As of June 2019, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) consists of exactly 2 hours and 55 minutes of actual testing time. However, when calculating how long the LSAT takes, don’t forget to include the breaks and administrative tasks. For example, the check-in process and the proctor’s instructions often take well over an hour. All things considered, the testing day will generally be between four and five hours long.
The LSAT is comprised of five sections, with 35 minutes allotted for each. There is a 15-minute break between the third and fourth sections during which you can use the bathroom or eat a snack from the one-gallon Ziplock bag you are allowed to keep under your chair.
The five sections, administered in a random order, are:
You are allotted 35 minutes to complete each of two separate Logical Reasoning sections. With each section consisting of approximately 25 questions, you have an average of only 1 minute and 24 seconds per question if you hope to complete every question.
Note: The majority of students do not finish every question. The test, quite sadistically, is designed so that the average test taker cannot finish!
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The Logical Reasoning section is designed to test your understanding of how arguments are structured and whether adequate support has been given for the conclusion reached therein.
You will be asked to read a short paragraph containing an argument and either identify something within it (e.g.: something that must be true, a flaw in its reasoning, its main conclusion), or pick an answer choice that manipulates the argument in some way (e.g.: weakens it, strengthens it, provides extra information that justifies its conclusion).
The following is indicative of the type of question you can expect to encounter in the Logical Reasoning section:
1) To be considered successful, a work of art must connect with its audience in a meaningful way. Moreover, nothing that is unworthy of accolade connects with its audience in a meaningful way. If the statements above are true, which one of the following must also be true?
A. Some works of art that connect with their audiences in a meaningful way are not considered successful.
B. Some works of art that are worthy of accolade do not connect with their audiences in a meaningful way.
C. When a work of art is considered successful it is not worthy of accolade.
D. A work of art is considered successful only if it is worthy of accolade.
E. Any work of art that is worthy of accolade is considered successful.
If you’re curious, you can find the answer at the end of this article.*
The Logic Games section, which you get 35 minutes to complete, consists of four “games.” This means that you’ll have 8 minutes and 45 seconds to complete each game. Each game consists of a scenario that presents a hypothetical situation, followed by several rules that set the parameters of how you can manipulate the scenario. Finally, you are presented with 5-7 questions designed to test how well you are able to figure out things about which it seems you haven’t been given enough information.
The following gives the scenario and rules of a typical Logic Game, along with one question to try:
2) A sculptor has created 6 vases— T, U, V, W, X, and Y— which will each be displayed at one of two art galleries: Feldman’s or Elegante. The following conditions apply:
V and Y cannot be displayed at the same gallery.
T and W must be displayed at the same gallery.
If T is displayed at Feldman’s, X must also be displayed at Feldman’s.
If V is displayed at Feldman’s, W must be displayed at Elegante.
If V is displayed at Feldman’s, which of the following pairs could also be displayed at Feldman’s?*
A. X and Y
B. W and Y
C. U and X
D. U and W
E. T and X
The Reading Comp section, which lasts 35 minutes, consists of four passages of approximately 450 words each. Each passage is followed by 5-8 questions designed to test how well you understood the viewpoints and structure of the passage.
The following is a typical question you might encounter in the Reading Comp section:
The author’s opinion about Thompson’s theory is best characterized as one of
A. Praise for its ingenuity tempered with uncertainty about some of its inferences
B. Enthusiasm for its intentions coupled with apprehension about its viability
C. Sympathy with its proposals mingled with doubt about its efficacy
D. Contempt for its ostentation camouflaged by proclamations of veneration for its author
E. Scholarly impartiality with respect to both its objectives and its development
During the test, you’ll also complete a 35-minute, unscored “experimental” section, which will be either Logical Reasoning, Logic Games, or Reading Comp. The LSAT includes this experimental section in order to test out new questions they intend to use in future tests to ensure they conform to the established grading curve.
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Hence, if, for example, you encounter two Logic Games sections on your test, you’ll know that one of them was an unscored experimental section; however, you won’t know which of your two Logic Games sections will count toward your final score and which won’t. Therefore, it’s best to treat every section as though it will be scored.
Prior to June 2019, the LSAT also included a 35-minute essay administered at the end of the other five sections. Though that essay is still a requirement, test takers now complete the essay at home on a later date via a secure proprietary online platform. That essay is then sent to each law school to which one applies.
The administrators of the LSAT changed the essay from one written at the end of a long day of testing to one written at home for two main reasons: Firstly, a typed essay is more legible than a hand-written one. Secondly, many law schools were reportedly not reading the essays because they were not representative of an exhausted test taker’s true capabilities. This change reduces the actual test-taking duration of the LSAT from 3.5 hours to 2 hours and 55 minutes–a welcome change for most test takers–but likely means you can no longer treat the writing sample as an insignificant afterthought.
So, how long is the LSAT? Well, long. It really is a grueling test of endurance. Thankfully, its approximate 3 hours are broken down into sections that test different skills so your mind experiences a welcome shift of gears several times during its span. Moreover, the June 2019 policy change which eliminated the end-of-test essay requirement helps cut down the duration of the test.
As you prepare to take the test, be sure to do several full-length, five-section practice tests to build up your endurance for this marathon test day!
*The answer to Question 1 is D. The answer to Question 2 is C.