Guide to Preparing for the LSAT

By Staff Writers

Published on September 21, 2021

Guide to Preparing for the LSAT

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Making LSAT Prep Affordable & Finding Schools with No LSAT Requirement

The LSAT, long seen as the white whale of the law school admissions process, is a necessary hurdle to leap for many students who envision themselves working as lawyers one day. According to the Law School Admissions Council, 105,883 people took the exam during the 2015-2016 academic year, and that number is expected to grow. Aside from stress related to the exam itself, many students may feel overwhelmed about paying for test prep materials, tutors and the actual test. We’re here to calm your nerves, provide lots of resources dedicated to free/affordable test prep materials and perhaps even help you get into a top law school without taking the LSAT.

Get to Know the LSAT

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized exam used by every law school approved by the American Bar Association. The exam is widely known for being challenging, and prospective law students frequently spend months studying for this tough test.

StepsDescription
Step #1The exam is made up of five sections, each of which has multiple choice questions and takes 35 minutes.
Step #2The final section is unscored and is usually used by the creators of the exam to test out new questions.
Step #3The maximum score is 180 while the average is 150. Scores typically arrive three to four weeks after the exam date and can be found on the LSAC website.
Step #4Sections within the test include reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, two sections of logical reasoning and variables.
Step #5Although these sections may not sound all that tough, the content of the LSAT can be confusing and overwhelming for those who haven’t studied properly and don’t understand the methodology and framework behind how the questions are asked.
Step #7The majority of schools require scores to be submitted by the January preceding admissions, so most learners try to take the text in June, September, and/or October to have ample time to get scores back, see how they did and assess whether they need to take it again.
Step #8Administered by the Law School Admission Council, learners can often find a testing center near them.
Steps for the LSAT

Though many students pay thousands of dollars to study and prepare for the LSAT, those who do their homework know that taking the exam doesn’t have to break the bank. In addition to a range of free sample tests and a list of strategies available via LSAC, countless resources are available online and in local communities to make taking the LSAT affordable.

The Cost of the LSAT

Taking the LSAT can quickly add up to a lot of money if students don’t have a solid game plan (and a budget in place) going in and an idea of where they can cut costs. While some learners prefer to have the more expensive one-to-one tutoring, plenty of less expensive options exist. There are a few costs that no one can get around, including:

COSTAMOUNT
Exam + one free score report$180
Credential Assembly Service$185
Late registration fee$100
Subscription to the Law School Data Assembly Service$121
Additional score reports$12
Testing Center/Date Change$100
Handscoring, if requested$100
Law School Reports$35 per school

Over and above the required costs, there are many other ancillary fees that students who need help studying should consider. A few to keep in mind include:

While all these charges may seem like they add up quickly, there are multiple ways to cut costs and save along the way – provided you know where to look.

Resources to Help Make LSAT Prep Affordable

Free/Affordable Study Classes

Bar Associations

The New York City Bar offers annual LSAT/law school prep classes lasting two days. Your bar association may have a similar program.

Community Centers

Check with your local community center to see if they offer LSAT prep. The Roudenbush Community Center is just one of many examples of similar programs available.

Community Colleges

Many community college – including Southwest Tennessee Community College – offer free or very affordable LSAT prep classes on campus.

Khan Academy

Starting in the second half of 2018, Khan Academy is partnering with LSAC to provide free LSAT Prep for all prospective students.

Local Law Schools

The University at Buffalo School of Law is a great example of the type of LSAT prep workshops and practice tests that can be found at law schools.

Study Guides/Official Prep Books

LSAT Center

This New York-based organization offers an expansive review of the LSAT, including tips, essay writing strategies, common question types, logic games and a sample LSAT test.

Magoosh LSAT Study Guide

As a leader in test prep, Magoosh’s study guide provides a comprehensive overview of the LSAT as well as a range of study strategies and tips.

Michigan State University College of Law LSAT Prep

MSU’s guide provides a prep and application timeline, study tips, time management skills, and a list of what to do in the weeks and days before the exam.

The Official LSAT SuperPrep Book

Published by LSAC, this expansive book covers all you need to know about taking the LSAT and only costs $16.24 on Amazon.

Union Test Prep

The free study guide at Union includes individual review sections for analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and writing.

Apps

Blueprint LSAT

This free app on iTunes makes studying for the LSAT fun while also working to improve scores through interactive lessons.

LSAT Prep (iOS/Android)

7Sage provides this app that simulates the LSAT test environment, including distractive noises, five-minute warnings, actual instructions, and a virtual timer.

