How to Study for the LSAT
- Academically reviewed by Morgan Galloway Daly, J.D. - LSAT Expert
The LSAT is the only exam accepted by all ABA-accredited law schools, so getting a great score is an essential part of the application process.
Understanding how to study for the LSAT and preparing for the types of questions you can expect can significantly improve your score.
Summary: Learn how to study for the LSAT with some tips, tricks, and resources.
How to Study for the LSAT
The best way to study for the LSAT is to familiarize yourself with the test and practice using previously administered LSATs. This will give you the format of the test questions and answer choices. Furthermore, it will give you the feel of the time restaurants you can expect on test day.
There are many resources available to help you maximize the time you spend studying. One popular option is to take an online prep course. These courses will guide you through your test preparations one step at a time. You can check out our reviews of LSAT prep courses for help in choosing the right one.
Many students also find it helpful to supplement their online course with an LSAT prep book.
How to Study For the LSAT - Strategies
Strategy 1: Take a Diagnostic Exam
Taking a diagnostic exam is a great way to start your LSAT preparation. The diagnostic exam will give you a great idea of what subjects you are more comfortable with and what subjects you may need to spend more time on.
Do not worry about performing poorly on your diagnostic exam - this should be used as a way to benchmark what you have learned as you continue your studies.
Strategy 2: Develop a Study Plan
Once you take a diagnostic exam, and figure out what topics and subjects you will need to focus on, develop a study plan. Every person is different. Some students may choose to enroll in an online prep course, while other students may choose to use free resources like our LSAT study guide or our LSAT practice tests.
Regardless of which method you choose to study, having a plan in place will help keep you on track and hold you accountable.
Strategy 3: Give Yourself Time
Giving yourself enough time to study for the exam will be key. Students who end up cramming for the exam tend to not do well. Having enough time set aside to study will help you retain key information and maintain your mental health in the study process.
The timeline you choose to study for the LSAT depends on what you have going on and how much time you can commit to studying. If you are solely focused on studying, you may be able to get away with dedicating 1 month to studying. If you have a full-time job, you may need 2-3 months or more to study.
Strategy 4: Practice, Practice, Practice
One of the best ways to get comfortable with the LSAT is by seeing the questions you will be asked. While the questions will not be the same, you will be able to familiarize yourself with the format of the test.
As well as being more familiar with the format, you will also have a better idea of how much time you can spend on each question. Timing on the LSAT is difficult for a lot of students.
Strategy 5: Find the Right Study Method
Students learn differently. Some students may prefer to learn via textbooks and written lectures while other students may prefer videos and interactive classrooms.
Any method that is going to help you learn the material will work. It is important you find the best method for you. Review our list of best LSAT prep courses to compare and contrast different courses and various learning methods.
To further help you study for the LSAT, here is an explanation of each section and example questions from the test.
How to Study for the LSAT - Analytical Reasoning
This section of the exam will test your ability to understand what may be true or false based on a set of facts or rules.
In the Analytical Reasoning section, you will read a passage of around 130 words that describes a scenario and the set of rules that apply to it. You will then be asked to answer 5-7 questions about what can or must be true about that specific scenario.
An example of questions you will find about a specific scenario are:
- Which of the following could be true?
- Which of the following activities cannot be third?
There will be four sets of Analytical Reasoning passages and questions, totaling approximately 23 questions in all.
Strategies for Success on Analytical Reasoning
- Be sure to read each scenario and the questions that follow carefully.
- Remember, each set of questions pertains only to the current scenario and not any rules from past scenarios.
- Use shorthand to take note of the rules as you read them. This way, you can quickly reference them for each of the 5-8 questions in that section.
- Pay close attention to the wording of the scenarios and questions. Words like, only, except, must be, and cannot be, make a big difference in the meaning of the question.
How to Study for the LSAT - Reading Comprehension
This section of the exam tests your ability to read and understand text quickly.
To demonstrate your reading comprehension, you will be asked to read several passages and answer 5-8 questions about each.
You will get two different types of passage.
The first type is a single passage of approximately 460 words.
Examples of the questions you can expect for a single passage are:
- Which of the following most accurately expresses the main idea of the passage?
- Which of the following can be inferred from the passage?
- Which of the following is operative in the author's argument?
For a single passage, you are being tested on your comprehension, so understanding the passage's main idea is critical. At times you may also be asked to go beyond the text and infer the meaning.
