About the LSAT
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a half-day, standardized test administered four times each year at designated testing centers throughout the world. All American Bar Association-approved law schools, most Canadian law schools, and many other law schools require applicants to take the LSAT as part of their admission process.
Many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall. Taking the test earlier - in June or September - is often advised.
Some schools place greater weight than others on the LSAT; most law schools do evaluate your full range of credentials.
The test consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. Four of the five sections contribute to the test taker's score. The unscored section, commonly referred to as the variable section, typically is used to pretest new test questions or to pre-equate new test forms. The placement of this section will vary. A 35-minute writing sample is administered at the end of the test. LSAC does not score the writing sample, but copies of the writing sample are sent to all law schools to which you apply.
What the Test Measures
The LSAT is designed to measure skills that are considered essential for success in law school: the reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight; the organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it; the ability to think critically; and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others.
The three multiple-choice question types on the LSAT are:
- Reading Comprehension Questions
These questions measure your ability to read, with understanding and insight, examples of lengthy and complex materials similar to those commonly encountered in law school work. The reading comprehension section contains four sets of reading questions, each consisting of a selection of reading material, followed by five to eight questions that test reading and reasoning abilities.
- Analytical Reasoning Questions
These questions are designed to measure your ability to understand a structure of relationships and to draw logical conclusions about that structure. You are asked to make deductions from a set of statements, rules, or conditions that describe relationships among entities such as persons, places, things, or events. They simulate the kinds of detailed analyses of relationships that a law student must perform in solving legal problems.
- Logical Reasoning Questions
These questions are designed to evaluate your ability to understand, analyze, criticize, and complete a variety of arguments. Each logical reasoning question requires you to read and comprehend a short passage, then answer one question about it. The questions test a variety of abilities involved in reasoning logically and thinking critically.
Understanding Your Score
Your LSAT score is based on the number of questions answered correctly (the raw score). There is no deduction for incorrect answers, nor are individual questions on the various test sections weighted differently. Raw scores are converted to an LSAT scale that ranges from 120 to 180, with 120 being the lowest possible score and 180 the highest possible score. This is done through a statistical procedure known as equating, a method that adjusts for minor differences in difficulty between test forms.
Repeating the LSAT
Test takers frequently wonder whether they can improve their LSAT score by taking the test a second time. If you believe that your test score does not reflect your true ability - for example, if some circumstance such as illness or anxiety prevented you from performing as well as you might have expected - you should consider taking the test again. Data show that scores for repeat test takers often rise slightly. However, if your score is a fairly accurate indicator of your ability, it is unlikely that taking the test again will result in a substantially different score. You should also be aware that there is a chance your score will drop. Law schools have access to your complete test record, not just your highest score.
Law schools are required to report the highest score to the American Bar Association, so many schools do look at the highest score when considering an applicant. Some schools (often the more competitive schools) still use the average of the two or more scores.
Unusually large score differences are routinely reviewed by LSAC. This could involve handwriting analysis of the writing sample and other documents, a comparison of thumbprints, or comparison of a test taker's answers to the answers of other test takers seated nearby in the testing room. The same comparisons may be performed in cases of alleged misconduct or irregularity.
Law schools may compare your original test score to your scores on subsequent tests. You should notify law schools of any facts relevant to the interpretation of your test results, such as illness or extenuating circumstances. If there is no reason to believe that one score represents a truer estimate of an applicant's ability, schools are advised that the average score is probably the best estimate of ability - especially if the tests were taken over a short period of time. Many law schools report that they do take the highest score when looking at multiple LSATs.
Note: LSAC does not automatically inform law schools of a candidate's registration for a retest. It is your responsibility to inform law schools directly about your registration for additional tests.
For additional information about the LSAT, and to register for the test, please go to: www.lsac.org