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The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is an admissions examination for Juris Doctor (JD) programs in a number of common law countries, including the United States, Canada, and Australia. The idea for the LSAT was first proposed in 1945 by Frank Bowles of Columbia Law School, and in 1947, representative from several law schools met in Princeton to discuss the examination.[1] The LSAT was first administered in February 1948.[2] This first version of the examination required a full day to complete and contained ten sections: Verbal Analogies, Sentence Completion, Paragraphs, Word Classification, two sections of Reading Comprehension, Figure Classification, Debates, Contrary and Irrelevant Statements, and Reasoning. The test has undergone several major overhauls since its debut, both in its length and in material covered.[2]

The organization which administers the examination, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), was incorporated in 1968 as the Law School Admission Test Council. It adopted its current name in 1973.[1]

Unlike many other modern examinations, the LSAT is only available as a paper-based test. In 2006, the LSAC published a study which indicated that as of the 2004-2005 testing year, more than 70% of candidates across all ages, genders, and ethnicities indicated that they would be "very comfortable" taking a computer-based version of the LSAT.[3] However, nearly a decade later, the LSAT continues to be administered only on paper.

Function of the Test

The LSAT is a standardized admissions examination used by law schools to better rank and differentiate candidates for admission. Almost all law school candidates in the United States take the examination. The American Bar Association stipulates that 90% of the students admitted by accredited law programs must have taken a standardized admissions examination, which has de fact been the LSAT exam.[4]

There is no single "passing score" on the LSAT. Each law program may choose to set its own cutoff scores or choose how heavily to weight LSAT scores in determining which candidates to accept. Score distributions on the LSAT are extremely stable from year to year and follow a bell curve. In the United States, the typical mean score is about 151 with a standard deviation of about 10.[5]

Since 2009, the number LSAT tests administered each year has plummeted by nearly 40%, from 171,514 in the 2009-2010 academic year to 105,532 in the 2013-2014 academic year.[6]

Test Administration

The LSAT is administered four times per year: one Saturday each in February, June, September, and December. Documented observers of a Saturday Sabbath have a special religious allowance and may take a special makeup test on an alternate date in February, September, and December.[7][8] Typically, the LSAT is administered on-site at colleges, universities, and law schools.[9]

The cost to take the LSAT is $170 USD in the United States. In addition, law schools typically require that candidates for admission use the LSAC's Credential Assembly Service to report LSAT scores, and this service costs an additional $165. Additional fees apply for services such as late registration and test center changes.[10]

Because the LSAT is a paper-and-pencil test, immediate score reports are not available. Candidates receive score reports via email or mail approximately three to four weeks after taking the exam.[11] Candidates may choose to retake the LSAT, but may only take the examination three times in any two-year period.[12]

Candidates with disabilities who require special testing accommodations may download an Accommodations Request Packet from the LSAC's website after registering to take the LSAT. This packet guides candidates through the process of submitting the request and required documentation. The LSAC encourages candidates to register for the test and begin the accommodations request process as early as possible due to the amount of time this process may take.[13]

Test Format

Sections of the LSAT Test
LSAT Test Subject Areas Sections # of Questions
Logical Reasoning 2 24-26
Reading Comprehension 1 26-28
Analytical Reasoning 1 20-28
Unscored Section 1 19-21
Total 5 99-101

Test Structure

The LSAT is made up of about one hundred questions that have to do with three main types of questions: Logical Reasoning; Reading Comprehension; and Analytical Reasoning. The exam is divided into five sections timed to last thirty five minutes each. There are two logical reasoning sections, one reading comprehension section, and one Analytical Reasoning section. The fifth section is unscored, and used to pretest new questions that may be used in future exams. All of the questions come in the form of multiple choice. [14]

Test Environment

On the day of the exam, each candidate must present a valid, government-issued photo ID in order to be admitted into the test. A one gallon ziplock bag containing ID, wallet, keys, watch, medical/feminine hygiene products, pencils, highlighters, tissues, drinks, and a snack is allowed as long as the bag is kept underneath the chair, and is only accessed during break. Books, rulers, mechanical pencils, pens, bags, electronics, and calculators are not allowed in the testing center. Test takers may have tissues, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, and an analog watch on their desk while taking the exam. There will be a fifteen minute break after the third section of the test. [15]

