LSAT Sections and Structure

LSAT Sections

The LSAT is a standardized test required for admission into law schools by the American Bar Association. Because of the unique nature and set up of the questions on the LSAT exam, it is critical that you thoroughly understand the format and framework of the questions. The LSAT is comprised of five sections that run 35 minutes each: Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, an unscored experimental section and a writing sample. The experimental section is like any of the first three sections, while the writing sample is always administered last and even though it's not scored, will be sent to all law schools you apply to for review. It is recommended to spend no more than 1 minute and 20 seconds per question.

Structure of the LSAT

As stated above, the LSAT is made up of five sections that run 35 minutes each. The Logical Reasoning section is composed of 25-26 questions, the Analytical Reasoning 23-24 questions with the Reading Comprehension section consisting of 27-28 questions. The unscored section of the LSAT will be made up of anywhere between 23-28 questions, while the Writing Sample requires one essay. The total testing time for the LSAT is 3.5 hours.

Logical Reasoning

The Logical Reasoning portion of the exam is made up of two sections with about 25 questions each. Ultimately, this section weighs your ability to comprehend arguments, analyze and critically understand them and draw sound conclusions as they occur in ordinary language. The questions are preceded by "arguments" that you will then be required to evaluate the structure of. You will also have to make inferences, identify flaws in the logic, and demonstrate that you understand the substance of the argument. The two Logical Reasoning sections make up 50% of your total LSAT score, so it is critical that you get a strong grasp of this section. Topics include Economics, Psychology, the Natural Sciences, Culture, etc. Ultimately, this section asks you to apply logic to abstract concepts, find relevant information within a test and break down and evaluate arguments.

Analytical Reasoning

The Analytical Reasoning portion of the LSAT runs at about 25 questions. This section is commonly referred to as the "logic games" section, where it analyzes your ability to visualize a scenario with three to six constraints in order to establish parameters. Analytical Reasoning tests the ability to understand relationships between outcomes, draw conclusions based on set guidelines and understand the effects of rules on decision outcomes. This section will also require the use deductive reasoning to draw inferences. The section contains four games that fall into three basic categories: Ordering, Assignment, and Grouping. Your spatial reasoning skills will be improved as you diagram to find answers for these questions.

Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension section is 27-28 questions, lasting about 60 minutes, involving one 25-minute section, a ten-minute section and a 25-minute essay. There are four sections to this portion with three long passages and one comparative reading passage that is made up of two related shorter passages. Skills assessed include drawing inferences, finding the main argument, navigating and breaking down heavy text, and comparing and contrasting. Reading Comprehension also tests your ability to understand a dense, scholary text. Topics typically include the Humanities, Social Sciences, Biological and Physical Sciences and the Law.

Experimental Section

The fifth multiple choice section on the LSAT (also known as the "variable" section) is experimental, unscored, and used solely for research purposes. It will be Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, or Analytical Reasoning; there is no way to know which section is the experimental section, so any "double" section you come across should be treated just the same. For example, if there are three Logical Reasoning sections on your LSAT, it is safe to assume that one is definitely an experimental section.

The Writing Section

The Writing Sample of the LSAT is not scored, but your essay will be sent to every law school to which you apply. It is an opportunity for the law schools you are interested in to be able to assess your cogent writing skills under the pressure of time constraints. The writing prompt presents a "decision problem," where you are asked to make a choice between two positions or courses of actions with both answer choices defendable. You will have 35 minutes to pick a stance and write an essay that coherently defends your choice. Each law school weighs the writing sample differently when evaluating your application. However, the essay you write can get your foot in the door if you are a "borderline" candidate, as law schools greatly value students' ability to write, so you should spend time developing your writing if this is not your strongest suit.