The Law School Admissions Test is one of the more notorious standardized tests prospective law students must take. The score you receive on the LSAT is a key part of your law school application and vital when qualifying for certain merit scholarships. It’s important to understand the test format as you undergo your LSAT prep to be fully prepared for each section of the test.
Our article gives you more details on the overall format of the LSAT below.
Understanding the Format of the LSAT
The LSAT is comprised of two main sections – a 35-minute writing section and a multiple-choice question section. The multiple choice part of the LSAT consists of four 35-minute sections, each presenting different question types for a total of 98 to 102 questions per test. One of these four sections will be an unscored section; this is used to test new LSAT questions and evaluate the difficulty of certain question types.
Familiarity with the LSAT’s format is key to succeeding when taking this exam; we further break down the LSAT’s format below.
Reading Comprehension Section
The reading comprehension section of the LSAT consists of 26 to 28 questions based on four separate reading passages. Three of these passages will be one long text, while the other will be two shorter ones aiming to test your comparative reading skills.
Topics in this section tend to be excerpts from scientific and humanities publications, with various topics from social sciences, biological and physical sciences, to liberal arts and law-related topics. Most of the vocabulary used tends to be high-level, with the text being dense; the passages are designed to mimic the types of texts students might encounter in law school.
Test-takers will need to read through passages quickly to gather the main ideas and any arguments or points presented. You may also be asked to find certain sentences in the text which back up ideas or answer questions about the author’s intentions or specific word use.
Logical Reasoning Section
The logical reasoning section of the LSAT aims to test an individual’s abilities to make inferences, draw conclusions, and logically think about the relationships between items in the question. This section consists of 24 to 26 questions in total, each consisting of a short question stem or text passage and often one question (sometimes two).
The question topics and passages in the logical reasoning section are generally pulled from newspapers and magazines, scientific publications, and other public pieces of writing. They typically feature opinions, arguments, or a set of facts that test takers need to evaluate, analyze, and infer from to answer the questions presented correctly.
Analytical Reasoning Section
One of the most feared sections on the LSAT is the analytical reasoning section, also commonly known as the “logic games” portion of the exam. These questions may often seem overwhelming to students, and many think they might need special training or knowledge to complete them, but this isn’t the case. No special training is necessary to complete them, but lots of practice helps students become familiar with the questions and how to answer them correctly.
The analytical reasoning section consists of 23 to 24 questions split between approximately four different “logic game” setups. The question stems typically consist of a passage detailing relationships between people or things which students need to think about logically and then analyze to draw conclusions.
This section of the LSAT tests critical thinking skills, the ability to determine certain types of relationships (such as if-then relationships), and the ability to make inferences based on a set of given facts.
The unscored section of the LSAT will be a repeated section of either the reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, or logical reasoning questions. It is also timed for 35 minutes, and students won’t know which section was unscored until they receive their final LSAT scores.
With each administration, the unscored LSAT section is used to test new questions, evaluate the difficulty of the test, and gauge how test takers perform with certain types of question stems. Because you won’t know which repeated section is the unscored one, it’s important to give both your best effort to achieve the highest score you can.
The LSAT writing is administered separately from the multiple-choice test sections but is also timed at 35 minutes long. Depending on your test administration, it may be administered on the same day as the multiple-choice portion of the exam, or it might be available to take online via the LSAC’s proctored online exam portal up to eight days before the multiple-choice portion.
In general, the LSAT writing portion of the exam will ask you to read a prompt and then write an essay supporting or opposing the points or arguments in the question stem.
The LSAT writing is unscored, and there is no right or wrong answer, but it is important to complete it. Law schools will receive your answer to the essay question as part of your LSAT score package when you apply. Failure to write something or not giving your best effort may not be the best for your admission chances.
Studying for Your Best Score
The LSAT is a complicated test, and it’s important to stay informed about the contents of this exam if you want to ensure you score your best. A dedicated LSAT prep course and lots of time spent studying are key to helping you develop familiarity with the types of questions on this test; the more you practice, the more likely you are to answer questions correctly in the right time frame.