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The Ultimate Guide to the LSAT for International Students

If you want to become a lawyer or politician, you may be wondering what is the LSAT? Scoring high on this entrance exam is key to admission to top grad school programs in law and political science.

An attorney wearing a pinstriped suit stands with her back to the camera facing a jury in the background.

Planning on going to law school in the United States? Read on and learn everything you need to know about the LSAT!

What is the LSAT? The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized exam administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) that is required to apply to most law school graduate programs in the United States.

What does the LSAT measure? This half-day standardized test is designed to assess reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and verbal proficiency. English comprehension factors heavily into success on the LSAT, too, so foreign students who are just starting to learn English should set aside extra prep time for language studies.

Here is everything you need to know about this popular grad school test. This includes how long does the LSAT take, how the LSAT score is calculated, and what is considered a good LSAT score. 

What is the LSAT? 

The LSAT General Test is a standardized law school admissions exam that covers verbal and logical reasoning, as well as analytical writing. 

How hard is the LSAT? 

This grad school test requires students to analyze and evaluate written material, which is particularly important for international students who do not speak English as their first language. Since law school admissions in the United States are quite competitive, your score is important to the law school admissions process.

What is the structure of the LSAT? How is it scored?

More specifically, how many sections does the LSAT exam have? How many questions are on it? How is each section scored?

The LSAT has six sections: one unscored writing section, and five thirty-five-minute digital multiple-choice sections taken on a tablet at the testing center. Four of these sections will be scored, while the one experimental (or variable) section is unscored. Test takers do not know in advance which of the sections is unscored. Sections are administered in varying orders for different test takers to prevent cheating. 

The LSAT sections include: 

  • Two twenty-five-question logical reasoning sections that involve dissecting and analyzing a short argument or set of facts test to identify the main assumption, alternate conclusions, errors and omissions, similar arguments, and elements that strengthen or weaken the argument.

  • One twenty-six- to twenty-eight-question reading comprehension section consisting of four 400–500-word passages with five to eight related questions each. Topics may include law, arts and humanities, physical sciences, or social sciences, and require test takers to identify the main idea, specific information, inferences, and/or writing structure.

  • One twenty-two- to twenty-four-question analytical reasoning section, consisting of four logic games that require grouping, matching, and ordering elements, based on a premise and set of conditions and relationships between subjects that set the basis for conclusions based on the statements. There is not a single right answer, but test takers are judged on their analytical capabilities. Many consider this to be the LSAT’s most difficult section and the one where many test takers focus most of their practice.

  • The variable section is where administrators test new questions for future exams, and the results are not factored into the final score. But remember, there is no way to tell which section is the variable while taking the test.

  • Finally, the writing exam is completed separately, on the test taker’s own computer, using a secure proctoring software. Test takers have thirty-five minutes to read a decision prompt or problem, plus decision-making criteria, and then write an essay arguing for one of two options. The focus is on the writer’s ability to argue for the chosen standpoint and also against its opposition. This section is not scored, but a scan of the essay is sent along with the scaled numerical score to applicants’ prospective law schools.

How long is the LSAT? How long does it take to get scores?

The digital LSAT takes about four hours, including breaks. Scores are typically received three to four weeks after the exam.

What is a good LSAT score?

The raw scores from these sections are converted to a scaled score between 120 and 180, with a median score around 150. Depending upon the competitiveness of the program, a score that is above average is desired.

LSAT logistics

When is LSAT registration? 

The exam is offered seven times a year worldwide. You can find international lsat test dates, designated testing centers, and register at lsac.org.  

How much does taking the LSAT cost?

Exam fees for are $200. If you cancel a score up to six days after the exam, you can retake the test for free. Note that while LSAC will not report this score, it still shows that the test was registered for and taken. 

How many times can you take the LSAT?

The LSAT may be taken up to three times in a single LSAC year, which goes from June to May, up to five times over five years, or up to seven times in a lifetime. Tests taken before September 2019 do not count toward these totals. All scores from the past five years are reported, and either your highest score or an average of your scores will be used, depending upon your potential law school’s policy. 

How to study for the LSAT

PrepTests are LSAT’s official practice tests; these are a valuable resource on the types of questions that can appear on the test. Other reputable LSAT study guide test prep materials are available from Kaplan and The Princeton Review.

Remember that test scores are only one part of the admissions process, so do your best and good luck! 

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