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Get to Know the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)

Wouldn’t everyone want some certainty before taking a new academic path leading to a new career? In some fields, like law, there are ways to find out if you’re prepared for taking on the rigorous multi-year education. If you think you’re ready to start law school, you’ll want to book an LSAT exam to determine if you have the skills and abilities to succeed in it. Not only will the exam tell you if you’re ready, but it may also position you well in the eyes of school admissions offices or fulfill a requirement for your law school application.

Why Book an LSAT Exam?

The Law School Admission Test, commonly known as LSAT is a skills-based exam to determine if your reading comprehension, logical and verbal reasoning are at a level suitable for success in a law school. It includes sections on Analytical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, two Logic Reasoning sections, an unscored variable question section and an unscored writing section. The scores from the exam are submitted to law schools you specify to demonstrate to the school’s admissions team that you are ready for your law degree program. Most, but not all, Canadian law schools require the scores from a certified LSAT test centre as part of your application.

With admission to post-secondary institutions becoming more competitive, schools want to ensure they enroll students who are the most likely to be accomplished not only in their schooling but also in their career and be a positive example for the school. Booking an LSAT exam and achieving strong results may put your application ahead of other school applicants who may not be as skilled or ready for the law school.

Each year, approximately 100,000 prospective law school students book and take their LSAT exam to give law schools a standard measure of the skills that are proven to lead to positive educational outcomes.

How Does the LSAT Work?

The LSAT is administered only by a recognized LSAT exam centre. When booking your exam make sure that your test centre is approved by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Those who want to register for the LSAT can do so through LSAC at the resources noted on the registration page.

The LSAT is a half-day test (about four hours) administered only on specific dates (there are nine dates for the exam at LSAT exam centres in 2019). If potential students aren’t happy with their LSAT scores, they can retake the exam and the majority of schools only consider the highest score in their admission review. However, it is important to note that only scores obtained in the five year period before the start of the academic year are admissible.

Once registered with LSAC, test takers can choose their LSAT test centre and date for their exam.

Who takes the LSAT?

Each university has a different set of admission requirements for their law school program so before booking your LSAT, take the time to review your preferred schools’ criteria. For the most part, Canadian schools require a minimum of two or three years of full-time study or an undergraduate degree earned at a recognized university.

Once this prerequisite schooling is complete and you feel ready for a law school, you can take the LSAT exam. It is important to note that there is a wide range of LSAT test prep tools available online such as those through LSAC. You can take a free prep test, get to know how to prepare for the digital exam or purchase hard copy or e-versions of prep books.

There is even a number of free tools available through LSAC’s Khan Academy that will help you get familiar with the types of questions you can expect on the LSAT. Even if you’re not planning on making use of any of the prep tools, it’s a great idea to check out the free practice exams on the LSAC website since these are offered by the same people who create the exam and know what the questions are like. This can help you determine if you’re ready to write the exam or still need a bit more time to prepare and study.

What does the test involve?

The LSAT is a multiple-choice exam which can be computer or paper-based. As LSAC moves to a fully digital exam, the paper booklet and pencil method will continue to be phased out in favour of the tablet method. 

As mentioned previously, there are six sections to the exam. Each of them is 35 minutes long. They include Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, two Logical Reasoning sections, an unscored variable question section and an unscored writing section. The unscored sections allow test creators to try out new questions in a real exam environment. In the writing section, the test-takers must defend a position based on the writing prompt. This section illustrates argumentative writing skills and is provided to the schools you apply to along with test scores.

You’ll receive a score from 120 to 180 based only on the questions you got right. There is no deduction for wrong answers. You will receive your score about three weeks to a month after taking the exam and law schools you apply to will receive all scores of exams taken in the previous five years.

Benefits of taking the LSAT

Sometimes taking the LSAT isn’t optional when schools require it as part of their admissions program. Some schools consider a combination of LSAT and Grade Point Average (GPA) in their potential student review so a low GPA can be balanced out with a high LSAT. Other schools don’t require the LSAT but will consider it if written and supplied. In these cases, the LSAT can put you ahead of a student who didn’t take the exam and can’t prove their ability to be successful in the law program.

Your LSAT score can determine where you’ll be able to complete the law program, or if you’re ready to take it at all. If you’re ready to take the plunge, get familiar with the LSAT. It could make all the difference to your future.

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