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The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is required for all law school applicants. Although law school admissions committees consider a variety of criteria, there is little doubt that the LSAT plays a significant role in the selection process.
Preparation for the LSAT is the rule rather than the exception. This section is an introduction to the LSAT preparation process.
Answers to Some Commonly Asked Questions
What does the LSAT measure?
The LSAT is designed to measure a range of mental abilities related to the study of law; therefore, it is used by most law schools to evaluate their applicants.
Will any special knowledge of the law raise my score on the LSAT?
The LSAT is designed so that candidates from a particular academic background are given no advantage. The questions measure reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical reasoning, drawing from a variety of verbal and analytical material.
Does a high score on the LSAT predict success in law school or in the practice of law?
Success on the LSAT demonstrates your ability to read with understanding and to reason clearly under pressure; surely these strengths are important to both the study and the practice of law, as is the ability to write well, measured by the LSAT Writing Sample. To say that success on the LSAT predicts success in law school may overstate the case, however, because success in law school also involves skills that are not measured by the LSAT
When is the LSAT administered?
The regular administration of the test occurs nationwide four times each year, around the beginning of the fall, winter, spring, and summer seasons. Except for the summer month, the test is usually administered on a Saturday morning from 8:30 a.m. to about 1:00 p.m. For the past few years, the summer exam has been given on a Monday afternoon. Dates are announced annually by the Law School Admission Council in Newtown, Pennsylvania.
What if I cannot take the test on a Saturday?
Some special arrangements are possible: Check the LSAS General Information Booklet in your registration packet. Applicants must take the exam at a time when the regular administration takes place on Saturday; but who cannot participate on Saturday for religious reasons, may seek special Monday administration.
How early should I register?
Regular registration closes about one month before the exam date. Late registration is available up to three weeks prior to the exam date. There is an additional fee for late registration.
Is walk-in registration available?
For security reasons, walk-in registration is no longer permitted. Students may register by telephone by the telephone deadline. The Law School Admission Services (LSAS) will not permit walk-ins the day of the test. Be sure to read very carefully the General Information Booklet section on "registering to take the LSAT."
What is the LSDAS?
The LSDAS (Law School Data Assembly Service) compiles a report about each subscribing applicant. The report contains LSAT results, a summary of the applicant's academic work, and copies of college transcripts. A report is sent to each law school that the applicant designates. Thus, if you register for the LSDAS, you will not need to mail a separate transcript to each of your prospective law schools. REMINDER: You can register for the Candidate Referral Service only at the same time you register for the LSDAS.
How is the LSAT used?
Your LSAT score is one common denominator by which a law school compares you to other applicants. Other factors also determine your acceptance to law school: a law school may consider your personal qualities, grade-point average, extracurricular achievements, and letters of recommendation. Requirements for admission vary widely from school to school, so you are wise to contact the law school of your choice for specific information.
How do I obtain registration forms?
The registration form covering both the LSAT and the LSDAS is available in the LSAT/LSDAS REGISTRATION PACKET. Copies of the packet are available at the admissions offices of most law schools and the testing offices at most undergraduate universities and colleges. You may also obtain the packet by writing to LAW SCHOOL ADMISSION SERVICES.
What is the structure of the LSAT?
The LSAT contains five 35-minute multiple- choice sections followed by a 30-minute Writing Sample. The Writing Sample does not count as part of your LSAT score. The common question types that do count toward your score are Logical Reasoning (two sections), Analytical Reasoning (one section), and Reading Comprehension (one section). In addition to these four sections, one experimental or pretest section will appear. This experimental or pretest section, which will probably be a repeat of one of the common question types, will not count in your score.
How is the LSAT stored?
The score for the objective portion of the test ranges from 120 to 180, and there is no penalty for wrong answers. The Writing Sample is un-scored, but copies are sent to the law schools of your choice for evaluation.
What about question structure and value?
All LSAT questions, apart from the Writing Sample, are multiple-choice with five choices. All questions within a section are of equal value, regardless of difficulty.
Should I guess?
