Sadly, in this day and age, the LSAT is a significant portion of any law student's acceptance to law school. When viewed within the entirety of an applicants materials, this one test alone may account for anywhere from half to two-thirds of the factors for or against a student. Usually the remainder is the undergraduate grade point average, and any negligible remainder is reserved for personal statements, resumes, and letters of recommendations. It is a test scored on a scale of 120-180, with 180 being the highest score. The test is graded on a curve, and any year the median of that curve could be between 150-151. Fear not, we'll break down just what the LSAT is and the best approaches to conquering the exam and getting into your dream law school.



            The Law School Admission Test, or LSAT as it is commonly known by most students, is the standardized test required by all ABA (American Bar Association) schools. The test is composed of four sections, three of which are scored. The three differing sections that are scored comprise of logic games, reading comprehension, and logical reasoning. Reading comprehension and the logical reasoning sections are somewhat similar to what most students experience on the ACT or SAT prior to their undergraduate studies. However, the logical reading games are usually a completely new ordeal for students, the likes of which are typically only found in philosophical logic courses or in math courses above Calculus. The final section of the LSAT, is the writing sample. Although it is the only  section not scored on the LSAT, most law schools use it as an example of what the student is capable of writing in a time constraint; as opposed to the personal statement that is written in advance for a law school application.



            Most students who do well on the LSAT have begun preparations for the test months in advance. It is advisable to spend at least two to three months studying, if not more. Although there are a plethora of classes available for students, LSAT classes can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. There is one distinct advantage to taking a class to study versus self-study. Classes compel you to actually show up. If you're not one to study on your own or even doubt you will have the control to study independently a class is probably the best option when preparing for the test. If you do decide on the class route, try and do some research on the various classes offered near you. Some use real, prior LSAT exams for their classes and study aids. These classes are by far the best, as they show you what you'll actually be facing. Other classes merely use tests that have largely been written by individuals with degrees in political science, whereas the real LSAT is written by people with PhDs in philosophy and logic. Although it is possible to do well taking one of the classes without real, genuine LSAT exams, it's advised that you try and take some of the measures detailed below for the self-study route.



            If spending two semesters of textbook costs is out of the question for you then self-studying for the LSAT might be your best bet. If you decide to study for the LSAT on your own, be sure to purchase old LSAT exams. They can be purchased online, frequently used, or most undergraduate college libraries have books that have been compiled with multiple exams that you can use. These old tests, called prep-tests normally have something saying they are indeed authentic, Law School Admission Council products. This is how you know you have the real thing. They are numbered one through over sixty now. The highest numbers are the most newly administered exams. For example, Prep Test 60 is an actual LSAT from around June, 2010.



            Once you have a sufficient number of prep-tests, you're ready to study. While you would ideally study anywhere from four to six months, any number of months fewer retains the same general theory. Start with the lower numbered prep-tests and work your way up. In this way you're in essence learning in the same direction that the exam has been evolving. At the beginning, it's ideal to approach each of the three scored sections separately, learning where your weakness in each is, and of course, without timing. As you progress through each section, you can begin slowly getting closer to taking full lengthened exams and trying to meet the LSAT time constraint, 35 minutes per section. Of course, the key is to be consistently taking the tests, presumably a test a week.



            Hopefully you now have a better idea of how to tackle the LSAT. This is just the tip of the iceberg on LSAT preparation. The law school process as a whole is a marathon, and surmounting the Law School Admission Test is only the first in several steps that are necessary to finally find yourself sitting in a law school classroom.