How to Prepare for the LSAT

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is an admissions exam used by many US universities to assess students’ suitability for Law degree courses. How you perform in the LSAT will impact which universities may offer you a place, so it’s important that you know how to prepare.

This easy guide walks you through all of the key information you need to know about the LSAT, including when and where it is taken, what a good LSAT score is, and expert tips on how to prepare. Our LSAT experts have helped students get into top law schools. If you’re in need of additional support with your Law application, reach out to our team today.

What is the LSAT?

The LSAT (Law School Admission Test) is an admissions test designed to assess the reading comprehension, logical reasoning and verbal reasoning proficiency of law school applicants. It is administered by the Law School Admission Council, a non-profit organisation whose members include over 200 law schools across the US, Canada and Australia.

Which universities require the LSAT?

Many law schools from across the US and beyond require applicants to take the LSAT as part of the admissions process. Some of the most well-known include:

  • Harvard Law School
  • Yale Law School
  • New York Law School
  • Boston University School of Law
  • Columbia University School of Law
  • Georgetown University Law Center
  • Stanford University Law School
  • University of Toronto Faculty of Law
  • Melbourne Law School

Always check directly with your chosen law school/s to find out whether the LSAT is required.

When is the LSAT taken?

There are typically around nine sittings of the LSAT each year. In 2022, there was an LSAT test date in January, February, March, April, June, August, September, October, and November. In 2023, test dates are currently scheduled for 13th January, 10th February, 14th April, and 9th June.

Each LSAT test date has its own registration deadline; for example, if you wanted to sit the 12th August 2022 test, you would have needed to register before 30th June 2022. Make sure you check what your specific test deadline is to ensure that you are registering with enough time.

Where is the LSAT taken?

The LSAT is administered online through LSAC’s LawHub site, meaning you can take the test from home or another private space. There are strict rules around the space in which you take the LSAT: it needs to be a quiet and well-lit room with no interruptions, and must not contain any tablets, laptops or additional computers. Transparent glass walls are also not considered part of a private room and are prohibited. You will also need a strong, stable internet connection to ensure you can complete the full test on camera without delays.

Please note: From August 2023, most test takers will have the option to take their test at home in an online, live, remotely proctored format or in-person at a digital testing centre. This aims to offer test takers a choice of which option works best for them. The content of the test will remain exactly the same, whether one chooses to take the LSAT remotely or at a test centre.

How much is LSAT?

The LSAT costs $215 to take. There are also additional costs for other services, such as a score audit ($150), changing your test date ($135-$215), and an official candidate LSAT score report ($50).

You can also pay $195 to use LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS). This simplifies the law school application process for both you and your chosen law schools by ensuring that your transcripts, letters of recommendation, and any other documents required for each of your law school applications only need to be sent once to LSAC. LSAC combines your documents with your LSAT score and forwards a full report to all the schools you apply to.

What is included in the LSAT?

The LSAT consists of five sections, including Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, a writing sample, and a variable section. These sections may be presented in any order during your LSAT exam. The test lasts for 3 hours and 30 minutes in total, with each section lasting around 35 minutes and consisting of 22-28 multiple-choice questions (except the writing section – see the table below).

Section No. of questions Time Description
Logical Reasoning 2 sections
24-26 multiple-choice questions per section (48-52 in total)
35 minutes per section (70 minutes in total) LSAT Logical Reasoning questions are designed to assess your ability to examine, analyse, and critically evaluate arguments in ordinary language. They are based on short arguments drawn from a wide range of sources, including newspapers, magazines, educational publications, advertisements, and informal discourse. The arguments included in these texts mirror legal reasoning in the types of arguments presented and in their complexity, though few of them actually have law as their subject matter.
Each question asks you to read and comprehend a short passage, then answer one question (or occasionally two questions) about it. The questions are designed to evaluate a wide range of skills involved in thinking critically, particularly skills that are central to legal reasoning, such as detecting assumptions made by particular arguments and determining how additional evidence affects an argument.
Analytical Reasoning 1 section
4 logic games with 4–7 multiple-choice questions each
35 minutes LSAT Analytical Reasoning questions are designed to evaluate your ability to consider a group of facts and rules and determine what could or must be true. Questions in this section appear in sets, with each set based on a single passage. Each passage will describe a scenario involving ordering relationships or grouping relationships, or a combination of both types of relationships. Examples could include scheduling employees for work shifts, ordering tasks according to priority, and distributing grants for projects. The specific scenarios are usually unrelated to law, however the questions are designed to test skills that closely parallel those involved in legal matters.
Analytical Reasoning questions test a range of deductive reasoning skills, such as inferring what could be true or must be true from given facts and rules, reasoning with conditional statements, and recognising when two statements are logically equivalent in context.
Reading Comprehension 1 section
26-28 multiple-choice questions
35 minutes LSAT Reading Comprehension questions are designed to measure your ability to read and understand lengthy and complex materials, similar to those commonly encountered in law school. The Reading Comprehension section contains four sets of reading questions, each set consisting of a selection of reading material followed by 5-8 questions. Three of the four sets consist of a single reading passage, while the other set contains two related shorter passages. Sets with two passages are known as Comparative Reading questions and concern the relationships between the two passages.
Reading material for LSAT Reading Comprehension questions is drawn from a wide range of subjects in the humanities, social sciences, biological and physical sciences, and areas related to the law. Generally, texts are densely written, use high-level vocabulary, and contain sophisticated arguments or complex rhetorical structure. They require you to read carefully and accurately and draw reasonable inferences.
Writing Sample 1 task 35 minutes The LSAT Writing Sample section does not contribute to your overall score, however it will be sent to your chosen law schools. The section tests your ability to form an argument based on given facts and use written English to express an idea. You will be presented with a writing prompt and will be asked to make a choice between two positions or courses of action. There isn’t a right or wrong answer; whichever case you wish to argue, you must argue convincingly using evidence from the prompt.
Variable section Varies 35 minutes This section will be an additional Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning, or Reading Comprehension section. It does not contribute to your overall score.

