The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) features several sections that each assess your capacity for law school in a different way. But to do well on the exam, you must learn about these sections and how to tackle them. Therefore, I’ll discuss the sections of the LSAT so you can be prepared. I’ll also give you tips to master each section.
The LSAT consists of 5 multiple-choice questions (MCQ) sections and 1 writing sample section. Unless you have received special testing accommodations, you will have 35 minutes to complete each section.
Only 4 sections count towards your official LSAT score. The 4 sections that count toward your score are:
The combined total of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in these sections is about 100. However, the exact number of questions can change from exam to exam. In short, you can expect to find about 24-26 MCQs per section, sometimes a few more or a few less.
The other MCQ section, which is called the variable or Experimental section, does not contribute to your score. Instead, the purpose of this section is to pretest new questions or evaluate new test forms. The placement of the unscored section among the scored sections varies. Furthermore, you won’t know which section is the unscored section until you receive your score report.
Finally, the last section is the writing sample, which is also unscored. However, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) will send this section to all of the law schools to which you apply. What’s more, as LSAC explains, “Law schools are looking at the reasoning, clarity, organization, language usage, and writing mechanics you display in your sample.” So, your goal for the writing sample should be to demonstrate these qualities.
|Logical Reasoning||Analytical Reasoning||Reading Comprehension||Variable Section||
|Scored or Unscored||
24-26 multiple-choice questions
|4 logic games with 4-7 multiple-choice questions||4 reading passages each with 5-8 questions choice questions||Another Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning, or Reading Comprehension section||
|35 minutes||35 minutes||35 minutes||
|N/A||4 reading sets: 3 sets with a single reading passage with Reading Comprehension questions; 1 set with 2 shorter passages and Comparative Reading questions||N/A||
Tests ability to determine main points of arguments, apply logic to abstract concepts, find relevant information within a text, and analyze and evaluate arguments
|Tests ability to understand the effects of rules on decisions and outcomes, determine relationships between concepts, analyze situations and draw conclusions based on set guidelines, and apply logic to ambiguous or complex situations||Tests ability to draw inferences based on the text, determine the main ideas of passages, find relevant information within a text, and understand a dense and scholarly text||N/A||
Tests ability to form an argument based on given facts, support an argument, use written English to express an idea
Many LSAT students worry about the Logical Reasoning (LR) sections. Two of these LR sections will go towards your final score and will account for over 50% of the questions.
The Logical Reasoning sections contain about 25 multiple-choice problems, each composed of a small body of text presenting the information needed to answer the ensuing question.
These texts will usually contain an argument or statement that has logical implications. Then, the accompanying questions will ask you to analyze, evaluate, or complete these arguments.
To excel in this section, students need to understand the roles the different parts of the arguments play, the role of assumptions in those arguments, and the logical implications of these arguments.
While there are definitely students with natural logic skills, the majority of us don’t possess these skills. But luckily, we can cultivate and develop our skills in logic with some practice. Doing so can dramatically improve your performance in the Logical Reasoning sections.
While it’s true that the Logical Reasoning questions are difficult, they get easier with practice. And since you’ll have 2 LR sections and they count for 50% of your total score, you need to master them. Follow these tips:
The Analytical Reasoning (AR) section is the shortest on the test. Usually referred to as “Logic Games,” this section has 4 problem sets with 5 to 7 questions each. This section tests your ability to understand logical relationships and then to use that understanding to draw inferences.
Each individual set presents a fictional scenario that involves the ordering or grouping of items. A set of conditions determines the rules that govern this “game.” For example, test-takers could be asked to create a business’s work schedule based on when employees can or cannot work on each day of the week.
To do well in the Logic Games, students must have a firm grasp of formal logic and be able to use it quickly and efficiently. Most students find success by drawing quick diagrams of the games and conditions.
Again, some students are naturally good at this section, but the vast majority are not. With the right LSAT prep course, though, Analytical Reasoning is the section that most students see a fast and dramatic improvement in the AR section. So, don’t let an initial poor performance worry you.
With some practice, the Logic Games can actually be fun to solve. Here are some tips:
Reading Comprehension (RC) is the longest section on the LSAT. It is also the most similar to the material you may have seen on other standardized tests.
This section tests your reading comprehension through four passages of text with accompanying questions. The text will cover topics ranging from natural sciences to law and humanities. Some students may find the material quite interesting, but most will view it as extremely boring.
The key to this section is being able to read quickly and efficiently while gathering the necessary information for the following questions. While that may seem simple enough, the Reading Comprehension section is different from the critical reading sections that appear on the ACT or SAT because the LSAT passages are typically making an argument.
