How should I prepare for the LSAT?
What is the LSAT?
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the standardized test required for admission to law school.* It is created and administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). The LSAT is a test of ability rather than knowledge so it is impossible to memorize the information required to perform well on the exam. Practice is essential for success. Starting September 2019, the LSAT will be administered digitally on tablets at every test location. Here is more info on the digital format.
The LSAT consists of the following types of questions:
- Reading Comprehension (one 35-minute multiple-choice section)
- Analytical Reasoning (one 35-minute multiple-choice section; known as the logic games section)
- Logical Reasoning (two 35-minute multiple-choice sections)
- Experimental Section (one additional 35 minute multiple-choice section from one of the above, not scored)
- Writing (one 35-minute section; unscored but sent to law schools). LSAT Writing is taken separately, from home. You must install proctoring software on your home computer and take it within one year of your LSAT test date.
(Note: As of May 2020, LSAC is now offering the LSAT-Flex, a remote, proctored exam until it can safely administer in-person exams again. The LSAT-Flex consists of only three sections, one each of the following: Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning. The Writing section is still required and administered separately.)
What is a good score?
LSAT scores range from 120 to 180. A good LSAT score is the one that gets you into your school of choice (and perhaps helps you get some scholarship money as well). To determine this, you need to look at the LSAT score ranges accepted at that school. All schools report their 25th, 50th and 75th percentile scores. To look up a school’s LSAT score range, go to the ABA Standard 509 Reports. Remember while your LSAT score is extremely important, it is not the only factor in admissions.
How do I prepare for the LSAT?
- Familiarize yourself with the test
Get familiar with the types of questions on the LSAT. The best place to start is with LSAC.org since LSAC is the maker of the test. For an overview of the test visit About the LSAT. After you have read the overview, review the sample questions with explanations at Preparing for the LSAT.
- Take a timed LSAT practice exam
Free practice exams are available for free from LSAC here. You can also take a timed test for free via Khan Academy. While many students are nervous about taking a practice LSAT before they have started preparing, it is important to determine a baseline score so you can make sure you are improving with practice. If you take the practice exam and do fairly well, then you can target certain question types and focus on maximizing your score.If you take it and don’t score well, don’t despair; you haven’t started to study and practice yet. Use your score as motivation to get started.
- Develop a study plan
Reflect on how you learn and create a plan to prepare for the LSAT. Are you good at time management and think you can create a self-study schedule and stick to it? Do you learn best from hearing information, reading information, writing information or a combination of these?
Many students study successfully on their own for the LSAT using preparation books (see below for a list of commercial vendors that publish LSAT prep books) and practice tests. Strong time management skills and the ability to learn from reading and practicing are required for this option. Check to see if the library (Penn State or local) have preparation books you can use or just review before deciding which books to invest in for your course of study.
If you choose this option, start with the free LSAT prep offered through Khan Academy. Then add additional PrepTests (past LSAT exams that have been released by LSAC). The more practice exams you complete, the fewer surprise questions you will encounter on the LSAT. Make sure to review the completed exams in detail, both the questions you get wrong and the questions you answered correctly. It is important to understand each question and why each answer option is correct or incorrect. Continue to take timed practice exams throughout your study to gauge your improvement.If you are not progressing, find an alternative study strategy including a preparation course.
Consider joining or creating an LSAT study group. Sometimes it helps to review questions with another student, particularly if you can find someone with strengths that are different from yours.
Below is a sample list of some of the commercial LSAT courses available. This list is not exhaustive but is meant to help you get started in researching commercial LSAT course options. Pre-Law Advising does not endorse or recommend any particular commercial LSAT course.
Blueprint LSAT Prep
Kaplan Test Prep
Research the various preparation courses available. Most commercial vendors offer various courses with differing hours and methods of instruction. On-line courses, either self-paced or live via streaming video, are less expensive than in-person classes. Again, determine how you learn and be honest with yourself about time management skills. If the vendor offers a free sample course on-line, take it to learn more about the course. Ask if the company has a discount for Penn State students, as many do. After doing your research, decide which course best fits your learning style and budget, then start practicing!
* Some law schools now accept the GRE as an alternative test to the LSAT. Go to ETS.org for more information about the test and which schools will accept it.