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The writing sample is administered
separately. It consists of one of two randomly assigned essay types.
The first type is a stimulus describing a situation in which a
person or group is deciding between two alternative courses of
action. The criteria upon which the decision is to be made and the
two alternatives are explained, and the test taker is asked to write
in support of one of the two alternatives. Since in every stimulus
both of the alternative choices are quite reasonable options, the
test taker's choice of which option to favor is of little concern;
what matters is how well the test taker can write on behalf of
whichever option is being supported. The second type of stimulus
consists of an author's essay. The test taker is asked to analyze
the strengths and weaknesses of the author's argument. This essay
type is new to the LSAT.
The reading of the stimulus and writing of
the sample must all be done within a 35 minute time limit. Unlike
questions on disclosed editions of the test, previously used writing
sample stimuli may reappear.
The test taker is restricted to the two-page
space in the writing sample booklet within which the sample must be
placed, and the 35 minutes provide ample time for test takers to
organize their thoughts before actually writing their sample. The
test taker must complete his/her essay using a #2 pencil.
The writing sample is unscored; it is simply
duplicated and a copy sent to law schools along with an applicant's
LSAT score. The way in which the sample is used by law schools
varies considerably; however, for the most part, its role in the
admissions process is minimal compared to the substantial weight
given to the LSAT score. Given the fact that the sample is done
immediately following completion of a physically and intellectually
demanding test of several hours' duration, law schools hardly expect
scintillating prose. Test takers are well advised to concentrate on
avoiding glaring grammatical or spelling errors and making sure that
what they write is at least clear and to the point.