There is no penalty for guessing on the LSAT. Therefore, before you move on to the next question, at least take a guess. You should fill in guess answers for those you have left blank or did not get to, before time is called for that section. If you can eliminate one or more choices as incorrect, your chances for a correct guess increase.
How often can I take the LSAT?
You may take the LSAT more than once if you wish. But keep in mind that any report sent to you or to law schools will contain scores for any exams taken over the past few years, along with an average score for those exams. The law school receiving your scores will decide which score is the best estimate of your ability; many law schools rely on the average score as a figure.
Is it at all possible to cancel my LSAT store?
You may cancel your score only within five days after taking the test.
How early should I arrive at the test and what should I bring?
Arrive at the test center 15 to 30 minutes before the time designated on your admission ticket. Bring three or four sharpened No. 2 pencils, an eraser, and a watch, as well as your LSAT Admission Ticket and proper identification as described in the LSAT Registration/Information Booklet.
The LSAT and the Admissions Process
Can I prepare for the LSAT?
Yes. Reading skills and test-taking strategies should be the focus of your preparation for the test as a whole. Success on the more specialized analytical sections of the test depends on your thorough familiarity with the types of problems you are likely to encounter and the reasoning process involved. For maximum preparation, work through this book and practice the strategies and techniques outlined in each section.
Basic Format of the LSAT and Scoring
THE ORDER OF THE FOLLOWING MULTIPLE-CHOICE SECTIONS WILL VARY.
The Experimental Section is not necessarily the last section.
A Closer Look at the Timing-What It Really Means
Although the LSAT is comprised of five 35-minute multiple-choice sections and a 30-minute un-scored essay, it is important to understand the timing breakdown and what it means. The test is actually broken down as follows:
Notice that you are given three multiple- choice sections with no breaks in between. When they say "stop" at the end of 35 minutes they will immediately say something like, "Turn to the next section, make sure that you are in the right section, ready, begin." So, in essence, you are working three sections back to back to back. This means that when you practice you should be sure to practice testing for 1 hour and 45 minutes without a break.
After the short break, when you may get up, get a drink, and go to the restroom, you are back for two more back-to-back multiple-choice sections.
For the final 30-minute writing sample you will be given a pen and scratch paper to do your pre-writing or outlining.
Keep in mind that there will be some time taken before the exam and after the exam for clerical-type paperwork-distributing and picking up paperwork, filling out test forms, and so on.
At least half of your test will contain Logic Reasoning questions; prepare accordingly. Make sure that you are good at Logical Reasoning!
The experimental or pretest section will usually repeat other sections and can appear in different places on the exam. At the time of the exam, you will not know which section is experimental. Take the test as if all of the sections count.
Scoring will be from 120-180. This is the score, and the percentile rank that goes with it is what the law schools look at and are referring to in their discussions.
All questions in a section are of equal value, so do not get stuck on any one question. The scores are determined by totaling all of your right answers on the test and then scaling.
There is NO PENALTY for guessing, so at least take a guess before you move to the next question.
The 30-minute Writing Sample will not be scored, but copies will be forwarded to the law schools to which you apply. Scratch paper and a pen will be provided for the Writing Sample only.
Keep in mind that regardless of the format of your exam, two sections of Logical Reasoning, one section of Analytical Reasoning, and one section of Reading Comprehension always count toward your score.
Ask a Few Questions
Before you actually start your study plan there are four basic questions that you should ask the law schools to which you are applying:
Considering my GPA and other qualifications, what score do you think I need to get into your law school?
When do you need to get my score reports? Or, when should I take the test to meet your deadlines?
What do you do if I take the LSAT more than once? Remember that when the law school receives your score report it will see a score for each time you've taken the test and an average of the scores. It is up to the law schools and their governing bodies as to what score(s) they will consider. Try to do your best on the first try and take the LSAT only once, if possible.
What do you do with my Writing Sample? Is it used as a tiebreaker? Do you score it yourself? Is it just another piece of the process?
Knowing the answers to most of these questions before you start your study will help you understand what is expected and will help you get mentally ready for the task ahead.
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