April 7, 2014

LSAT Essay

You probably wonder why an essay (writing sample) is part the LSAT, although it does not contribute to the overall score.

A flourishing career in law demands a first-class command of words. An attorney earns the respect and admiration of clients and juries by precisely delineating important points and delivering nuanced, elegant arguments that dismantle the opposing counsel’s case. The law candidate must demonstrate a mastery of wide-ranging communication styles to the examiners. The candidate must recognize the different styles required for e-mails, memos, letters, court briefs, and articles for publication in legal journals. The candidate must balance the subtleties of language against the subtleties of law.

The writing sample is not one of the sections scored by LSAC on the answer sheets. The writing sample accompanies the graded sections and is forwarded as a package to the candidate’s prospective law schools for assessment. Although your LSAT scale score may be very high, a writing sample that lacks linguistic flair or demonstrates an inability to express complex ideas with precision damages your chance of acceptance. Take your preparation for this all-important section very seriously.

You may be relieved to know that your LSAT writing sample does not demand right or wrong answers. By its nature, the writing section is organized differently than the other sections (logical reasoning (argument), analytical reasoning (games) and reading comprehension). The sections on the answer sheets are machine-scored because each question has only one best answer. The writing sample shows that you can form an argument for a scenario that could be found in a wide variety of situations. This scenario does not require prior knowledge to resolve it. You are given two options, which might be a positive or negative response, a choice, or a decision. Following the scenario, the examiners stipulate evidence useful for supporting your point of view.

Your job in the writing sample section is simple: Select a position and own it absolutely. No importance is assigned to which option you select because there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ position. Present a substantial argument to support your position. Anticipate an opponent’s position and ague against it effectively. Both offense and defense are required from you.

Make your LSAT writing sample concise. You are limited to 35 minutes. You can write on the front and back of one single sheet of paper only, so your argument must be short and to the point. Your response must be in your own handwriting. A computer, Braille, a reader, an amanuensis (transcriptionist) or any other aid is forbidden unless you applied for and were granted accommodated testing by LSAC when you registered. You are granted a second sheet of paper for your notes, outline or other organizational device to keep your writing on track. The second sheet of scrap paper is not marked.

Remember that your response must be substantial but succinct. Resist the urge to ramble or digress. Begin your writing sample with a brief paragraph stating your position. In the second paragraph, present evidence supporting your point of view. Consider the opposing position (antithesis) in your third paragraph and refute it by supporting your negative argument with evidence. In your concluding paragraph, summarize both positions and their supporting evidence. Do not simply repeat what you already stated above. Add weight to your argument through your linguistic style. Express the summary in different terms.