What is LSAT?
LSAT stands for Law School Admission Test. It is administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).
LSAT is a pre-requisite if you wish to attend law school. It is a standardized test needed for getting admission to all American Bar Association (ABA) approved law schools, most law schools in Canada and some non ABA Approved law schools.
The LSAT is held four times each year at different locations throughout the United States and foreign centers. Prospective law students can take more than one test each year. Law Schools select students based on their LSAT scores. If the prospective student has given the LSAT more than once, some law schools consider the highest score while some consider the average score. LSAT is generally held on a Saturday but tests are available on Mondays and Wednesdays for those who worship the Sabbath on Saturdays.
The exam has five sectionsof 35 minutes each. The sections are:
- Reading Comprehension – The questions in this section designed to measure the candidate’s ability to read, with understanding and insight, examples of lengthy and complex materials similar to those commonly encountered in law school work. The reading comprehension section contains four sets of reading questions, each consisting of a selection of reading material, followed by five to eight questions that test reading and reasoning abilities.
- Logical Reasoning – There are two sectionsof logical reasoning. Each section has questions designed to evaluate the candidate’s ability to understand, analyze, criticize, and complete a variety of arguments. Each logical reasoning question requires the candidate to read and comprehend a short passage, then answer a question about it. The questions test a variety of abilities involved in reasoning logically and thinking critically.
- Analytical Reasoning – This section has questions designed to measure the candidate’s ability to understand a structure of relationships and to draw logical conclusions about that structure. The candidates are asked to make deductions from a set of statements, rules, or conditions that describe relationships among entities such as persons, places, things, or events. They simulate the kinds of detailed analyses of relationships that a law student must perform in solving legal problems.
- The above three sections contain multiple choice questions. There is no penalty for wrong answers.
- Variable Section – This section also has multiple choice questions. The scores from this section are not counted towards the final LSAT score. This section is designed to pretest new test questions or to pre-equate new test forms. However, candidates are not disclosed as to which of sections is the variable one. So, the candidate must answer all the sections.
- Writing Sample – Candidates must submit a writing sample. There are no marks or scores for the writing sample, but a copy of the writing sample is sent to all law schools to which the candidate applies.
LSAT is held four times each year. If you wish to take the LSAT, you must register with the LSAC. The LSAC has a full listing of the exam dates over the course of the year.
Registration can be done online, through the mail or by telephone. Online registration is the best option. Many of the options that commonly need later modification like test time, test location, college codes, score report locations and so on can be performed online, generally more easily and with greater speed and efficiency than through the mail or by telephone.
To register online, all one needs to do is to visit the LSAC website www.lsac.org. The website will guide you through the registration process. You must register by creating a user name and password. You will be required to provide certain information including:
- Social Security Number or SSN
- Email Address
- Telephone Numbers and Fax
- Candidate Referral Service (CRS)
- Cumulative GPA
- Credit Card Information
- Your City of Birth
- Previous Name
- Zip/Postal Code
Registration through mail
If you want to register through mail, you must obtain the registration forms. These can be obtained from the LSAC distribution centers. Some law schools also provide the registration forms. You can find the address of the distribution center in your area by contacting the LSAC. You can also request the LSAC to send the registration forms to you directly.
Registration by telephone
To register by telephone, you must contact LSAC on 215-968-1001 between 8:30 am and 7:00 pm ET, September-February, and between 8:30 am and 4:45 pm ET, March-August. It is best to avoid calling on a Monday as Monday is generally the busiest day at LSAC.
The present LSAT Registration fee is $132. This is subject to change. The up to date fee schedule is available on the LSAC website. If you register after the initial deadline, there is an additional fee of $66 which is also subject to change. There are additional fees for any subsequent changes you may request like change in the test date or test center.
The LSAC has a fee waiver program. Eligibility for the fee waiver program is restricted to US or Canadian citizens, US nationals, or permanent resident aliens of the United States with an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I–151 or I–551). Absolute inability to pay is the main criterion for fee waiver. To apply for a fee waiver, you must submit the LSAC Fee Waiver Application form along with tax documents and other supporting documentation as requested by LSAC. All tax documents and other supporting documents must be received by LSAC no later than 45 days after the application is received by LSAC.
A fee waiver entitles you to:
- two LSATs (test dates must fall within the two-year waiver period);
- one LSDAS registration
- four Law School Reports
- one copy of the Official LSAT SuperPrep.
