The LSAT seeks to measure not what you already know but, rather, how well you might respond to training in law. As a result, it is designed to gauge your basic skills and abilities in each of the following:
- critical and accurate reading
- dispassionate, flexible, intelligent, inferential thinking
- distinguishing fact from opinion and the relevant from the irrelevant
- stability under pressure
- tolerance of ambiguity and of abstraction
- quick adaptation to unfamiliar procedures and strange circumstances.
The LSAT consists of a series of demanding, often strange intellectual games, at times having little to do with real life or academic subjects. Preparation consists of learning the game rules, both those set forth in the different sections of the test and those implicit in its construction and scoring method.
Four Important Points to Remember:
- Scores are determined entirely on the basis of the number of correct answers only. Nothing is deducted or subtracted for wrong answers. There is no penalty for guessing. Never Leave a Question Unanswered!
- The LSAT is deliberately “speeded.” You will often find you do not have enough time to complete every question. It is not unusual to find you are not able to finish each section of the test without a certain amount of guessing.
- While individual questions do vary in difficulty, each correct answer makes the same contribution to your score regardless of how easy or difficult it may be. No Question Is Worth More Than Any Other!
- Within each section, questions are not arranged in order of difficulty. You should not assume that the next question or set of questions will necessarily be either more or less difficult for you to answer than earlier ones.
Some General Pointers for Taking the Test:
- Prepare to concentrate immediately, intensely, steadily, and to your utmost. The passive test-taker gets nowhere. There’s no time to reread. Attack the problem actively the first time around. And be in condition to keep this up for 3 1/2 hours.
- Take time to understand the directions. You’re being tested on following difficult and unexpected directions. Pay particular attention to the exact wording of definitions. Some of these are very strange, too.
- Don’t misread, don’t skim, don’t “speed-read.” The time pressure comes from the required speed of thinking, not of reading. Read carefully for exact wording, exact meaning. Underline key words.
- Never Answer From Your Own Knowledge or Experience-that’s not what’s being tested. Never answer from your own opinions or prejudices, or because you think one answer is more socially acceptable than another. (You’ll often be invited to do that.)
- Read Nothing Into Any Problem. Deal only with what has actually been said. Beware of thinking you recognize what’s going to be said (“Oh, I know that.”) because chances are good that you’ll miss the actual point. Don’t get involved with what you think must also be true, or must also have happened, unless you’ve been asked to do that. If “if’s” and “but’s” come into your mind, forget them.
- One, and only one, of the answer options is correct in terms of the question. Accept this; don’t fight it. All problems have been thoroughly tested. Every word is there on purpose, and every needed word has been included. Ambiguities are deliberate, and a solution has been supplied.
- Keep track of time but don’t be possessed by it. Resist pressure by working at the fastest pace that is productive for you. Many people don’t finish. The score comes from getting questions right, not just from getting them answered, and a correct guess is as good as a right answer, whether you like it or not.
- Manage the Answer Sheet. Avoid stupid, nerve-wracking mistakes such as getting answers in the wrong column (picking A but marking B) or reversing the wrong number (answering #22 in slot #23). This is more common than you might believe. Have a System. And to insure yourself against panic if you do catch yourself misplacing answers, always mark you answers in your test booklet before transferring them to the answer sheet.
Overall, try to keep in mind this exam in proportion. This test is a difficult and important set of games. It’s not a final judgment about your worth as a person or your potential as a law student. You’re not the only one, by any means, who makes a lot of mistakes or who might not finish all sections. Don’t waste time during the test worrying about things like that. Just do your job and take the test.
Based on material originally prepared by Dorothy Clerk.