If you’re preparing for the LSAT and have questions about the experimental section, read on to learn more.
The LSAT is notorious for being difficult and having tricky questions that students have never encountered before. With the added stress of having an experimental section, students often worry about what they should expect in this unscored section and how to distinguish it from the others.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the LSAT experimental section and answer the burning question: “how can you tell which LSAT section is experimental?”
There are three scored sections on the LSAT that are called logical reasoning (LR), analytical reasoning (AR), and reading comprehension (RC). The fourth section on the test can be any one of these sections and includes experimental questions that the LSAT takers want to validate.
Test makers use the results from this unscored section to see if they should implement certain types of questions in future tests and determine if they’re free from any bias.
Students aren’t told which section is experimental; these questions are carefully worded, so they are indistinguishable from the scored sections.
To ensure you have a thorough understanding of the sections on the LSAT, here’s a complete breakdown of each:
Please note, starting with and after the August 2024 test date, the analytical reasoning section will be removed from the LSAT. Instead, there will be LR sections, one RC section, and one unscored “experimental” LR or RC section.
Before 2011, it was quite easy to tell which section was experimental, and at one point, it was the same section for every test taker. Students knew the experimental section would be one of the first three sections, and they were often able to determine the exact one.
However, the test makers realized how this execution was unfair and flawed and decided to make the experimental section randomized.
So, while we’re sure this isn’t the answer you were hoping for, there's no legitimate way to know which test is unscored or scored, and you shouldn’t give in to any hacks or tricks that tell you otherwise.
The unscored section will look no different from the scored ones; it will have the same amount of questions and will be worded similarly. While you can narrow it down to which section could be unscored, it’s a 50/50 gamble—odds you don’t want to take when so much is at stake with your LSAT score.
Since there is one LR, AR, and RC section, the unscored section will be one of these. So, if you see two LR sections on your exam, you’ll know one is unscored and one is scored, but there’s no way to determine which is which. The one benefit of this is that you know the other sections are definitely scored.
Some students assume the harder section of the two is the unscored section since the test makers are trying out new questions that wouldn’t be on any practice tests. But this isn’t the case! The unscored questions will look identical to the scored ones, and sometimes students just get harder scored questions than expected!
So, while many students are tempted to figure out which section is unscored so they can skip it or put minimal effort into it, this is extremely risky and just wastes your time.
Even if a past test-taker swears they’ve figured out which section is unscored, whether or not they’re correct won’t make a difference on your test. Each unscored section is randomized, so what your friend may have thought was the unscored section won’t be the same for you.
You should worry about the LSAT experimental section as much as every other section on the LSAT, but not more! Worrying about which section is experimental will only add to the stress you’ll already be feeling on test day, which can negatively impact your performance.
While no part of the LSAT is easy, students typically find the AR questions to be the hardest, which is why the possibility of having two AR sections tends to stress them out.
Instead of worrying about what types of questions you’ll see on the unscored section, you should focus on strengthening your weaknesses so you don’t feel overwhelmed if you see your least favorite section twice on the test.
Considering you can only take the LSAT seven times in your life, and there are very few schools that don’t require the LSAT as part of their application process, you don’t want to take any chances by skipping a section you believe is experimental.
So, to ensure you get the best LSAT score possible, treat the unscored section like a scored section. Put your best effort into each section, and don’t spend your valuable time obsessing over which section is experimental.
In case you still feel unsure about this section of the LSAT, here are the answers to frequently asked questions about this section.
It could be! There’s no telling which section will be experimental on your test. The section is completely random for each LSAT taker and cannot be predicted.
No, the LSAT will not tell you which section is experimental. The section will be random and indiscernible from the scored sections.
No, this section is unscored and doesn’t contribute to your final LSAT score. It only helps the LSAT creators decide on new questions for future tests.
No, the LSAT-Flex, which was administered during the height of COVID, did not contain an experimental section. It only contained the three AR, LR, and RC scored sections and was thus a shorter exam!
Yes, since the August 2021 online LSAT exam, there has been one experimental section and three scored sections.
Doing poorly on the experimental section won’t affect your LSAT score. However, you won’t know which section is experimental, so if you feel you did poorly on one or both of the repeated sections, you might consider cancelling your score and retaking the test.
There is no special way to prepare for these questions! Prepare for this section as you would prepare for every other section. If you’re self-studying, use practice tests, assess your weaknesses, and simulate the conditions you’ll be in on test day.
Yes, there is still an LSAT writing section that students can take as early as eight days prior to their actual test. This section is also unscored, but copies of it are sent to the law schools you apply to. Law schools use this section to gain a better understanding of your reasoning, clarity, organization, language usage, and writing mechanics.
The final verdict is that you can’t possibly know which section of the LSAT is experimental, so there’s no use stressing about it.
Your LSAT is arguably one of the most important aspects of your law school application. Top law schools expect you to have scores in the 170 range, so each extra point counts, and it’s essential you put equal effort into every section of the LSAT.