The University of San Francisco: Career Services Center
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LSAT/CAS

 

All American Bar Association approved law schools require you to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a 3-1/2 hour standardized test. Law schools regard the LSAT as a crucial part of the application; in fact, many law schools give the LSAT as much or more weight than your GPA. Comprehensive LSAT information is available on the Law School Admission Council website.

What are the components of the LSAT?
The current LSAT consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple choice questions, plus a writing sample.
Reading comprehension: measures your ability to read with understanding and insight.

Analytical reasoning: measures your ability to understand a structure of relationships and to draw conclusions about the structure.

Logical reasoning (2 sections): evaluates your ability to understand, analyze, criticize and complete a variety of arguments.

Variable section: an experimental section that takes the form of one of the 3 aforementioned test sections that is used to help formulated new LSAT questions. This section will not count toward your LSAT score. You will not be told which section is the variable one.

Writing Sample on a prescribed topic. The 35-minute writing sample is not scored, but is sent to law schools to which you apply. Some law schools compare the writing sample to your personal statement to measure consistency in your writing ability.

When should I take the LSAT?

 Take it Early: The LSAT is given four times a year. While many people take the early fall test, the June test has real advantages in that the scores are available in plenty of time to plan out an application strategy and/or take the early fall test, if necessary. With the importance placed on the LSAT, it is hard to choose schools effectively without the score.

How many times should I take the LSAT?

Take it Once: The LSAT should not be taken for practice. