Introduction to the LSAT

What is the LSAT?

The LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) is the graduate exam issued by the LSAC (Law School Admissions Council) to provide law schools with a uniform assessment of applicants to gauge their aptitude. Combined with your UGPA, it will be the chief driver of your admissions outcomes.

More information about the LSAT can be found at LSAC’s official LSAT information page.

Structure of the LSAT

The LSAT is divided into six 35 minute sections on test day. There is a 15-minute break between the third and fourth sections, and any time between the remaining sections is negligible. The first five sections will contain four sections – one analytical reasoning (logic games), two logical reasoning, and one reading comprehension – that contribute to your score out of 180 and an unscored experimental section. The experimental section will be an additional logic games, logical reasoning, or reading comprehension section, and it will be indistinguishable from the scored sections. The order of these five sections is entirely random. The sixth and final section is the often disregarded writing section which is unscored but visible to schools.

LSAT Dates

The LSAT was historically offered four times per year. Now, the LSAT is offered six times per year. There are three key differences between the various dates: whether it starts in the morning or afternoon, whether the test is early enough to apply for that cycle, and whether you receive a detailed score report. All three of these differences can be significant. Summer tests take place during the afternoon (rather than 8:30 am) which can be a sizable benefit for those not at 100% in the morning. Summer and Fall tests will also both be early enough for the current application cycle whereas waiting for a Winter exam score might hurt your application. Finally, some tests do not issue a detailed score report which is undesirable, as you will not receive a helpful breakdown of where you erred. For more information on this last point, click here.

More information on the different dates the test is offered is available at 180pedia’s LSAT Important Dates page (coming soon) and at LSAC’s dates and deadline page and on this attachment.

More information on the difference between disclosed and undisclosed LSAT administrations is available at LSAC’s test disclosures page.

More information can be found at
LSAC’s day of test page.

Changes to the LSAT

While the test and numbers driven admissions has changed little over the years, there have been more rapid changes in the past year.

In regards to the format of the LSAT, LSAC piloted a digital version on May 20th, 2017. As of early 2017, this was only a pilot. The move is likely aimed to help reduce the turnaround time for scores.

In regards to the content of the LSAT, there has not been a terrible number of changes. There has appeared to be an increased tendency to include logic games that do not fall neatly into the commonly masterable formats of sequencing, grouping, etc.

In regards to its role in admissions, Harvard Law School stated in early 2017 that they would begin to accept the GRE in place of the LSAT for admissions (they did), and many law schools are following along. While it is hard to know how Harvard will use GRE scores or what GRE scores would be desirable for admissions, most tend to think that a high GRE will not replace a low LSAT –
i.e., someone with a low LSAT on record will still need to improve their LSAT, and a high GRE will not replace that still reportable LSAT. Ultimately, it will probably depend on a lot on how the GRE scores are reported in rankings.