Five Things About The LSAT Nobody Is Telling You

By Dave Killoran, PowerScore LSAT Preparation

The Easiest and Most Difficult Sections to Improve On

Logic Games, also known as Analytical Reasoning, is the section most foreign to the typical LSAT student. It has nothing to do with the law, and is based on a puzzle format. Because the section is so unusual, most students do not know how to attack it. But there are excellent techniques for handling each type of game, and students often see significant score increases through studying—going from 5-6 right to over 20 right per section is not uncommon!

On the other hand, Reading Comprehension is the generally the most difficult section to improve. That is because your reading speed plays a big role in how well you perform, and reading speed is challenging to substantially increase in a short period of time. However, by understanding how to best approach the text and applying that knowledge to critical passage elements, improvement is possible! It just tends to develop more slowly than in Logic Games.

The Experimental Section Can Make Or Break You

LSAC uses the exam’s experimental section to pretest items that will be used on future tests. Your experimental can be any of the three traditional section types: Logic Games, Logical Reasoning, or Reading Comprehension. Although the experimental section has no direct impact on your score, the type of section you are assigned can have a profound influence on your overall performance.

If, for example, you are weak at Logic Games and you get an “extra” section of it, that can have a detrimental effect on how you feel about the exam, and how well you do on subsequent sections. On the other hand, if you are great at Reading Comprehension and get an extra section of that, it can boost your confidence and prove beneficial to the sections that follow.

The best approach is to treat each section as if it’s scored, unless you happen to encounter a section that goes poorly: then treat that section as experimental (and thus inconsequential) for the remainder of the test. After the exam, you can determine if the section was scored or not, and use that information to more accurately assess your performance.

The Scoring Scale Has a Big Impact On Your Results

Each LSAT has a unique scoring scale, or “curve,” tailored to the difficulty of that particular test. For example, based on average student results, the LSAT given in December may prove to be logically more challenging than the LSAT given in June, which is obviously problematic for an exam intended to be standardized (and thus consistent) across all administrations.

To counteract these subtle variations in test difficulty, the test makers would adjust the December LSAT scale and make it “looser” than the June scale, such that fewer correct answers are required in December than in June to achieve the same final, scaled score. That means a 170 on each test would represent the same level of ability, despite being produced by different correct answer counts.

Because the scale varies from test to test, the scale of your LSAT will have an immediate impact on your final results. For example, obtaining a 170 on one exam might require you to answer 87 questions correctly whereas on another exam it might require answering 92 questions correctly. That difference can have a big impact on your score!

And no, there’s no predicting the scale you’ll see beforehand, nor is there any correlation between test date and test difficulty; you simply play the hand you’re dealt for each LSAT administered. 

The Writing Sample is Not Important

The Writing Sample is a 35-minute assignment requiring you to pen a persuasive essay in favor of a particular choice from among two possible options. But, while that may sound intimidating, it’s not important at all. Here’s why:

The Writing Sample is unscored. Yes, you read that right: there is no number or value given to your essay by either the test makers or admissions committees.

The Writing Sample is mostly an afterthought to law schools. Schools pay little, if any, attention to your essay because they know this is given after several grueling hours of testing and in a format largely unrelated to any you’ll encounter in law school (your personal statement is a much better measure of your writing skills).

4 Years of College Count for Less Than a 4-hour Test

One would expect that your hard-earned GPA— the product of years of diligent work—would be the most important credential in your application. But that’s not the case at all! Each undergrad institution has its own grading process, curriculum, and environment, all of which make it hard for law schools to compare GPAs. After all, a 3.7 at a notoriously difficult school with an academically-rigorous major might represent a far greater achievement than a 3.9 at an easier school with a less-demanding course of study.

Enter the LSAT, the only truly universal comparison point among applicants. LSAT scores are normalized so that the results of any administration can be accurately compared to those from any other administration, and thus law schools weight LSAT scores more heavily than undergrad GPAs. The good news is that this means an exceptional four hours in a testing room can outweigh four less-than-stellar years in college, so it’s never too late to drastically improve your admissions odds with a top LSAT score!

Questions about the above? Feel free to reach out to us directly at www.powerscore.com.