4 Differences Between the LSAT and Other Standardized Tests

Students get so accustom to taking traditional standardized tests throughout junior high and high school, ultimately preparing them for college entrance exams as they near graduation. But once you are out of the grade school grind, those test taking skills might not come in handy as much as you would think. For students with their sights set on law school, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is designed to a far different standard than any exam you have probably taken before. In order to get the most out of your endless hours of studying and eventually achieve the top marks you dream of, there are a number of differences between the LSAT and other standardized exams that you should be sure to take into account.

The LSAT doesn’t measure what you already know.

College entrance exams such as the ACT or SAT are designed to determine your knowledge about a wide range of subjects and what you have learned in the first 16 to 18 years of your life. On the contrary, the LSAT is designed not to measure what you already know, but to project your ability to succeed in law school in the future. For this reason, in order to excel on the LSAT, you must have a clear understanding of the types of questions that will be asked as well as the format of the exam.

Part of the exam requires playing games.

This sort of goes along with the previous point, but I think it deserves a point of its own just because, for many, it’s the most difficult part of the exam. The analytical reasoning section, sometimes referred to as the logic games section, requires you to understand and answer questions about highly complex, hypothetical relationships between objects or parties. While you may struggle to wrap your mind around the concept at first, experts say that this is the area that students typically improve in the most, as it is something that is easier to teach than the other aspects of the exam.

Analyzing practice tests is key.

For any test, practicing with previous exams can have a big impact on your ability to succeed. However, because the questions presented on LSAT are so unfamiliar when compared to other standardized tests, merely practicing with old LSAT exams is often not enough to improve your chances of doing well when it comes time to take the test. Rather than answering question after question, hoping for a different result, you need to go back through and analyze where you struggled, what you got wrong, and why. If you don’t know what mistakes you are making, how can you correct them?

Make sure you answer every question.

A lot of students are used to getting penalized for providing wrong answers on exams such as the SAT or Advanced Placement exams. With the LSAT, however, you cannot lose points for a wrong answer; you can only gain points for questions you answer correctly. So if you are unsure about the answer to a question, at the very least, try to make an educated guess. Another strategy is to answer the easier questions first and then go back to ones you don’t know if you have time at the end. If you do run out of time, you want to be sure to go through and fill in any answers that you did not get to.


Stephanie Sundheimer writes on behalf of Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC, team of Lansing, Michigan based legal professionals including expert franchise lawyers, municipalities attorneys, and intellectual property specialists.

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