The LSAT is designed to measure a core group of skills necessary for success in both law school and the practice of law. Those skills include:
- The ability to quickly glean relevant information from dense text without getting caught up in details or diversions;
- The ability to construct solid logical arguments and to recognize flawed arguments;
- The ability to understand and apply cause and effect relationships; and
- The ability to manage complex data sets.
While the LSAT consists of five multiple choice sections and a writing sample, each of the multiple choice sections falls into one of three categories:
- Reading Comprehension
- Logical Reasoning
- Analytical Reasoning
Of the five multiple choice sections you’ll encounter on test day, four will be scored. The fifth is material that LSAC is pre-testing for future administrations. The order of the sections varies from administration to administration, and you won’t know which section is unscored when you’re taking the test.
The scored sections always consist of one Reading Comprehension section, one Analytical Reasoning section and two Logical Reasoning sections. That’s important information, because it means that Logical Reasoning accounts for almost exactly half of your LSAT score. Analytical Reasoning presents a challenge for many test-takers, and that means that many would-be law students give that section disproportionate attention during preparation. However, the most effective preparation will focus on the area(s) in which you can pick up the most points, not necessarily the one that is your weakest.
Your LSAT score is based on the number of questions you answer correctly. An unanswered question is treated just like a wrong answer, so there is no downside to guessing if you can’t answer a question or run out of time. You will not receive separate scores for the various sections—your score will look exactly the same if you get 75% of the questions in each section as it will if you get 100% in three sections and 0 in the fourth.
The scale varies slightly from test to test, but typically a raw score of about 55 correct answers will result in a scaled score of 150 and 75 correct answers will yield a score in the low 160s.
The LSAT Writing Sample
The writing sample is not scored, but will be forwarded to schools with your score report. The essay is limited space and must be handwritten. As such, you should always handwrite your practice essays in the space provided at the back of your test booklet, or on equivalent lined paper. Writing an essay by hand will impact both timing and length, and it is important that you’re able to write clearly and with few corrections when it counts.