How Hard Is the LSAT?

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The LSAT (Law School Admission Test) is an incredibly difficult test. Fewer than 0.03% of test takers achieve a perfect score of 180. Moreover, this “perfect score” allows for two or three missed question on a test of only approximately 100 questions. That is, a test taker can miss up to three questions and still achieve a higher score than 99.97% of the other people who took the test.

Further, a score of 170, which is a competitive score for even the top law schools in the country, equates to answering only 89% of the questions correctly. Anywhere else, a correct answer rate of 89% would be a decent but unimpressive B+. On the LSAT, though, it puts you in contention for Yale, Harvard, and Stanford.

The average test taker answers only 50% of the questions correctly. In the real world, 50% would be a failing score. On the LSAT, it’s average. So how hard is the LSAT? Astoundingly, staggeringly hard.  

OK, so the LSAT is hard, but what does that really mean?

The LSAT is a unique test. You will never be required to memorize vocabulary or long lists of facts and equations. In fact, the test gives you, right there on the page, everything you need to solve any question. The point of the test is not to prove how much you know, but rather how well you think.  

On the LSAT, outside knowledge is actually a detriment. For example, a chemistry major, on a question about chemical bonding, is more likely to answer incorrectly when compared to an equally intelligent person with no chemistry knowledge. This is because the LSAT requires you to determine the validity and structure of arguments and statements using only what is presented.

Students who score highest are not necessarily those who are “smarter,” but rather those who excel at figuring things out when the given information is intentionally obtuse.

Alright, how about some examples of how hard the LSAT is?

The best way to get an idea of how hard the LSAT is would be to see a couple of questions indicative of what you would see on the test. What follows is a typical Logical Reasoning prompt, Logic Games prompt, and Reading Comprehension prompt. Each is followed by what would be classified as an easy question and one that would be classified as hard. Take a look to get an idea of what to expect, and find the answers at the end of the article.

How hard is the LSAT?

An Easy and a Hard Logical Reasoning Question

People who consistently eat foods with high sugar content invariably develop cavities. A visit to the dentist becomes necessary once cavities have developed, and a dentist visit poses a great expense. Therefore, people who neglect to eat in a healthy manner will eventually incur a great expense.

EASY: Which one of the following best expresses the conclusion of the argument above?

A. Cavities are caused by eating foods with high sugar content.
B. Those who do not eat healthily will at some point be subjected to a great expense.
C. Most dentists are very expensive.
D. Those who develop cavities must visit a dentist.
E. People should not eat sugary foods if they want to avoid the dentist.

HARD: The conclusion of the argument follows logically if which one of the following is assumed?

A. People who do not consistently eat foods with high sugar content eat in a healthy manner.
B. People who eat healthy foods are less likely to incur a great expense.
C. People who eat in a healthy manner do not consistently eat foods with high sugar content.
D. People who have not incurred a great expense must be people who eat in a healthy manner.
E. People who develop cavities are people who do not eat in a healthy manner.

An Easy and a Hard Logic Game Question

A boy will read six books over his summer vacation, one at a time—Arrivals, Balance, Childplay, Dragonlite, Everest, and Fanatical. The order in which he will read the books is governed by the following conditions:

Fanatical must be read before Balance.

Everest must be read before Dragonlite, and Dragonlite must be read before Childplay.

Arrivals must be read before both Dragonlite and Fanatical.

EASY: Which of the following CANNOT be true?

A. Everest is read fourth.
B. Childplay is read fourth.
C. Balance is read third.
D. Arrivals is read second.
E. Everest is read fifth.

HARD: Which one of the following, if substituted for the condition that Arrivals must be read before both Dragonlite and Fanatical, would have the same effect on the order in which the books are read?

A. Only Everest can be read before Arrivals.
B. Everest must be read before Fanatical.
C. Arrivals must be read either first or second.
D. Arrivals must be read before both Everest and Fanatical.
E. Either Arrivals or Everest must be read first.

An Easy and a Hard Reading Comprehension Question

How hard is the LSAT?

The Matses tribe, which lives in the Amazonian tropical rainforest, uses a language that compels them to create sentences with incredible subtlety and precision when reporting past events. The language, documented by linguist David Fleck, includes three distinct degrees of “pastness.” Speakers of the language must use different verbal endings to indicate whether an event happened in the recent past, that is, approximately within the last month; the distant past, that is, more than a month ago but within about a lifetime; or in the remote past, that is, more than fifty or so years ago.

Additionally, their language requires conjugating verbs to denote degrees of evidentiality.  Different forms of verbs must be used to describe things that were witnessed directly with one’s own eyes; things that were inferred from other observations; things based on conjecture because they generally happen that way; and things based on hearsay that one heard from another person. If a sentence uses the incorrect verbal ending for the circumstances, it is considered by the Matses to be a prevarication at best, and akin to perjury at worst.

EASY: The primary purpose of the passage is to

A. Express admiration for a new way of using language to convey subtlety and precision.
B. Explain the way in which a language uses verbal forms to express precision in its past tense forms.
C. Advocate for an expansion of the Matses language’s methods to other languages.
D. Argue that time distinctions are an important part of language.
E. Contend that prevarication is, without exception, better than perjury.

HARD: It can be inferred from the passage that the author would be most likely to agree with which one of the following statements about the language the Matses tribe uses?

A. The Matses language is more complex than other languages.
B. The Matses, due to the exactness of evidentiality in their language, would make better lawyers than would speakers of other languages.
C. Misconjugated verbs in the Matses’ language have the potential to harm the speaker’s reputation.
D. The language that the Matses tribe uses is able to convey events in the past with more precision than can English.
E. The language that the Matses tribe uses is better at conveying certainty when compared to most other languages.

To try your hand at more examples, check out the sample questions provided by the LSAC on their website. The LSAT is a very difficult test, but it is not insurmountable with proper preparation.  

ANSWERS:

Logical Reasoning: The answer to the EASY question is B.  The answer to the HARD question is A.

Logic Games: The answer to the EASY question is E. The answer to the HARD question is A.

Logical Reasoning: The answer to the EASY question is B. The answer to the HARD question is C.

Sources:

  1. https://www.lsac.org/lsat/lsat-prep/types-lsat-questions