LSAT Exam Syllabus: General Test Pattern | 2022 – 2023
The LSAT (Law School Admission Test) is a standardized test required for admission in law schools in countries such as the US, Canada, Australia etc. It is offered 4 times in a year (6 times starting from 2018-19). The total duration of the exam is 3 hours and 30 minutes excluding all breaks. The maximum score one can attain on the exam is 180, and the average score is ~150. The basic cost of the exam is $175, but there are other fees involved as well.
It is a paper-based test and contains 5 sections of 35 minutes each. The test is MCQ-based. One section is experimental and does not contribute to the final score of the candidate.
- Logical Reasoning (2 sections): the section tests the candidate’s ability to analyze, think critically, and evaluate an argument on its objective merits.
- Reading Comprehension (1 section): the section tests the ability to derive information from complex written text, make relevant connections and glean insights.
- Analytical Reasoning (1 section): the section tests the ability to interpret the make-up of relationships and deriving logical reasoning about the structure at hand.
Another 35 minute writing section (unscored) is administered at the end of the test, which is sent to all the schools. A “good LSAT score” is dependent upon your target schools, and the top law schools have a steep demand in terms of the score (170+ out of 180).
The following broad question types are a part of the LSAT analytical/logical reasoning:
- must be true and main point questions
- conditional statements, analyzing arguments, additive inferences
- strengthen and weaken arguments
- linear and advanced linear games
- grouping principles and numerical distributions
- rare games types such as circular, pattern and mapping games
- case and effect reasoning
- necessary and sufficient assumptions
- flaws in reasoning, parallel reasoning
- resolving paradox
Analytical Reasoning aka logic games is one of the most hyped sections of the LSAT, and for a good reason. The section tests the ability to understand the logical structures and their interconnecting parts.
The candidate is expected to employ deductive reasoning from a set of principles that can describe relationships among things, people or circumstances. The skills that are tested on this section have strong parallels to the case where one needs to discover truth given a set of regulations, conditions or a contract.
The questions appear in sets, and each set is dependent on a passage. For example, a passage might describe 8 dignitaries that need to sit around a table, and the protocols are specified alongside regarding who can sit where.
The test taker needs to understand the logical implications of the presented information, and also accommodate possible changes through additional information (if any). You might be asked if a particular seating arrangement is possible, impossible neighbor-pairs etc.
The games will be a mix of different types – linear, grouping, a combination, or even something obscure like pattern/mapping etc. After enough practice sessions, you’ll likely discover that you are stronger in some logic games and weaker in others.
Plus, some games are inherently difficult than others – a basic linear game that is well-defined and balanced is far easier than a partially defined grouping game. You should attack the game types you are most comfortable with in order to gain momentum.
Moreover, try solving a game that has a larger number of questions associated with it: the return on your effort/time is proportionally higher. Diagramming skills come in handy when it comes to logic games.
Logical Reasoning questions require you to read a passage and answer corresponding questions. The questions test the ability to critically analyze and understand arguments presented in everyday language.
The main skills that are tested relate to arriving at evidence-backed arguments, determining the effect of an evidence on an argument, reasoning by analogy, and identifying the flaws in a set of arguments. The source of the questions is scholarly publications and general interest newspapers/magazines/advertisements.
The arguments presented are modeled after the type of arguments one might encounter during legal reasoning. It is not assumed that a candidate knows about the logical terminology such as “ad hominem” or “syllogism”.
Both the logical reasoning sections have about 25 questions each. There are about 13 question types in total, and mostly 9-10 types occur with the most frequency. Moreover, the difficulty of the questions tends to increase as one progresses with the section.
A question can “appear” to be difficult based on your areas of strength/interests, or it can be inherently difficult. For instance, a simple conditional reasoning question is easier to tackle when compared to a long parallel reasoning question.
Solving the questions in this section over at least a couple of passes is a good idea: picking the “low-hanging fruits” first. Shorter questions tend to be simpler and take lesser time.
It is imperative to not get bogged down by any question — one cannot afford to waste too much time. This ensures that your time is spent on solving questions that have the highest chance of adding to your final score.
Reading Comprehension contains 4 sets of reading questions, and you need to answer 5-8 questions based on the provided reading material. The main skill tested is the ability to derive insights from lengthy and often complex material. The practice of law requires a broad reading of pithy and complex texts and requires judgment when it comes to separating the wheat from the chaff.
3 of the 4 sets contain just a single passage. The single passages generally focus on the understanding of terms, holistic themes, author’s tone/opinion, and function of a paragraph or the passage. One set contains 2 short passages that are related, called Comparative Reading.
The passages depend upon each other in different ways, and the candidate needs to identify the underlying relationship among the passages. The relationship between the passages can be spread across the whole spectrum- from the authors of the passages in overall agreement, to directly opposed arguments.
The passages will be from different areas: science, law, humanities, and interdisciplinary. Generally, the text is fairly abstruse, uses high-level vocabulary, and presents rhetoric in an advanced manner. Based on your interests and other factors, the passages can appear to be easy or difficult.
The inherent difficulty of the passage is hard to detect in the starting and might only present itself as you start answering questions. You should ideally start from the passage based on a topic/area you feel the most confident about as it will help in establishing momentum and building confidence.