The LSAT Writing Sample: Is It Important?

The LSAT Writing Section

The LSAT Writing section* is the only ungraded part of the LSAT (other than the experimental section).  However, it is a required part of the LSAT, currently administered separately from the rest of the exam. Your written response is distributed to all law schools to which you apply. The basic idea is as follows:

  • You are given two choices (e.g., “should the Jones family get a cat or a dog as a family pet”?).
  • You are to pick one of the two choices and make a written argument in favor of your choice.
  • You will be given two primary objectives/goals that you are seeking to accomplish (e.g., “the Jones family wants a low-maintenance pet” and “the Jones family wants a pet that will be playful with their three young children”).
  • You will be given a set of facts, providing information to help you decide which choice to pick and what to write in making your argument.
  • You are being asked to write a persuasive argument – the goal is not to be purely objective and neutral.  Consider yourself an advocate for a position.
  • It does not matter which of the two choices you select – the key is how effectively you argue for the choice you made.

*ScoreItUp LSAT Prep courses all include my one-hour video tutorial on the LSAT Writing section, which will provide you step-by-step instructions on exactly how to write your response and handle this part of the exam.

The Relevance of the LSAT Writing Section

While not nearly as important as your graded LSAT score (on the LSAT’s 120-180 scale), the ungraded LSAT Writing section is far from irrelevant. In particular, it is likely to have an impact on “close-call” decisions among law school applicants. The reason this section is ungraded is not because it is unimportant, but because the grading process would be (1) very time-consuming and (2) somewhat subjective.  Here are some common-sense facts confirming the relevance of the LSAT Writing section:

  • It is a very good test of one’s ability to succeed in law school, since it is essentially a mini-law school final exam.
  • It has been around for decades.  If law schools felt it were irrelevant, it would have been removed or replaced.
  • It is the one piece of writing that law schools know was written by you, without assistance from others.

I routinely speak with numerous admission committee members from a wide variety of different law schools.  While there are differences between committee members, I frequently am told that the LSAT Writing section definitely is read and considered.

The Reason for Erroneous Advice about the LSAT Writing Section

As mentioned above, the LSAT Writing section is the equivalent of a mini law school final exam. You don’t need to spend anywhere near the amount of time preparing for the LSAT Writing section as you do for the graded part of the LSAT, but don’t make the mistake of ignoring it!