Taking the LSAT is one of the biggest things you can do to help you enter into law school. The average score for the LSAT is a 152 and top law schools often require a 163 for admittance. So, if you want to get into the big schools, there are some things you should know. In this article, I will sum up everything you need to know about taking the LSAT.

Of course, I can’t outline all the details of every part of the LSAT, that would be hundreds of pages and there are whole courses dedicated to helping you prepare. However, I can outline what the LSAT entails and give you good pieces of advice for test day. Here I will discuss the 5 sections of the LSAT, provide some information leading up to test day, and sharing some test day best practices.

The 5 sections of the LSAT

  • LSAT writing sample
  • Logical reasoning
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Reading comprehension
  • An unscored section

Each section of the LSAT is 35 minutes long. The writing sample is the only section of the LSAT that is free response and is taken separately from the other sections. The remainder of the LSAT consists entirely of multiple choice questions. Those sections average between 24-26 questions. That means, on average, you can spend 1.4 minutes per question.

You take 4 of the 5 sections on test day. In between sections 2 and 3 there is a 10 minute break where you can find some water, eat a snack, and rest for a minute before jumping back into the test. In all, the LSAT takes 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete.

LSAT Writing Sample

The LSAT writing sample is not a scored part of the LSAT but is crucial for LSAT admissions. You will be given a prompt outlining two options. Your task is to choose an option and discuss why it is better than the other option.

There is no need for legal knowledge to complete this section of the LSAT. The purpose of the sample is to test your ability to think logically and write quickly and clearly based on that logic. Although I can’t share my prompt from my writing sample, an example of a writing sample prompt may be as follows:

You are a magician preparing for a show. In the past, your shows have brought in a large crowd because of your daring stunts. You know your show well and what excites the crowd. However, there is another magician performing similar stunts and driving in a similar size crowd. You recently learned a new stunt that you know will please the crowd and bring in a larger audience. Despite this knowledge, your ability to perform the stunt varies. Sometimes you perform flawlessly while other times you make a mistake. You must perform the stunt perfectly to drive in this crowd.

You are considering adding this stunt to your show but have two rules. First, your show must be exciting to the audience. Second, you must bring in a large crowd. Should you add the stunt to your show or continue performing the current show?

I recommend starting your writing sample by choosing a side first and fully committing to it. Then quickly outline the pros and cons of each option. Write your sample listing out the pros of your choice, counter with a con to your choice and a pro to the other option, then finish by stating why that pro and con may not be a deciding factor.

Logical Reasoning

Logical Reasoning tests your ability to pick apart an argument in a statement. First, you will be provided with a brief passage or statement. Then you will be asked a question based on the argument presented in that passage. You may be asked to find what the main argument is, what the flaw in the argument might be, or find parallels with other arguments. Here is an example of a logical reasoning question:

Critic: Some of the evildoers portrayed by Shakespeare recognize themselves as such and know their souls are doomed. But Socrates held that even evildoers must believe that what they are doing is good. Hence, these Shakespearean evildoers are implausible for readers who accept Socrates’ teachings.

The critic’s conclusion follows logically if which one of the following is assumed?

– From Khan Academy practice questions

There are 5 potential choices to choose from in response to this passage. As you practice, you will begin to recognize the types of questions being asked. On test day, focus primarily on the types that you are best at then finish answering those you are weaker at. I find it best to read the question first before the passage, that way I know what I am looking for prior to having the information. This will save you time and energy on rereading.

