The LSAT Exam Explained
NOTE: The information below refers to the in-person LSAT which, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been suspended indefinitely. In its place, LSAC now administers the virtual LSAT-Flex, an online version of the LSAT that prospective law students take at home. Each test taker is paired with a remote proctor who monitors the test-taking environment before and during the test.
Because of proctoring issues and other considerations, the LSAT-Flex is significantly shorter than the in-person LSAT. Rather than four 35-minute sections, the LSAT-Flex includes only three 35-minute sections, one each of Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games). There is no second Logical Reasoning section, nor an experimental section. Another important change is that, unlike the in-person LSAT, the LSAT-Flex is offered over multiple days of test week at many different times.
At this time, it is unclear how long the LSAT-Flex will be administered in place of the in-person LSAT. This is in part because of the unpredictability of the COVID-19 crisis and in part because LSAC may or may not continue administrating the LSAT-Flex for the foreseeable future, regardless of what happens with the pandemic.
If you are preparing to take the LSAT-Flex, click here for a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions
The LSAT is divided into 6 sections: 2 sections of Logical Reasoning questions, 1 section of Reading Comprehension questions, 1 section of Analytical Reasoning questions, 1 experimental section, and 1 Writing Sample. Each of the first 5 sections is made up of multiple choice questions. You are given 35 minutes to complete each section. The Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning sections are each scored.
The Analytical Reasoning section, commonly referred to as the "logic games" section, evaluates your ability to take a set of facts and use deductive reasoning to make inferences. The Analytical Reasoning Section contains four "games." Each game starts with a "scenario," followed by 3 to 6 "constraints." Each game has 5-7 questions for a total of about 22-23 questions. There are four basic types of logic games: ordering, matching, grouping, and mixed sets. However, within each game type there are variations.
The Reading Comprehension section tests your ability to effectively read, understand, and analyze complex passages under time constraints, as is often required in the practice of law. It contains four 400-600 word passages, each with 5-8 questions, for a total of 26-28 questions to complete in 35 minutes. Of the 4 passages, one is a "comparative reading" passage that is made up of two related shorter passages. Skills tested include drawing inferences, finding the main idea, understanding intricate text, and the ability to compare and contrast. Topics covered in the reading passages include the humanities, social sciences, biological and physical sciences, and the law.
The Logical Reasoning section tests your ability to understand and analyze arguments and draw sound conclusions. Logical Reasoning questions are preceded by "arguments." You will be required to evaluate the logic and structure of the argument, make inferences from the arguments, indentify points of disagreement, and find any flaws in the logic. Each argument is 3-4 sentences long for a total of about 100 words, followed by one multiple choice question. The questions require you to show that you understand the substance of the argument, to recognize where information from the argument is omitted, or to analyze the logic behind an argument. Topics covered in the arguments include economics, psychology, and the natural sciences. There are two Logical Reasoning sections on each LSAT, so that means Logical Reasoning questions make up 50% of your total LSAT score. Each Logical Reasoning section has 24-26 questions. Since you will have 35 minutes to complete each section, you need to answer each question in about 1 minute 20 seconds.
The fifth multiple choice section on the LSAT is experimental and does not count toward your score. While all experimental sections will be either Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, or Analytical Reasoning, there is no way to know which section is the experimental section. If there are 3 Logical Reasoning sections on your LSAT, it is safe to assume that one is an experimental section. However, there is no way to know which of the three is experimental. Furthermore, all students taking the LSAT on the same day at the same center may not have the same experimental section.
The Writing Section
The Writing Sample of the LSAT is not scored. However, it is sent to the law schools to which you apply. It is designed to give law schools an idea of whether you will be able to handle the rigorous writing requirements of law school by showing your ability to develop a coherent argument under the pressure of severe time constraints. Each law school weighs the Writing sample differently when evaluating a candidates application. For example, some law schools only consider the Writing Sample if a student is a "borderline" candidate. For the Writing Sample you will be given a set of facts followed by two possible courses of action. You will have 35 minutes to select a course of action and write an essay that logically presents an argument that defends your choice. You must complete the Writing Section at home some time shortly after your test date. Keep in mind that you must complete the Writing Section before you will received your LSAT score.
Because of the complex and unique nature of the questions on the LSAT exam, it is critical that you thoroughly understand the various types of LSAT questions. The best way to accomplish this is to start preparing for the LSAT at least 8-12 weeks in advance, enroll in an LSAT prep course, and spend time completing many LSAT practice tests and LSAT practice questions.