The Law School Admission Test conducted by the Law School Admission Council, Pennsylvania, is one of the selection criteria for admission to law schools in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Systematic practice using sample tests and previous test questions under simulated conditions will offer you guidance for test preparation.
Any thought of the legal profession may bring to our mind a picture of black coats doing the rounds in courts of law. But the profession is much more than what is offered by such simplistic images. It is the very foundation of social life ensuring fairness, equity, and justice. It establishes and enforces rules that define the rights and obligations of citizens and organisations.
The legal empire has grown so wide that numerous areas of specialisation have emerged — Administrative, Civil, Constitutional, Corporate, Criminal, Cyber, Intellectual property, International, Labour, Mercantile, Taxation Law.
The profession has its own charms — handsome financial rewards for the right person with the essential attributes, a sense of fulfilment for the committed with innovative skills, and the intellectual challenges offered by high-end legal work. There are numerous career options within the large umbrella of law.
In these days of vanishing international boundaries leading to the emergence of a seamless globe, new opportunities come up for serving clients worldwide.
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a prestigious selection test conducted by the Law School Admission Council with its headquarters in Pennsylvania (U.S.). A large number of law schools in the U.S., Canada, and Australia are members of the council. (Law School Admission Council, 662 Penn Street, Newtown, Pennsylvania 18940, USA.)
The LSAT is held four times a year at various centres in the world. Bangalore and New Delhi are the centres in India. The scores in the test offer a common yardstick to law schools to ensure that the prospective students are endowed with necessary skills for taking up legal studies. The schools may consider other indicators also along with the LSAT scores for deciding admission.
What does the LSAT measure?
• Reading and comprehension of complex texts, with accuracy and insight
• Organisation and management of information and the ability to draw inferences
• Ability for critical thinking
• Analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others
The test comprises five 35-minute sections, each with multiple-choice questions. Out of these, the four sections used for evaluating the skills of the candidate are divided as follows: Reading comprehension – one, Analytical reasoning – one, Logical reasoning – two.
The fifth section is used by the test administrators for pre-testing new questions and improving the test structure for future use. The score in this section will not count for assessing the candidate’s skills. This variable section may be placed anywhere in the structure of the test. The LSAT score is in the range of 120 to 180.
There is a 35-minute ‘writing sample’ at the end of the test. This is not scored; but its copies are sent to the law schools to which you apply.
Let us now look at the three sections with multiple-choice questions in some detail.
You have to read passages similar to those commonly found in law school studies. It is not plain reading that we should do; you should read with insight. The passages may be lengthy and the content and presentation complex.
There would be four sets of ‘reading questions’, each set followed by five to eight questions. Your ability to read, assimilate, and reason would be put under the scanner.
You have to appreciate a structure of relationships, and draw logical inferences about the structure. Making deductions from a set of statements or rules involves the application of your reasoning power. The statements may touch different kinds of relationships. This exercise is a kind of rehearsal of the analysis that a law school student would be called upon for solving legal problems.
Any student of law will have to make critical thinking and logical reasoning. How well you are likely to perform these would be tested through this section. Understanding, analysing, criticising, and bringing forward a variety of arguments in support of a proposition may often be challenging. For answering each question, you will have to read a short passage and then answer questions based on it.
Candidate referral service
If you create an account with LSAC for any purpose, you get the opportunity to authorise the release of information about yourselves to eligible law schools. They use the Referral Service to identify prospective applicants, and they may contact the candidates. For information on legal studies or admission to law schools, you can contact LSACinfo@LSAC.org.
Law school admission
The requirements and the time schedules may be different for different law schools. You have to prepare your own schedule to keep yourselves in line with the requirements.
Systematic practice using sample tests and previous test questions under simulated conditions will offer you guidance for test preparation. It is a good idea to register for the LSDAS (Law School Data Assembly Service). Indeed most of the law schools approved by the American Bar Association require such registration.
The LSDAS would prepare a report on you for each law school to which you apply. The report would provide information relating to your academic history, LSAT scores, and other relevant information required by the admitting authority. A significant advantage of the LSDAS registration is the access to electronic applications for all ABA-approved law schools. Students educated in countries other than the U.S. may manage without LSDAS.
Candidates should make a preliminary study of law schools and identify a few of them to which they intend to apply for admission.
A visit to the web sites of the preferred law school will help to enlighten you appropriately before making a decision. You can make an easy start by studying the official guide in the site http://officialguide.lsac.org. You should not limit your search to the most prestigious schools, which may not be easy to enter. Specialities that are to your liking, reputation of the school, standing of the faculty, possibility for financial assistance, and type of the school (public or private) are some of the factors that come to your mind during the selection of schools. You may shortlist four or five schools in the beginning.
You can register for LSAT in the web site https://os.lsac.org that provides LSAC online services. Information on preparation material or financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans is available in the related links in the LSAC web site www.lsac.org.