How is the LSAT marked?

Your LSAT score is based on the number of questions you answered correctly (your ‘raw score’). All test questions are weighted exactly the same. The total number of questions you get right is what matters for your score, not which particular questions you get right or wrong. There is no deduction of marks for incorrect answers.

Your raw score is then converted to an LSAT scale. This is the score you receive in your score report. The LSAT scale ranges from 120 (lowest possible score) to 180 (highest possible score).

On your report, you will also receive a percentile rank (which reflects the percentage of test takers whose scores were lower than yours during the previous three testing years) and a score band (which indicates your actual proficiency by placing you in a range of scores).

What is a good LSAT score?

The table below shows the percentile rank of LSAT scores ranging from 135 to 180 in the 2019-2020 cohort. Bear in mind that the exact percentile ranks will change from year to year depending on the scores of test takers in any given year.

LSAT score Percentile rank (2019-20)
180 99.9
175 99.5
170 97.1
165 89.8
160 77
155 59.2
150 39.7
145 22.9
140 10.8
135 4.2

As you can see from the table above, a score of 165 or more would place you in the top 10% of test takers, while a score of 140 or less would place you in the bottom 10%. Top US universities typically admit applicants with scores of between 160 and 176. The table below shows the 12 US law schools with the highest median LSAT scores among successful applicants.

School Median LSAT score (2020-21)
Columbia University 174
Harvard University 174
Yale University 174
New York University 172
Stanford University 172
University of Chicago 172
Cornell University 171
Georgetown University 171
Northwestern University 171
University of Michigan 171
University of Pennsylvania 171
University of Virginia 171

8 tips on preparing for the LSAT

1. Find out if and when you need to take the LSAT and leave plenty of time

Before starting your preparation, make sure you know if and when you are required to take the LSAT. Different law schools will have different requirements around the LSAT and application deadlines, so you should check with your specific law school/s in advance, ideally around a year before you plan on applying. This will ensure that you are able to register by the registration deadline and leave yourself plenty of time to prepare.

2. Prepare for every section individually

Each section of the LSAT is very different and requires different skills and strategies. As part of your preparation, make sure that you are preparing for each LSAT section individually to ensure that you can perform well across the test. One poor score in one section will affect your overall score and may be the difference between getting into a top law school or not, so ensure that you are identifying any weaknesses and working on those question types in particular.

3. Know what score you’re aiming for

Top US universities typically admit applicants with scores of between 160 and 176, however there is a lot of variation between law schools. For example, the median score of successful applicants to Harvard is 174, while the median score of successful applicants to Florida is 163. Knowing what score you are aiming for is important because it gives you a benchmark to aim for in your practice papers. It can also help to guide you on which law schools you apply for and where you have the highest chance of success.

4. Practise past papers under timed conditions

As with all exams, one of the best ways to prepare is to take practice tests under timed conditions to simulate the conditions you will face in the real exam. Make sure that when you complete practice tests, you do so without music and in a quiet place to truly test your skills and get a clear picture of what you need to improve on. You can access sample/practice tests on the LSAC website. The Profs’ LSAT tutors can also provide mock questions to help you prepare, as well as mark practice tests and provide feedback on your progress throughout your preparation.

5. Familiarise yourself with the test interface

The LSAT is administered online through LSAC’s LawHub site and proctored remotely by ProctorU. You may be unfamiliar with the interface used for online tests, so it’s important that you familiarise yourself with the LSAT interface before the test begins.

