Preparing For the LSAT

Pre-Law students often report that LSAT preparation is one of the most stressful experiences in their academic lives. It is important to realize that adequate preparation is key--key to alleviating the stress and key to achieving your target LSAT score. Successful LSAT preparation strategies begin with accurate information about the LSAT itself.

Here is how the Law School Admission Council describes the LSAT:

"The LSAT is a half-day standardized test required for admission to all . . . LSAC-member schools. It provides a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. The test consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. Four of the five sections contribute to the test-taker's score. These sections include one reading comprehension section, one analytical reasoning section, and two logical reasoning sections. The unscored section typically is used to pretest new test items and to preequate new test forms. A 30-minute writing sample is administered at the end of the test." (LSAT & LSDAS Registration and Information Book, 2002-2003 Edition)

What is a successful LSAT preparation strategy?

LSAC offers the following advice in its publication, So You Want to Be a Lawyer: A Practical Guide to Law as a Career :

"Effective test preparation should concentrate on three things:

  • One, it should familiarize you with how the test looks, its sections and formats, the mechanics of taking the test, and the timing you can expect. . . .
  • Second, a good preparation program will teach certain test-taking strategies that will both save time and increase your scoring potential. For example, there is no penalty for wrong answers; therefore, you should always guess, after eliminating answers you believe to be incorrect. Also, you should pace yourself; if you are spending too much time on a difficult question, move on. Because specific knowledge is not being tested, you should never answer a question based on your own knowledge or experience, nor should you read more into a problem than is on the page.
  • Finally, a good preparation program will teach and reinforce the analytical and logical skills necessary for success on the exam. The best way to achieve this particular goal is to practice." (LSAC, So You Want to Be a Lawyer: A Practical Guide to Law as a Career, 2000, p. 37)

Sample tests are available from LSAC. Students should set aside extensive time to practice LSAT questions. One of the most common mistakes made by pre-law students is giving inadequate time/concentration to the task of preparing for the LSAT.

I suggest that all pre-law students read University of Scranton Pre-Law Advisor Frank Homer's article, "The Law School Admission Test." Professor Homer discusses common LSAT mistakes, proven test-taking strategies, and the pros/cons of commercial LSAT prep courses. As Prof. Homer makes clear, it is impossible to over-state the importance careful LSAT preparation, if you are serious about making your law school application as competitive as possible.

You may wish to discuss LSAT preparation strategies with your pre-law advisor. Some studies suggest a correlation between LSAT scores and other standardized tests such as the ACT/SAT, and your pre-law advisor can help you assess your individual test-taking strengths and history. Moreover, after you take a practice LSAT (under strict testing conditions), you can discuss the results with your pre-law advisor and the two of you can begin to estimate your LSAT score/range. This estimate will help you establish a time-table for LSAT preparation/improvement based on your individual goals and your preferred law schools.

When you are ready to schedule the LSAT, you will find the dates, test locations, and registration forms online and also available from your pre-law advisor.