- Rationale: The LSAT is designed to measure the intellectual abilities and skills that are deemed essential to the successful study of law. Based upon validity studies, the LSAT is considered to be a fairly reliable predictor of first year grades in law school. The correlation between the LSAT score and first year grades is measured in terms of a coefficient between 1.00 (an exact correlation) and zero (no correlation other than pure coincidence). Based on validity studies among 171 law schools, the median coefficient was .42. Although law school admissions officers acknowledge that the LSAT is far from a perfect predictor, none have been willing to forego the LSAT in favor of any other measure. The allegiance to the LSAT perhaps can be summed up in one phrase: It's not perfect, but it's the best we've got.
- Dates given: The LSAT is administered four times each year: June; early fall (either September or October); December; and February. The June test is given on a Monday afternoon whereas the other tests are administered on a Saturday morning. For those observing the Saturday Sabbath, special Monday administrations are available.
- Registering for the LSAT: You may register for the LSAT by: (1) completing and mailing the registration form (included in the LSAT & LSDAS Registration Packet); (2) telephoning the LSDAS; or (3) accessing the LSAC website at www.LSAC.org. If registering by telephone, you must first complete the LSAT and LSDAS by Telephone-Worksheet that will assist you in gathering the information necessary for telephone registration. You also should register for the LSDAS (Credential Assembly Service) at the same time.
You must take the LSAT by no later than December of the year preceding the fall in which you wish to matriculate at a law school. For example, if you intend to begin law school in Fall 2010, you must take the LSAT by no later than December 2009. Although a few schools make an exception and accept scores from the February exam date, you should not rely upon this exception. Optimally, you should take the LSAT either in June after completing your junior year courses or October of your senior year. In either case, you should plan to submit your applications early in the fall of your senior year, preferably October or November. (See also Section XI. Application Strategy.)
- LSAT accommodations for students with disabilities: If you have a documented disability (as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act), and require accommodations to complete the LSAT, you MUST first register to complete the LSAT on a specific test date and submit a request for the accommodations by the registration deadline for that specific LSAT test date. Be sure to provide all of the requested documentation to LSAC. Requests for accommodations are reviewed by LSAC in the order in which they are received. Because of the large volume of requests received by LSAC, you should apply as early as possible before the designated test date deadline. By applying early, you will afford yourself ample time to respond to requests by LSAC for additional information, or to file a timely appeal with LSAC in the event of a denial or inadequate accommodations. All requests for reconsideration and supporting documentation must be received by the deadline for the specific LSAT test date for which you have registered. PLEASE, PLAN AHEAD!
- Form of the LSAT
The LSAT consists of five multiple-choice sections plus a thirty-minute writing sample.
- The multiple-choice section of the test is comprised of the following:
- Reading comprehension (one section of approximately 26-28 questions)
- Analytical reasoning (sometimes referred to as "Logic games") (one section of approximately 24 questions)
- Logical thinking (2 sections of approximately 24-28 questions each)
- One unscored section (consisting of questions from one of the three types of questions listed above)
- The writing sample is administered separately at the completion of the five multiple-choice sections of the test. You will be afforded 35 minutes to complete the essay in a defined space. Do not exceed the space limit! The assignment will consist of one of two different writing prompts - decision or argument. If a decision prompt is assigned, you will be given a set of facts and decision-making criteria. Two alternative courses of action also will be presented. You will need to compose an argument in support of one course of action and against the other course of action. Alternatively, if you are assigned an argument prompt, you will be given an argument and then asked to analyze and evaluate the persuasiveness of the argument. In other words, you need to critique the authorís line of reasoning and use of evidence in support of the argument. Because the writing sample is administered at the end of several intense hours of testing, no one (including admissions officers) expects that your essay will be a literary masterpiece. On the other hand, your essay should reflect the logical development of your position. In addition, you should pay special attention to grammar and spelling. The writing sample is unscored; however, it is forwarded to the law schools with your LSAT score and may be considered in the admission decision.
The multiple choice sections of the test are scored based upon the number of correct answers given. No penalty is assessed for guessing. Therefore, never leave an answer blank -- guess!
The LSAC permits applicants to sit for the LSAT a maximum of three (3) times during any two year period. You should not approach the LSAT, however, with a view that you can "just take it again" if you're not satisfied with the score from your first effort. Why not?
- Absent unusual circumstances (such as illness during the test), you should not assume that you would gain a dramatic increase in your score simply by repeating the LSAT. A research report sponsored by the LSAC determined that on the 120-180 LSAT score scale, second-time takers earned, on average, about 2.7 points higher than their first scores, and third-time takers earned only 1.5 points higher than their second scores. (See The Performance of Repeat Test Takers on the Law School Admission Test, Deborah L. Schnipke, Lisa Anthony, and Lynda M. Reese.)
- Law schools will be aware of each of your LSAT scores, and may chose to consider the highest score or an average of all scores reported. LSAC automatically reports the results of all LSATs in your file, including cancellations and absences, since June 1, 2004. The scores are averaged and also appear separately. If you wish to have older scores obtained between June 1, 2000 and June 1, 2004 placed on a current file, you may do so by sending a signed, dated request to LSAC. Law schools may be influenced by an LSAC-sponsored study which concluded that the average score better predicts first year law school grades than using either the highest or most recent score. See The Validity of Law School Admission Test Scores for Repeaters: A Replication, Susan P. Dalessandro and Lori D. McLeod.
In short, you should be prepared to take the LSAT once and perform to the best of your ability.
- Test preparation
- You would be ill-advised to take the LSAT without adequate preparation.
- The LSAT is unlike any other test you have taken and requires some time to acquaint yourself with the types of questions posed. Although you cannot "study" for the LSAT in the same way in which you study for college exams, you can develop a familiarity with the form of test questions and develop a strategy for responding to the questions. In any event, it is very unlikely that you will perform well if you walk in "cold."
- The LSAC makes available "past tests" that you can use to prepare for the LSAT. You can purchase a copy of these "past tests" from the LSDAS.
- A number of commercial courses also exist to help you prepare for the exam. The cost of these courses can be substantial. As an alternative, some of the local colleges offer "prep courses" that tend to be less expensive and less time-intensive that the commercial courses. You are NOT required to take an LSAT prep course!
- The most important point to remember is that you take time to prepare for the LSAT, regardless of which method you choose. The golden rule when it comes to preparing for the LSAT is practice, practice, practice!