LSAT Study Guide for Aspiring Law School Students

Getting into law school can be a competitive process. If you’re contemplating a career as an attorney, you may want to become familiar with law school admissions requirements. One way to stand out from other applicants is to get a high score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This LSAT study guide may help prepare you to begin studying for the exam.

What Is the LSAT?

The LSAT is a two-part, skills-based test administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Part one is five sections of multiple-choice questions, and part two is an unscored writing sample. This test is used by many, but not all, graduate schools to help them determine who is admitted into their law school. A higher LSAT score is one of several factors that can make you more competitive when applying to law schools.

Can You Get into Law School Without Taking the LSAT?

Not all accredited law schools, including some online JD programs, require the LSAT. For years, the LSAT was required for all law schools because of rules created by the American Bar Association (ABA). But in 2018, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar made a standardized test for admission to law school optional

There are several law schools that no longer require the LSAT, including: 

  • The University of Dayton (sponsored)
  • The University of Arizona Law School
  • Georgetown University
  • The University of Hawaii Law School
  • Northwestern University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Harvard Law School 

Many law schools will accept a Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score instead of the LSAT. This option is helpful for people who are considering law school and other graduate programs. They can prepare for only one test instead of taking both the GRE and LSAT. 

FAQ About the LSAT 

How Many Sections are in the LSAT?

There are two parts to the LSAT. The first part is five sections of multiple-choice questions. One section is devoted to reading comprehension, another is devoted to analytical reasoning, and two sections test your logical reasoning. The fifth section varies depending on the test and is used to evaluate new questions; it is not part of your score. The second part of the LSAT is an unscored essay. You’re given a prompt that presents a problem. You must choose between two possible positions and defend your answer.

How Much Does the LSAT Cost?

For the 2020-2021 year, the LSAT, with the writing portion, costs $200 each time you take it. 

The Credential Assembly Service (CAS) costs $195. CAS simplifies the application process. By using this service, all your admissions materials are gathered in one place—LSAC. Then, LSAC sends a full report with your LSAT score and materials for every law school application. Each law school report costs $45. 

How Long is the LSAT?

As of September 2019, the LSAT is digital. Test takers use tablets provided to them at the testing site. The five multiple-choice sections take about three hours. The LSAT writing portion is administered separately online through a secure platform, and test-takers have 35 minutes to complete it. 

How is the LSAT Scored?

All multiple-choice questions on the LSAT are weighted the same. Your score is based on the number of questions you answer correctly. There are no deductions for getting an answer wrong, which is why it is better to answer all the questions than to leave some blank. Your raw score is based on the number of questions you got right, but then it is converted to the LSAT scale between 120 and 180 points. 

What is a Good LSAT Score?

LSAT scores are between 120 and 180, with an average score of roughly 150. Most high-ranking law schools are looking for test scores in the mid-160s to 170s. A score above 165 usually helps you gain admission to many law schools; scores above 170 may help you get into the top law schools in the country. Students with scores in the 150s shouldn’t panic, though. Developing a monthly study plan could help you prepare for the LSAT and achieve your best score.

LSAT Practice Questions

LSAC and other organizations provide many free practice questions, along with the answers and reasoning online. These are great resources when studying for the LSAT. 

Below are practice questions published by LSAC. 

Reading Comprehension Practice Question

Passage: In economics, the term “speculative bubble” refers to a large upward move in an asset’s price driven not by the asset’s fundamentals—that is, by the earnings derivable from the asset—but rather by mere speculation that someone else will be willing to pay a higher price for it. The price increase is then followed by a dramatic decline in price, due to a loss in confidence that the price will continue to rise, and the “bubble” is said to have burst. According to Charles Mackay’s classic nineteenth-century account, the seventeenth-century Dutch tulip market provides an example of a speculative bubble. But the economist Peter Garber challenges Mackay’s view, arguing that there is no evidence that the Dutch tulip market really involved a speculative bubble. 

By the seventeenth century, the Netherlands had become a center of cultivation and development of new tulip varieties, and a market had developed in which rare varieties of bulbs sold at high prices. For example, a Semper Augustus bulb sold in 1625 for an amount of gold worth about U.S. $11,000 in 1999. Common bulb varieties, on the other hand, sold for very low prices. According to Mackay, by 1636 rapid price rises attracted speculators, and prices of many varieties surged upward from November 1636 through January 1637. Mackay further states that in February 1637 prices suddenly collapsed; bulbs could not be sold at 10 percent of their peak values. By 1739, the prices of all the most prized kinds of bulbs had fallen to no more than one two-hundredth of 1 percent of Semper Augustus’s peak price. 