Test Content

  • Sample Logical Reasoning Questions
Use the following passage to answer question 1
When first presented on the market, the now-ubiquitous microwave oven was anything but a hit with consumers. Percy Spencer, an employee with Raytheon who discovered the potential for cooking with microwaves, first presented the Radarange in 1947, a massive oven that weighed over 700 pounds and was around six feet tall. Over the next few years, Raytheon made some minor improvements to the microwave oven but was unable to elicit a positive reception from the public. It was not until Raytheon’s competitor Litton began developing microwave ovens of its own in the 1960s that the public embraced the new technology on a wide scale. Litton’s new oven jumpstarted the craze for microwaves and by 1975 about a million of them were in American homes.
  1. Which of the following, if true, best provides an explanation for why Litton was more successful at selling microwave ovens in the United States than Raytheon
    A. Litton marketed them icrowave oven at a large trade show in Chicago, thereby gaining more consumers through publicity.
    B. Litton expanded its marketing to Japan, where the microwave ovens proved to be very popular.
    C. Litton made the microwave so popular that more than 90% of families in the U.S. now have a microwave
    D. Litton's model redesigned the microwave oven to its now-familiar compact size, so that it was affordable and fit easily into a kitchen.
    E. Litton had long been developing the technology for microwave ovens and had surpassed the technology used by Raytheon.
  • Sample Analytical Reasoning Questions
Use the following information to answer questions 1-3:
A group of six friends – Jack, Kimberly, Lee, Melissa, Nick, Olivia - go out to eat at a restaurant. They are seated evenly around a circular table based on the following conditions:

Melissa does not sit next to Jack. Jack sits next to Olivia or Nick, but not both of them. Kimberly sits next to Nick. If Olivia sits next to Jack, then she doesn’t sit next to Lee.

  1. Of the following, which one is a possible seating arrangement of the six friends?
    A. Kimberly, Nick, Jack, Olivia, Melissa, Lee
    B. Lee, Melissa, Kimberly, Jack, Olivia, Nick
    C. Melissa, Lee, Jack, Nick, Kimberly, Olivia
    D. Lee, Melissa, Jack, Nick, Kimberly, Olivia
    E. Lee, Olivia, Jack, Kimberly, Nick, Melissa
  2. If Jack sits next to Kimberly, then which one of the following paires of people must be seated next to each other?
    A. Lee and Nick
    B. Melissa and Nick
    C. Jack and Nick
    D. Melissa and Kimberly
    E. Olivia and Kimberly
  3. If Jack and Olivia sit next to each other, then Lee CANNOT sit next to both:
    A. Jack and Nick
    B. Jack and Kimberly
    C. Nick and Melissa
    D. Jack and Melissa
    E. Kimberly and Nick
  • Sample Reading Comprehension Questions
Use the following passage to answer questions 1 and 2
In recent years the fashion industry has become increasingly unable to ignore the reality of eating disorders among models. Although models are, as a group, thin beyond the “normal” standards of society, many have succumbed to nutritionally deficient eating habits in order to sustain unnatural weights, even for their super-physiques. The fashion industry has, in recent years, begun addressing the issue more openly. Some countries have gone so far as to establish rules that require models to maintain a certain BMI if they expect to walk the runways. Additionally, the industry recently held an international conference on the issue of eating disorders. But the overall mood there was one of resistance, among models as well as designers. Most of the models claim that they are just naturally very thin and are modeling for that very reason. They admit that some do develop eating disorders, but claim these disorders are often based on individual problems and not on the industry. Among the designers, the resistance was equally palpable. Most resented the interference and claimed that the fashion world has always relied on thin models and that it is unfair to single out a single industry for eating disorders, because eating disorders are connected to personal issues. Overall, the hope within the industry is that there will be awareness about eating disorders but not extra rules: models should know that help is available should they need it and that the industry will support them as they seek treatment.
  1. Which of the following best expresses the main point of the passage above?
    A. The fashion industry believes that eating disorders are inevitable and thus cannot be entirely eliminated among models
    B. The fashion industry does not feel responsible fore eating disorders among models, claiming that eating disorders arise from personal situations and should be treated individually.
    C. The fashion industry believes that models need to be thin, and many of the models are naturally and not unhealthily thin.
    D. The fashion industry resents the intrusion because it ultimately hopes that the models will recognize when they have a problem and seek help by themselves
    E. The fashion industry knows that nay rules established to combat eating disorders by requiring a healthy BMI will ultimately be ignored
  2. Given the passage above, the reasoning within the fashion industry is vulnerable to criticism because it fails to consider which of the following?
    A. The public is tired of the excessively thin image propounded by the fashion industry and would prefer to see models of average weight?
    B. Fashion trends are constantly changing, and the trend for very thin models will ultimately give way to a trend for models of different sizes.
    C. Eating disorders affect people for many reasons, and there are as many people struggling with eating disorders in the fashion industry as there are elsewhere.
    D. The women chosen to model are selected entirely for their height and build and are perhaps naturally thin, rather than suffering from eating disorders.
    E. Models suffering from eating disorders might not have the means or the ability to acknowledge their problem and pursue help


