Everything You Need to Know about the LSAT

The LSAT is a law school test that will be factored into an admissions decision.

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What is the LSAT?

The LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, is an exam that is used to determine whether an applicant should be admitted to law school and has the ability to thrive as a law student. It consists of six 35-minute sections: one reading comprehension, one analytical reasoning, two logical reasoning, one variable section (used to test new questions; it’s unscored), and one writing section. Though the writing section is unscored, copies of your response will be submitted to your schools. The remaining sections are composed of multiple-choice questions.

Who is required to take the LSAT?

Students who are hoping to gain admission to law school following the completion of their undergraduate degrees are required to take the LSAT and submit their scores as part of their applications. If you have further questions about application requirements or required scores, check with the admissions department of the law schools to which you are applying.

Typically, you must take the LSAT no later than December in the year before you are hoping to begin school. Taking it earlier so that you have a chance to retest and improve your score is also a safe option.

What types of questions can I expect on the LSAT?

Questions in the reading comprehension section are intended to determine an individual’s ability to understand complicated written material such as would be found in law school and in the law profession. Each section may contain one long or two short passages that test takers must respond to. Not all passages explicitly refer to or address law; students may encounter passages that cover any variety of academic subjects. Though students may be unfamiliar with the topic addressed in a passage, all questions are able to be answered after close reading.

In law school, students need to be able to understand the rules and regulations that exist in contracts, cases, and other documents, so the analytical reasoning section is intended to gauge a student’s logical abilities. Students may be given a set of statements or rules (on any topic) and must then reason what else may be true about the topic, though not all questions follow this exact format. Others may ask students to understand relationships, solve problems, or identify statements that would result in the same outcome. These questions are much like puzzles.

The logical reasoning section tests a student’s understanding of arguments, whether they are building their own or trying to understand someone else’s, which is an essential skill for those entering the field of law. Students must read short passages from conversations, newspaper or magazine articles, academic sources, or advertisements and answer related questions.

Questions in the above sections are all multiple choice, but there is an additional writing section in which students must respond to a given prompt. Similar to other standardized tests, no background knowledge of the prompt’s subject is required, but students must be able to craft a well-developed argument and use the English language well. The written section is not scored, but it is submitted to law schools as part of the LSAT score report; admissions counselors will consider the essay response when making their decision.

How do I sign up for the LSAT?

You can sign up for the LSAT by making an LSAC (Law School Admission Council) account online. You will be asked to submit some standard information (name, birthday, social security number, address, citizenship, ethnicity, and contact information) as well as information about where and when you earned your bachelor’s degree. Once you have an account, you can sign up for the LSAT online. If you choose to take the test more than once, be aware that you cannot take the test more than three times within a two-year period. Through your LSAC account, you can also sign up for the Credential Assembly Service.

Use of the Credential Assembly Service is required by many law schools as a way to simplify the application process. Instead of submitting separate packets to each school to which you apply (with transcripts, letters of recommendation, LSAT scores, and LSAT writing prompts), the Credential Assembly Service will create a Law School Report on your behalf that it sends to each of your prospective schools. To use the Credential Assembly Service, you must pay the $175.00 fee; your account will be active for five years from the day you pay.

When is the LSAT offered?

The LSAT testing season runs between June and February and includes four sittings offered worldwide (June, September, December, and February). You can find the latest test dates and deadlines here.

How much does the LSAT cost?

Currently, the LSAT costs $180.00. If you register late, change you test center, or change your test date you will be required to pay an additional $90.00.

How do I make changes to my LSAT sitting?

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To be eligible to change your test center, the deadline for test center changes must not have passed and there must be space available for you to take the test in the new test center. You may request this change:

  • Online through your LSAC account
  • By calling (215) 968-1001
  • By faxing your name, account number, date, current and desired test center, credit card number, and signature to (215) 968-1277

To be eligible to change your test date, the deadline for test date changes must not have passed and you must be requesting to change your date to another sitting in the current year (June through February). You can change your test date:

  • Online through your LSAC account
  • By mailing a Test Date Change Form with payment information to:
    • LSAC
      PO Box 2000-T
      Newtown, PA 18940
  • By faxing a Test Date Change Form with credit card information to (215) 968-1277

If you cannot make it to your test date and the deadline for test date changes has passed, you can withdraw your registration instead. If you do this by the registration refund deadline, you will receive a partial refund of $50; otherwise you are liable for the entire fee (you can withdraw your registration through your LSAC account through 11:59 p.m. EST the night before you are scheduled to take the LSAT). You can request a refund by completing a Refund Request Form and:

  • Emailing it to LSACrefunds@LSAC.org
  • Faxing it to (215) 968-1277
  • Mailing it to:
    • LSAC
      PO Box 2000-T
      Newtown, PA 18940

What if I don’t live near a testing center?