Analytical Reasoning

Analytical reasoning is often considered the most difficult section of the LSAT. This section can be thought of as a puzzle, where you are given a set of criteria and make sure the pieces are put together properly. Another way to think of this section is as a mind game. Here’s how it works: You will be given a passage with a set of rules. Your task is to choose the answer that doesn’t break any of the rules. Sometimes the questions will ask you to replace a rule, add a rule, or create a rule with the same results. Here’s an example of the passage:

The manager of a photography business must assign at least two photographers to each of two graduation ceremonies—one at Silva University and the other at Thorne University. Exactly six photographers are available—Frost, Gonzalez, Heideck, Knutson, Lai, and Mays—but not all have to be assigned. No photographer can be assigned to both ceremonies. The following constraints apply:
Frost must be assigned together with Heideck to one of the graduation ceremonies.
If Lai and Mays are both assigned, it must be to different ceremonies.
If Gonzalez is assigned to the Silva University ceremony, then Lai must be assigned to the Thorne University ceremony.
If Knutson is not assigned to the Thorne University ceremony, then both Heideck and Mays must be assigned to it.
– From Khan Academy practice questions

Reading comprehension

For reading comprehension, you will be given a passage and then asked to answer several questions concerning the passage. The purpose, of course, is to gauge your level of reading comprehension. You may be asked to find the main point the story, find the authors arguments, and state a position with which the author would most likely agree with.

Additionally, you may be presented with two articles to answer a set of questions. In these articles, you may be asked to find similarities between the arguments and discover what the authors might agree or disagree about.

Due to the length of one of these passages, we won’t be sharing an example in this article.

The unscored section

Finally, the LSAT contains one unscored section. This section is used to test possible exam questions for future LSAT exams. The section may be logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, or reading comprehension. So, on test day, you will encounter a duplicate section for the unscored portion of the test. Importantly, the LSAT does not inform you that you are about to take the unscored section. This way, you are honest in the effort put into answering the questions. So, put forward your best work, regardless of which section you may expect to be unscored.

Leading up to test day

The LSAC is very active in making sure you are well prepared for your test. Once you are within a few weeks of your test, the LSAC will send an email allowing you to select your test date and time. Make sure that you select your test date early, because the best spots fill up quickly. You should also choose a time where you perform best. If you are a morning person, select a test time in the morning. Or, select a test time in the evening if you work better at night.

Prior to taking your test, you are given the option to take the writing sample. The writing sample must be completed before you receive your LSAT score. Because the writing sample and your LSAT score may take a few weeks to process, it would be better to complete the sample before taking the actual LSAT test. I recommend taking the sample 1-2 weeks before the full LSAT.

As you approach the week of your test, the LSAC will send additional emails with the LSAC rules, proctoring guidelines, and procedures. Additionally, they will recommend you login to LawHub and take a test using the software. LawHub uses the same software as the actual LSAT. So, taking one of the LawHub tests will give you a realistic feel of the test. Review each of these resources prior to taking the test

Test day

On test day, you should wake up early, exercise, and have a good breakfast. Healthy nutritional habits will help you feel strong for the test.

Next, you should prepare your test space. Make sure you are in a clean area with no clutter. For proctoring reasons, you will also want to make sure the walls are empty, nothing else is on the desk or the floor around you. The only things permitted on your desk during the exam is your test taking device, a couple pieces of scratch paper, and a pencil.

Finally, you will want to log on to the test software, perform the pretest checks, connect with the proctor, and take your exam.


In this article, I have gone over nearly everything you should know about taking the LSAT. I have discussed the several sections of the LSAT and provided examples for those sections. However, I did not walk you through section problems. This is in part because I think the best way for you to walk through problems is to take an LSAT course. You can read this article to learn more about course resources. Additionally, I discussed points leading up to test day and test day best practices. Below is a summary of each topic:

The 5 sections of the LSAT

  • LSAT Writing
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Analytical Reasoning
  • Reading Comprehension
  • An unscored section

Leading up to test day

  • Select your test date and time
  • Take the writing sample
  • Test the software
  • Review the test rules

Test day best practices

  • Eat a good breakfast
  • Be ready to test in a clean open area
  • Run through your test checks well in advance to your test time
  • Have your scratch paper ready

If you would like to listen to this article instead, play below.

Categories: LSAT

Will Laursen

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