Anyone take the LSAT?

I’m kicking around the idea of attending law school (I know. Yes, I know. Really, I’ve thought about that.) and have signed up for the LSAT in June.

Any Dopers take this test recently? Thoughts? What study guides did you use? Score well? Easy? Hard? Impossible?

Any answers appreciated.

I took the LSAT in 2002 - so I guess not all that recently. When I took it I didn’t really prepare very much - I just wrote the practice LSAT on the LSAC website at home and then wrote the real thing. I used to think that all of the study guides and prep courses were a big scam. I didn’t believe that they could help very much and that they were really expensive.

Now, after talking to lots of other people in law school and afterwards my opinion has changed. I’ve met many people who took the courses and used the study guides and these did help them to improve their scores by as much as 10 points.

Where I think a person can make the most gains is in the logic games portion - getting used to those styles of questions and coming up with strategies for approaching them can really help you to answer those questions within the time allowed.

My advice would be to write the free sample test under simulation conditions and gauge what you need to do from there.

I took the test myself last June, not because I’m going to Law school, but because I work for a test prep company and I teach this test. I didn’t find it terribly difficult, but then again I’ve had a LOT of practice teaching it for several years. I can, however, tell you the biggest mistakes that my students make:
#1–people HATE critical reading, and will spend hours practicing for the other two sections of the test, and then get too tired to work on critical reading. They put it off forever and end up sucking at it. The passages aren’t really much harder than the SAT though, so if you were OK with those the reading comp isn’t a problem.

#2–this is NOT the SAT, you need to start preparing earlier rather than later. The games and arguments, if you aren’t already good at them, can take a while to get good at. Some people are good at them right away, but don’t wait until too late to find out.

#3 take full practice tests, rather than just drills from a book. I’ve had a lot of students who could ace the 20 minute drills, but didn’t have the endurance to make it through the full test, and made a lot of stupid mistakes later in the test because they weren’t used to it and got too tired, too quick.

At the site where I took the test, there were over 500 people. Administrative nonsense, like checking everyone’s ID, handing out books, etc. was ridiciulous, causing the test to start well over an hour late. The break stretched for over a half hour, and there were so many delays that we were actually at the test site for six hours (not counting the hour that I got there early). My experience was that there are so many variables on test day, independent of your ability to answer the questions themselves, that cause students to screw up–like not eating before the test and gettting really hungry halfway through (for example, I could have thought ‘it’s only a three hours, no big deal’, but it stretched into six) . Also, dress in layers–a room that big inevitably starts out freezing and ends up boiling after a few hours, so being able to peel off the layers til I got comfortable was nice. Especially on the games section, anything at all that allows your concentration to slip can be very bad, because you have to be pretty quick to get them all done correctly in the amount of time you’re given.
On the other hand, I’ve heard of lots of administrations with only a handful of people that went very smoothly, but it’s best to be prepared for the worst test conditions.

I completely agree, even if I am biased because I’m in the business—but I have seen dramatic improvements. The biggest I ever saw was a girl who really busted her ass go from a 138 on a practice test to a 160, but typically it’s closer to the 8-10 point range. I’d definitely take a practice test on your own first, though–I had a student last year who enrolled in our class and was already hitting a 171 on his own. He didn’t need our help; he got a 172 on the real test; he pretty much knew everything we were teaching him already, and he probably wasted a lot of money that he didn’t need to.

I just took a bunch of the practice tests. I missed out on verbal reasoning classes by virtue of shifting schools so I had to come up with my own methods for solving logic puzzles.

Expect your actual score to be a bit lower than your usual practice test score. I dropped 10 points from my then-normal average when I took the actual test, both times.

I took it in the mid-90’s. I had taken practice tests and thought I did pretty well on them, but figured, if I’m going to do this I might as well take a prep class. The couple hundred dollars will be meaningless to me after all the other expense, but I might actually get something out of it. The first day of the class we took another practice test, and I did worse than I had ever done on my own. Lesson- sitting in my cozy apartment and timing myself did not accurately simulate actual testing conditions.

I took a course (Princeton, I think) and they had some good tips about how to make the testing process easier on yourself. Tricks to get through the logic games, for instance. I know my score on the LSAT was better than any of the previous practice tests I had taken, but I forget by how much. It was enough to get me into a good school though.

I haven’t found this to be the case with everyone–a lot of times, it’s when you do what corkboard said, and didn’t at least try to approximate real testing conditions. Although in my case, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for just how long and drawn out the process was because of all the delays, but that’s not typical. It will never be like sitting home in a familiar comfortable environment with no distractions though, so that’s a bad way to practice.

i’m not saying that was the case with you, only that I see dozens of students each your, and a large percentage of those do get back to me after they get their real scores, and, while I’m not saying I’ve never seen someone drop from a practice test to the real thing, ten points is a signficant drop and I can’t recall any of my students ever telling me he or she dropped that much on the real test.

Does anyone have any links to a good practice test that will give you a score afterwards?

First off, you need to know how to take the test. The games section and the logical reasoning sections only have about 6 or 7 types of questions. This is where a course comes in handy. If you know all the types of logic games, you can jump right into making the correct diagram for the game. The same thing goes with reasoning – you can throw out several answers right away if you know the question type. Most reasoning questions come down to only 2 choices, and the other 3 are easy to dismiss. Reading is the toughest, because you have to read fast. A course will teach you what to look for when reading and how to mark up the passage if you need to do that. I do recommend Kaplan if you can afford it, because they teach you how to diagram the logic games correctly. A lot of people do ok on the games section through innate talent, but they don’t do as well as people who know the games and diagrams inside and out, even if they are bad at logic puzzles. The logic games are where most people can get the biggest gains by practice and learning, but don’t get too focused on any one type of section. If you can’t afford Kaplan (which is overpriced) you might be able to get their books from craigslist, or take a class from your local college. Princeton is good too, but I don’t have as much experience with it.