The second type of passage you will get in the LSAT reading comprehension section is comparative reading. It consists of two smaller passages, totaling approximately 460 words together.
Examples of questions you can expect from a comparative reading text are:
- Which of the following is a topic that is central in both passages?
- The authors would be most likely to agree about which of the following?
Strategies for Success On Reading Comprehension
- Read each passage carefully.
- Most questions will ask about the author's point of view or the main point of the passage, so try and identify this right away.
- Take note of contrasting points of view and be sure not to mix them up.
- Try to think beyond the passage and use reasoning to decide what the passage means.
How to Study for the LSAT - Logical Reasoning
This section of the LSAT will test your ability to evaluate and understand arguments. There will be two scored logical reasoning sections on the multiple-choice test.
To demonstrate your proficiency in this area, you will read short passages, of roughly 20-100 words, and answer questions about them.
A few examples of questions you might see in this section are:
- Which one of the following is the overall conclusion drawn in the argument?
- Which one of the following is most strongly supported by the statement above?
- Which of the following, if true, most strengthens the argument?
Strategies for Success On Logical Reasoning
- Not all passages will present an argument. Some will require you to infer the conclusion from the statement given.
- Sometimes you will be given a bad argument. It is up to you to decide why the argument is not valid.
- Try and identify the conclusion of each statement first.
- Answer the questions based only on the information given. Outside knowledge or opinion should not guide your answer.
- Read each question carefully and look out for subtle changes in vocabulary. Words like every, many, and none, can drastically change the meaning of the text.
The above sections make up the multiple-choice portion of the LSAT. You will not need any specialized knowledge to answer the questions on the exam. You will need to understand concepts such as premise, inference, argument, assumption, and conclusion.
HOw to Study for the LSAT - Writing Portion
The writing sample is the second and final piece of the LSAT. It will be administered separately from the multiple-choice portion.
To complete the writing sample, you will download a secure proctoring software on your computer. You will have access to this portion of the exam eight days before your scheduled multiple-choice exam.
Once you begin, you will have 35 minutes to respond to a writing prompt. The prompt will ask you to choose between two mutually exclusive alternatives. You will then argue one alternative over the other. LSAC will not score this portion of the test. Instead, this writing sample will be sent with your multiple-choice exam score when you apply to law schools.
Some schools use the writing sample, and some do not. You can usually find this out by contacting each school.
Once you have an understanding of the sections above and the questions on each, it is time to take a Free LSAT Practice Test.
An updated list of FREE LSAT Practice Tests can be found here.
Take your time and complete this practice test as if it were the real thing.
- Each section should take you 35 minutes.
- Do not leave any answers blank.
- Once you finish, look at what you got wrong. Take the time to understand why your answer was wrong and figure out the correct answer.
Studying for the LSAT can seem like a big task, but using the resources available to you, and giving yourself plenty of time to study, will set you up for success on test day.
Overview of the LSAT
There are two components to the LSAT: the multiple-choice exam and the writing sample.
The multiple-choice exam consists of five sections:
- 1 Section on Analytical Reasoning
- 1 Section on Reading Comprehension
- 2 Sections on Logical Reasoning
- One additional section on either Analytical Reasoning or Reading Comprehension that will not count towards your score. These questions help gather data for LSAC.
(click on image to enlarge)
LSAT Multiple Choice Exam Format
|Subject||# of Sections||Time||Questions|
|Analytical Reasoning||1 Section||35 Minutes||~ 23 Questions|
|Reading Comprehension||1 Section||35 Minutes||~ 27 Questions|
|Logical Reasoning||2 Sections||35 Minutes Each||~ 25 Questions Each|
|One Additional Section||Analytical Reasoning or Reading Comprehension||35 Minutes||~ 25 Questions|
The five sections can appear in any order, and you will not know which section will be unscored.
You are allowed 35 minutes for each section, but you can expect the entire exam to take three and a half hours. There is a ten minute break between sections 2 and 3.
The second part of the LSAT is the Writing Sample. LSAC will not score this; however, it will be sent with your application to law schools and will be a crucial part of your evaluation for acceptance.
You will complete the multiple-choice test and the writing sample separately.
Once you feel ready, you will need to register for a designated testing time. LSAC requires you to register at least one month in advance. So, plan to accommodate your admissions deadlines.