So while learning the information given in the text is important, students must also be able to critically evaluate the argument the author is advancing. This evaluation can involve drawing inferences, identifying assumptions, or completing arguments.
Reading Comprehension is typically the most difficult section for students to improve upon.
However, there are different strategies that have proven successful for attacking RC. With the proper practice and strategy, you may see huge improvements even in this difficult section. Here are some tips to consider:
As I mentioned earlier, there are 5 multiple-choice sections, but only 4 scored sections. Those 4 scored sections always include exactly 2 LR sections, 1 RC, and 1 AR.
The Experimental section is a fifth section that will be an extra LR, RC, or AR.
On test day, you won’t be able to tell which section is experimental. Therefore, it’s imperative that you treat each section (besides writing) like a scored section.
LSAC uses the experimental section to see how students handle test questions the LSAC may use on future tests. We can complain about it all we want, but we still have to deal with the experimental section.
LSAC is committed to making sure that the LSAT is accessible to everyone who wants to take it. Therefore, if you have certain disabilities that make test-taking difficult, LSAC can make accommodations for you.
For example, candidates can request extra time for sections, stop-the-clock breaks, or use of spell check on the writing sample. Depending on your situation, you could also be approved to use speech-to-text software, a screen reader, or other magnification assistance. LSAC also has Braille versions of the LSAT. If you need any of these accommodations for the LSAT, you should contact LSAC as soon as possible.
In the past, LSAT-takers with certain disabilities could request to not take the variable Experimental section since it isn’t figured into your score. However, that is no longer the case. Everyone who takes the LSAT has to complete all sections, including the variable one.
First off, if you feel anxious about preparing for the writing sample, don’t. If you are capable of reading and writing in the English language, you can do well enough on the writing sample to get into law school.
I have never met nor heard of a law school denying a student admittance or a scholarship due to the student’s performance on the writing sample of the LSAT. Furthermore, I have never met nor heard of a law school awarding a student admittance or a scholarship because of said performance.
You will send your chosen law schools plenty of examples of your written work; why would they judge your writing ability on what you wrote under the timed pressure of the LSAT? Law schools don’t expect perfection on the writing sample. Simply put, the writing section doesn’t really play a large factor in your law school admission decision. So don’t stress about it too much.
Having acknowledged that, I’ll still explain the writing section so you don’t freak out about it.
The writing sample will include a prompt. This prompt will give you a decision problem and two courses of action. You must then choose between these two options and defend your choice. There won’t be a “right” or “wrong” choice. Law schools just want to verify that you have a good enough command of the English language, grammar, and organization to write papers and complete your assignments.
All of the law schools you apply to will receive a copy of your writing sample. However, so long as you stick to the topic, write something logical in a somewhat organized manner, and don’t completely blow it off, most law schools probably won’t scrutinize the details of what you wrote down.
Personally, I think that one of the hardest challenges of the LSAT is learning to answer the questions quickly enough that you have time to finish each section. Remember, you only have 35 minutes per section. And since sections have about 25 questions each, that only gives you just over one minute per question.
So when you take a practice exam, make sure you use a timer. After all, learning how to pace yourself is one of the most important tips to increase your score.
The LSAT has 5 sections with multiple-choice questions: 1 Analytical Reasoning, 1 Reading Comprehension, 2 Logical Reasoning, and 1 Experimental (variable) section. In addition to these MCQ sections, you must also complete a writing sample.
Of the 5 MCQ sections, 4 of them count toward your raw score: 1 Analytical Reasoning, 1 Reading Comprehension, and 2 Logical Reasoning sections. However, the Experimental section and the writing sample are not factored into your raw or scaled score.
Also called the “Logic Games” section, this section has 4 problem sets that test your ability to understand logical relationships.
In the LR section, you’ll be asked to read an argument or passage and identify the logical implications. The multiple-choice questions ask you to analyze and evaluate these arguments based on the given facts and assumptions.
In my opinion, no—the writing sample is not difficult. So, read the prompt and write an essay that has some structure. Then, make sure it stays on topic and follows the rules of good grammar.
Unless you have been approved for accommodations, each section is 35 minutes.
The sections of the LSAT can be confusing and frustrating. After all, you only receive scores for 4 multiple-choice sections, but you won’t know which 4 it will be. So, you must treat all 5 like they count. But don’t worry about the writing section.
To get ready for the sections that do count, learn more about your best LSAT prep options.
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John Wilson Booth grew up in Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. He moved to Salt Lake City after graduation and began studying for the LSAT. His cold diagnostic score was a 154 and he self-studied to a 171. Now, he works as a writer as he decides which law school to attend.