Secondly, practice is important. I don’t think you should take entire tests at home, but do 3 or 4 sections each day, checking your answers after each one and figuring out what you did wrong. Do this for a month or two before the test.

The most critical aspect of the LSAT is time. When you practice at home, have a timer. I don’t recommend a watch, but a stopwatch or something will do. Short yourself 5 minutes on each section you practice on. Learn how long you have for each question, and use the time if you need it, but always be ready to move on to another Q and come back. There are no guessing penalties. The benefit to practicing with less time is that you will feel less stressed on the real test, and you will have ingrained the habit of moving fast.

You can buy real LSAT tests from all kinds of places. LSAC sells them, Amazon has them, etc. Buy lots of these so that you can practice, practice, practice. Books with explanations are good.

So, in short: A course teaches you HOW to take the test, then you need to practice seriously, with shortened time limits, so that you can do diagrams and such automatically. Expecially in the higher scores (168 and up), one or two questions will change your score, so moving from a 168 to a 169 is a matter of getting only two additional questions right.

Notes on getting in to school:
The LSAT is the biggest factor in the school you get into. It is also the easiest factor to influence. Anyone can make a 10-15 point gain with the right kind of practice and seriousness. That is a HUGE difference in schools – literally 100 or more ranks. And yes, going to the best ranked law school you can is deadly important, if only because of employment contacts. So take the LSAT with as much seriousness as you can muster, because it is incredibly important.

I toyed with the idea of law school as well and so I researched the LSAT as well - it was the key factor in making me decide not to apply. By all accounts it takes a huge amount of work to really perform well in - most people seemed to have started seriously preparing 3-5 months in advance. I think the type of exercises the LSAT involves are, by their nature, ones that take a lot of practice to get really good at - with exercises like the logic games, if you learn the complicated techniques and then apply them over and over again, you not only get to the stage where the techniques become internalized, but you’ll have encountered most of the tricks and anomalies that could come up and so you’ll know how to deal with them. But getting to that stage of experience requires some pretty intense preparation.

This is a very active forum about law school admissions and the LSAT, so they’ll be able to answer any questions you have a lot more specifically and there’ll probably be lots of people there preparing to take the same test you are:

In fact on the LSAT forum there’s already a thread 230 posts long about the June LSAT!

You decided not to go to law school because you thought the entrance exam might be tricky? I suspect you may not have been toying with the idea very… erm… firmly.

Nah. But I have always had a knack for standardized tests.


Took it a couple of years ago. I was practicing in the mid-160s until I bought the PowerScore logic games book. I scored a 170+ on the real thing as a result.

That’s a hell of a score, right? From what I see that would get you in any law school in the United States.

My daughter and her now husband took a free Princeton Review practice LSAT, and did well enough to teach it for a while. He’s in law school now, she decided to go to a respectable grad school :). They are both convinced that the classes do help many people. She used the Princeton Review vocab words to study for the GRE, and got a perfect score.

I bought a book when she first got interested to help her with the games, since I do logic puzzles. I found that being good with normal logic puzzles was not an advantage, since the LSAT ones ask for very specific things and have constraints.

I took the Princeton Review because they had a guarantee that they would raise your score, iirc, 10 pts. I was already scoring in the mid-160s practicing on my own during ESPN, and I was confident in my undergrad GPA and experience that I could go to any school I wanted. But, I took it anyway which left me a bad taste: 1) this girl I met at the sign-up dumped me to go to law school on the east coast; and 2) the remedy for the guarantee is to take the course again for free (and to keep taking it). Surprisingly, they made good on their claim. So, I guess it wasn’t all bad.

Just to be clear, though, if you are scoring in the 160+ range, you are looking at going to a very prestigious law school, no? People with those scores don’t just go to the nearest tier 4 school as long as you have a decent GPA?

It is a hell of a score. But it is not a golden ticket to every law school. If you had a 3.8+ GPA, a 170+ LSAT would make you a viable candidate at any school. But people get rejected from the top six schools all the time with 3.8+ GPAs and 170+ LSATs. And it only gets harder with a lower GPA. There’s also a huge difference between a 170 and a 175.

A great website for that kind of data is It isn’t perfectly accurate because of the response bias and people lying, but its pretty good and tends to correspond with the reported data. As you can see, Yale for example regularly rejects 170+ LSAT candidates, even with good GPAs.

The 160+ range and a 3.5+ GPA means you’re guaranteed a tier 1 school, but by no means is it a guarantee of admittance to the top 15 or so schools (which are widely regarded as the set of national-level elite schools).

I got in the high 160s after routinely testing in the mid-170s, and I chalk that up entirely to having Aunt Flo decide to visit in the middle of the test and not having any of my horse tranquilizers on me. I was within moments of throwing up for most of the test.

I preferred Kaplan to PR (took them both as I took PR right after college then delayed law school/taking the test to go work on the Gore-Lieberman campaign, at which point I’d forgotten everything and had to retake a prep course).

I will be scheduling my GMATs around the whims of my body, I assure you of that.

So just keep in mind that good health can make the difference between a Top 25 and a Top 14…not to gross you out too much.