The LSAT is designed to test a unique set of skills that are used by lawyers. These include things like logic, analytical reasoning, and the ability to interpret complex ideas.
The exam itself is less about understanding facts and more about intelligence.
It’s radically different from any other test you’ve taken, especially typical standardized tests like the SAT and ACT.
Because of the unique format and approach, preparing for the LSAT requires more than memorization. While studying helps, it’s not about gaining a breadth of knowledge. You really have to dive deep and get to some of the underpinning philosophy behind concepts.
This article will give you a feel for each section of the LSAT and a realistic picture of what it’s going to take to pass.
Originally published on June 22th, 2022, this article was updated, fact-checked, and republished on September 26th, 2022.
Is the LSAT hard?
Yes. When it comes to difficulty, the LSAT is in a class all its own. It’s designed to test your intelligence more than your memory, forcing you to make connections between concepts and use logic to figure out the answer – all under a time constraint.
Comparable tests people discuss are things like the MCAT and CPA exam. These tests assess candidates for the medical field and accounting, respectively.
Here are some examples of how these three standardized tests compare:
|Admissions exam for law schools||Admissions exam for medical schools||Certification exam for Certified Public Accountants|
|Tests critical thinking skills||Tests premedical knowledge||Tests accounting knowledge|
|Analytical exam||Content exam||Content exam|
|Four sections||Four sections||Four sections|
|3.5 hours||6 hours||16 hours|
|Relative score||Relative score||Pass/fail|
|Maximum score: 180||Maximum score: 528||Maximum score: 99|
|Average score for first-time takers: 150At least 165 is recommended to get into a top law school.||Average score: 500At least 510 is recommended to get into a medical school.||Passing score: 7547% – 62% of candidates passed in 2020.|
The LSAT is scored between 120-180. The average score is 150.
Candidates who want to get into a top law school shoot for 165 or above.
There are about 100 questions in total, across five different LSAT sections. No deductions are given for wrong answers. The goal of the test questions is to measure your proficiency in a set of skills. This sets the LSAT apart from tests like the MCAT or CPA.
On the LSAT, you’ll be expected to flex logic abilities and demonstrate analytical reasoning. The scoring process takes the raw number of answers you had correct and delivers a number between 120 and 180.
If you score 180, then congratulations, you figured out how to get a perfect score on the LSAT.
In addition to knowing where you land in this range, your LSAT score will include a percentile, so you can see how you rank in comparison to other test takers.
Bottom line: the LSAT is a unique test that requires specific study habits and skills to do well.
Hardest LSAT Sections
What are the hardest LSAT sections, and what are the hardest LSAT questions?
Since each section has unique challenges and requires different skills, let’s discuss each one in detail.
It’s important to understand what you’ll encounter in each section, how to tackle it, and how it will impact your overall score.
How Hard Is the LSAT Logical Reasoning?
LSAT Logical Reasoning is a section in which you will read short passages and then answer questions. This is known as the arguments section.
There is one 35-minute section that has about 25 questions. The skills you will have to demonstrate include, but are not limited to:
- Finding flaws in arguments
- Making analogies
- Supporting conclusions
You will be presented with arguments, and then have to break them down for analysis.
While there are no trick questions, this section is tricky. You have to look keenly to find flaws, misstatements, and clues hidden in the language choices. It’s possible to find errors in an argument’s construction, somewhere in the context or conclusion.
This section of the test adds up to one third your overall score.
You can see some examples of logical reasoning questions from LSAC.
How Hard Is the LSAT Analytical Reasoning?
The LSAT Analytical Reasoning section consists of passages and questions. These are also known as logic games. This section is 35 minutes long, which gives you about 8 minutes to finish each game.
The three main kinds of logic games you’ll encounter are:
You will have to identify the relationships you see in the passage. Look for “if-then” statements and any rules.
Some of the concepts you will encounter are correlation and causation. There are equations and connections based on logic. Conditions are set forth that will directly impact the answers you give.
The only way to make it through this section is to read very carefully. Don’t make assumptions. Take your time and fully understand what is being said. There is precise language that should give you the answers.
