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What Does the LSAT Test?

The Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, is a standardized test given four times a year at various locations around the country. All ABA approved law schools require the LSAT for admission. It is given by an organization called the Law School Admission Council (often referred to as Law Services). Law Services claims that there is a positive correlation between LSAT scores and success as a first year law student. In other words, according to Law Services, the better you do on the LSAT, the better you are likely to do in your first year of law school. Whether this is true is debatable. What is not debatable, though, is that law schools rely heavily on the LSAT in making admission decisions.

As is true with most standardized tests, horror stories about the LSAT are abundant. Many students are scared silly over the prospect of having to take it. The LSAT is nothing more than a test. True, it is an important test. But if you understand something about it and you prepare for it, your anxiety level should decrease.

The LSAT is not designed to test your knowledge of the law or any other subject in particular. Instead, it measures your reading comprehension, analytical skills, and reasoning skills. The test consists of 101 questions. It is divided into five 35-minute multiple choice sections, and a 30-minute essay to provide a writing sample. Each section contains between 24 and 28 questions. Of the five multiple choice sections, only four (two logical reasoning sections, one analytical reasoning section, and one reading comprehension section) actually count as part of your score. The fifth section is used for administrative purposes only, but you have no way of telling, when you take the test, which four sections count and which one does not. The essay, which always comes last, is not graded and does not count toward your LSAT score.

Most students take the LSAT in June after their junior year of college. The June test is given on a Monday; the other three test dates are Saturdays in late September or early October, December, and February. Appendix B contains information about this year's test dates, costs, and registration procedures. The October test date is used by students who, for whatever reason, don't get around to taking the June test. October is also popular with students who took the test in June but who were not happy with their scores, and want to retake it. The December test date has a couple of disadvantages. First, it is close to the end of the fall semester when you are busy with other things. Second, by December you should already have applied to law schools, and you must ask them to hold your application until your December test score is available. The February test date is not very popular. For students who hope to go to law school that same fall, it is usually a last-ditch hope to improve earlier poor LSAT scores.


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