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LSAT Diagnostic Test: Your Guide

February 16, 2024
6 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

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

Reviewed: 2/16/24

The first step of your LSAT test prep should be taking a diagnostic test to assess your baseline abilities. To learn more about the LSAT diagnostic test, read on.

Creating the perfect LSAT study schedule can be extremely overwhelming! With the slew of prep courses, textbooks, guides, and mock exams you’ll encounter at the start of your LSAT journey, knowing where to begin can be the biggest challenge. 

Luckily, there’s an easy way to begin your LSAT prep to gain the right insight to create the best study schedule to succeed – a diagnostic test!

If you’re wondering what an LSAT diagnostic test is, it’s simple! It’s a preliminary mock LSAT exam that you take before even looking at your first LSAT question. It gauges your base-level abilities so you can assess your strengths and weaknesses. 

To learn more about the purpose of this diagnostic test and which one to use, read on!

What is LSAT Diagnostic Test?

An LSAT diagnostic test is essentially a practice test designed to help aspiring law school students assess their initial readiness for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). 

The LSAT is a standardized exam widely used in the United States and Canada for law school admissions. It evaluates skills like reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and critical thinking, all of which are crucial for success in law school.

The LSAT diagnostic test usually consists of questions and passages that closely resemble those found on the actual LSAT. Its purpose is to provide test-takers with insights into their strengths and weaknesses in the various LSAT sections, including Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games). 

By taking a diagnostic test early in your LSAT preparation, you can pinpoint areas that require improvement and devise a personalized study plan tailored to your needs.

Many LSAT preparation providers offer free or affordable diagnostic tests that can be taken online or in a simulated test environment. Once you have your diagnostic test results, you can use them as a starting point to create a study schedule and determine which specific LSAT areas need the most attention in your preparation.

Tips on Taking an LSAT Diagnostic Test

Regardless of which diagnostic test you take, it’s important to keep these tips in mind:

Take a Timed Test

It’s best to take a timed test to get an accurate base score before you begin studying. Doing an untimed test gives you an advantage you won’t have during test day!

If you feel like taking a full-timed test will be too draining to give you accurate results, you can take each timed section on its own with breaks in between. You’ll still be answering the same questions under the same time restrictions but will have more time to reset between sections. 

Try Not To Skip Questions

While you’ll most likely skip a few questions on your LSAT diagnostic test, do your best to actually solve the questions before moving on. By trying to answer the questions, you’re already building your own problem-solving methods that you can then build on during your studies!

Be an Active Test-Taker

When you take the test, ensure you keep a mental or physical note of which sections and questions you found the most challenging and which ones were the easiest. Chances are, you’ll have a strong section and a weak one, which will allow you to create a more informed study schedule. 

Don’t Focus on the Numbers Too Much

Even if you get a 135 on your diagnostic, that’s completely fine! You shouldn’t expect yourself to score high on your first LSAT because you’ve likely never encountered these questions before. 

Don’t let your score discourage you or define your potential. The diagnostic is only a tool to help you understand what level of improvement you need. With practice and persistence, you can drastically increase your LSAT score!

Find the Difference

Using your diagnostic LSAT test score, figure out how far you are from your target LSAT score. If you’re only a few points off, you likely won’t have to spend as much time studying for the LSAT as you would if you were 15 or more points off.

What LSAT Diagnostic Test Should You Take?

There are several options you can choose from when deciding which diagnostic test to take. For your diagnostic, you should only trust reputable websites that can provide real past LSAT tests for you to use as your diagnostic. Ensure you can also receive your score and the correct answers after completing your test.

Some of our favorite diagnostic tests to take are the ones provided by LSAC, the administrators of the LSAT. If you have an LSAC account, you can access several free-timed practice exams that you can use as your diagnostic test. 

Another excellent resource is Khan Academy. With Khan Academy, you can take a full diagnostic test, receive your score, and be given a general assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Or, you can take an express diagnostic with several short sections with general recommendations but no actual score.

Source: Khan Academy

However, it’s important to note that none of these diagnostic tests can give you highly personalized recommendations and resources specific to your weaknesses and strengths.

But Juris can! The first step Juris takes in LSAT prep is giving you a diagnostic test to create a personalized study schedule based on your results. These LSAT experts know exactly how to boost your scores in each section to give you the results you need to get into your dream law school.

What To Do After Getting the LSAT Diagnostic Test Results

The first step you should take after completing your LSAT diagnostic test is to breathe and pat yourself on the back! You have successfully begun your LSAT prep and are headed in the right direction to get to your target score.

Next, try looking at your score from an improvement standpoint. Don’t fixate on your first score; fixate on getting to your final score!

Analyze your diagnostic test and review the correct answers so you can see where you went wrong. Try to re-do the questions you got incorrect to continue honing your own problem-solving methods.

Lastly, assess your level of need and explore the resources available to you. If your baseline score is way off from your target, you may want to consider working with an LSAT expert to help you get to your score with as little hassle as possible. If you’re close to your target goal, you can begin self-studying and focusing on your weaknesses.

