Taking the LSAT

My first post about the law school admissions process covers the most obvious and scariest part—the LSAT. Most law schools require applicants to have taken the LSAT, and it is usually the aspect that is weighted most heavily in the admissions process. Currently, it is offered four times a year, but the LSAC (Law School Admissions Council- the people who make the LSAT) has recently increased it to six times a year. Beginning in 2018-2019, the LSAT will be offered in June, September, November, January, March, and June (again). Until then, it is offered in June, September/October, December, and February.

What’s on the LSAT?

Technically, there are six sections on the LSAT, but only four are graded. One section of analytical reasoning, one section of reading comprehension, and two sections of logical reasoning are graded. Analytical reasoning, more commonly know as logic games, uses scenarios and rules to test your ability on putting these scenarios together; there are four games in one section. Reading comprehension is similar to the reading section on the SAT and ACT, but have denser passages. There are three single passages in each reading comprehension section and one pair of dual passages.  Finally, logical reasoning focuses on logical arguments: strengthening, weakening, determining the structure of them, etc.

One ungraded section is a “test” section of one of the previously mentioned sections. The LSAC uses this section to test out possible questions. You will not know which section is ungraded, but if there are two reading comprehension (or analytical reasoning) sections, then one of them is ungraded. Likewise, if there are three logical reasoning sections, one of them is the “test” section. Typically, if a section stands out as extra hard, it is a good guess that this is the test section. The last ungraded section is a writing sample. In it, a dilemma is presented with two options and you must argue for whichever option you believe is best. The good news is that there is no wrong answer. Since it is ungraded, some test takers do not take this section seriously- do not do this, as this section is sent to law schools you apply to.

When should I take the LSAT?

The answer to this question depends on your personal plan. However, to be considered for the fall semester, most schools require you take the LSAT the fall before. So, if you are applying for Fall 2018, you will want to take the LSAT in September/October or December of 2017.  Some schools accept the February or even June test for that fall, however, most do not and it is not smart to rely on this.

Talk to your pre-law advisor about what time is best for you to take the LSAT. Oftentimes, he or she will provide insight that you have not thought of. It is important to look at your schedule to determine the best time to take the LSAT. If you have a tough spring semester, it might not make the most sense to take the LSAT in June. Likewise, if you are studying abroad during the summer, it does not make sense to take it in September, right after you return. Plan to take the LSAT early enough for your application cycle, but also when you have enough time to dedicate to studying.

I recommend taking it either one or two times. Until September 2017, the maximum times you can take it is three times in two years.  Starting in September 2017, there will be no limit to the amount of times you can take it. No one wants to go through the stress of this grueling exam more times than necessary, and it is possible to hit your point of diminishing returns. If you plan on taking it twice, I suggest taking it first in the spring, and then again in the fall of the same year. Personally, I took it in February 2016 and September 2016. That way, I had one LSAT under my belt, but did not allow a long gap of time between the exams. If you take it once, I suggest taking it in early fall. This way, if you absolutely need to take it again, you can and still stay within your desired application cycle.

How do I study for the LSAT?

This is another tough question to answer because it varies for everyone. Study the way you do best. There are many options, including online classes, personal tutoring, in-person classes, or using test prep books. If you need a structured setting, I recommend a class, either online or in person. If you can manage studying on your own, test prep books may work best for you. No matter how you study, make sure to set time aside every day or week to study. You can find some great LSAT study planners online to help you with this.

Use previous LSATs. Start by taking a practice exam- timed, in a silent location, no phone. This will give you the best starting place and will identify the areas that you need to work on the most. During your studying, take timed section tests. I recommend buying old LSATs through the LSAC website since these are the closest thing you can get to the actual exam. Focus on timing, as this was something I did not do the first time I studied, and it really hurt me during the actual exam. I had no sense of pacing during the exam. The second time I studied, I focused on this and it made an impact on my score. About a week or two before the LSAT, I recommend taking a final practice exam, this one also timed, in a silent location with no phone. This will give you a good idea of the score you can expect on the actual exam.

My last tip on studying for the LSAT: do not forget that every section will be tested. If you struggle with reading comprehension, it is easy to focus most of your time on this section and to ignore the others. This can be detrimental to your score. One problem with test prep books is that most teach section by section. This keeps your studying focused, but also may cause you do not do as well on the section that you studied first, simply because it is not fresh in your mind. I found a test prep book that weaves all three sections together-The LSAT Trainer. Of all the studying resources I used, this one was the best and helped me improve my score the most.

How is the LSAT graded?

The LSAT is graded on a scale of 120-180 with the average score being around 150. Each correctly answered question accounts for one point of your raw score. For each exam, your raw score is translated into the scaled score.  The scaled score is what is sent to you and law schools. Typically, once you score above 160, each incorrect answer or unanswered question will deduct a point from your score. Therefore, you can only miss one or two questions (depending on the exam) to get a perfect score of 180.

To determine what you need on the LSAT, look at the schools you want to attend. ABA accredited schools are required to disclose their average LSAT score and GPA, as well as the 25 and 75 percentiles. Typically schools will accept applicants who fall within these ranges for both the LSAT and GPA.  The good news is that if your LSAT score is lower than a school’s average, a higher GPA can make up for this, and vice versa. Scholarships are typically awarded to students who score above the school’s median score. This can be a good to consider if you looking to go to law school with a substantial scholarship.

Sorry for the long post, but I hope it helps to answer your questions about the LSAT. Good luck and happy studying!


  1. Pleased to know about the brief description about LSAT course and grading. Getting successful in LSAT exam is really tough. One has to give a huge amount of time and dedication. But this online study material provided was helpful enough to achieve my goal.


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