Garber acknowledges that bulb prices increased dramatically from 1636 to 1637 and eventually reached very low levels. But he argues that this episode should not be described as a speculative bubble, for the increase and eventual decline in bulb prices can be explained in terms of the fundamentals. Garber argues that a standard pricing pattern occurs for new varieties of flowers. When a particularly prized variety is developed, its original bulb sells for a high price. Thus, the dramatic rise in the price of some original tulip bulbs could have resulted as tulips in general, and certain varieties in particular, became fashionable. However, as the prized bulbs become more readily available through reproduction from the original bulb, their price falls rapidly; after less than 30 years, bulbs sell at reproduction cost. But this does not mean that the high prices of original bulbs are irrational, for earnings derivable from the millions of bulbs descendent from the original bulbs can be very high, even if each individual descendent bulb commands a very low price. Given that an original bulb can generate a reasonable return on investment even if the price of descendent bulbs decreases dramatically, a rapid rise and eventual fall of tulip bulb prices need not indicate a speculative bubble. 

Question: The phrase “standard pricing pattern” as used in the middle of the last paragraph most nearly means a pricing pattern 

  1. against which other pricing patterns are to be measured
  2. that conforms to a commonly agreed-upon criterion
  3. that is merely acceptable
  4. that regularly recurs in certain types of cases
  5. that serves as an exemplar 

Analytical Reasoning Section Practice Question

Passage: A charitable foundation awards grants in exactly four areas—medical services, theater arts, wildlife preservation, and youth services—each grant being in one of these areas. One or more grants are awarded in each of the four quarters of a calendar year. Additionally, over the course of a calendar year, the following must obtain: 

  • Grants are awarded in all four areas.
  • No more than six grants are awarded.
  • No grants in the same area are awarded in the same quarter or in consecutive quarters.
  • Exactly two medical services grants are awarded.
  • A wildlife preservation grant is awarded in the second quarter. 

Question: If a wildlife preservation grant and a youth services grant are awarded in the same quarter of a particular calendar year, then any of the following could be true that year EXCEPT: 

  1. A medical services grant is awarded in the second quarter.
  2. A theater arts grant is awarded in the first quarter.
  3. A theater arts grant is awarded in the second quarter.
  4. A wildlife preservation grant is awarded in the fourth quarter.
  5. A youth services grant is awarded in the third quarter. 

Logical Reasoning Section Practice Question

Passage: The supernova event of 1987 is interesting in that there is still no evidence of the neutron star that current theory says should have remained after a supernova of that size. This is in spite of the fact that many of the most sensitive instruments ever developed have searched for the tell-tale pulse of radiation that neutron stars emit. Thus, current theory is wrong in claiming that supernovas of a certain size always produce neutron stars. 

Question: Which one of the following, if true, most strengthens the argument? 

  1. Most supernova remnants that astronomers have detected have a neutron star nearby.
  2. Sensitive astronomical instruments have detected neutron stars much farther away than the location of the 1987 supernova.
  3. The supernova of 1987 was the first that scientists were able to observe in progress.
  4. Several important features of the 1987 supernova are correctly predicted by the current theory.
  5. Some neutron stars are known to have come into existence by a cause other than a supernova explosion. 

5 Tips: How to Study for the LSAT

  1. Establish Your Baseline Score

    The first step in preparing for the LSAT is getting to know the test. Learn more about the types of questions asked in each section. Read through sample test questions and their explanations on the LSAC website or through other test prep organizations. Take a practice LSAT before you begin studying. It’s good to know your baseline score to determine how much preparation you need, and which types of questions give you the most trouble. 

  2. Purchase Preparation Materials

    There are many LSAT preparation guides. Take a look at the most recent study guides and any known pros and cons of each. Some materials cover all portions of the test, while others focus on a specific element like reading comprehension or logic games. Choose two or three books to help you get started. 

  3. Consider Taking an LSAT Prep Course

    You have to choose between an LSAT prep course and self-study. Which you land on depends on your learning style, schedule and budget. Do you prefer to listen to lectures or read a textbook yourself? Do you want to be able to go to someone for help, or are you prepared to analyze the answers on your own? LSAT prep courses are helpful, but they aren’t necessary. 

  4. Create an LSAT Study Schedule

    For most people, two to three months of studying is enough. But if you have a particularly busy life between school, work and family, then consider starting your studying schedule further out from the test. Many LSAT preparation organizations suggest studying up to 300 hours for the LSAT. 

  5. Take Full Practice Tests

    Part of the challenge of the LSAT is the time crunch. The only way to truly prepare is to time yourself and take full practice tests. You can access real LSAT tests through LSAC and other organizations. Dozens of organizations hold licenses to use official LSAT materials. 

LSAT Resources to Help Prepare You for Test Day 

LSAT Study Guide Books

LSAT Video Tutorials

LSAT Prep Courses

Taking the LSAT May Give You More Options

While this LSAT study guide offers comprehensive tips for preparing for the exam, remember that the LSAT is not absolutely necessary these days—but don’t dismiss it altogether, either. Although many law schools will accept prospective students without an LSAT score or with a GRE score, taking the LSAT may give you more options. It also prepares you for the intense studying you will undertake during law school.

Last Updated August 2020