Questions are not related, so you can’t carry suppositions over. The stated conditions in a passage are the only clues you have to land on the right conclusion.
To answer these questions effectively, you will have to diagram the entities and the rules given to you in an organized way.
LSAC also offers some advice and examples for approaching the analytical reasoning section.
How Hard Is the LSAT Reading Comprehension?
LSAT Reading Comprehension presents four sets of questions connected to a single passage, and two shorter passages. You may encounter expository texts and comparative reading.
There will probably be about 27 questions on this section of the LSAT. This means that you have 27 potential points for your raw score.
Of the four passages, there is usually a science, humanities, literature/art and legal passage. One of these genres will also be a comparative reading section, where two shorter passages that are related to a common topic are given.
On this section of the test, you will have to:
- Find the main idea
- Find overt and inferred information
- Understand the meaning of words in context
- Identify the structure of a passage
- Understand how to apply information
- Glean principles
- Discern tone and analyze use of language
- Understand the impact of new information on other arguments
You can learn more about reading comprehension on the LSAC website.
How Hard Is the LSAT Writing Sample?
The LSAT Writing Sample is not scored. This section of the exam will be included with your admission packet to law schools.
How you do it does matter, however. This is because your ability to be articulate, argue well, and put together a meaningful piece of content could influence a law school admissions counselor.
Most candidates practice for this section. Even without directly influencing your score, it could have a bearing on your future. You can practice by writing essays on any number of subjects.
A qualified LSAT tutor or LSAT review course will include materials that can help refine your writing skills.
How Hard Is It to Get a 165 on the LSAT?
As mentioned above, your LSAT score is computed by converting your raw score (how many points you got right) into a scaled score (between 120 and 180).
For example, if you got 80 points, your raw score would convert into a scaled score of about 160. Sections and individual questions may be weighted differently, which means you can’t necessarily crunch the numbers yourself.
While you can estimate your score, you will have to wait for the official report before you know how you did.
The LSAC website includes a conversion table to show the difference between raw and scaled numbers.
If you want to get into a top law school, you’ll ask questions like, “how to get a 170 on the LSAT?” or “how to get 180 on the LSAT?”
Understandably, you want to do well. Ivy League and top-tier schools will only accept students with excellent scores.
While there is a general knack for the kind of content you’ll find on the LSAT — related to your IQ or innate ability, especially logical and verbal reasoning — there are some strategic steps you can take to improve your LSAT score.
- Practice each of the exam sections separately: Pay attention to the skills you need to do well on each one.
- Read and write: You will need to be on top of your game in both of these areas to adequately analyze texts and craft good answers.
- Take practice tests: This will help you determine when you are ready to take the LSAT.
FAQ About LSAT Difficulty
You may have additional questions about how hard the LSAT is. Here are some answers to common questions.
Which Are the Hardest LSAT Logic Games?
All of the logic games on the LSAT are hard. There are whole websites and Reddit threads dedicated to the “weird” and “hard” logic games on the LSAT.
Many candidates find that scenarios in which you have to group, match, and combine are very challenging. There are layers to these logic games, and parsing out the individual tasks can be very difficult and confusing.
Is There Math on the LSAT?
There is no math section on the LSAT. You will have to understand percentages and numbers, but they are not set in a context where you will have to perform math equations.
How Hard Is the LSAT Compared to the SAT?
The LSAT is totally different from the SAT.
The SAT is designed to test a breadth of knowledge and basic skills. The LSAT tests advanced logic and complex abilities. The tests are designed and presented in a completely different way.
The LSAT requires very specific studying and preparation that’s distinct from what you would do to get ready for a test like the SAT or ACT.
What Is the Hardest Part of the LSAT?
The answer to this question can vary from person to person, depending on your intellectual strengths.
With that said, most candidates find the Analytical Reasoning (or logic games) to be the most difficult section of the LSAT. This is because they are designed in a way that is probably unlike anything you’ve ever done in your academic life.
These unique logic puzzles are highly complex and challenging and require a good deal of preparation.