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How Hard Is the LSAT?

July 15, 2024
3 min read


Reviewed by:

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

Reviewed: 7/15/24

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!

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 learn about the experiences of those who've taken the LSAT, you'll likely wonder about its difficulty. It's a common query for aspiring law students, and the answer isn't straightforward. This guide will tackle why the LSAT poses challenges and offer tips to ease the process.

Is the LSAT Hard?

Yes, taking the LSAT is difficult; it is purposefully designed this way. To succeed on the LSAT, you must study for it for months. The process of studying is both time-consuming and costly. 

Most students can't ace the LSAT without dedicating much time to preparation. Even with preparation, many retake the exam to reach their desired score.

The LSAT's difficulty varies depending on your target score. For instance, if you’re hoping to get into a T14 law school and want to score above 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 check the requirements!

The higher your target score, the fewer mistakes you can make. This means you must be proficient in tackling even the toughest LSAT questions because guessing won't suffice on the exam.

If you want to learn more about the LSAT and what it entails, check out our free LSAT guide here

What is the Hardest Section of the LSAT?

Below, we’ll cover what makes each section of the LSAT difficult. 

Logical Reasoning

In the Logical Reasoning section, you'll evaluate the logic of passages containing arguments. This is difficult because it requires critical analysis beyond simple comprehension. Passages may contain subtle flaws or assumptions, and answer choices can seem plausible, but only one is logically correct. Complex language and unfamiliar topics further add to the challenge. Success depends on spotting flaws, drawing logical conclusions, and selecting the most reasonable responses.

Analytical Reasoning

The Analytical Reasoning section on the LSAT is tricky because it is designed to challenge you. It tests your ability to understand how laws and rules affect legal outcomes. 

You'll need various skills to do well here. You'll have to figure out relationships between complex concepts and apply logic even when things seem unclear. The situations presented can be ambiguous and complex, making this section notorious among LSAT takers.

Reading Comprehension

The LSAT reading comprehension section is often considered the most tedious because it's intentionally unfamiliar to test-takers. The passages cover law, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, with three authored by one person and one by two discussing the same topic. 

This part evaluates your ability to grasp complex texts quickly, especially under pressure. You'll need to identify relevant information and understand the main ideas of each passage.

Written Section

The written section of the LSAT is unique because it doesn't count towards your score, but it's sent to every law school you apply to. Its purpose is to assess your ability to craft an argument based on provided facts and support it with reasoning. With only 35 minutes, it can be stressful, so experts suggest spending 10 minutes planning your argument and the remaining 25 minutes writing your essay.

Variable Section

The variable section also called the experimental section, is a part of the LSAT used to test new questions for future exams. It could resemble any scored section: logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, or reading comprehension. It's kept secret during the test, so you won't know which section it mimics. This section contains 24-48 multiple-choice questions and has a 35-minute time limit.

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. 

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. 

Apart from the analytical reasoning segment, the LSAT includes Logical Reasoning (LR) sections. If you work on the hardest LR sections last, LSAT strategizing becomes more effective.

These segments require sharp analysis, flaw identification, and logical inferences. Prioritizing them last allows test-takers to allocate extra time and mental energy to tackle these challenging questions effectively.

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.

5 Ways to Make 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 on 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! 

If you want to take the LSAT but not sure whether you’re to take it, take our free Am I Ready For the LSAT? quiz!

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. 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. 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. 

4. How Many People Pass the LSAT?

Although there isn’t clear information on the number of people who pass the LSAT, it is said that in order to pass it, a person will need to get around 60 questions correct out of 99–102. 

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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