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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
- Every year Legal Pathways provides a limited number of scholarships for students to participate in the UW Instructional Center LSAT preparation course. Make sure to sign up for the Legal Pathways student listserve to make sure you get notified when scholarship applications open!
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!
- University of Dayton School of Law- LSAT Prep: Two-and Four- Month Study Plans
- U.S. News- Set a 4 Month LSAT Study Plan for 3 Types of Test Takers
- Above the Law- The 8-Week LSAT Study Plan
- The LSAT Trainer- Various Study Schedules
- Powerscore Virtual Proctor
- 7sage LSAT Proctor (Downloadable MP3 recordings or Phone apps available)
- Proctoring with Testing Accommodations YouTube proctoring video (time and a half)
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.
- LSAC- 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests Volumes
- The LSAT Trainer by Mike Kim
- The PowerScore LSAC Logic Games Bible- Comprehensive book available for the Logic Games section of the LSAT
- Kaplan Test Prep- LSAT Unlocked
Please note that these are external scholarships not administered by the Legal Pathways Program or the University of Washington Tacoma. This list is not exhaustive.
King County Bar Association LSAT Preparation Grant Program
The LSAT Nerds Scholarship Fund