Fee waivers will be good for two years from the date of conditional approval of fee waiver by LSAC.
LSDAS stand for Law School Data Assembly Services. It is the Credential Assembly Service Provided by the LSAC. You should register and pay for the Credential Assembly Service at least four to six weeks before your first law school application deadline. The present LSDAS registration fee is $121. This is also subject to change and an up to date fee schedule can be found on the LSAC website. The LSDAS collects and standardizes your academic records to make it easier for admissions personnel at various law schools to compare you with other law school candidates. The LSDAS creates your law school report by combining:
- an academic summary report;
- LSAT score(s) and writing sample(s);
- copies of all undergraduate, graduate, and law/professional school transcripts; and
- Copies of Letters of Recommendation, if applicable.
The LSDAS registration fee covers:
- transcript summarization (as well as authentication and evaluation, if applicable),
- creation of your law school report,
- letter of recommendation processing, and
- electronic application processing for all ABA-approved law schools.
Preparing for LSAT
LSAT is an important exam and requires preparation. You can either prepare on your own or take a professional LSAT preparatory course. Both methods have their own pros and cons.
Self study is cost effective and offers flexible scheduling. You can buy LSAT prep books from your local book store. However you might not have access to the latest resources and books.
LSAT preparatory course are costly and adhere to a fixed schedule. However you will be preparing under the guidance of an expert, generally someone who has passed the LSAT and has been to law school.
LSAT preparatory courses will generally provide you with practice tests. If you have not joined any preparatory course, you can subscribe to the official practice tests published by the LSAC.
Do not wait until the last minute to start your preparations. You should start preparations at least a month in advance. Mentally prepare yourself to spend several hours a week studying. Work through sample problems while reading the chapters, and then work through problem after problem without books and notes. At this point, start timing yourself while taking individual sections. Finally, time yourself as you take a couple of whole exams under simulated test conditions.
The Reading Comprehension section will test your ability to analyze and understand sophisticated ideas and arguments. A lawyer must be able to draw inferences from complex material and recognize subtle connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena.
The reading comprehension passages cover a wide range of topics including natural science, legal, social science, and humanities. The answer choices are similar in nature to those found in logical reasoning problems. There could be one or more answer selections that seem fairly on point, but you have to select the best answer. You must determine the course of action taken by the author of the passage. To do this, you must read the passage carefully and understand the methods employed by the author to get the point across to you. You must get into the subject matter and understand its nuances. You must realize how the passage is put together. It is not about understanding the subject matter of the passage. It’s all about understanding the composition of the passage. Authors of LSAT Writing Comprehension passages have agendas; they write to persuade, not to educate. Your job as you read is to determine that agenda. The passages are intentionally jargon-filled and dense. In school you were taught to read for detail, but on the LSAT you would run out of time doing that. This means that you have to re-learn how to read.
Since this is a 35 minute session, you must develop the ability to work through the reading comprehension passages quickly and diligently. The best way to do this is by actively reading the passages on the first run through and taking notes of critical items as they appear.
Never speed read. Read at the pace that is just right for you – not so slow that you waste time, but not so fast that you don’t retain what you read. Most passages are short and dense. Underlining can prove counter productive in such cases. You can always check back to the passage to find the answer. Sometimes, the answer to the questions is generally either a little above or a little below the line you are sent back to.
Restrict your answers to what is stated in the passage. Do not use your own external knowledge of the subject. Your answers must be based on the passage and not your knowledge.
As an attorney, you must understand, analyze, criticize, and complete a variety of arguments. The logical reasoning questions are designed to evaluate your ability to understand, analyze, criticize, and complete a variety of arguments. You will be required to read and comprehend a short passage, then answer a question about it. You will must reason logically and think critically. Hence the mastery of this session is important for getting a high score in your LSAT.
Generally you should be in a position to answer all questions within the allotted time frame. It is best to start with the first question and work your way through.
You will be required to demonstrate the skills attorney require in the practice of law – identifying things that make an argument weaker, or recognize a particular assumption. You must understand the big picture the question is asking you. You must understand, analyze, and critique various arguments posed by the individual questions. The correct answer to a question could be a false statement. Proper identification of relationships between assertions is the key and not the accuracy of those assertions.
Allocate more time to identifying which type of logical reasoning question and get a solid idea of the type of question presented.
