Taking the LSAT

What is the LSAT?

The LSAT (Law School Admission Test) is a standardized test required for admission to most law schools. Your LSAT score, along with your college GPA, is one of the most important factors considered when applying to law school.

The LSAT consists of four multiple-choice sections in the following categories:

Additionally, the LSAT includes an unscored writing sample, which is sent to the law schools you apply to.

Descriptions of each section, including sample questions and strategies for success, can be found by following the links above.

When should I take the LSAT?

The June prior to submitting your application is an ideal time to take the LSAT, as the June test allows your LSAT score to be reported in advance of most application deadlines. The September test also provides your score in time to decide whether to retake the test in December, if necessary, and still meet many application deadlines.

That said, any time of year is appropriate to take the LSAT, so long as the score is available in time to include with your application. Be sure you will have enough time to study for the test! Factors such as school, work, or family obligations may affect your availability to study at different times of the year.

LSAC maintains a list of all LSAT testing and score release dates.

What score do I need on the LSAT?

LSAT scores range between 120 and 180, with a score of 150 representing approximately the 50th percentile of scores, and 160 representing approximately the 80th percentile.

Law schools vary in what they consider to be a competitive LSAT score for admission. The LSAC Official Guide to Law Schools shows you the median LSAT scores for schools’ most recently admitted classes, and allows you to apply your undergraduate GPA and LSAT score (real or hypothetical) to get estimated odds of admission. By using this information you can design personalized LSAT score goals to guide your preparation.

Before taking the LSAT, it is important to have multiple practice test scores to inform whether you are prepared to earn your target score. Do not try for a baseline score or “see how it goes” with the actual LSAT.

Should I take the test more than once?

If there was an extenuating circumstance such as illness that affected your performance, it may be worth considering retaking the LSAT. Otherwise, LSAC reports that barring extenuating circumstances, LSAT scores generally rise only slightly when retaking the test.

Because LSAT scores are only estimates of proficiency, individual LSAT scores are reported within score bands of approximately plus-or-minus 3 points that represent a statistical standard error. However, law schools are advised to consider your average LSAT score, and the score band is narrower when applied to this average.  This means that unless you can significantly increase your average score (i.e. by scoring 3-4 points higher by retaking the LSAT), it may be worth sticking with your original score in order to maintain the benefit of the doubt that comes with a more generous score band.

In any case, before you consider retaking the LSAT, it is important to have multiple practice test scores to inform whether you are prepared to earn your target score.

How can I prepare for the LSAT?

Because the LSAT tests you on ways of thinking rather than on content knowledge, it is not something you can cram for. Developing the logical and analytical skills needed for the LSAT requires requires ongoing practice, and there are a variety of ways to develop the skills needed for success on the LSAT:

Practice Tests

Practice tests in test-like conditions can be a great way prepare for the real thing.

  • Willamette University offers free practice LSAT tests two weeks prior to official LSAT test dates. Registration is required, and information can be found at Willamette University College of Law’s Admissions calendar.
  • LSAC provides a copy of a real LSAT test that you can study on your own.
  • Search the UO Library catalog for “LSAT” and you will find links to free LSAT practice tests and logic games by LearningExpress.
  • Test prep companies also offer practice tests from time to time. Subscribe to the UO Prelaw Advising Listserv to receive updates about upcoming practice tests.

Books

LSAT prep books can be an affordable and flexible way to practice for the LSAT on your own.

  • You can visit a local bookstore or read online reviews to get an idea of what publisher and format will best support your goals.
  • UO Libraries also has free ebook versions of some LSAT prep books that you can download and read for free. Simply search the library catalog for “LSAT” and under Material Type select “ebook”.

LSAT Prep Courses

While LSAT prep courses can be a significant financial investment, they also provide a level of structure and accountability that can be helpful depending on your learning style. LSAT prep courses can take place online or in person, and often involve many practice tests.

Do your research on what test prep service might be best for you. Additionally, keep an eye out for discount codes that can reduce the cost of courses by hundreds of dollars.

You can also subscribe to the UO Prelaw Advising Listserv to receive updates about prep services and discounts available to UO students.

Apps, tutors, web resources etc.

  • Velocity Test Prep offers a series of solutions videos for a variety of past LSAT questions (all types).
  • 7Sage offers a series of solutions videos for past logic games in addition to a variety of study strategies and other resources to prepare for the LSAT.
  • LSAT Trainer offers a selection of solutions videos, LSAT tips and application tips for free.

There are a variety of private and commercial resources available to support you in the LSAT prep process. If you find resources worth recommending, let the UO Prelaw Advisor know and we can add them here!

Is there any financial assistance for taking the LSAT?