The LSAT Format Explained

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The LSAT Format Explained

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The typical “index formula” created to calculate applicants’ objective strength incorporates your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA. Given this common method, most law schools employ a holistic approach in the applicant review process. However, this index weighs the LSAT score most! Unlike other standardized tests, the LSAT is of utmost significance in the law school admissions process.

The first step in reaching your target score, before the real “work” starts, involves learning about every element in the LSAT. What else makes the LSAT unique from standardized exams like the SAT, ACT, or GRE? What skills does the LSAT evaluate? What should you expect and prepare for as a test-taker? To get to the bottom of these critical issues, Test Prep Score curated a helpful roadmap for planning your LSAT game plan. Check out our introductory guide to the LSAT with explanations of each section so you don’t encounter any unwanted surprises on test day.

LSAT Section Overview

The LSAT contains six sections: four scored and two unscored. There is no individual score for every section. Instead, every question in the scored LSAT sections counts as one point toward your total raw score. That raw score then translates to your LSAT scaled score ranging from 120 to 180. Test-takers will not receive any penalties for incorrect answers, so never leave a question blank.

The four scored LSAT sections include Logical Reasoning (two parts), Logic Games, and Reading Comprehension. Meanwhile, the Experimental section and a Writing sample make up the unscored portion of the LSAT. Test-takers will have 35 minutes to complete each section.

LSAT Section 1 — Logical Reasoning (Arguments)

The Logical Reasoning section accounts for two sections of the scored part of the LSAT. Both contain 24 to 26 multiple-choice questions. Each of those questions provides a stimulus, a short two or three-sentence statement, a question prompt with a specific task, and five answer choices.

The Logical Reasoning section evaluates your ability to critically evaluate the arguments presented. Specifically, how do the reasons provided justify the conclusion reached? You will also need to call out any assumptions, find errors in arguments, and make inferences.

LSAT Section 2 — Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games)

The Logic Games section tests your problem-solving prowess, an essential skill for attorneys and litigators. This section contains four different problem sets, each providing a scenario and a set of related rules. The scenarios involve assigning elements to positions in some sort of order. Each game then asks four to seven multiple-choice questions.

The crux of your success lies in your ability to determine how rules in unique scenarios impact outcomes and relationships in the game. Thus, you must diagram these games and rules before heading to the questions.

LSAT Section 3 — Reading Comprehension

This Reading Comprehension section consists of four reading passages, accompanied by five to eight associated multiple-choice questions. Three passages will have one author while one passage will have a combination of different sources. Unlike the SAT, this section in the LSAT does not expect you to showcase your ability to grasp complex texts. Instead, the section requests that you draw inferences, find information, identify main ideas, and draw conclusions. To answer questions correctly, test makers expect you to find fallacies and paradoxes and to use context clues.

The most important skill that test-takers must master involves comprehending reasoning structure. You must understand the relationship between different sections of each passage relative to the author’s motives. The questions will not just focus on general passage structure, though, as some may also ask about specific details in the selection.

LSAT Section 4 — The Experimental Section

The fifth LSAT section is an unscored section mirroring the overall structure of any of the three discussed above: logical reasoning, logic games, or reading comprehension. In this part, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) simply tests new questions to gauge test-takers responses for use in crafting future exams.

Since test makers blend this extra section with the scored portions, you will not know which section is experimental while writing your exam. So, you must give every section the same amount of effort to make sure you get a high score.

LSAT Section 5 — The Writing Sample

The Writing Sample is also an unscored portion of the LSAT. However, the essay does count toward your law school admissions chances, as the LSAC submits your sample to all law schools to which you apply. The LSAC will present a decision problem, ask you to choose between two courses of action, and require you to defend your choice. The keys here are persuasive writing skills, as well as clarity, organization, and writing mechanics.

Get Started Studying for the LSATs

The unique nature of the five LSAT sections may even intimidate seasoned test-takers. But dedicating ample time to familiarize yourself with the LSAT is a great first step to reaching your score in the top percentile! Start your prep early with a trusted prep book and a plethora of practice tests.

Furthermore, arming yourself with support from an LSAT expert or tutor can help you overcome specific study roadblocks and give you direct feedback on your progress. Earn your target LSAT score and gain admission to the law school of your dreams by visiting our blog to learn more about the LSAT prep options in your area.