The LSAT is generally considered the most important part of a student’s law school application. The LSAT is designed to test the legal-reasoning and logic skills necessary in law school and the practice of law. However, the format of the LSAT is quite different than the exams you will take in law school. Here are five key differences between the LSAT and law school final exams:
- The LSAT is multiple-choice, whereas law school exams typically are essay exams.
- The LSAT is a logic-based exam that does not test substantive legal knowledge, whereas law school exams will test your substantive knowledge of the subject area.
- The LSAT involves questions similar to “brain-teaser” puzzles, whereas law school exams often involve “issue spotting” (i.e., recognizing an important legal issue within a given fact pattern).
- The LSAT involves very little memorization, whereas an important part of law school exams is memorizing the relevant black-letter law.
- The graded part of the LSAT does not involve writing skills, whereas solid writing skills are an important part of tackling law school exams effectively.
So, is any part of the LSAT similar format-wise to a law school exam? Yes. Ironically, the ungraded LSAT Writing Sample is very similar to a mini-law school final exam, which raises the following question: if the LSAT’s Writing Sample is the section most similar to law school exams, why is it ungraded? There are two practical reasons for that: (1) it takes far more time to grade a written exam than to score a multiple choice exam, and (2) there is likely to be more controversy surrounding the grading of a written exam vs. a multiple choice exam, since there is much more subjectivity in grading a written exam.
Even though the types of exams are very different, it is important to do your best on both the LSAT and your law school exams. Your LSAT score will have an enormous impact on the law schools to which you gain admittance and (potentially) huge merit-based scholarships. Your law school grades (and the law school you attend) will significantly affect your initial job opportunities as a practicing lawyer.
So, take both the LSAT and law school seriously, and do your best! If you have any questions about the LSAT, law school or the practice of law, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.