Taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a requirement for people applying to American law schools. It is only given four times a year, and can only be taken at authorized testing centers. In addition to an unscored writing sample, there are five multiple-choice sections on the LSAT test. Two are in Logical Reasoning, one is in Analytical Reasoning, and one is in Reading Comprehension. One section is an unscored experimental section which can be in any of the three categories. Scores range from 120 – 180, with the median always being very close to 150. Doing well on the exam requires strong preparation. You can use the extensive library of LSAT test prep videos here on Mometrix Academy to make sure you’re ready on test day.
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Practicing law centers around creating evidence-based, logical, persuasive arguments. The Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, seeks to test those skills most valuable to future lawyers: reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical thinking.
What Does the LSAT Look Like?
The LSAT is a timed test consisting of five 35 minute multiple choice sections and an unscored writing prompt. Two portions of logical reasoning questions, one analytical reasoning section, and a reading comprehension component make up four of the test parts. The fifth may be from any category. One of the five sections is a field test and does not count toward the test taker’s score. Instead, it is composed of experimental test questions being tried for future testing. The test components are not in any order, so students can’t be certain which portion of the test isn’t counted. The LSAT board also does not score the writing portion of the exam; however, test takers should put forth their very best efforts. Law schools include the writing test as part of their acceptance criteria and expect candidates to possess exceptional written communication skills. Often, the most difficult part of taking this exam is the time restraints. Beyond practicing for the major content areas of the test, students have to adjust to working within the time allotted for each section. Getting bogged down with one question can cause the last few to go unanswered. Time management is the key to progressing through each part successfully.
LSAT Reading Comprehension
To become a law student, you must enjoy considerable amounts of reading. Lawyers spend countless hours poring over lengthy documents, and law schools want to be certain their students possess the ability to read and comprehend various types of expository texts. Schools expect candidates to be able to make sense of unfamiliar and difficult information similar to what is found in cases, briefs, codes, contracts, decisions, and evidence. This type of reading is often laborious and challenging, to say the least. Similar to other standardized reading tests taken previously in a student’s academic career (the SAT, etc…), the LSAT focuses on the tester’s aptitude for taking in information and processing it. Students should be able to draw logical conclusions based on textual evidence, make valid predictions, use context clues to derive the meaning of uncommon words, determine author’s purpose and assess for author’s bias, compare relationships between pieces of information, and pinpoint the main idea of a piece of writing. Basically, this portion assesses a reader’s ability to process new information and tap into their prior knowledge to assist them in comprehending the material.
LSAT Analytical Reasoning
This portion of the LSAT exam assesses how well a student analyzes information and the ability to use textual evidence to support his interpretations. Law schools want to know if the test taker can understand the relationships between pieces of data and draw logical conclusions to those events. Questions are most often formed in an “if-then” format. Students are given both literary and expository texts to practice making inferences and using both inductive and deductive reasoning skills based on a set of conditions in a given situation. These passages are usually unrelated to law in order to measure the abilities of students from a variety of backgrounds. For each passage, there are several questions. In some, students must read and compose solutions to given problems. In others, they may be asked to understand conditional reasoning and be able to make logical comparisons. Lawyers need to be able to apply rules and facts from past cases to new situations. Students must show their capacity to evaluate unfamiliar circumstances and apply rules and facts from prior events. Questions are expected to be answered using logic, reasoning, and knowledge of the average college student.
LSAT Logical Reasoning
Now we get to the fun part for all the debate-loving students out there. Law students need to possess the ability to analyze, evaluate, construct, and contradict arguments. In court, this is the lawyer’s entire purpose. This section presents an array of arguments from an assortment of sources such as magazines, newspapers, professional journals, advertisements, and informal debates. While similar to legal arguments, these passages do not focus on matters of law. Students should be able to deconstruct the argument into its parts and recognize how those parts work together. Understanding how to look for patterns and find supportive textual evidence helps students to create their own plausible outcomes to given events. A lawyer’s success centers on the capacity to build a convincing argument based on the evidence available, as well as tearing down opposing viewpoints. These questions assess a student’s capability of disproving example theories and replacing them with rational conclusions of their own.
LSAT Writing Sample
How well can you get your thoughts across on paper? Created by professionals in the legal field, the writing sample offers students the chance to demonstrate their ability to construct a credible argument given a set of facts and conditions. The prompt contains a decision problem in which the writer must choose a position and support it using evidence while criticizing the opposing viewpoint. There is not a correct answer to the problem. Students must pick a side and convince the reader to agree with that position. Writers are assessed for the clarity of their reasoning and actual writing mechanics. This is also a timed section, giving test-takers 35 minutes to plan and write their essay. Many schools use this as a diagnostic tool to measure a candidate’s analytical abilities, as well as the strength of their written communication. While it is not given a numbered score, it can make the difference between acceptance and rejection to the school of choice.
