Four Big Questions About Law School Admissions Tests (LSAT)

Written by Christi Hayes and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Getting into a good law school isn't easy and if you have your sights fixed on one of the better schools then you already know to expect plenty of sleepless nights and long study sessions in the months ahead. Of course, one of the most important components of getting into law school is the completion of the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). The LSAT is a standardized test used for admissions into law schools in the United States, Canada, and a handful of other countries. Because the LSAT is so important, you probably have some pretty big questions about it. Here are the answers to four questions about the LSAT to help you feel better prepared.

Do all law schools require the LSAT?

Pretty much, although the situation is changing, albeit slowly. The American Bar Association now allows law schools to accept a portion of students who have not completed the LSAT so long as those students showed outstanding academic performance in the undergraduate careers and also scored high on other standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT. In other words, even if a college does not require the LSAT, that does not mean that getting admitted is going to be very easy.

Does taking the LSAT more than once hurt your chances?

Generally you can take the LSAT up to three times within a two-year period. In the past, law schools would consider your average score across all the LSATs you had taken. More recently, however, law schools have tended to consider only the highest LSAT score achieved. That being said, some schools continue to take your average score into account, so don't treat your first attempt as somehow being a "throw away." Furthermore, taking the LSAT is expensive and takes a lot of preparation, so it's usually a good idea to try to do as well as possible the first (and hopefully only) time around. Also remember that colleges will have access to all LSATs you have registered for since June 1, 2011.

Is the LSAT really that important?

Again, it depends on which schools you are applying to. For some law schools, the LSAT will be extremely important, while for others your undergraduate performance, your references, or other factors may hold more sway. While some schools are becoming more relaxed about their LSAT standards, the test is still very important since it provides a standardized measure by which colleges can assess applicants, many of which have come from undergraduate programs that may have vastly different ways of grading their students.

Is it possible to cram for the LSAT?

Not really. The LSAT isn't really about testing what you know, but rather how you think. Trying to cram as much information just a week before the test isn't going to help you very much if you don't already have a good idea of how logical reasoning works. The LSAT is designed to test how well you can understand an argument and how well you can support or refute that argument. In other words, the skills you will need to excel at the LSAT are going to take months--even years--to develop and hone.

The LSAT is a challenging test, but if you prepare for it well in advance then you will be in a much better position to do well. While the LSAT is not the only criteria for admission to most law schools, it remains a major step that just about every law school applicant must complete.

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