LSAT vs GRE: Do Law Schools Prefer LSAT or GRE?


Choosing between the LSAT vs GRE for law school applications can be tough. Since 1948, the LSAT has been the primary entrance test for law schools. But now, more law schools accept the GRE, too. As of late 2022, over 90 accredited law schools accept the GRE, and that number may continue to rise as the ABA considers changing testing requirements.

When choosing between the LSAT and the GRE, applicants should research if their target law schools accept the GRE. Schools accepting the GRE for multiple years have found that it can effectively indicate applicants’ potential for law school success. However, the LSAT remains more widely used and may be viewed as the standard in admissions. 

To help you decide, this article will discuss the variations in sections and content of each test, how law schools perceive each test, and answer questions like “Is the GRE easier than the LSAT?”

A man shading his answer sheet

LSAT Sections and Content

What is the LSAT? The LSAT is a multiple-choice assessment that is a pivotal component of law school applications, structured into four LSAT sections, each lasting 35 minutes.

  1. Logical Reasoning (25 questions): You’ll dissect argumentative texts to identify their strengths and weaknesses. This involves scrutinizing flaws, drawing inferences, pinpointing missing assumptions, and evaluating the resilience of conclusions.

  2. Reading Comprehension (26-28 questions): You’ll read four passages and answer questions about them. This section is similar to tests you took in high school, like the ACT and SAT. The passages are challenging, and the questions require good reading skills.

  3. Analytical Reasoning (25 questions): This section is also known as LSAT Logic Games. You’ll solve four logic games, each with about six questions. It involves logical thinking, pattern recognition, and understanding graphing and shorthand conventions. This section may be unfamiliar to many people; that’s why it is better to practice and familiarize yourself with its unique challenges. An LSAT Logic Games Course can be particularly beneficial, offering structured guidance and strategies to master this demanding section.

  4. Experimental Section (23- 27 questions): The experimental section, which does not count towards your score, mirrors one of the other sections in form and substance. It’s a wild card — while its results are inconsequential, you must approach it with the same seriousness as the rest.

  5. LSAT Writing: The LSAT Writing section is an essay portion that can be finished a maximum of 8 days prior to the multiple-choice section.

GRE Sections and Content

The GRE is a lengthy exam that lasts around 3 hours and 45 minutes, including a short break after the first three sections. The GRE includes the following sections:

  1. 2 Essays (30 minutes each): You will have to write two essays – one where you analyze an argument and another where you construct an argument. Although these essays are graded, they are generally considered less significant than the other test sections.

  2. 2 Verbal Sections (20 questions, 30 minutes each): Here, you’ll see different types of questions where you’ll fill in the blanks with the right words, answer questions about short stories you read, and solve a few puzzles with words and ideas. Most of these are just picking one right answer, but sometimes you’ll pick more than one or even find the answer hidden in a story.

  3. 2 Quantitative Sections (20 questions, 35 minutes each): This section encompasses a range of math question formats like multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank. It covers arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability, statistics, and data analysis. It will not include Calculus or Trigonometry.

  4. 1 Experimental Section: There’s also a surprise part – it could be more word puzzles or math problems, but it won’t count towards your final score. You won’t know which one it is until after the test.

LSAT vs GRE for Law School: Understanding the Scoring

Should I take the GRE or LSAT for law school? When deciding what to choose, understanding how the LSAT and GRE are scored is crucial. Here’s a simple breakdown:

LSAT Scoring

The LSAT plays within an LSAT score range of 120 to 180. Your score is determined by how many questions you get right across the main parts of the test — every single question counts the same. Given the roughly 75 questions that actually affect your score, each one nudges your score up by about a point. Your score will also be placed in an LSAT percentile rank. This shows how your performance compares to other test-takers. 

The section that isn’t counted, known as the experimental section, won’t affect your total score. Despite being unscored, the LSAT’s experimental section is crucial for maintaining a consistent test-taking rhythm, ensuring your focus and performance stay steady throughout the exam. The LSAT writing section, while also not contributing to your score, is essential for demonstrating your argumentative and writing skills to law school admissions, affecting their evaluation of your application. You’ll need to wait 3 to 4 weeks after test day to see your results.

