How to Master the LSAT Writing Section

The LSAT Writing Sample is the final section of the LSAT. Because it asks for a brief persuasive argument on a simple scenario, and because it is unscored, many law school applicants consider it unimportant.

However, the LSAT writing sample is a useful tool for admission committees. It lets law schools see how well you can draft an argument in 35 minutes. Admission committees may even compare it to the other writing samples in your application packet, just to see if your voice is somewhat consistent. It is useful in comparing applicants who have the same LSAT scores and GPA--which happens often. Before you take the LSAT, follow these steps to prepare for the writing sample and make a good impression on the people who evaluate your law school application.

Learn the format of the writing prompt. Every LSAT writing sample is structured exactly same way and has the same directions. Learn these by heart and you won't spend as much time thinking before you write.

On the LSAT writing sample, you are presented with a scenario in which a person (or group or company) has two options. There are also 2 or 3 criteria to be met. Your job is to pick one option, and justify why you think it is the best option to satisfy those criteria. That's it. Example:

An art gallery owner rents a building downtown, but is looking for a new location to display and sell art since the rent has increased. Write a persuasive essay in favor of ONE option with these two considerations in mind:
  • The new location must attract wealthy, upscale art collectors.
  • The art gallery owner does not want to move again.
Option 1) Lucky Lofts rents high-end gallery and studio spaces. The building is located in a posh area of town and the rent is 30% higher than what the gallery owner was previously paying. The space is the same size as the old gallery, but has a newly remodeled interior.

Option 2) There is a building for sale in the middle-class part of town. The building is priced well below market value, and the interior is unfinished. The space is is twice the size of the old gallery.

Know this: There is no right or wrong answer. You can choose either the lofts or the empty building, but you must convincingly argue why you think it is the best choice.

Develop a template for the LSAT essay and use the same structure on test day. Since each scenario is more or less the same, your template will work for any scenario you are presented with. Here's an example template for an essay in which you choose Option 1:

P2--Why Op 1 fulfills the first criteria better than Option 2 does
P3--Why Op 1 fulfills the second criteria better than Option 2 does

Another template for choosing Option 1:

P2--Why the pros of Option 1 outweigh the cons, considering the criteria
P3--Why the cons of Option 2 outweigh the pros, considering the criteria

Read and write several LSAT writing sample prompts so that you know what to expect on test day. If you have sets of full-length LSAT practice tests, you can locate the writing section at the end. You can also find LSAT sample writing prompts on the LSAC website.

When practicing, write the essays under timed conditions, 35 minutes each. And when you take full-length LSAT practice tests, don't skip the writing sample.

On the day of the LSAT, keep in mind it is not the most important part of the LSAT, but try do your best. If you have a ready-made template that you are comfortable with, you will have no problem producing an acceptable essay.

© Had2Know 2010

Get Prepped: Had2Know's Law School & LSAT Guide Parvana Coates
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