Breaking Down LSAT Question Types

Unlike the MCAT, the LSAT doesn’t test your knowledge of subject material. The Law School Admission Test serves as an aptitude test, functioning similarly to the GRE. According to the test makers from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), “The test is designed specifically to assess critical reading, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and persuasive writing skills—key skills needed for success in law school.”

But how does the three and a half-hour long exam test these essential skills? Test-takers will benefit from understanding how the exam works and what proficiency each type of question addresses.

Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension portion of the exam tests an individual’s ability to read and understand complex text. According to the LSAC, “Both law school and the practice of law revolve around extensive reading of highly varied, dense, argumentative, and expository texts…This reading must be exacting, distinguishing precisely what is said from what is not said. It involves comparison, analysis, synthesis, and application.”

The exam introduces reading passages from a wide range of topics that use high-level vocabulary, contain complex arguments, and often have a rhetorical structure. The questions following a reading passage (or two, if given two comparative passages) can address any of the following:

  • The main idea
  • Explicit information presented in the text
  • Inferences based on the text
  • How a word or phrase functions within its context
  • The reading passage’s structure
  • How to apply the information from the passage in a different context
  • The principles at play in the text
  • Analogies to the claims made in the passage
  • The author’s tone or attitude
  • How new information would affect the information presented in the passage
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Analytical Reasoning

In conversation, many law students refer to the Analytical Reasoning section of the exam as “logic games.” The LSAC explains that these questions “are designed to assess your ability to consider a group of facts and rules, and, given those facts and rules, determine what could or must be true…AR questions reflect the kinds of detailed analyses of relationships and sets of constraints that a law student must perform in legal problem solving” Based on the rules of a given logic game, you may be asked to:

  • Determine a conclusion
  • Decipher the implications of the rules
  • Infer argument most strongly supported by the given information
  • Identify an issue
  • Identify the techniques at play
  • Find a flaw
  • Identify the necessary assumptions
  • Identify sufficient assumptions
  • Identify how to strengthen or weaken the argument
  • Solve a conflict

Logical Reasoning

In the Logical Reasoning section of the exam, test-takers have to show their ability to “examine, analyze, and critically evaluate arguments as they occur in ordinary language.” The test-makers take these arguments from sources like newspapers, magazines, and scholarly articles. Based on the arguments presented, you may have to:

  • Identify, strengthen, or weaken the conclusion
  • Find the point of contention or agreement
  • Determine what else must be true
  • Identify what’s most supported by the information provided
  • Identify an assumption or sufficient assumption
  • Identify a paradox or discrepancy
  • Identify a method of reasoning, flawed reasoning, parallel reasoning, or flawed parallel reasoning
  • Determine what can’t be true based on the information provided
  • Evaluate the argument made

Test Prep Tools

Preparing to take the LSAT typically requires 100 to 300 hours of study. It’s recommended that prospective law students take practice exams to gauge their preparedness and identify which type of questions give them the most difficulty. You can use LSAT practice resources from Kaplan that provide detailed score reports, helping you determine which areas to focus on. Other recommended resources include online prep courses, official question banks, mobile apps, and review videos.

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Study Smarter, Not Harder

The LSAT is composed of complex questions in a wide range of formats. While some question types may come naturally to you, others will challenge you and force you to use a new way of thinking. When it comes to test prep, it’s essential that you spend your time wisely. By taking practice tests and recognizing patterns in your results, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and determine the best course of action for studying.

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