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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Vic chapter.

Have you thought about applying to law school but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you are planning to take the test soon and want some insider info? One of our CC’s dives into her experience taking the LSAT in Sept. 2023, including how she studied, what you need to know to register, the test-day environment and more!

Anyone who wants to go to law school (or anyone who’s watched Legally Blonde) knows that you have to take the ever-dreaded Law School Admission Test (LSAT). In similar fashion to those applying to medical school, law schools want to test students’ capacity for reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical skills in order to gauge their likelihood of success in a legal education program. So, the LSAT was born. Rather than learning from shows like Suits, I’ve put together a comprehensive breakdown of everything I learned as a first-time test-taker from Victoria, B.C.

what even is the LSAT?

To begin with, it’s important to know that the LSAT is administered by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). LSAC is a centralized American organization that designs, curates, and runs LSAT tests for students across the globe. They are also responsible for delivering your test results to any law schools you apply to. What does that mean? Well if you want to take the LSAT, you have to go through LSAC. In order to keep the test secure and ensure law schools know applicants took the proper test in the right conditions, LSAC has a monopoly on the LSAT administrations. Thus, the natural first step for any test-taker is to sign-up for an LSAC account. Make sure to sign-up for the type of account that corresponds to the degree you are looking to get. When most people talk about going to ‘law school’, they mean getting a Juris Doctorate (JD). However, you can also get a Master of Laws (LLM), but this requires more prerequisites. When you sign-up, LSAC will ask for additional information including your address, phone number, proposed law school entrance year, and personal characteristics like race and gender. You will have an option to select whether this more personal information is shared with law schools you apply to.

LSAC is also connected to LawHub. LawHub is the interface and program you will use to actually take the test. The LawHub platform is also where you can access practice tests, learning sessions or informational webinars, and other material like the LSAC podcast. Your LSAC and LawHub credentials will be (and should be) the same. On test-day, you will use the LawHub program to run the exam, but depending on how the test is administered, you may have to log-in to LSAC first. 

Next, you register for a test. For North American residents, the LSAT runs tests once a month (give or take) over the first or second weekend of the month. LSAT test cycles run from July of one calendar year to June of the following year. For example, the current testing cycle is August 2023 – June 2024, and all testing dates for each month are available to view and register on the LSAC website. When you register for a test, you are just registering for a spot in the administration for the month you register for. You’ll schedule your time, and date if your month has multiple, at a later time. I registered nice and early for my September test (back in May) to ensure a spot was available, but I didn’t schedule the specific day or time of my test until August 9th. No matter what day you take the test on, you have the same likelihood of receiving certain test sections as other test-takers and there is no change in difficulty. When your test gets scheduled mostly depends on your personal availability and the remaining open time slots that appear once you move through the queue into the scheduling platform. Overall, the registration process through LSAC was not overly cumbersome except for waiting in the queue to schedule my test with Prometric. Since I took the test in Canada, I paid in Canadian dollars on the LSAC website and it cost me around $330.00. 

Speaking of scheduling, we can’t fully talk about this section without talking about Prometric. For the 2023-24 test cycle, LSAC switched to a new proctoring company. Motivated by the transition out of the COVID-pandemic, and wanting the ability to offer hybrid (in-person and online) LSATs, Prometric alleviates a lot of burden from LSAC in terms of equipment and securing proctors. According to Law.com, Prometric administers tests and exams for academic institutions, government agencies and other professional organizations, making them able to accommodate LSAC’s needs, testing requirements, and interface. 

Test content

Now that you’ve registered for your test, it’s time to study. Before I delve into my process, I want to make it clear that how you prepare will be unique to every person and my method may not work for you. While there are lots of paid LSAT prep courses and study programs, I used the totally free course on the Khan Academy website. First, you take a diagnostic: a full- length timed practice test before you do any lessons. You’ll get your base score and the algorithm will analyze the areas you need the most practice on. You can work through video lessons, read articles, and do practice questions sets focused on different question types. For every 16 practice problem sets you complete, you will have to complete a timed mini-section that is half of what the real LSAT sections are. There are 13 practice tests available on Khan Academy in total, and although I started getting repeat questions in some of my most-reviewed practice problem sets towards the end of my studying, I found it very useful overall.

