By Kathleen Ganster, Tests.com Contributing Writer
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized test used by American Bar Association-approved law schools and other law schools as part of the assessment process for admissions.
The LSAT measures reading, logical, analytical and verbal reasoning skills of potential law school applicants. Most applicants take the LSAT by the December prior to the fall in which they wish to enroll in law school.
The LSAT is a five-part test. Each segment, except for writing, is 35 minutes long in a multiple choice format. A writing sample is also part of the test. Test subjects include:
- Analytical Reasoning
- Logical Reasoning
- Reading Comprehension
- Writing Sample
- Experimental Section
While test takers must complete all five segments, only three are scored. The experimental section, also known as the variable or unscored section, is used to evaluate new test questions for future LSATs.
Additionally, the writing sample is not scored, but copies of the sample are included with test scores when they are sent to each school selected by the test taker.
The logical reasoning section of the LSAT, also known as the arguments section, uses multiple-choice questions that require test takers to analyze, criticize, complete and evaluate various types of arguments, all important tasks for potential lawyers. Test takers read each logical reasoning question and a short passage and then answer a question about that particular issue. There are approximately 25 questions in this section.
Reading comprehension questions measure one’s ability to read and draw conclusions from text; determine important information in a text; define the main ideas of text; and understand text. Test takers read four sets of text followed by questions based on the readings. This section is comprised of approximately 25 questions.
The analytical reasoning section tests using various logical problems and requires test takers to make deductions, predictions or draw other conclusions based on the outcome. This section measures the ability to determine relationships between various concepts, the ability to analyze situations and draw logical conclusion, and the ability to apply logic to certain problems and situations.
There is also a writing section that is not scored but is sent to law schools along with the LSAT scores. This section lasts 30 minutes.
The other section of the LSAT is experimental and not scored. It is used to test questions for future versions of the LSAT.
The LSAT score is based on the number of correct answers, known as the raw score. Only the number of correctly-answered questions is measured, so there is no penalty for incorrect answers. All test questions on all test sections are weighed the same.
Raw scores are then converted to test scores that range from 120 to 180. The lowest possible score is 120; the highest possible score is 180. Due to a variance in test difficulty between test versions, test scores are equated, a statistical procedure that adjusts for minor differences in the difficulty levels. Therefore, a raw score on one test version may be different than a raw score on another test version, but the two test scores are the same.
Test takers who have registered online or who have online accounts with the Law School Admissions Council will automatically receive their LSAT scores by email. Test scores usually arrive about three weeks after the test date.
Test takers may also receive hard copies of their test scores by mail. Those with online accounts are charged a one-time fee for hard copies. These scores are sent approximately four weeks after the test.
Registration and Cost
The LSAT is offered and administered through the Law School Admissions Council. Potential law school applicants may register for the LSAT at lsac.org, by telephone at 215-988-1001 or by mail. Early registration is encouraged. The current fee for the LSAT is $127.
The LSAT is offered at many colleges and universities throughout the United States and other countries. The LSAT is offered four times a year, however, it is not offered at all test centers every time that it is administered. While the testing dates vary, the LSAT is offered on a Saturday in February, June, September or October, and December. Alternative testing dates are offered to those who observe their religious Sabbaths on Saturdays.
The Day of the Test
On the day of the test, applicants should bring their Admission Ticket that they have received in the mail or printed during online registration. The test location, test center instructions and other pertinent information is on the Admission Ticket.
Test takers should also take a current, valid government-issued photo ID with their signatures. The ID must have a recognizable photo and visible signature. The first and last name on the ID must exactly match the first and last name on the Admission Ticket.
Test takers should also take several No. 2 pencils and erasers. Please note that mechanical pencils are prohibited. Test takers must record all answers in pencil. There are no electronic devices allowed into the testing area.
There are many resources available to those preparing to take the LSAT including guide books, LSAT preparation courses and sample test questions. Are you ready to start preparing for the LSAT? Check out our LSAT Test Directory.