What is the LSAT?

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a 3½-hour standardized test required for admission to all American Bar Association-approved law schools, most Canadian law schools, and other law schools. The test is offered four times each year, but many law schools require that it be taken by December for admission the following fall. Taking the test earlier – in June or September – is often advised. Some schools place greater weight on the LSAT than the GPA; however, most law schools do evaluate your full range of credentials.


See information on our Test Prep Tutors for the LSAT.


The test consists of the following six sections:

  • Five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions:
    • 4 scored sections that contribute to the LSAT score
    • 1 unscored section, called the variable section (used to pretest new questions or to equate a test to an older one), whose placement in the test will vary
  • One 35-minute writing sample at the end of the test. It is not scored, but copies of it are sent to all law schools to which you apply.

Logical reasoning

The LSAT contains two logical reasoning sections, commonly known as "arguments." Each question begins with a paragraph that presents either an argument or a short set of facts and is followed by 1 or 2 prompts asking the test-taker to:

  • Find the argument's assumption
  • Find an alternate conclusion
  • Find logical omissions
  • Find errors in the argument
  • Choose another argument with parallel reasoning
  • Identify a statement that would either weaken or strengthen the argument

The logical reasoning questions generally progress from easy to hard, but there is significant random variation within the structure.

Reading comprehension

The LSAT contains one reading comprehension section, typically with 4 passages of 400-500 words each. One passage each is related to:

  • Law
  • Arts & humanities
  • Physical sciences
  • Social sciences

Each passage is followed by 5-8 questions. The LSAT changed in June 2007 to include a "comparative reading" selection in place of one of the above. There are two short passages with differing perspectives on a topic.

Analytical reasoning

The LSAT contains one analytical reasoning section, also known as "logic games." Each test contains four different games which tend to involve grouping, matching, and ordering of elements. After reading the setup (e.g. "there are six people who might be in Jason's class") and partial set of rules that govern the situation (e.g. "if Lynn is present, then Howard is not present; if Todd is present, then Alan is also present..."), the test taker is then asked to deduce conclusions from the statements (e.g. "What is the least number of people who could be present?"). Individual questions often add rules and occasionally modify existing rules, requiring the examinee to reorganize information quickly.

Unscored section

One of the first three sections of the test is the variable section which does not count toward your LSAT score. It is merely a testing ground for new LSAT questions. Because it isn't possible to determine which is the variable section as you're taking the test, you'll have to approach each section as though it will count toward your final score.

Writing sample

The writing sample is the final section of the LSAT. It is given in the form of a decision prompt that provides the test-taker with a problem and two criteria for making a decision. The test-taker must then write an extemporaneous essay favoring one of two provided options.


LSAT scores range from 120 to 180, with a median score at about 151. The table below lists the average LSAT scores for the top 25 law schools as ranked by US News & World Report in 2012:

Law School Average LSAT
Yale University 170-177
Stanford University 167-172
Harvard University 171-176
Columbia University 170-175
University of Chicago 167-173
New York University 170-174
University of California--Berkeley 164-169
University of Pennsylvania 166-171
University of Virginia 165-171
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor 167-170
Duke University 167-171
Northwestern University 165-171
Georgetown University 167-171
Cornell University 166-169
University of California--Los Angeles 164-169
University of Texas--Austin 165-170
Vanderbilt University 165-170
University of Southern California (Gould) 165-167
University of Minnesota--Twin Cities 157-167
George Washington University 161-168
University of Washington 161-166
University of Notre Dame 162-167
Washington University in St. Louis 162-169
Emory University 159-166
Washington & Lee University 159-165

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