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How Hard Is the LSAT?

December 19, 2023
3 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 12/19/23

If you’re beginning your LSAT studies and aren’t sure what to expect, read on to find out more about the difficulty of the LSAT!

Female student studying for the LSAT

The LSAT is a unique exam that tests students on law-related skills like reasoning, analytical thinking, and logic. As you begin looking into how to study for the LSAT and which resources to use, you’ll quickly realize that the LSAT is notorious for being challenging!

As you read about the challenges past test-takers have faced with the LSAT, you’ll likely ask yourself, “how hard is the LSAT?” It’s a question almost every aspiring law student asks, and the answer is more complicated than you might think.

To ensure we cover all of your LSAT concerns, this guide will answer the following questions: “Is the LSAT hard?”, “Why is the LSAT hard?” and “How can I make the LSAT easier?”

Is the LSAT Hard?

Yes, the LSAT is hard, and that’s intentional. The LSAT is so difficult because it tests your legal knowledge and whether you have the ability to practice in the legal field. Succeeding on the LSAT demands many months of dedicated study, which is time-consuming and expensive. 

So, if you’re wondering, “How difficult is the LSAT?” the short answer is that the LSAT is hard. It is meant to be challenging to help determine whether students are prepared for the rigors of law school and a legal career.

Female student tired from studying for the LSAT

Very few students can ace the LSAT without spending a significant amount of time preparing for it. Even after preparing, many students have to retake the LSAT to reach their target score.

Your target score also determines how hard the LSAT will be for you. For instance, if you’re hoping to get into a T14 law school and want to score above a 170, you’ll find the LSAT more difficult and intense than you would if you were aiming for a 155. However, not every law school requires the LSAT, so make sure to check the requirements!

The higher your target score is, the fewer questions you can get wrong! As such, you must know how to master even the hardest LSAT questions because you can’t afford to simply guess the answers on the exam!

What Makes the LSAT Hard?

There are multiple reasons why students find the LSAT to be difficult:

It’s Unique

The LSAT is unlike any other exam you’ve studied for or taken. You won’t have any experience answering similar questions, and the exam won’t test you on knowledge that can be memorized. 

The way the LSAT is worded can also be tricky! The test makers often put attractive but incorrect answers right before the correct ones because they know students under pressure won’t carefully read each answer choice before moving on. 

Seemingly insignificant words also make a huge difference on the LSAT. For instance, degrees of certainty are integral concepts to understand for the LSAT. Keeping track of whether the prompt says “sometimes,” “often,” “never,” or “always” is often essential in picking the correct answer.

Reading comprehension sections are also lengthy! They often involve highly technical subjects that you’ve probably never read about before. It can be easy to get lost in the complex vocabulary and context and misinterpret or completely miss the argument being made.

It’s Easy to Burn Out

Studying for the LSAT takes up a lot of mental power! You have to know how to recognize each question type, answer them properly, and find the correct answer quickly. You may find yourself at a standstill during your studies where you just aren’t improving or keep struggling with the same questions.

It's very easy to burn out when you’re trying so hard to improve your score and seeing little progress despite all of your efforts. 

Male student frustrated studying for the LSAT on laptop

You Have to Study Smart

No matter how much time you give yourself to study, you won’t reach your goals unless you use the right resources. Since there are countless prep books, courses, and guides all claiming to help you ace the LSAT, figuring out the perfect resources can seem impossible and can take weeks or months!

You’re Limited on Time

With only 35 minutes to complete each section, students often have to skip questions in order to answer as many as possible. 

Some questions, like the analytical reasoning ones, require you to make diagrams and inferences and then redraw your diagrams to include new conditions. Students must know how to tackle these questions efficiently to reach their target scores.

However, starting in August 2024, the Analytical Reasoning section on the LSAT will be removed.

It Can Be Disheartening

Many students have to write the LSAT multiple times before reaching their target score or end up settling for a school with lower admission requirements.

It’s easy to get discouraged, give up, or think you aren’t cut out for law school if you can’t improve your score as much as you’d like to. 

Making the LSAT Easier

As challenging as the LSAT is, there are several ways to make it easier and ensure you reach your target score with as little hassle as possible: 

Trust the Experts

Students often reach a plateau point when self-studying that they just can’t get over. Enlisting the help of 99th percentile Juris tutors can help you significantly improve your score.

These experts can also give you tried and true tips and tricks to make preparing for and acing the LSAT much easier!

Give Yourself Time

To ensure you can study at a reasonable pace without burning out, you need to give yourself ample time to master the LSAT. The majority of students find three or more months to be a sufficient amount of time to study, but you may need more depending on your diagnostic score and other commitments.

Remember to slow down if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, and take steps to manage your stress

Practice, Practice, Practice

The LSAT will be an unfamiliar test. To become accustomed to it, you’ll have to practice enough that you don’t have to think about how to answer each question; you’ll just know by looking at it. There are patterns to the LSAT that you’ll recognize the more you practice. 

Answer questions untimed at first to perfect your strategy, and then spend the rest of your study period completing timed questions to perfect your speed.

You should only use real past LSAT sample questions and exams for your practice, as these will be most similar to the questions you’ll see on test day.

Focus On Your Weaknesses

If you want to work smarter and not harder, you can’t dedicate equal time to each section of the LSAT. There will be at least one section that you find to be the most difficult and one that you find relatively easy.

Dedicate more time to rectifying your weaknesses. Use past LSAT tests and make your own tailored mock exams consisting of questions you find most difficult. 

Be Kind To Yourself

If you aren’t able to improve your score when studying and are beginning to lose hope, remind yourself of your end goal! As hard as the process of studying for the LSAT is, it’ll be well worth the trouble when you’re working in your dream career.

Try to keep your head up and know that your LSAT score doesn’t define your potential to be a great lawyer! 

FAQs: How Difficult Is the LSAT?

In this guide, we’ve answered a few of your most pressing questions about the LSAT’s difficulty. For any remaining LSAT questions, read on to find your answers.

1. Is Getting a 160 on the LSAT Hard?

Difficulty is relative and depends on your diagnostic score, how long you plan on studying, and the resources you’ll rely on. Since 160 is 8 points over the average, most students find it difficult to achieve without significant preparation. 

2. Is the LSAT As Hard as the MCAT?

It’s difficult to compare these two tests because they are so different. The MCAT requires more technical knowledge, whereas the LSAT requires more critical thinking skills. Regardless, both require diligent studying and dedication.

3. What Is the Hardest Section of the LSAT?

The Analytical Reasoning section is generally considered to be the most difficult because it requires you to understand conditionals, diagram relationships, make inferences, and have good deduction skills. It is also the most unique section of the LSAT and is often compared to puzzles or games. 

Keep in mind that in August 2024, the Analytical Reasoning section will be removed. 

4. Which Section of the LSAT Is the Easiest to Improve In?

While the analytical reasoning section is typically the hardest section for students, it’s also the section students see the most improvement in. This is because this section follows identifiable patterns and falls into three game types: linear, grouping, and mixed.

Once students understand how to identify these games and diagram them, they’re able to solve these questions much more efficiently. 

Final Thoughts

While the answer to the question “how hard is the LSAT?” might seem discouraging, the difficulty of the LSAT shouldn’t prevent you from pursuing your dreams of becoming a lawyer! With the right resources, motivation, and dedication, it’s absolutely possible for you to ace the LSAT and get into your top law school!

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