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The New Writing Section of the LSAT

There’s been another update to the LSAT! This time, these changes center on the writing section In this post, we cover the new writing section of the LSAT.

What is the new writing section?

The writing section of the LSAT is a timed 35-minute section with a prompt asking test-takers to make a decision on a set of facts and lay out the justifications for your conclusion. There is no right or wrong answer, and each side of the argument is intended to have some validity.

The writing section is intended to elicit persuasive writing and critical thinking skills that are utilized in law school classrooms.  You will be evaluated on your ability to form an argument and support your conclusion with logical reasoning pulled from the facts. It also serves as a writing sample, alongside your personal statement and other essays.

How does it impact my LSAT score?

It does not.  That’s right, this new writing section of the LSAT is not graded. However, copies of your answer will be included in your application for review. It’s important to still take this part of the exam seriously.

Is this section required?

Yes. All law school applicants must have at least one writing sample on file. The writing sample can be from a past exam (where you wrote it out by hand on a test before June 2019) or from the new format on your computer.

What’s changed in the new writing section of the LSAT?

1. The format.

Beginning with the June 2019 exam, the writing section of the LSAT changed. Traditionally, it was a timed 35-minute section that immediately followed the rest of the exam. Now, it is administered online from your own computer at a date of your choosing.

(Note, you can’t pick any day of the year to take the writing portion. You must register for the writing section on a date when the multiple-choice exam is also being given. In the 2019-2020 year, you have nine dates to choose from.)

2. It’s now a standalone section that only needs to be taken once.

In the past, LSAC required you to complete a writing section after every LSAT you took. Now, however, it’s a standalone part of the test. You no longer have to take the writing portion on the same day as the rest of the multiple-choice sections. You can sign up to take it on any test date within a year of your LSAT registration.

 As mentioned above, you only need to have one writing sample on file.  You can complete the writing section up to three times in a year, at up to five times over a five-year period.

3. Expected quality.

This is a major change since test takers won’t have to fight through exam fatigue and exhaustion when writing their essay.  The change also means that law admission officers may be less forgiving when reading a poorly written or structured essay. You’ll be expected to approach the exam with renewed and refreshed focus. This should translate into an increased quality in your writing.

Despite the formatting shakeup, the substance or intent of this section has not changed. The new format should benefit test takers and alleviate pressure from having to write an essay at the end of a long exam. You can pick a date that works for you and focus solely on the writing portion without worrying about the rest of the exam.

Don’t forget, however, that despite the flexibility the writing section is still required for law school applications. Therefore, be sure to register to take the writing section in advance of you applying to law schools.

Check out the full list of Writing Sample FAQs.

Rachel Margiewicz, Director of Pre-Law Services, wrote this post. Rachel is a licensed attorney with years of admissions experience across three law school programs in different markets of the country. She knows what schools are looking for and how to make your application stand out.

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