The free LSAT PrepTests that are available through your LSAC LawHub account are the best way to familiarise yourself with the format and interface of the test. LawHub also includes a series of tutorial videos that can help you.

Bear in mind that the five sections in LawHub’s LSAT sample tests are always presented in the same order, despite these sections in the actual LSAT test being presented in a random order.

6. Make sure you’ve read the testing space rules

The LSAT is taken remotely and as a result has strict rules around your testing environment. You must ensure that you have read the testing space rules in preparation for the test, as you may not be allowed to take it if you break any of them.

Generally, your desktop must be clear of anything not test-related and should only have the following items:

  • Five blank sheets of scratch paper (lined, unlined, or graphed)
  • Your valid ID
  • One or more writing utensils
  • A highlighter
  • An eraser (no mechanical erasers or erasers with sleeves)
  • A pencil sharpener
  • Tissues
  • Soft, non-electronic, non-corded/banded, generic foam ear plugs
  • A drink in a plastic container or juice box (maximum size: 20 oz/591 ml). Aluminium cans are not permitted.

You will be required to hold up each of these items and show them to the proctor during the security check-in procedure. Both sides of each sheet of scratch paper must be shown to the proctor and destroyed in camera view upon test completion.

You are not allowed to take more than one phone or any kind of electronic device into your testing space, including digital watches, headphones, tablets, calculators, etc. You can have a bag, hat, sunglasses, and books in the room with you, but these must be put away and not be accessed during the test. Your entire face must also be clearly visible on camera throughout the test.

7. Practise writing essays on topics you are unfamiliar with

There’s a chance that you won’t be familiar with the topics used in the Writing Sample prompts. You will also be required to make a decision about what you are going to argue quickly and draw on appropriate evidence to argue your case.

To help prepare for this, practise reading different dilemmas or pieces of text that argue to clear sides. You should also practise writing short essays on subjects that you are unfamiliar with. This helps you to focus on the thinking skills, planning, and structure of the essay instead of getting too wrapped up in the subject detail. This will also help you gauge how much time you should be spending on reading and planning before you begin writing your response.

8. Work with an expert LSAT tutor

Preparing for the LSAT can be stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to perform well so that you can get into your dream law school. You won’t necessarily have a structured learning plan that ensures you are prepared for all of the content, or teachers who understand the test specifications. The solution to this is to work with an admissions test expert.

Working with a tutor will provide so many benefits to your preparation. An LSAT tutor can:

  • Identify and focus on areas in which you need extra support.
    It can be tricky to identify your own weaknesses, especially if you don’t know what exactly your examiners are looking for. Our experienced LSAT specialists can help you tailor your preparation to areas where it’s most needed.
  • Offer insider knowledge on the admissions test you are taking and what the assessors will be looking for.
    The Profs’ admissions test tutors have first-hand experience of the specific LSAT structure, content and wider Law admissions process, all of which will be invaluable to your preparation.
  • Make the preparation more fun and engaging.
    It can be difficult to stay self-motivated and engaged when you’re juggling LSAT preparation with normal schoolwork, and all of the other requirements of applying for law school. Ensuring the preparation process is enjoyable will take some of the pressure off while still maximising your chances of success.

How can we help?

The Profs have many LSAT tutors who can guide you through the process of preparing for this challenging admissions test. Whether you want to get into Harvard, Stanford, Yale, or another top college or university in the US or beyond, our tutors are highly experienced and have a proven track record of helping students secure places. In fact, 90% of students who work with us get into their first or second choice university, so reach out to our team today to begin preparing.

FAQs

What is the LSAT out of?

The LSAT scale ranges from 120 (the lowest possible score) to 180 (the highest possible score).

What’s a high LSAT score?

What is regarded as a ‘high’ LSAT score depends on many factors, including the performance of other test takers that year, your existing skills and knowledge, what law school you are applying for. Roughly, a score of 153 or above would place you in the top 50% of test takers (based on percentile data from 2018-2020), while a score of 165 or more would place you in the top 10% of test takers. Top US universities typically admit applicants with scores of between 160 and 176.

How long are LSAT scores valid?

An LSAT (or LSAT-Flex) result is reportable for up to five testing years after the testing year in which the score is earned.

What does LSAT stand for?

LSAT stands for the Law School Admission Test. It is an admissions exam used by many US universities to assess students’ suitability for Law degree courses.

Does LSAT have math?

The LSAT does not have a Math section and there is very little mathematical skill required in the test. Logical Reasoning questions may sometimes require you to take percentages and numbers into account, but you will not be required to use any formulas or equations in relation to them.

Is 179 a good LSAT score?

Yes, 179 is a good LSAT score. The median score of successful applicants to top US universities, including Harvard, Columbia and Yale, is 174, so a score of 179 would give you a high chance of success when applying to these top universities (assuming the rest of your application is excellent too).