Don’t be Scared of the LSAT

So you think you want to go to law school?  After answering “yes” to that important question, you’ll need to take the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test).  If you’ve never heard of the LSAT, I suggest visiting LSAC.org.  This website is a great starting point for people newly interested in attending law school.

What is the LSAT?

The LSAT is a standardized test consisting of five multiple choice sections and a writing sample.  Each section is 35 minutes long.  There are three multiple choice question types: reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning (logic games).  Although the test includes five multiple choice sections, you will only be scored on four of the sections – 1 reading comprehension section, 2 analytical reasoning sections, and 1 logical reasoning section.  The fifth, unscored section is used to test experimental questions.  The placement of the unscored section varies and it can be any one of the three question types.  Your LSAT score is based on the number of questions answered correctly and there are no deductions for wrong answers.  This raw score is then converted to a scaled score that ranges from 120-180.  The scores are scaled to account for minor differences in difficulty between tests.  The LSAT is typically offered four times a year – June, October, December, and February.  Because an application is not complete until we receive an LSAT score, it is important to take the LSAT earlier in the application cycle.  However, Chicago-Kent does accept June LSAT scores for admission to the next incoming fall class (ex. the June 2016 LSAT for the Fall 2016 entering class).

How do schools view the LSAT?

The LSAT is extremely important in law school admissions.  It is no secret that your LSAT score and GPA are two of the most important factors in your application.  However, just how much weight your LSAT score receives depends on the specific law school.  At Chicago-Kent, each admissions file is individually reviewed and the Admissions Committee takes a holistic approach to each applicant’s qualifications.  There is no minimum GPA or LSAT required to apply to Chicago-Kent.  Although the GPA and LSAT are important criteria, consideration is also given to non-numerical factors.  Particular emphasis is given to the nature and rigor of the undergraduate curriculum, writing ability, graduate work, professional experience, extracurricular activities, diversity, the personal statement, and letters of recommendation, particularly those from academic sources.

What should I do to prepare for the LSAT?

Practice practice practice.  Because the LSAT is said to test skills and knowledge that can be developed over time, it is important to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the question types.  It is also important to take at least one practice test under actual time constraints.  To prepare, many applicants decide to take a prep course to help them achieve the best score possible.  However, prep courses are all different and have different methods for helping test takers.  Therefore, it is important to do your research and pick a prep company that has the same study philosophy as you.  LSAC.org also has old LSAT tests (with answer explanations) for purchase.  While some prep courses write their own LSAT questions for their students, the LSAC.org tests are great because you can practice with actual LSAT questions.  In recent years, some applicants have also used their first LSAT score as a benchmark for future test preparation with the intention of taking it again at a later date.  This study method has become popular because more and more schools are no longer averaging multiple LSAT scores.  However,  applicants should proceed with caution.  Unless your LSAT score is canceled, every score is available in your CAS Report.  Therefore, you should do your best on every test.  It can raise a red flag if two scores are drastically different.

Any last advice?

The LSAT is a necessary evil, but you’ll survive!  Remember to get plenty of sleep the night before, or at least two night’s before (you can run on adrenaline if you don’t sleep the night before).  Also, the LSAT is a marathon not a sprint, so stick to how you practiced and be confident.  If the test does not go as planned, don’t panic.  You can always cancel your score and/or sign up for another test.

If you have any questions regarding the LSAT, do not hesitate to contact our office at admissions@kentlaw.iit.edu.

– Emily

Disclaimer:  As with anything posted on this blog, these are my opinions based on my experience taking the LSAT and as a member of the Chicago-Kent Admissions staff.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask!