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LSAT Writing Sample - A Step-by-Step Guide + Example

January 22, 2024
8 min read
Contents

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Reviewed by:

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

Reviewed: 11/22/23

The writing section is an often overlooked part of the Law School Admission Test. Read on to learn how to approach the LSAT Writing Sample.

Part of becoming an excellent lawyer is having strong persuasive oral and written communication skills. Law schools require students to complete a writing sample as part of the challenging LSAT exam to assess potential law students on this skill.

If writing under pressure isn’t your forte, this guide will go over what you can expect on the LSAT Writing Sample, how to complete it efficiently, and give you a sample LSAT prompt to help you prepare!

How is the LSAT Writing Test Scored? 

The LSAT writing sample is not scored and does not affect your overall LSAT writing score. However, it is still considered an integral part of the admissions process as it provides a window into your aptitude for a career as a lawyer. 

Your writing sample will be evaluated along with your LSAT score to judge your suitability for law school. Each law school evaluates the writing sample differently, but missing or weak responses have been used as grounds for rejection by law schools.

How to Approach the LSAT Writing Sample

Planning and writing an entire essay within 35 minutes might seem intimidating. To make this process less daunting, here are our top steps to approach the writing sample. 

Read the Prompt Carefully

Before you begin writing your essay, you must consider all the facts. You should be able to decide based solely on your given information. Read the prompt carefully to determine which side you can create the best argument for. 

Focus on the Facts

Even if you’re well-versed in the topic presented, you should only use the information given to you to make an argument. Do not include outside information that you believe will strengthen your argument.

Admissions committees want to see how you create arguments with limited information to test your analysis and reasoning skills. 

Remember, There Is No Right or Wrong Answer

There is no right or wrong answer to these prompts. They are presented in a way that will make it somewhat challenging to choose the option with the most supporting evidence, but either side can be argued.

Choose whichever side you feel you can create the most persuasive argument for, even if it goes against what you would traditionally side with.

If you’re having difficulty choosing a side, try to jot down a few pros and cons for each and see which side has the most pros. 

Make a Plan

To avoid wasting time, getting writer’s block, or writing an incohesive essay, you should give yourself around 10 minutes to plan your essay. Create a quick outline detailing what each paragraph of your essay will argue.

Many LSAT test-takers write their sample in a series of short or only two paragraphs—one detailing the advantages of their chosen side and another detailing the disadvantages of the opposing side. You should choose a structure you feel most comfortable with.

Your first paragraph should state the stance you will be taking. In your remaining paragraphs, you should mention the strengths of your choice and the cons of the opposite side. 

Your writing sample will also list certain criteria when choosing a side. Ensure you include these in your outline. 

Conclude your essay briefly by reiterating your stance and summarizing the main reasons you chose one side over the other. Your essay plan should be completed using jot notes to avoid wasting the time you’ll need to write and revise your sample.

Male student writing on paper

Keep Your Writing Clear and Concise

The best way to get your point across clearly is to use simple language that is easy to understand. Do not try to impress the committee by using vocabulary you aren’t familiar with. You should also only use words that you are sure you can spell correctly. 

Leave Time to Edit

While 35 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, once you’ve created a rough plan for your essay, it won’t take too long to write it out. Remember, this essay should only be a few short paragraphs! 

You will make at least a few silly errors as you race against the clock to finish your essay. Since this sample is meant to give the admissions committee insight into your writing skills, you must revise your writing to eliminate any avoidable spelling, grammar, or syntax errors. 

Give yourself around five minutes to review your sample to find these mistakes before submitting it. 

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Approach LSAT Writing Essay

If you have no idea where to start for your LSAT writing sample, don’t fret. We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to help you break down the writing process. 

Taking time to practice your LSAT writing essay is a great way to self-study for the LSAT. But the best way to improve your writing is simply to write! So, please look at our guide below to help you learn how to approach the LSAT writing sample. 

Step One: Compare and Contrast

Female shrugging with illustrated question marks in each hand

To build a strong argument, you need to understand both sides thoroughly. Before writing, create a list to compare and contrast the opposing arguments. This way, you can weigh the choices before you decide which side you’re on. 

There are several ways you can do this. You may create a side-by-side chart, a pro-and-con list, a Venn diagram, or a thought map--the possibilities are endless! Use whatever works best for you to organize your thoughts effectively. 

Step Two: Prioritize

Now, it’s time to look at each argument carefully. Pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of both and the criteria and factors provided. 

When prioritizing, consider what is most important in the situation. Which potential consequence would be a greater loss? This should help clarify which argument is stronger. 

Step Three: Make a Decision

Considering all of the above, choose a side to argue for. Be confident and prepared to defend your choice in your essay fully. Use the brainstorming you’ve done in steps one and two to create an outline for your writing sample. 

Step Four: Get Writing

Now that your argument has been built, it’s time to start writing! Remember to keep it concise--every sentence should be purposeful and necessary. Avoid fluff and filler words. 

Defend Your Choice

Start by explaining why the choice you made is the best one. List the factors that you prioritized and your reasons for doing so. You should have at least three strong reasons for your argument. 

Since there is no “right” answer, your argument may have weak points which you should address. Explain why these weak points aren't significant or how the strengths in your argument make up for them. 

Explain How the Opposition Falls Short

You don’t have to bash the other side. It’s a good idea to mention the opposition's strengths, as it shows you’ve made your decision carefully. But you should point out the “fatal flaw” of the other choice that led you to reject it. Be thorough and explain your thinking in detail. 

Step Five: Revise

Essay edited with red pen

Thoughtless errors never put you in a good light with admissions committees. As we mentioned before, leave yourself some time to proofread your writing sample and edit out any mistakes! 

LSAT Writing Sample Prompt

Just like sample LSAT questions can help you study, looking at essay examples can help you prepare. Here’s a past LSAT writing sample prompt you can use to begin honing your writing skills! 

Brighter Construction is deciding which of two upcoming construction projects to bid on—resurfacing Hilltop Road or expanding Carlene Boulevard. 

Since Brighter cannot fulfill both contracts at the same time and bids constitute binding commitments, Brighter can only bid on one of the projects. Using the facts below, write an essay arguing for one project over the other based on the following two criteria:

  • Brighter wants to enhance its reputation among potential clients
  • Brighter wants to increase its capacity to take on bigger projects

The Hilltop Road resurfacing is a small project. The potential profit is relatively low. With Brighter’s experience and resources, it is almost certain to win the contract, and it is highly likely to finish on time and within budget. Brighter has an established reputation for finishing projects on time and within budget.  

Brighter has specialized in small projects. Construction firms specializing in small projects find it increasingly difficult over time to win contracts for bigger projects. If the project is completed under budget, Brighter will keep the extra money. 

If it is over budget, Brighter must cover the additional costs. Brighter will use any extra money to purchase additional heavy equipment. 

The Carlene Boulevard expansion is a large project. The potential profit is much higher. It involves a kind of work that Brighter has never done before and that would require it to explain its operation. Because of the overall nature of this project, Brighter believes it has a good chance of winning the contract.

 It is uncertain whether Brighter can finish the project on time and within budget. Even if brighter exceeds time and budget constraints, it will gain valuable experience. If the project goes over budget, Brighter will lose money. 

As you can see, this prompt offers two courses of action and asks you to choose whichever matches the stated criteria best. After carefully reading the prompt and following the above tips, you should be able to formulate a solid argument!

Female student looking at laptop screen

Model Answer Example

Here is a great LSAT writing example for the above prompt: 

“Based on the two criteria given, it is advisable for Brighter Construction to bid on the Carlene Boulevard expansion project.
Firstly, to enhance Brighter Construction's reputation, winning and completing the Carlene Boulevard project would have greater benefits than the Hilltop Road resurfacing project. While it is true that Brighter Construction has established a reputation for finishing projects on time and within budgets, this reputation is limited to small projects. As the prompt suggests, specializing in small projects can make it harder for companies to win contracts for bigger projects over time. Brighter Construction can demonstrate its ability to handle larger, more complex projects by taking on the challenge of an expandable project like Carlene Boulevard. Clients looking for construction firms to manage big projects will take notice of this.
Furthermore, as the prompt indicates, the Carlene Boulevard expansion has the potential for higher profits. Winning this project will open up doors for Brighter Construction, which can lead to more high-profit projects in the future. It will be an excellent chance for Brighter Construction to expand its operation and be better positioned to take on even more significant projects. Therefore, even if Brighter Construction does not profit from the Carlene Boulevard expansion project, it can prepare itself to handle bigger projects better than before and take up more significant opportunities in the future.
The Carlene Boulevard expansion project presents a more significant opportunity on the second criterion of increasing capacity to take on bigger projects. As mentioned above, this project is much bigger and requires new and more advanced resources. Hence, Brighter Construction will acquire the necessary resources to handle bigger projects after winning this project. This experience will allow Brighter Construction to take on more large-scale projects. The company will have successfully expanded its operations, and thus, it can bid on more significant projects in the future. The more significant the projects Brighter Construction takes on, the higher the profits that come with them.
Moreover, the Carlene Boulevard expansion project will provide valuable experience to Brighter Construction. The fact that it is unsure if it will complete the project on time and within budget means that the company will learn new skills, gain new insights, and discover new strategies. Brighter Construction will learn to optimize its resources better if it exceeds budget constraints. The company will undoubtedly face challenges and obstacles throughout the project, and this experience will be priceless. It will enable Brighter Construction to improve its work quality and overall competence and help win more significant projects in the future.
In conclusion, while the Hilltop Road resurfacing project seems safer, Brighter Construction should bid on the Carlene Boulevard expansion project to enhance its reputation among potential clients and increase its capacity to take on more significant projects. This project will provide Brighter Construction with valuable experience, allow it to acquire new resources, and allow the company to prove its ability to handle more substantial projects successfully. Winning this project will be an excellent chance for Brighter Construction to expand its operations, prepare to take on even more significant opportunities in the future, and increase its profitability accordingly.”

Why This Answer Is Good

What makes this essay good is that it gets straight to the point. It strongly argues for one side and provides relevant examples to support that argument. 

The essay advocates for Brighter Construction to prioritize bidding on the Carlene Boulevard expansion project over the Hilltop Road resurfacing project based on enhancing reputation and increasing capacity for larger projects. 

It successfully argues that winning the Carlene project would demonstrate the company's ability to handle more significant endeavors and open doors to higher-profit opportunities. 

Common Mistakes

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when completing the LSAT Writing section.

Student typing essay on laptop

Misinterpreting the Prompt

Misinterpreting the LSAT essay prompt is a common mistake that significantly undermines the essay's effectiveness. This error occurs when test-takers fail to fully grasp the nuances of the prompt, leading to essays that address the wrong issue. 

Rapid reading without carefully considering the specific question can result in a lack of understanding between the essay's content and the intended evaluative criteria. This weakens the essay's persuasiveness and coherence. 

To avoid this, test-takers should invest time comprehending the prompt, identifying key issues, and ensuring their responses specifically address the outlined instructions.

Lack of Evidence

Not using evidence to argue your point in an LSAT essay weakens the persuasive strength of arguments. This mistake often results from inadequate preparation or time constraints, leading to hastily chosen examples. 

To address this, test-takers should prioritize relevant, specific, and well-developed evidence to ensure the credibility of their claims and avoid potential counterarguments that could weaken the overall persuasiveness of the essay.

Provide a Clear Conclusion

A lack of a proper conclusion in an LSAT essay diminishes its impact by depriving the reader of a clear takeaway. This oversight, often due to time constraints, results in an abrupt ending that leaves the essay incomplete. 

A well-crafted conclusion, summarizing key points and offering a compelling final thought, is crucial for reinforcing the main ideas and enhancing the overall coherence and impact of the essay.

Are you wondering if you’re ready to take the LSAT? Take this “Am I Ready For the LSAT? Quiz” to determine if you can take this difficult exam! 

FAQs: LSAT Writing 

We’ve answered the main questions, “what is the LSAT writing sample?” and “how should I approach the LSAT writing sample?” For any remaining uncertainty about this part of the LSAT, read on.

1. How Long Should My LSAT Writing Sample Be?

While your writing sample has no word limit, you should aim to be as clear and concise as possible. Most LSAT writing samples are between two and four paragraphs long. Ensure you prioritize quality over quantity.

2. How to Prepare for the LSAT Writing Sample?

The best way to prepare for the LSAT writing sample is to review sample prompts and answer them under the same time constraints you’ll be in on test day.

3. Do Law Schools Read the LSAT Writing Sample?

Yes, law schools do read the LSAT writing samples to assess candidates’ writing and argumentative skills.

4. How Long Is the LSAT Writing Sample? 

You will have 35 minutes to complete the LSAT writing sample. 

5. Do You Have to Take The LSAT Writing More Than Once?

No, you do not have to take LSAT writing more than once. You are only required to submit one writing sample for your LSAT to be considered complete.

Final Thoughts

Given the stress you’ll be under trying to master all three sections of the LSAT, knowing you’ll also have to write an essay can make acing the LSAT seem impossible! 

Knowing how to approach the LSAT to write the most effective argument should ease some of this stress and help ensure you write a compelling sample to impress the judges!

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