In terms of actual test material, the LSAT went through a bit of a change structure wise due to the COVID pandemic and is probably not done evolving. The basic types of content tested remain the same, at least for now. The LSAT tests reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical reasoning (logic games) all in a multiple-choice format. However, an article from JD Advising details a lawsuit against LSAC around accessibility problems with the logic games section, likely prompting a change in that section specifically after the 2023-2024 cycle. Additionally, while there were five sections before COVID, LSAC has reduced it to four sections including one unscored ‘experimental’ section. Each section is 35 minutes and there is a 10 minute break between the second and third sections, bringing the total test time to 2h and 45 minutes. Content can appear in any order on the exam. Remember when I said LSAC designs and curates tests? Well for each sitting, they trial new questions on test-takers to analyze whether the questions are difficult enough, worded appropriately, and accurate measures of a candidate’s reasoning. How do you ensure test-takers try equally as hard in the experimental section? Well, candidates don’t know which section is unscored during the exam. Only one section type gets repeated out of the three: reading comprehension, logical reasoning or analytical reasoning. Thus, test-takers will be sure about two out of three section types (if you get two reading comp sections, one of them is experimental so your logical reasoning and analytical reasoning sections are real for sure), but beyond that, it is pretty tough to tell. LSAT scores range from 120 to a perfect 180. Most Canadian law schools consider 160 and above to be competitive scores, but it is a good idea to do some research about what law schools you would consider applying to before writing the exam. The score metric only counts questions answered correctly, and doesn’t dock marks for incorrect answers, so the best strategy is to answer all the questions (even if you are just guessing). UVic has a couple of courses like PHIL 201 and PHIL 203 that cover formal reasoning and argument structures which I took in my second year that helped immensely in familiarizing myself with the content of the exam.

There is also an LSAT writing section that is completed separately from the multiple choice exam on test-day. This is only available online and is still administered through LSAC’s old proctoring company, ProctorU. Test-takers have 35 minutes to respond to a writing prompt, in essay form, and can complete the section up to eight days before the actual administration of their test. While the LSAT Writing does not affect your score, it is important to complete it because you will not be able to receive a score for the exam if you don’t have a writing sample on file with your LSAC account. Given my background as a social science major, this felt extremely similar to the types of exams I’ve received throughout my degree. I didn’t feel the need to strongly prepare besides completing the one practice prompt in the LawHub bank, but use your individual discretion.

test day

Last, but not least, let’s talk about test-day. I opted to take my test in-person because of extreme difficulties with the launch of Prometric’s online proctoring software in August of 2023. If you are able to, I would highly recommend taking the test in a designated test center, however I recognize that is not feasible for every test-taker. During an in-person test, you do not have to worry about internet connection, technology issues (with your computer or the proctoring software), you don’t have to adjust your workspace to be free of all prohibited items, and you are more freely able to move in your seat. I tested at the Prometric center in Vancouver, since that was the closest to me as a Vancouver Island resident. Parking in downtown Vancouver was a bit of a hassle, but I arrived super early to ensure everything was in place. Make sure to check all the rules with your Prometric test-center before you go. I was not allowed to wear any jewelry (rings, earrings, necklace, bracelets) and my glasses had to pass a security check. Test-centers provide paper and pencils for diagramming or notes, and lockers for personal belongings including your phone, which you are not allowed to access during the 10 minute break. My testing center also had noise-canceling headphones for users to wear during the test. Don’t worry, I’m 99% sure they were sanitized in between users. The scores are released approximately three weeks after the exam to allow adequate time for any rewrites due to technical issues. As I’m writing this, I don’t know my score yet (yes, I’m panicking, no, we don’t have to talk about it). I am confident however that I did my best on test-day and that I am happy with my performance. 

Keep in mind that this is just a brief synopsis of the current state of LSAT testing, as I experienced it. There are tons and tons of resources online for students available through just a quick Google search. Now that you are armed with the basics, it’s up to you to do some research and develop a plan that suits your individual strengths and needs. Each person’s experience will be different, and that is what we need in law school. Diversity makes the legal education system and profession stronger. All things considered, the best practice is just to breathe during the test. You can always retake the exam if you don’t get a score you like. And, borrowing advice from my father, try to enjoy it!

Saiyah is a Chapter Leader for the Her Campus at UVic chapter. Alongside her co-leader, she manages the executive team, publishes content, oversees recruitment and retention, hosts meetings and, of course, writes content! Saiyah has been with the Her Campus at UVic chapter since 2021, moving from writer to senior editor to chapter leader. Before then, she worked as an Editorial Assistant with UVic’s undergraduate political science journal, but decided she would enjoy working on a publication that is less academic in nature. Saiyah is currently working as a Teaching Assistant on campus with the Department of Political Science and has a passion for sharing knowledge with others. In addition, Saiyah holds a project-based position as a legal assistant with a local law firm. She is currently in her fourth year at UVic pursuing an Honours degree in Political Science and a minor in Applied Ethics. This year, Saiyah has received a Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award for the research she is completing for her thesis. Saiyah has also been awarded the James Wattie Memorial Essay Scholarship in International Relations for a piece she wrote on labour regulations and the International Labour Organization. In her free time, Saiyah enjoys beach walks with her dog Koda, reading a good book, and watercolour painting. Her pop culture idols include Spencer Hastings, from Pretty Little Liars and Rachel Zane, from Suits.