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What is the “LSAT” and Why Is It so Important?

The LSAT is an exam required for admission at most law schools. It is offered four times a year in June, October, December, and February. Generally you need to register for the exam about a month prior to the administration date for the regular fee, although you can pay additional money to register “late,” viz., a few weeks before the exam.

1. Organization
The LSAT consists of 101 multiple choice questions. Your questions will be organized in one of three categories:

* Reading comprehension
* Logical reasoning
* Logic Games

You will answer questions in five 35 minute intervals in these various categories; thus, you might have 1 section of reading comprehension followed by 1 section of logical reasoning followed by a section of logic games, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension.

Your exam will always consist of two logical reasoning sections, one reading comprehension, and one logic games section; the last section which is “experimental” can be in any one of these categories. The experimental section is not scored, but you generally can’t tell which one it is, so you should take each section equally seriously.

Your score for the LSAT is based on the total number of questions you answer correctly; incorrect answers are NOT penalized so you MUST guess if you don’t know the answer to a question – you have nothing to lose. Your final score will be between 120-180, and will be accompanied by a percentile ranking which will indicate how your score compares to others who took the same test.

2. What are the LSAT questions like?
Logical reasoning: since there are two sections of these problems, this is probably the most important category to work on; each section will have about 25 questions which will provide a short argument or claim and then a few questions based on analyzing that argument or claim

Logic games: usually this section consists of four “games” which have 4-7 questions each; the game involves figuring out some information or organization through applying a set of rules and statements;

Reading comprehension: difficult readings of up to 450 words in either law, humanities, natural science or social science; 5-8 questions per passage; usually 4 passages with about 27 total questions

Your exam will end with a 30 minute essay question.

For many schools this item is given the most weight in an application package, and in any event it is usually taken very seriously (although some schools do tend to discount its importance in their admissions decisions).

Your best bet for the LSAT is to get very comfortable with the format and the types of questions that are on it. Start studying at least six weeks in advance. You should take as many prior LSAT examinations as you can under actual timed test conditions before taking the real thing. This way when you sit down in the actual exam room it won’t seem so alien or anxiety provoking. Try to make the process of getting ready for and taking the exam as routine as possible.

3. Canceling and Retaking the LSAT
Only cancel your score or take the exam again if you really think there was something that substantially hindered your prior performance (horrendous test conditions, lack of preparation or sleep, illness, etc.). You have five days after your exam to decide whether to cancel your score; cancellations are reported to schools. If you do take the test again, you will probably want to explain any significant discrepancy between your test scores. Many but not all schools will simply average your two scores if you take the exam more than once.

You may only take the LSAT three times in a two-year period. That should be plenty.

4. LSAT prep courses
They are expensive, but many folks swear by them. If you take into account the expense of law school, it probably makes sense to take a prep course unless you are very disciplined and can get ahold of numerous practice tests which you will take and analyze exhaustively.


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