Magoosh’s LSAT Prep

This collaborative app provides research-based flashcards to help students refine their analytical thinking skills and become better prepared for the exam.

Manhattan Prep’s LSAT Arcade

Available as an app or a webpage, Manhattan Prep makes studying for the LSAT fun with a range of games.

Varsity Tutors LSAT Mobile App (iOS/GooglePlay)

This free app includes practice tests, flashcards, diagnostic tests, and quizzes to help students improve their LSAT scores.

Videos

7Sage LSAT Channel

This test prep company has a range of videos covering all sections of the LSAT and offers sample questions, tips, and strategies.

Insight LSAT

Insight offers a free, eight-part YouTube series taught by a former LSAT examinee who scored a 179. In addition to reviewing each section of the test, students can find strategies, tips, and expert advice.

The LSAT Trainer

Mike Kim, author of The LSAT Trainer, provides this video about strategies for acing the reading comprehension section of the exam.

Velocity Test Prep

Students can find free explanations of questions on the LSAT given by qualified LSAT prep instructors.

Study Groups

7Sage

At any given time, 7Sage has a number of study groups going via its online forums and in-person groups.

LSAT Study Group

This open Facebook group has more than 2,000 members and regularly organizes study sessions.

Meetup

In addition to arranging social outings, Meetup hosts a number of LSAT study groups throughout America.

StudyPal

This website allows users to look for study buddies in their city and meet to compare notes, challenge each other, and work through material together.

LSAT Fee Waiver

It’s no secret that taking the LSAT can be an expensive process. Even if students use lots of free resources rather than shelling out thousands of dollars on tutors and prep services, they still encounter all the costs associated with the exam itself. Realizing this limitation, LSAC began providing fee waivers in 1968 and continues to do so today. The waivers cover both the cost of the exam and the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) fee.

To be considered, applicants must either be a legal resident or have applied for DACA protections. They must also be able to demonstrate “extreme need” and be using the fee waiver as a last resort. LSAC notes that the requirements for qualifying are far more stringent than most financial aid processes, so learners should consider if they are truly in need before applying.

LSAT Prep Timeline

The majority of LSAT test prep services last between 12 and 16 weeks and offer a range of studying styles and levels of intensity based on if students are starting from scratch or have already been prepping for the exam. The timelines given below breaks studying into four, four-week sessions to give examinees a sense of how they can use their time wisely.

After taking a practice test to get a set a baseline, divide coursework from your test prep book into manageable weekly segments that touch on all three portions of the exam. Review your practice test and figure out which areas need the most work; once this is established, watch one video per day addressing those topics on top of workbook assignments. Find a weekly study group in your area of look for a virtual study pal that you can meet with once or twice a week. Continue working through your prep book and completing practice questions each day. Take weekly practice exams to see how your scores have improved and update your study plan accordingly. In addition to ongoing work with your test prep book and study group, begin using apps that can test your knowledge while on-the-go and add a bit of fun to the learning process to mitigate burnout. When completing practice questions, begin timing yourself to mimic actual exam circumstances. In addition to your weekly practice exams, take a practice test in a public place like a library to simulate distractions; make sure you time yourself and stick to the allotted amount for each section. Keep doing everything you’ve been doing, but also make time to review strategies that help you not only use your knowledge, but also get into the mindset of those who wrote the exam. Complete timed practice tests during weeks 13 to 15 before using the final few days of your last week to take a break, clear your head, breathe deeply, and get in a healthy mindset.

Law Schools that Don’t Require LSAT for Some or All Students

For many years, taking the LSAT was the only way students who hoped to attend an American Bar Association-accredited law school could even hope to get in. Unaccredited institutions sometime don’t require the LSAT, but those aren’t the types of institutions that someone looking to attend Harvard, Georgetown or Columbia would consider. The LSAT was the gateway to law school for decades but, as of fall 2018, all that is set to change. In consultation with the ABA, approximately 14 top-tier law schools plan to allow the GRE to be used as an admissions exam – with possibly more joining them in the years that follow. The reasoning for this decision is twofold.

  1. Law schools are looking to bring in a more diverse cohort that better represents the academic interests of all students – particularly those with undergraduate degrees in STEM subjects, which tend to be underrepresented in law.
  2. The ABA and many law schools recognize that the high costs associated with prepping for the LSAT were enough to dissuade some students from pursuing law school at all.

Want to know more about some of the law schools following this trend? Check out three below.

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