Like with the reading comprehension session, you must read actively. If required, read slowly to reflect and react to what you are reading. You must identify the arguments. The passages will either be arguments or a set of facts. The commons questions will ask you to weaken or strengthen an argument, find an assumption in an argument, identify a flaw in an argument, or determine what must be true based on the paragraph. Since this session is in multiple choice formats it is important that you read the paragraph and the answers critically. The correct answer may hinge on a single word. The answer should be based on the paragraph and not on your true knowledge. The answer based on your true knowledge might not be the right answer.
Check your answers after each question. This will help you determine if your patter of deducing the answer was correct so you can alter it if necessary. Don’t wait until you finish a large set of questions before you check your answers.
The analytical reasoning session contains four or five logic games, each of which commonly includes five to six questions. These games are designed to measure your ability to quickly understand a system of relationships and to draw conclusions about those relationships.
The analytical reasoning session will also test your ability to work quickly, under pressure, confronted with large volumes of information. You can master this session through hard work and repeated exposure to practice problems.
There are generally four types of logic games:
1. Ordering: You must place the “players” of the question in a certain sequence. You will be required to:
- Determine the location within the sequence of a particular player;
- Identify all potential positions within the sequence that a particular player may occupy;
- Identify all potential positions within the sequence that a particular player may not occupy;
- Determine which players may or must be next to/across from each other in the sequence;
- Determine which players cannot be next to/across from each other in the sequence;
- Identify all players that must come earlier or later in the sequence than a given player;
- Identify the number of positions separating two players within the sequence.
2. Selection: You must compose a smaller group of “players” from a larger group based on certain criteria. You must:
- Identify the players that must be selected based on the criteria/facts provided;
- Identify the players that are eligible for selection based on the criteria/facts provided;
- Identify the players that are ineligible for selection based on the criteria/facts provided;
- Assuming some specific player or players are selected, identify the players that must be selected;
- Assuming some specific player or players are selected, identify the players that cannot be selected;
- Given certain facts, identify the number of players eligible for selection.
3. Allocation: You must allocate the provided “players” into identified groups. You will be asked to:
- Identify which players must be included in a certain group/category;
- Identify which players could be included in a certain group/category;
- Identify which players are ineligible for inclusion in a certain group/category;
- Determine the number of players that are to be placed in a certain group/category; and
- Determine which players have to be, cannot be, or could be paired with other specific players.
4. Connection: You must connect some of the “players” in the set of conditions based on some criteria or characteristic. You must:
- Identify which player(s) must connect with the various characteristics;
- Identify which player(s) could be connected with the various characteristics;
- Identify which player(s) are excluded from connecting with the various characteristics;
- Identify which players must, must not, or can, share characteristics with the other players.
Some games may be a combination.
The key concept to the mastery of analytical reasoning is your ability to recognize patterns. Logic games, though they look like a tangle of yarn at first glance, are innately limited in how they can be written. Time is crucial. If stuck on one game, move on and come back to the game later if you have the time.
You should diagram out the questions as you read through them. An effective diagram will help you to think about a question clearly. Each question and game is independent of others. Do not carry the information from one question and game to another. Stick to the information provided in the game.
Your writing sample does not count towards your LSAT score. Copies of your writing sample are sent to the law schools. The law schools use the writing samples to assess your writing skill. The ability of an attorney to write is paramount to their level of proficiency within their profession.
First and foremost, there is no correct or incorrect answer in this session. You will be given a brief scenario covering any topic. You will have to choose one of the two paths in the writing sample. It does not matter which path you choose. But you must argue for the path you choose and argue against the path you discard.
Remember to choose quality over quantity. Be short and concise. You should ideally start with a statement identifying your chosen path followed a paragraph justifying your selection. Next argue against the path you have discarded. You must conclude with a brief reiteration of your chosen path. Stick to the topic provided in the scenario.
Confine your writing to the lined area following the writing sample topic. You will find that you have enough space if you plan your writing carefully, write on every line, avoid wide margins, and keep your handwriting a reasonable size. Be sure that your handwriting is legible.
Before you begin your studies, you should familiarize yourself with the test content and format. Structure your study plan. Stick to your study plan.
Nothing succeeds like hard work. You must practice and practice again. Solve as many practice problems as you can.
On the test date, make sure you carry your admission card and a photo ID. Do not carry your cell phone. Cell phones are prohibited.
Remember, LSAT is not a test of knowledge; it tests critical reading and reasoning skills. Good luck.
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