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How Important is the LSAT to Law School Admissions? A Guide to the Law School Admissions Test

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The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is the most common standardized test for applicants to top law schools in the United States and Canada. The half-day exam tests three areas: analytic reasoning, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension. Each section is tested through a series of 35 multiple choice questions. In addition to the scored portion, there are two additional sections: a section of 35 sample questions for future exams and a writing sample. The examination is administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) seven times per year at its testing centers throughout the world.

How is the LSAT scored?

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Three of the five sections on the LSAT contribute to the tester’s final score. Unlike some standardized tests, there is no penalty for wrong answers as only correct answers contribute to a tester’s “raw scores”. Raw scores for each examination are then distributed along a bell curve from 120 to 180 with a median score of 150. Therefore, a score of 151 would place the tester in the top half of all test takers for that exam. A score of 165 would place the tester in the top 90th percentile. Only one percent of test takers score above 173.

Is the LSAT required for admission to Law Schools?

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All 205 Law Schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) accept the LSAT as part of their admission process. However, a growing number of law schools are beginning to accept the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as an alternative for the LSAT. In either case, the ABA accreditation process requires some standardized testing as these tests are a primary indicator of a law school graduate’s ability to pass a Bar Exam after graduation which is a requirement for anyone to practice law. Almost all jurisdictions require a law degree to practice law.

How significant is the LSAT to admission to Law School?

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Admission to law school is based upon a number of factors including LSAT score, undergraduate academic performance and your undergraduate major, recommendations as well as prior life experience. The LSAT, however, remains a critical factor in admissions since it factors heavily in the US News & World Report rankings for law schools. The LSAT score, therefore, is considered by most to be the most determinative factor in law school admissions. Additionally, since it tests logic and reasoning (rather than memorized subjects), the LSAT is a better indicator of a student’s success in law school, particularly the first year of a traditional law school curriculum.

Can I take the LSAT more than once?

An applicant to law school may take the LSAT as many as three times in a single testing year, five times over five years, and no more than 7 times in a lifetime. Most schools only consider the highest score reported by their applicants. Other schools, however, consider the average of the two highest scores of their applicants. The LSAC recommends averaging scores that are within 5 points of each other while taking the higher score of two tests if the difference is greater than 5 points.

How should I prepare for the LSAT?

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Given the importance of the LSAT score to the admissions process, adequate preparation is critical to achieving the best possible score. The main preparation is to practice taking sample questions from all three areas tested. Sample questions are available from the LSAC. A number of companies also have comprehensive LSAT prep courses or, in the alternative, self-study guides for students who prefer the flexibility of self study. There are also a number of online LSAT prep courses that allow students to prepare on their schedule rather than traditional courses.

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