Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
Law schools are known for their demanding admissions requirements. To apply to law school, aspiring law students typically write a law school personal statement, polish their résumés and send test scores to demonstrate their readiness to succeed in a rigorous curriculum.
The only standardized test accepted by every American Bar Association accredited law school is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)®. The LSAT tests your reasoning, reading comprehension and writing skills as they apply to concepts covered in law school. Law schools use the LSAT to determine whether applicants are well-suited for their JD degree program. While the test is not a legal aptitude test, it is relied upon by law schools because of its ability to predict academic performance in the first year of law school.
Find out what to expect from the LSAT in this guide, which explores the test’s subject areas, its structure and how to prepare for the LSAT.
What Is The LSAT?
The LSAT—offered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC)®—is a standardized test for prospective law school students. The test examines your skills in reading, writing and analytical and logical reasoning, measuring your potential success in a law program. The LSAT features multiple-choice questions and a writing portion.
The multiple-choice section tests your critical thinking and reading comprehension skills through four 35-minute blocks of questions. The questions cover the following topics:
- Reading comprehension. This section includes reading material typically found in law school. The questions gauge your ability to dissect information, draw conclusions and understand key points. The LSAT includes four reading passages, each with a series of follow-up questions.
- Analytical reasoning. This section presents scenarios featuring facts, rules and relationships. You’ll answer questions using problem-solving skills to assemble the puzzle of each scenario while adhering to relevant rules or limitations.
- Logical reasoning. The LSAT’s logical reasoning portion includes source-based passages, each with up to two follow-up questions. The questions cover analogies, argument flaws and logical reasoning patterns.
The test also includes one unscored question section covering one of the above topic areas. LSAC uses these questions for quality assurance to strengthen the accuracy of future tests.
LSAT Writing consists of a scenario prompt with two options. This section requires you to choose a side of an argument and use your reasoning and logic skills to support your choice in a persuasive essay. You complete this section separately from the rest of the LSAT, and you have 35 minutes to do so. LSAT Writing is monitored through live proctoring software, allowing test takers to take it in the convenience of their own homes, a development that came about, initially, in response to the Covid pandemic
The LSAT counts each question you get right rather than subtracting questions you get wrong from a cumulative score. (In other words, there is no penalty for guessing.) LSAC does not score LSAT Writing samples.
The LSAT scoring scale ranges from 120 to 180. The final score report includes your score, your percentile rank compared to other test-takers and a score band that highlights your proficiency in each area of the exam. LSAC sends your LSAT score report and writing sample to your law schools of choice.
Common Questions About the LSAT
How Long Does the LSAT Take?
The LSAT takes 185 minutes to finish, including all five sections and a break. You can take the 35-minute writing portion up to eight days before the day you take the multiple-choice portion of the LSAT.
The LSAT includes two 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions, followed by a 10-minute break. The test then continues with its final two 35-minute multiple-choice sections.
You can request additional breaks between each section if you qualify for accommodations.
How Many Times Can You Take the LSAT?
You can take the LSAT up to seven times. However, you are limited to three tests per year and five tests during the current and last five testing years. These rules only apply to tests taken from September 2019 to the present. Therefore, any LSATs you took before that time don’t count toward your limit.
You can’t retake the LSAT if you receive a perfect score in the current or past five testing years.
Is the LSAT Required for Law School?
The LSAT isn’t required for all law schools. Some schools also accept the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)® or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)™. Law schools that accept the GRE or GMAT also accept LSAT scores.
What Can You Expect on LSAT Test Day?
The LSAT is administered online with a remote proctor. You get a 10-minute break halfway through the test. You can leave the room during your break, but you must check in with your proctor before beginning the second half of the LSAT.
LSAC allows a pen or pencil, up to five pieces of scratch paper, and earplugs during the multiple-choice sections. You can also have tissues, a drink, and medication on your desk if needed.
You can take the written portion before or after completing the standard LSAT. The LSAT Writing also takes place online with a live proctor but does not allow scratch paper or writing utensils.
What Is a Good LSAT Score?
LSAT scores range from 120 to 180, and the median LSAT score is about 152. However, each law school determines its minimum LSAT score for applicants, with more competitive schools preferring scores of 160 or higher.
