of one, has one 15 minute break after the third section, and includes an experimental section, detailed below.
In addition, the traditional LSAT includes one experimental section pulled from any of the above types. This experimental section is designed to pretest questions and new question-types. Part of the difficulty of the LSAT is due to this section, which is indistinguishable from one of the scored sections. Testers will only know which section type was experimental, as it will appear one more time than it should (e.g., two analytic reasoning sections, or three logical reasoning sections). Since the experimental portion cannot be distinguished from the actual scored portions of the exam, all sections must be treated as if they count toward the overall score. Despite everything, at least 2020-2021 LSAT testers will not have to deal with this particular hurdle on the test.
LSAT Scoring and Score Reports 2020-2021
First, test takers will receive a raw score, which is simply the number of questions answered correctly. The LSAT does not have a guessing penalty—that is, it doesn’t deduct additional points for wrong answers—so it is in your best interest to answer all questions, especially if time is running low.
Raw scores are then converted to a scaled score through a process called equating; this score ranges from 120 to 180. Since no test administration will have the exact same difficulty as another, a raw score on one test may equate to a different scaled score on another test. This is by design. Equating is an essential process in standardized testing as it ensures that scores from different administrations are equivalent for admissions offices. A 165 in June needs to count the same as a 165 in November.
LSAT Score Preview and Cancellation
Typically, LSAT testers had up to six calendar days to cancel their scores sight unseen. However, this policy changed shortly after the introduction of the LSAT-Flex. Now, with the LSAT score preview option, first time test takers have the option to see their LSAT score before deciding to cancel for a nominal fee of $45 if they sign up before the first day of testing, and $75 during a set window after each test. It is strongly recommended that first time testers take advantage of the new LSAT score preview policy.
Now, if you are not a first time test taker, you will not be able to make use of LSAT score preview. After each test date, unless cancelled within six calendar days of the test, a student’s scores are added to their score report.
Each LSAT 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 LSAC does not offer the option to pick and choose which scores are submitted.
Three times per year—in June, September, and November—the LSAC offers tests with disclosure. These tests are released to test takers along with their scores, allowing them to review questions in detail along with their actual scores. Once released, these tests then become part of the available LSAC testing materials and will never be administered again.
LSAT Registration and Test Dates
The LSAT is administered every one to two months annually, but there is a limit on how many times you can take the LSAT. Starting in September 2019, the LSAC announced new annual and lifetime limits. Under this new policy, students may test up to three times in a single testing year—running from June to May—and up to seven times per lifetime. You do have the opportunity to appeal if you have extraordinary circumstances. Additionally, you may not test again if you have scored a 180, or perfect score, in the past five year—but why would you want to anyways?
Generally speaking, it is in your best interest to test multiple times. Taking the LSAT can be a disconcerting experience the first time, and you will be more comfortable taking the test in subsequent administrations, potentially leading to higher scores simply by familiarity with the process. To see test dates and information about LSAT registration, visit the LSAC’s website.
The Inspirica Approach to LSAT Test Prep 2020-2021
Inspirica’s approach to LSAT test prep recognizes the differing needs of students applying to graduate programs. Some students come in with an in-depth background in formal logic, but many do not. Some students need a refresher while others require an in-depth program to facilitate a particular score goal. We are here to meet you where you are, wherever that may be, to help you reach your full potential. Our team will work with you to find a tutor who fits your availability, and your LSAT test prep tutor will focus both on teaching technique and guiding your independent preparation as you practice those techniques on your own.
Like any standardized test, there are some aspects of the LSAT that cannot be replicated solely through homework. This is why regular practice tests are a mainstay in our programs. Your LSAT test prep tutor will work with you to develop a schedule of practice tests that will offer you to opportunity to practice your techniques learned in session while also helping you develop essential test-taking and time-management skills.
For LSAT test prep programs, you’ll take official practice tests released by the LSAC. After each practice test, you will review your results with your tutor to determine why your correct answers are correct and your wrong answers wrong. Your tutor will then help you revise your LSAT prep plan as needed to help you reach your full potential.