How Hard Is the LSAT Compared to Other Tests?
Most standardized exams, like the GRE or GMAT, measure skills that students learn while earning their bachelor's degree. Refreshing your existing knowledge for a content-based exam is familiar territory for most students, but the LSAT doesn't assess what you know; it evaluates how you think.
The LSAC designed the LSAT to measure the analytical and logical reasoning skills considered essential for law school success. However, since many undergrads have little to no experience with the skills being evaluated on the exam, preparation for the LSAT requires significant time and effort.
Why Is the LSAT So Hard?
Several factors, like content, question design, and time limits, contribute to the LSAT's difficulty level. The good news is that you can master the skills needed to score well on the LSAT if you're willing to put in the work.
How Long Should I Spend Studying for the LSAT?
Outside of a few philosophy and STEM classes, most undergraduate programs don't include the deductive reasoning and analytical thinking skills students need for the LSAT. As a result, law school applicants typically spend 200 to 300 hours over several months to learn the exam format and acquire the skills they need to get a good LSAT score.
Developing New Skills
Learn How to Analyze and Apply Logic
Since course knowledge alone won't help you tackle the LSAT, test-takers have to learn how to analyze information and apply logic and reasoning in new, often counterintuitive, ways. In some cases, you may need to actively ignore gut feelings and hunches to solve problems.
Picking up these skills takes time and practice, and each LSAT section measures your proficiency in unique ways:
- Logical Reasoning: Assesses your ability to break down arguments and make inferences, detect flaws, or draw meaningful conclusions.
- Analytical Reasoning: Evaluates how well you identify the relationships among data sets to solve logic puzzles.
- Reading Comprehension: Gauges how well you identify main ideas, structure, and context of each reading passage.
Answering Complicated Questions
What Makes LSAT Problems So Difficult?
Question design is another reason the LSAT is hard to pass. The exam's problems and prompts are intentionally complex and tricky to follow. You can expect to see several question design tactics on the LSAT, such as:
- Information Overload: LSAT questions often incorporate more data than you actually need for the solution, making it difficult to track what's important and what isn't.
- Subtle Phrasing: Some questions and prompts use nuanced terms or clever wording to shift your focus to semantics or meaning and away from solving the problem at hand.
- Small Differences: Attention to detail is absolutely crucial as slight variations may lead you to the wrong answer.
Fortunately, despite their complex design, LSAT questions fall into distinct categories. When you understand the type of problem you're dealing with, you can look beyond its complexities to find the solution.
Becoming familiar with the different types of questions common to each section and learning problem-solving strategies is key.
Managing Timed Sections
Develop a Strategy to Deal with Pacing
The test's time limits might be the ultimate reason why the LSAT is so hard for many test-takers. The exam requires you to answer 24-26 detailed, complex questions within 35 minutes in each section. Dealing with the pressure of time limits is a tough hurdle, but practice and a few testing strategies can help you cope.
Overcoming LSAT Difficulty
Can the Average Person Pass the LSAT?
Understanding the factors that make the LSAT difficult is the first step toward conquering them. To build your confidence and develop the skills you need for the exam, you'll need to plan ahead and make smart choices so you can stay the course and get the scores you need for law school.
Prepare to Succeed
Create a Study Schedule
Setting up an LSAT study schedule and devoting several hours every week to preparation and practice is a necessity. Decide how much time you can spend on the LSAT every week and start early.
Before you begin studying, take a practice test to help determine what sections you'll need to prioritize and how much time you'll need to prepare before taking the exam.
Choose Quality Materials
How to Pick a LSAT Prep Program
Select your study materials carefully. Look for resources like our LSAT exam prep program that provide multiple practice tests, detailed answer explanations, simulated testing conditions, and hours of problems and logic games to solve. Features like progress tracking also keep you motivated and ensure you're ready for testing day.
Practice with Timed Exams
Discover Your Weaknesses So You Know What to Study
Taking practice exams under standard test times and conditions prepare you for the pressures of the real thing. Don't get frustrated if you can't finish a section on time. Just keep track of any questions that slowed you down, so you can focus on them in your study plan.
Learn Test-Taking Strategies
Find the System That Works Best for You
Testing different strategies for each section can help improve your pace. For example, reading a passage before answering questions works well for some, while others find skimming the questions before tackling the reading excerpt helps them find information faster.
Try several approaches for each LSAT section to figure out which strategies work best for you.