Preparing for and taking the LSAT is often the most time consuming, stressful, and expensive part of the law school application process. You can read more about the logistics of the exam, such as how to register, request accommodations, and understand your score report here. Below we will discuss what areas the LSAT tests, how to prepare for the exam, and common questions about preparation.
What are the components of the LSAT?
The LSAT is administered in two parts. The first part consists of several 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. The second part of the LSAT consists of a 35-minute, unscored LSAT Writing sample.
Reading Comprehension questions measure the ability to read, with understanding and insight, examples of lengthy and complex materials similar to those commonly encountered in law school.
Analytical Reasoning (AR) questions are designed to assess your ability to consider a group of facts and rules, and, given those facts and rules, determine what could or must be true
Logical Reasoning questions are designed to evaluate your ability to examine, analyze, and critically evaluate arguments as they occur in ordinary language. These questions are based on short arguments drawn from a wide variety of sources, including newspapers, general interest magazines, scholarly publications, advertisements, and informal discourse.
Variable section: an experimental section that takes the form of one of the 3 aforementioned test sections that is used to help formulated new LSAT questions. This section will not count toward your LSAT score. You will not be told which section is the variable one.
Writing Sample on a prescribed topic. The 35-minute writing sample is not scored, but is sent to law schools to which you apply.
How long does it take to study for the LSAT?
The LSAT is a skills-based exam rather than a knowledge-based exam. And, like any skill, mastering LSAT questions (and completing them in the allotted time) takes lots and lots of practice. While there is no one right answer to how long you need to prepare for the LSAT, most people find that they need to study somewhere between 150 - 300 hours to adequately prepare. You should aim to spend 10 -15 hours a week for 3 - 6 months preparing for the LSAT, though you should be prepared to increase your number of study hours if you find that your score is not steadily improving.
How important is it to take full practice exams?
Very important. Imagine getting up one day and deciding to run a marathon having only trained by running sprints. By mile 3, you would be absolutely exhausted. The LSAT is similar. It takes significant training to take a taxing multi-hour exam. The more you practice doing it, the easier it will become. We recommend that law school applicants aim to take, at a minimum, 15-20 full practice exams over the course of their preparation.
Can I just take it without preparing and see what happens?
Yes, but you absolutely shouldn’t. It is extremely unlikely that you will perform well without preparation -- even if you historically have been a truly exceptional test-taker. Taking the exam without preparation is at best a waste of the newly enacted “score preview” option for first time test takers and at worst going to saddle you with a poor score that will be reported to the school to which you apply.
Do I need to use a commercial prep class?
Deciding whether or not to use a commercial preparation course is a personal decision. We recommend considering your study style, your schedule, and your budget in assessing whether a commercial prep course is right for you. Many students find commercial preparation courses extremely valuable and worth the investment, but others ultimately feel that it was not the best use of their resources. If you decide to pursue a commercial preparation course, pay close attention to student reviews (and not just the positive ones on their website!) and make sure that you read the fine print of what they will provide!
A caution: A commercial course, no matter how wonderful, cannot replace actual study hours. If you cannot commit to the time required to prepare for the LSAT, paying for a commercial course will not solve that problem!
How can Legal Pathways help me prepare for the LSAT?
Legal Pathways has a number of resources to assist students in preparing for the LSAT.
Legal Pathways Fellows: The Legal Pathways Fellows program provides a full tuition scholarship for a commercial LSAT preparation course as well as one-one-one LSAT tutoring. The program accepts 12-15 students per year. You can learn more about the application process here.
Students are able to borrow self-study materials from Legal Pathways, including PowerScore LSAT preparation books and LSAT practice exams.
Khan Academy is a free resource provided by the LSAC. While Khan Academy is a great resource, please do take the recommended number of study hours provided by the program with a grain of salt. Most students will need 150-300 hours of study over the course of 3-6 months to adequately prepare for the LSAT.
Please note that these are provided as examples only. If you need assistance with your study plan, please reach out to Legal Pathways for assistance!
There are many LSAT preparation books on the market. We do not endorse any particular book or set of books, but rather provide this list as an example of common books students have utilized in the past. Like LSAT preparation courses, we recommend that students do their due diligence when selecting LSAT preparation materials.