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LSAT: Test Format, Timing & Question Types

Instructor: Jessica Keys
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a prerequisite for admission to most law schools in the United States and Canada. If you are planning to take this exam, familiarizing yourself with the format beforehand is one way to help you achieve your best possible score. Read on to find out how the LSAT is structured and what you may encounter when you sit for it.

LSAT Format

The LSAT is mostly a multiple choice exam. It's divided into five sections:

  • Analytical Reasoning (23 to 24 questions)
  • Reading Comprehension (26 to 28 questions)
  • Logical Reasoning: Part 1 (24 to 26 questions)
  • Logical Reasoning: Part 2 (24 to 26 questions)
  • Unscored, or experimental section (24 to 28 questions)

The unscored section features questions intended for use on future versions of the exam; right or wrong, none of the answers in this section will count towards your final score. It will be structured exactly like one of the other sections, so you won't know which section is the unscored section until you receive your final score.

You will have 35 minutes to complete each section. When you are done with the multiple choice part, you will then be given another 35 minutes to plan and write a prompted essay. While this section is also unscored, most law schools still consider this essay to some degree during the admissions process. For every law school application that you send out, that school will also receive a copy of your essay, so don't fudge it!

LSAT Question Types

Analytical Reasoning is sometimes referred to as the 'Logic Games' section; it tests your deductive abilities. In this section, you will answer questions based on how well you can organize information, evaluate patterns and draw a conclusion based on a set of given (and sometimes fungible) conditions.

Reading Comprehension begins with a long, verbose and challenging passage (or two shorter passages, for comparison) that's representative of what students work with in law school and beyond. The exam will then pose questions that test your abilities to extrapolate, infer and identify key arguments from the text. What is the passage saying? What is it not saying? What is the author's attitude on the subject? These passages are drawn from many topics, positions and attitudes.

Test takers are very likely to encounter unfamiliar material, thus also testing one's ability to digest new information quickly and precisely.

Logical Reasoning is split across two sections. While you may have already encountered 'Logic Games' in the Analytical Reasoning section, this section is actually all about looking at arguments and drawing logical conclusions from them. In this section, you are given a brief passage that presents a position on an issue. You're then given one or two questions that assess your ability to apply critical reasoning, such as if the argument presented is strong or weak (and why), or how one would create, complete or refute a certain position.

While the subject material in this section may come from a variety of sources and disciplines, the reasoning required is a reflection of what you will utilize in the field of law.

The Writing Sample is not scored. However, it is still an important part of the LSAT as a copy of this essay will be sent to every law school to which you apply. While different law schools place varying amounts of emphasis on its importance, you may still be rejected if you write very poorly, go off topic or fail to write anything at all. Take it seriously!

The premise of the essay is the defense of a choice. You will be given a prompt that asks you to make a decision between two choices. Neither choice will be more correct than the other choice. Rather, the key here is to form a well-supported argument towards whatever you choose, using the provided information.

While many aspects of any essay are subjective, there are also many objective aspects to this section, such as clarity, strength of one's reasoning, grammar, usage of language and whether or not the essay is on topic.

LSAT Study Resources

The LSAT is an important step in your path to becoming a lawyer. You'll want to make sure you're well prepared for this exam. You can do this by utilizing available study resources. LSAC offers free sample questions as well as a sample test. Both of these resources include answer keys so you can check your answers.

Study.com offers a comprehensive LSAT Prep and Review Course. Has it been a while since you've written an essay? Would you like to brush up on the fundamentals of logical thinking? How about enhancing your use and understanding of reading comprehension strategies? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, or if you just want to make sure you're thoroughly prepared for test day, this course is for you. This prep course covers all of the types of questions you'll see on the LSAT. You can even use the practice quizzes and exams to monitor how well you're grasping information.

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