The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) features several sections. To do well on the exam, you must learn what these sections are and what they consist of. Therefore, I’ll discuss the sections of the LSAT so you can be prepared.
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 in these sections is about 100.
The other MCQ section, which is called the variable 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, the 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||~27 multiple-choice questions||Can be Arguments, Games, or Reading Comprehension||
|35 minutes||35 minutes||35 minutes||
|N/A||4 passages: 3 passages with one author and 1 combination of passages from 2 different sources discussing the same topic
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 text, determine main ideas of passages, find relevant information within a text, understand a dense, scholarly text||N/A||
Tests ability to form an argument based on given facts, support an argument, use written English to express an idea
What you should worry about instead of the writing sample is Logical Reasoning (LR). Two of these 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 unfortunate majority of us don’t possess these skills. But luckily, we can cultivate and develop our skills in logic. Doing so can dramatically improve your performance in the Logical Reasoning sections.
The Analytical Reasoning (AR) section is the shortest on the test. Usually referred to as “Logic Games,” this section has 4 problem sets of 5 to 7 questions each.
Each individual set is a fictional scenario involving the ordering or grouping of items. A set of conditions determine the rules governing this “game”.
This section tests the student’s ability to understand logical relationships and to use that understanding to draw inferences.
To do well in 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 is not. Analytical Reasoning is the section that most students see the fastest and most dramatic improvement in, though. So, don’t let an initial poor performance worry you.
Reading Comprehension (RC) is the longest section on the test. It is also the most similar to the material you may have seen on other standardized tests.
This section comprises 4 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 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 in that the 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, the student may see huge improvements even in this difficult section.
As we 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 on your test 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.
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 law school’s plenty of examples of your written work; why would they judge your writing ability on what you scribbled down (with a freaking pencil) at the end of an exhausting exam?
Simply put, the writing section doesn’t really matter.
Having acknowledged that, I’ll still explain what the writing section is so that you don’t freak out about it.
The writing sample will include a prompt. This prompt will give you a decision problem and 2 courses of action. You must then choose between these 2 options and defend your choice.
All of the law schools you apply to will receive a copy of your writing sample. However, so long as you don’t summarize 50 Shades of Gray or draw swastikas all over the paper, they probably won’t care what you wrote down.
For these reasons, don’t worry about the writing sample.
The sections of the LSAT can be confusing and frustrating. And 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.