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LSAT Writing Sample: What You Need to Know

August 25, 2023


Reviewed by:

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

Reviewed: 02/02/23

An often overlooked part of the Law School Admission Test is the writing section. To learn more about how to approach the LSAT Writing Sample, read on.

Part of becoming an excellent lawyer is having strong persuasive skills in your oral and written communication. In order to assess potential law students on this skill, they’re required to complete a writing sample as part of the LSAT exam.

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!

What Is the LSAT Writing Sample?

As stated, the LSAT Writing Sample allows law school committees to get a better understanding of your writing and persuasive skills. This writing prompt will not appear on your LSAT exam but will open eight days prior to every test administration.

This writing sample is administered through an online proctor software. Candidates are given 35 minutes to complete the writing sample and can expect to be presented with a scenario that requires them to choose between two sides or two courses of action.

While this section will not be scored, it’s considered to be an integral part of the admissions process. 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

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, it’s essential you consider all of the facts presented to you. You should be able to make a decision based solely on the information you are given. Read through the prompt carefully to figure out 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 that has 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 a hard time 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 roughly plan your essay. Create a quick outline detailing what each paragraph of your essay will argue.

Many LSAT test-takers choose to write their sample in a series of short paragraphs or in 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. 

You should also discredit any potential weaknesses in your chosen side. There will always be at least one seemingly obvious weakness to both sides, so you should address this weakness to make a sound argument.

Your writing sample will also list certain criteria you must keep in mind 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 cutting into the time you’ll need to write and revise your sample.

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 know the spelling of. 

Leave Time to Edit

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

As you race against the clock to finish your essay, you’re bound to make at least a few silly errors. Since this sample is meant to give the admissions committee insight on your writing skills, it’s essential you revise your writing to get rid of any avoidable spelling, grammar, or syntax errors. 

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

LSAT Writing Sample Prompt & Marking Scheme

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. 

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

To see an LSAT writing sample marking scheme, take a look at our free sample test question tool below!

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 there is no word limit on your writing sample, 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 go over 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.

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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