OK, so you've committed to going to law school. The first step to take is that you have to take an exam before any law school will admit you. The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is not exactly a cakewalk; it makes you read long, boring passages and it makes you solve ridiculous word problems that you thought you'd never see after the seventh grade. But the good news is that every law school applicant has to take the LSAT so that law schools have a general way to measure how well you'll do in law school. But those wily testmakers they don't even test you on law! Instead, they give you brainteasers aimed at assessing your logic skills and how well you think in different situations. Nothing like the "vocabulary test-ish" SAT, eh?

The LSAT is important enough that we've written an entire separate SYW teaching you how to ace it (read it here). Here are some points about the LSAT to keep in mind:

  • It's a 3 hour test consisting of four sections: 2 Logical Reasoning sections (Arguments), 1 Analytical Reasoning section (Games), 1 Reading Comprehension section.

  • You'll also get one experimental section that will be either Arguments, Games or Reading Comp. You won't get scored on that section, but you also won't know which is the real one and which is experimental. So we suggest that you push the "This may be the experimental section" thought out of your mind during the test.

  • At the very end of the test, you will also have a writing section. You will be presented with a controversial situation and asked to write an argument to support one side. The good news is that this section is NOT scored, so don't stress over it. However, the writing section will accompany your scores to every school to which you apply, so you can't write "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" 1000 times either.

  • There are about 101 questions on the LSAT. You receive 1 point for each correct answer, and there is no penalty for guessing.

  • Your score will be transformed onto a scale of 120 - 180. 150 is the average score, and anything over a 170 is VERY good. Like most standardized tests, the LSAT is scaled onto a bell curve.

  • Generally, you should take the LSAT by at least October of the year before which you plan on entering law school, though in some cases you could squeeze in a viable December or February test. The smartest idea is to take it in June, so that you'll have plenty of time to get your score and consider which schools to apply to.

  • You can hold onto your scores for 5 years, if you'd like to mull over this law school decision for a bit longer. After 5 years, your score disappears.

  • It is NOT recommended that you take the LSAT more than once. Of course, if you think you can improve your score dramatically, you should go for it. But if your score goes down, that'll make you look even worse. So be absolutely positive that you'll improve.

  • Upcoming test dates for the LSAT are December 2, 2000 and February 10, 2001. Check out the LSAT schedule for registration deadlines and info. Test registration costs $90, and you can register online too.

Because the law school admissions process is so numbers-driven, many students enroll in preparation courses before taking the LSAT. Both Princeton Review and Kaplan - the two most popular test prep organizations - offer a variety of classes to get you ready for the big test.

We're not going to get into the specifics here about acing the LSAT; for that, we suggest you read "SYW ace the LSAT?" But keep in mind that through the LSAT Board, you can buy a book of the 10 latest LSATs and take them as practice tests. We recommend that you practice every single one of these. The LSAT is one of the most predictable standardized tests out there, so you should practice every chance you get. You can also get one free test by printing out this Adobe file. To see it, you need to download Adobe Reader.