If you live more than 100 miles away and cannot travel to an established LSAT testing center, you can request that a testing center be opened somewhere more accessible to you. All requests must be made by the Nonpublished Test Center Registration deadline, which is about two months before the date of the test. You will have to pay an additional $275.00 (within the United States) or $370.00 (internationally) for this service. You may request a unpublished testing center by:

  • Faxing your LSAC account number; the names of cities near your location; your credit card information; and whether you’d like a refund, your registration transferred to your current established test center on the next test date, or your registration transferred to a different established test center should your request be unable to be processed to (215) 968-1277
  • Mailing the same information with payment to:
    • LSAC
      Test Administration
      ATTN: Nonpublished Test Center Request
      662 Penn Street
      Newtown, PA 18940

There are no guarantees that your request will be accommodated.

Are there fee waivers available?

Yes, there are fee waivers available for students who have a complete inability to pay for the LSAT. You can learn more about fee waiver eligibility and the application process here.

What if I need testing accommodations?

There are accommodations available for students with disabilities as well as those who observe the Sabbath on Saturdays, when tests are usually administered. If you are interested in learning more about accommodations for students with disabilities, click here. If you need information about non-Saturday testing, click here.

How is the LSAT scored?

The LSAT is scored on a scale from 120 to 180 based on the number of questions that you answered correctly. You are not penalized for wrong answers.

How do I send my score report to law schools?

Your score report will automatically be sent to all of the law schools to which you’ve applied, but when you register for the LSAT, you will be given the option to have your scores sent to additional schools. Your score report includes your most recent score as well as the results from all LSATs you’ve taken since June 2011, your average LSAT score, your percentile, and your score band.

If you have signed up for the Credential Assembly Service, you will need to pay for Law School Reports for each of the schools to which you apply ($30.00); you can do this online through your LSAC account or by calling (215) 968-1001. Your Law School Report contains not only your LSAT scores and essay response, but also your transcripts, letters of recommendation, a summary of your academic credentials, and other documents and information required for your applications. If you retake the LSAT within five years of paying for the Credential Assembly Service, your scores and an updated Law School Report will be resent to all of the schools to which you’ve applied.

How do I prepare for the LSAT?

As with most standardized tests, the more you study, the better you’ll do. Familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will be asked (reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning) and take practice tests (in English or Spanish). You can sign up for prep courses through Kaplan or the Princeton Review (though it will cost you at least $799.00) though Kaplan does also offer some free materials online and the Princeton Review offers free sample classes and practice tests. You could also choose to buy a prep book, which will be considerably cheaper than a class, provided you have the motivation to work through it on your own. Peterson’s also offers some free online resources, or you can buy two practices tests for $19.95. Whether you decide to spend money or not is up to you, but you will need to practice if you want to score your best.

Finally, be sure you print out your admission ticket the evening before test day; you will not be admitted into the testing center without it. Your admission ticket confirms where and when the test is so you can be sure you head to the right location in the morning.

What should I expect on test day?

A girl reads up on how to apply to law school.

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On test day, you will need your admission ticket and a government issued photo ID to be allowed to sit for the test. You may also bring a gallon-sized plastic bag (like a Ziploc) into the room. You’re permitted to have pencils, erasers, highlighters, and a pencil sharpener; your wallet and keys; tissues and feminine hygiene products; a snack and a beverage (in a plastic container, a pouch, or a box). All of the items you bring to the center must fit in the bag. You may wear a watch, but it must be analog. Leave everything else (cell phone, headphones, laptop, wearable fitness devices, books, pens, etc.) in the car. Nothing else is permitted in the center.

Once you are in the testing room, you’ll be assigned a seat. Proctors will keep time and instruct you through the actual exam. After the third section, you will be given a 15-minute break during which you can snack, use the bathroom, and leave your seat. If you need to use the bathroom during the test, you may do so at the expense of your time and with permission from the proctor. No extensions are granted.

Good luck!

About Megan Clendenon

Megan C. is obsessed with Cincinnati-style chili, Louisville basketball, and Scandinavian crime fiction. She has lived in six different states and held 12 different jobs since beginning her undergraduate degree at Carleton College in 2008. The wanderlust abated somewhat in recent years, as Megan settled in Texas from 2013 to 2016 to finish a master’s degree in geosciences, write a thesis on the future horrors that stem from climate change, and get married. During her free time, you will find Megan sitting on the couch, cheering for her Louisville Cardinals, planning future adventures abroad, and snuggling with her dog, Tiger. She currently lives outside of Washington D.C.

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