Your diagnostic test should only be the first of several exams you complete during your studies. Customize your subsequent exams! For instance, if you’re struggling with reading comprehension, do two of these sections per practice exam rather than just one. 

Is Taking An LSAT Diagnostic Test Worth It?

Taking an LSAT diagnostic test is absolutely worth it! Not only will you begin gaining confidence in completing the LSAT under time restraints, but you’ll also be working smarter, not harder.

By taking a diagnostic test, you can figure out which areas require more improvement and which ones don’t, which will help you create a personalized study schedule that will actually get you to your target score! 

A diagnostic test can also keep you motivated, especially when you see yourself moving further away from your original score and closer to your end score!

Common Mistakes and Misconceptions

Let's take a look at some common mistakes and misconceptions related to the LSAT, making it easier for you to prepare effectively.

  • Misunderstanding the Purpose: Some mistake it for a final LSAT assessment rather than an initial diagnostic tool.
  • Overemphasizing Scores: Putting too much importance on diagnostic test scores, which are for self-assessment.
  • Taking It Too Late: Waiting until later in LSAT prep to take the diagnostic test, missing its guidance.
  • Not Simulating Test Conditions: Not replicating actual test conditions during the diagnostic test.
  • Ignoring Analysis: Failing to analyze performance and identify specific areas for improvement.
  • Believing It's a One-Time Test: Expecting to perform perfectly on the first attempt when it's meant for self-assessment.
  • Rushing Through It: Not taking the time to approach the diagnostic test thoughtfully.
  • Failing to Adjust Your Study Plan: Neglecting to adapt your study plan based on diagnostic test results.
  • Not Repeating the Diagnostic Test: Forgetting to retake it later to track progress and identify remaining weaknesses.
  • Comparing to Others: Making comparisons to others' diagnostic test performance can be misleading.

Use the LSAT diagnostic test as a valuable tool to guide your study plan, focusing on your individual areas of improvement.

Incorporating Diagnostic Test Results into LSAT Prep

Now, let's dive into how you can make the most of your LSAT diagnostic test results as you gear up for LSAT preparation.

  • Set a Score Goal: Think of your diagnostic test score as your starting point. Look at the average LSAT scores of the law schools you're interested in. That's your target score. Try to aim even higher if possible. If your diagnostic score is way below your target, consider getting some expert help or extending your study timeline.
  • Identify Strengths and Weaknesses: Your diagnostic test results reveal your strengths and weaknesses in LSAT sections. Which parts came naturally to you, and which ones left you scratching your head? Maybe you struggled with time management or certain question types. It's time to pinpoint your focus areas.
  • Plan Your Study Time: Now that you know your weak spots, allocate more study hours to those areas. It's like customizing your workout routine – spend more time on the muscles that need strengthening. If Logic Games are your nemesis, schedule extra practice sessions for them.
  • Decide How Long to Study: Your study timeline depends on your diagnostic results and personal circumstances. A typical LSAT study plan is 3-4 months, but that can vary. Consider your diagnostic score, your study habits, whether you're taking a course or getting a tutor, and how many hours you can dedicate.
  • Choose a Test Date: Now, the LSAT test date. Align it with your study plan, law school application deadlines, and any other commitments. Make sure you have enough prep time to feel confident on test day.

Remember, your diagnostic test is like the starting point of a journey. With the right plan and effort, you can bridge the gap between your initial score and your target score. Best of luck with your LSAT prep!

Student taking notes while working on computer

FAQs: LSAT Diagnostic Test

If you have any remaining questions, read on to find your answers.

1. What Is the Average Difference Between a Diagnostic Score and a Target Score?

While it’s possible to reach your target score regardless of how low your diagnostic score is, most students need to improve by 8-12 points.

2. Is 150 a Good Diagnostic Score?

Since the average LSAT score is about 151-152, a 150 without any studying is a great diagnostic score! 

3. Is 155 a Good Diagnostic Score?

Yes! For lower-ranking schools, students will only have to improve by a few points to be considered competitive. They can meet high-ranking schools’ requirements if they improve by 10-12 points. 

4. What If I Get a 140 on My Diagnostic?

Your score doesn’t determine your potential! Like any test, without studying, you’re expected to have a relatively low mark compared to what you’d have after weeks or months of studying. 

So, if you get a 140, you should just dedicate more time to studying to ensure you’re able to reach your target score.

5. Should I Take a Timed or Untimed Diagnostic Test?

You should take a timed diagnostic test to determine the areas you need the most improvement in and to get a better understanding of how long you should give yourself to study.

6. How Long is the LSAT Diagnostic Test?

The LSAT diagnostic test typically mirrors the format of the actual LSAT, which consists of four sections, each lasting 35 minutes. There's a 10-minute break between Sections 2 and 3. 

To take practice tests under real test-taking conditions, you can purchase a subscription for LawHub Advantage, which is essential for digital testing and online preparation. It's advisable to buy the subscription when you're ready to start your LSAT preparation journey.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know what an LSAT diagnostic test is, how to use one, and the benefits of using one, you have the correct information and tools to officially begin your LSAT prep – a huge step toward your ultimate goal of becoming an attorney! 

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