LSAT Test Preparation
So how does one go about preparing for the LSAT exam? This is not a test of academic skill. Instead, it tests how well you apply your academic skills to different forms of materials. Mometrix Test Preparation provides opportunities to practice the skills necessary for being successful while giving tips and tricks for test-taking that eliminate repetitive, unproductive studying. If all it took to pass the LSAT was a good understanding of the material, the task at hand would not be so difficult. However, test-takers need to have a firm grasp of the test’s structure and questioning techniques in order to master the exam. The Mometrix LSAT Study Guide walks students through a variety of testing strategies that can be applied as they approach each section of the test. From timing to deconstructing questions to find clues to the answer, this guide proves invaluable to anyone wanting to earn the best score possible on the exam.
To further prepare examinees, Mometrix has created an online review course that addresses the specific reading comprehension skills needed when attacking that portion of the test. The hour-long video offers instruction on bias and stereotype, fact and opinion, using context clues to determine meaning, finding textual evidence to support answers, determining author’s purpose, drawing logical conclusions, and several other vital competencies necessary to success. In an easy to understand refresher course that can be played and replayed at the viewer’s convenience, Mometrix provides definitions and examples of each type of comprehension skill.
Mometrix also boasts an online review of analytical reasoning skills. Like the reading comprehension video, this 51 minute course gives examples and situations similar to those given on the test. Watching will give students a better understanding of context clues, inductive and deductive reasoning, how to draw logical conclusions, using textual evidence to support their point-of-view, and making rational predictions. Because these videos give simple explanations and understandable definitions for the terms in use, students will find them easy to follow and highly useful in their test preparation.
To increase the retention of important concepts and cut down on wasted study time, Mometrix has also created the LSAT Flash Card Set. This heavy-duty, conveniently portable kit puts the hundreds of possible test question topics right in your pocket. With in-depth explanations that include all major areas of the test, this kit allows you to study anywhere at any time. Even if your friends aren’t familiar with legal terms, they can still read your flashcards and assist you when you’re practicing for the test. These cards help in breaking questions down in to smaller, easier to understand parts. Once a question is deconstructed, it becomes simple to address each part and solve the problem presented. And because repetition promotes learning, the cards take an enormous amount of information and condense it into a fun, memorable game that uses study time most efficiently.
LSAT Test Scoring
The LSAT is not a pass or fail exam. Tests are scored between 120 and 180, with 150 being the average. Law schools each set their own criteria for selecting candidates for admission. The accepted score varies from institution to institution, but a score above 160 is usually enough to be accepted by any of the top university law schools in the United States. Here is also where the unscored writing portion of the test becomes important. A well thought out, convincingly written essay can be the push a student needs to make it on to the admissions list of the university of their choice. On the contrary, a prompt that isn’t taken seriously or shown a high level of effort may be enough to pull you out of the ranks of accepted students.
LSAT Exam Specifics
The LSAT exam is administered four times a year in the United States and Canada. It is also given in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, Central America, and Mexico. Regular test sites have been established in each area and have a limited number of seats available for each administration. For students living more than 100 miles away from any established testing center, a request can be made to create a nonpublished test center. This carries hefty fees of $270 for domestic sites and $360 for international centers. Upon admittance to the exam, testers must provide their unsigned LSAT ticket with passport photo, a government issued form of identification with picture, and enough pencils with erasers to complete the exam. Most examinees use the LSAC’s CAS, or Credential Assembly Service, and pay their $170 fee.
This service requires you to send all testing documentation to the LSAC only once, and the CAS will transmit copies to the law schools with which you wish to apply. If the CAS is not used, the fee is $175. Be aware that late registration, the change of testing date, or altering the testing venue will incur additional charges of $90 each. The LSAC does offer a fee waiver in cases of extreme need, with very stringent requirements. The candidate must be from the United States, Canada, or Australia. Students must send their application for the waiver, along with tax records proving inability to pay, at least six weeks before their testing date. Those who have already applied to law school are not eligible. After registering for the exam, students with documented disabilities can complete an Accommodations Request Packet in order to receive necessary assistance. The LSAC board will make a decision at least fourteen days before the testing date and will send confirmation of the accommodations to the test center supervisor prior to the exam.
Things to Remember
Applying to law school is a big deal, and there are many components you need to stay aware of. If you plan to apply to law school in the fall, you will need to have taken the LSAT by December in order to have your scores ready to be sent to admission boards. It is recommended, however, that you test in June or July to be certain. Students using a CAS account can expect to be able to retrieve scores three weeks after administration. Those without an account will get scores in about four weeks. Using Mometrix Study Guides to achieve your best score becomes more important when an examinee may not sit for the LSAT more than three times within a two year period. Using Mometrix Test Prep products helps you get it right the first time!
What to expect on the LSAT
Provided by: Mometrix Test Preparation
Last updated: 02/15/2016
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