Common Questions About LSAT Writing
Is LSAT Writing Required for Law School?
LSAT Writing is not required for law schools that do not require the LSAT for admission; you may instead take the GRE for these schools. However, if your school does require the LSAT, you’ll need to complete LSAT Writing. Your school will not consider your LSAT complete if it doesn’t include LSAT Writing.
Is LSAT Writing Scored?
No, LSAT Writing isn’t scored. LSAC sends your writing sample to the law schools to which you apply. Those schools evaluate your writing sample based on their own requirements.
Do Law Schools Actually Read Your Writing Sample?
Law schools that require LSAT scores read each applicant’s writing sample. A school can weigh the importance of LSAT Writing samples however they’d like when determining whether an applicant qualifies for admission.
Does LSAT Writing Have a Minimum or Maximum Word Count?
LSAT Writing does not have a minimum or maximum word count. Instead, test-takers should focus on writing a well-planned, organized and thorough essay during the 35-minute testing portion.
Common Questions About LSAT Prep
When Should You Start Preparing for the LSAT?
Anyone preparing for the LSAT should study relevant content for at least several weeks. If you have a lot of time to study, you might feel ready after just one or two months of preparation. However, some test-takers might need three months or more to feel better equipped for the LSAT.
What’s the Best LSAT Prep Strategy?
Preparing for the LSAT is an intensive process and systems like memorization that might aid in a college exam do not help when taking the LSAT. As a result, preparing for the LSAT is a process that normally requires months of study, rather than weeks. For example, a preparation cycle of three to six months is very common.
A good starting point is to simply take a full practice test, often called ‘a diagnostic’ so that you can establish a baseline score. In addition to working through a formalized curriculum it is important to remember that taking practice tests after completing that curriculum will form the backbone of your preparation and will also help you objectively assess your readiness to take the test formally.
Are There Free LSAT Prep Resources?
Yes, there are several free LSAT prep resources, including official LSAC LawHub practice tests. Khan Academy also provides a free online LSAT prep course. However, given the correlation between your LSAT score and the cost of attending law school, test takers are strongly encouraged to invest in their test preparation, although spending thousands of dollars is rarely necessary.
LSAT Prep Resources to Consider
Studying for the LSAT and practicing under test conditions is supposed to acclimate you to the test and the conditions you will encounter on test day. The idea being that it will help you counter test anxiety and to properly understand what is a very difficult exam. Below are some of the most popular resources for LSAT preparation.
LSAC’s LawHub offers the free LSAT Prep program for test-takers who want extra practice before taking the exam. The plan includes exam-like testing modules and four official practice tests with instant scoring to determine critical study areas. However, it is important to remember that the level of instruction is going to be very different from that experienced in commercial test preparation offerings.
LSAT Prep Plus®
LSAT Prep Plus is a paid version of the LawHub free study program, priced at $99 annually. It includes more than 75 practice exams, educational resources and a status tracker for law school applications. This is an excellent resource for someone who has learned how to understand the test and needs to practice the test under increasing amounts of time pressure, and under test conditions.
LSAT eBooks and Prep Books
LSAC provides several official eBooks and test prep books for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers. One of its most comprehensive books, The New Official LSAT TriplePrep Volume 1™, includes three recent practice tests with answer keys, a scoring conversion table and three LSAT Writing prompts.
Other books include a single or bundle of practice tests. Each book generally costs between $10 and $25. However, experts note that learning the test through the use of a book alone can lead to learning bad habits that can cause plateaus and which can be difficult to break.
Khan Academy Official LSAT Prep
The Khan Academy Official LSAT Prep program is a free study resource that identifies which exam areas you may need to develop. It then uses that information to create a custom plan with lessons and skills practice. The Khan Academy is an excellent starting place, but with law school tuition costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, even at average schools, investing in quality LSAT preparation is strongly encouraged.
The Cost of LSAT Prep
The cost of LSAT preparation programs varies widely and will depend on the experience of the tutor, whether the content is provided in-person (more costly) or online and the level of student to tutor interaction. For instance, some providers offer subscription fees under $100 but with minimal interaction. Others range from anywhere between $1,000- $5,500 but spending such a large sum is rarely necessary. Test takers will also be encouraged to note that many providers allow waivers for those with an LSAT approved fee waiver.