The LSAT currently is offered in the LSAT-Flex format, and is likely to be with us for some time. There are two key differences between the LSAT-Flex and traditional LSAT format:
- There are only three 35-minute sections (instead of five) on the LSAT-Flex. The LSAT-Flex has one Logical Reasoning (“LR”), one Analytical Reasoning (“AR”) and one Reading Comprehension (“RC”) section, all of which count toward your graded LSAT score.
- The LSAT-Flex is taken at home, monitored by a webcam, as opposed to an auditorium or classroom setting.
Because the LSAT-Flex test format is a little different, there are a few things to consider. Here are five key things to consider when comparing the LSAT-Flex and the traditional LSAT:
- Relative weighting of each section: The LSAT-Flex has three sections that count toward your graded LSAT score (1 LR section, 1 AR section, and 1 RC section). In contrast, the traditional LSAT has four sections that count (2 LR sections, 1 AR section, and 1 RC section). As a result, the “importance” of AR and RC increases slightly and the “importance” of LR decreases slightly. In percentage terms, the AR and RC sections increase from roughly 25% of the exam to roughly 33% of the exam. In contrast, the LR section decreases from roughly 50% of the exam to roughly 33% of the exam. You therefore may want to devote a little more time to AR and RC. Needless to say, though, preparing thoroughly for all three sections was important with the traditional LSAT and remains important with the LSAT-Flex.
- Eating schedule changes: One challenge with the traditional LSAT was how to properly nourish yourself. You DON’T want to come into the exam after overeating. However, the challenge with the traditional LSAT was whether you should eat during the exam. The traditional LSAT lasted over 3 hours and 10 minutes (five 35-minute sections plus a 15-minute break), plus all the administrative time before the exam started. Assuming you ate a meal approximately 2-3 hours before the exam began, it may be a challenge for some people to go 5-6 hours without eating, which one would have to do with the traditional LSAT. On the other hand, the LSAT-Flex is only 1 hour and 45 minutes (three 35-minute sections with no break). It shouldn’t be too difficult to eat a meal a couple hours before the exam and not need to eat again during the LSAT-Flex.
- Less mental fatigue: A key challenge of the traditional LSAT was mental fatigue, and building up the mental stamina to endure the lengthy five-section exam. Taking the 3+ hour traditional LSAT is exceedingly mentally challenging, and it is very important to build up the mental stamina to do so. Taking the 1 hour and 45 minute LSAT-Flex isn’t as bad. BUT don’t let yourself get complacent – it remains very important to build up mental stamina for the LSAT-Flex as well, because focusing intensely for a nearly two-hour exam isn’t easy either.
- Prepare for the logistics of an at-home exam: In many ways, the LSAT-Flex is a lot more convenient than the traditional LSAT. You get to take the exam at home, instead of driving somewhere, parking, finding the right building and room, checking in, getting seated, etc. However, it also creates some new challenges, especially if you don’t live alone. Make sure that you coordinate logistics with any housemates, gardeners, etc. to ensure that you will have peace and quiet at home during the LSAT-Flex. And remember that there could be significant delays in your starting time, so the exam could go later than you think.
- Accurately gauging practice exam scores: Getting an accurate practice LSAT score requires taking practice LSATs in the traditional LSAT format, since there are no LSAT-Flex practice exams. As a result, that means there are four (not three) sections that count in your practice LSATs. If you want to be even more precise, you should take practice exams in the same manner as those who took the test: i.e., by adding a fifth, ungraded “experimental” section into the exam. In my LSAT Prep courses, I continue to offer the mock exams with five sections (four “graded” sections and one “experimental” section) for this exact reason. Preparing for the LONGER traditional LSAT format will not hurt you when taking the SHORTER LSAT-Flex – the extra practice and building of mental stamina will be beneficial to you. So, if you have the time and motivation, and want an accurate gauge of your practice LSAT scores, continue taking practice exams in the traditional LSAT format (five 35-minute sections with a 15-minute break after the third section).
Of course, there is one critically important thing that has NOT changed with the LSAT-Flex: the content and substance of the questions in the LSAT-Flex remain identical to the traditional LSAT. You have the same number of questions per section, the same types of questions, and the same amount of time per section. So, very little change (if any) needs to be made in your LSAT Prep studying. And finally, remember that the LSAT is offered only in a digital format – that was a change made to the traditional LSAT about a year ago – it’s important to keep in mind, since it applies to the LSAT-Flex too.
Questions? Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!