Everything you need to know about the LSAT

Jacky is finished her Bachelor of Arts in 2013, and is currently in her second year of the JD.

Thinking about applying to law? If you want a JD from Melbourne University, you’ll have to sit the LSAT first. Here’s your guide to getting started.

1. The LSAT is held four times each year.

In February, June, October, and December. If you want to apply for 2016, there is only one round of applications this year (closing September 4th) so you need to sit the June LSAT (don’t worry, it’s after exams…just).

2. You can sit the LSAT more than once.

It’s actually pretty common to sit the LSAT twice. Think about what’s going to work for you.

3. That said, costs $170 each time you take the LSAT.

However, if you get some kind of centrelink, you’ll probably qualify for a fee waiver which lets you sit twice for free.

4. You need to register to sit the LSAT at least a month in advance.

You can do this through the website.

5. It’s multiple choice.

Yay!

6. It’s really pretty tricky.

Your study will not fly by in a montage like Elle Woods’ did. I’m so sorry.

7. The exam scoring is weird and makes no sense

The LSAT is scored on a steep bell curve starting at 120 and going up to 180. Why? Who knows. The average is around 150, 160 is about 80th percentile, 165 is about 90th and 170 is about 97th percentile. LSAC have some really useful information about what scores are competitive for schools in the US. Sadly, Melbourne University doesn’t tend to be so forthcoming with that information.

8. So, what is actually on the test?

The LSAT is made up of 6 sections, each taking 35 minutes. If you finish a section early, you can’t work ahead, and you can’t work behind either. Of the 6 sections, only 4 actually contribute toward your score.

i) Logic Games: 

These are puzzles that involve organising a set of variables according to conditions. For example, 8 people perform in a concert and the conditions will constrain the order in which they play.

ii) Logical Analysis x 2:

These are short form arguments that will ask you to identify the answer that most strengthens/weakens the argument, the flaw or assumption in the argument – that kind of thing. This section appears twice and comprises 50% of your score, so it’s important to be confident with these.

iii) Reading Comprehension:

This section involves a set of longer passages (around 700 words) with a set of questions about the authors’ intention, structure, use of metaphor and function of language. Most people find this the easiest part when the start studying, but hardest to actually improve upon.

iv) Random:

You’ll get an extra section of either logic games, logic analysis, or reading comprehension. This does not contribute to your score, but you can’t be sure that you’re up to the random section, so you still have to apply yourself.

v) Essay:

The essay is always the same formula, so don’t worry too much. You’re presented with two options and two criteria your selection should fulfil. Neither choice is 100% perfect so your essay just needs to justify your decision. You must use pencil, and erasers are not permitted in this section. The essay does not contribute toward your score, but it gets sent to each law school you apply for (that uses the LSAT) and they can choose whether or not to consider it as part of your application.

9. What to bring.

You have to bring your belongings in a zip-lock bag so you don’t want anything too big. Spare pencils (you don’t want to waste time sharpening your pencil in the exam), a watch, an eraser and a snack should really be enough. You can’t bring in any spare paper and your zip lock bag will be inspected.

10. There’s not much study support available in Australia.

The US has heaps of resources for LSAT study – seminars, tutors, books etc but Australia doesn’t have much. If you’re looking for a study book, I would recommend the PowerScore Bibles if you have the time and money. There’s also a lot of resources online; here, here, over here, and here as well. They are all really useful for self-guided study.

Got any LSAT tips of your own? Add them to the comments below!

– Jacky

Author: jacquelineoulton

Jacky is in her sixth year at Melbourne Uni which makes her feel old. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in 2013, majoring in Criminology and Creative Writing before moving on to the JD. Jacky spent three years living in college but now resides in the law library. Please send coffee.

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