GRE Scoring

The GRE essays are graded on a scale of 0-6 in half-point increments, but this score is not as significant as the scores from the other sections. The Verbal and Quantitative sections are combined to provide an overall Verbal and Quantitative score ranging from 130 to 170. The GRE is a computer-adaptive test, which means that the difficulty level of the second scored section in each category will be adjusted based on your performance in the first section. Harder sections carry more weight and can result in a higher score. 

There are a total of 40 scored questions on both the Verbal and Quantitative sections, so each question corresponds to one point. However, this may vary depending on the test and difficulty level of your second-scored sections. The experimental section has no impact on your final score. You receive immediate feedback for all sections except the essays, which are graded and released about one or two weeks later.

Are Scores From The GRE And LSAT Used Differently?

All of your LSAT scores will be sent to any school you apply to. However, the LSAT now offers a service called LSAT Score Preview. This allows test takers to cancel their scores from their first official LSAT. This reduces the pressure on the first test. All law schools in the United States accept the LSAT.

On the other hand, many law schools in the US accept the GRE, but it is not as widely accepted in law school admissions as the LSAT. However, the GRE is used more for other graduate school applications. If you are considering a dual-degree program or a different program, the GRE offers more versatility than the LSAT.

Is the LSAT Harder Than the GRE?

When deciding between taking the LSAT and the GRE, a common question is which exam is easier. The answer to that question is not fixed and depends on individual academic strengths. There are notable differences between LSAT and GRE, which can influence one’s perception of their relative difficulty.

How hard is the LSAT? The LSAT tests your reading comprehension, analytical, and logical reasoning skills. Preparing for the LSAT requires repeatedly drilling these complex skills through practice tests. The LSAT does not test any specific content knowledge.

The GRE has a broader scope, covering verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. Doing well requires memorizing vocabulary words and mastering sometimes obscure math concepts. The GRE may feel more approachable since it tests more familiar academic subjects from undergraduate education. However, the wide range of knowledge required can also make studying more difficult.

Overall, neither test is intrinsically easier – it depends on whether your strengths align more with the LSAT’s focused skill-building approach or the GRE’s wide academic knowledge requirements. With dedication and practice, strong scores can be achieved on both tests.

A pile of books, an open notebook, and a pen

Is It Better to Take the GRE or LSAT?

Should I take the LSAT or the GRE? Deciding between taking the LSAT or the GRE is a crucial early choice for those applying to law school. The LSAT is designed specifically to test skills critical for law school success. It covers no specific subject matter knowledge. Since all accredited law schools accept the LSAT, it should be your focus if any of your target schools do not accept the GRE. Taking the LSAT maximizes your options.

Whereas the GRE tests a broader range of skills like math and vocabulary, it may be preferable if you are also considering other graduate programs besides law school. Dual-degree applicants may also favor the GRE. The GRE may feel more manageable to some students since it covers more familiar undergrad topics.

To decide between the LSAT and the GRE, research your target schools’ requirements and weigh your personal factors. Use resources like Law School Predictor to estimate your chances using LSAT scores and law school GPA. With ample preparation, strong scores are achievable on the LSAT or GRE.

Summary: Differences Between GRE and LSAT

Governing Body Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Educational Testing Service (ETS)
Test Sections
  • 4 Sections:
  • Analytical Reasoning
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Reading Comprehension
  • LSAT Writing

Total exam time: About 3 hours with a 10-minute break.

3 Sections:
Analytical Writing

 Verbal Reasoning

 Quantitative Reasoning

Test Format Not computer adaptive. Computer adaptive.
Scoring System
  • The LSAT is graded on a scale of 120 to 180 points. 
  • The LSAT Writing section does not receive a score. 
  • If you take the exam multiple times, top law schools will average the scores of all LSATs taken within the past five years.
The GRE has 3 scores: Math and Verbal scores range from 130 to 170, and Analytical Writing scores range from 0 to 6.
Scoring Scale of 120-180 Math and Verbal scores on a scale of 130-170, and Analytical Writing scores on a scale of 0-6
Score Validity 5 years 5 years

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When deciding to apply for law school, it is crucial to make the early choice between taking the LSAT vs GRE. All law schools universally accept the LSAT specifically tailored to evaluate essential skills necessary for legal education. However, over 90 schools now accept the GRE as well.

There are valid reasons to favor one exam over the other depending on your personal strengths and target schools. Dedicated study and practice for either exam can produce scores that make you an attractive candidate. Do thorough research to weigh the LSAT vs GRE for your situation.

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