The LSAT comprises four graded multiple-choice sections, one ungraded multiple-choice section, and one ungraded writing sample.[12] Possible section types include Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning. There are typically two scored sections of Logical Reasoning on the LSAT and one scored section each of Reading Comprehension and Analytical Reasoning. A final ungraded multiple-choice section is used to pretest new items for inclusion on future versions of the exam or preequate new test forms. This ungraded section may be placed anywhere in the exam.[12]

There is no penalty for guessing on the LSAT. Incorrect answers and omitted answers are judged the same way. In addition, all questions are weighted equally in scoring.[11]

Candidates' scores on the four graded multiple choice sections are converted to a single scaled score ranging from 120 to 180 on a bell curve. Although exact percentiles vary slightly from year to year, the typical mean score is about 151, and the typical standard deviation is about 10 points. The following table shows some representative scores and percentiles from the 2011-2012 testing year, in which the mean score was 150.66 and the standard deviation was 10.19:

LSAT Scores and Percentiles in 2011-2012[5][16]
Score Percentile
129.73 2
137.60 10
142.08 20
145.32 30
148.08 40
150.66 50
153.24 60
156.00 70
159.24 80
163.72 90
171.59 98

As the table demonstrates, 60% of candidates receive LSAT scores within about five points of the mean.

Answers to Sample Questions

Logical Reasoning: 1;D Analytical Reasoning: 1;C 2;A 3;E Reading Comprehension: 1;D 2;E

Related Tests


  1. ^ a b LSAC: A History of the Law School Admission Council and the LSAT December 1 2014
  2. ^ a b LSAC: A Compendium of LSAT and LSAC-Sponsored Item Types 1948-1994 December 1 2014
  3. ^ LSAC: Computer Use and Preferences Among LSAT Takers December 1 2014
  4. ^ American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar: Interpretation 503-3, Explanation of Changes December 1 2014
  5. ^ a b LSAC: LSAT Performance With Regional, Gender, and Racial/Ethnic Breakdowns: 2005–2006 Through 2011–2012 Testing Years December 1 2014
  6. ^ LSAC: LSATs Administered December 1 2014
  7. ^ LSAT Dates and Deadlines December 1 2014
  8. ^ LSAC: Saturday Sabbath Observers Test Center Codes December 1 2014
  9. ^ LSAC: Regular Administration Test Center Codes December 1 2014
  10. ^ LSAC: LSAT and Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Fees December 1 2014
  11. ^ a b LSAC: Your LSAT Score December 1 2014
  12. ^ a b c LSAC: About the LSAT December 1 2014
  13. ^ LSAC: Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities December 1 2014
  14. ^ LSAT Test Structure 17 November 2014
  15. ^ Day of Test] 17 November 2014
  16. ^ The percentiles in this table are calculated based on the 2011-2012 mean score of 150.66, the standard deviation of 10.19, and a table of z-score percentiles for a normal distribution.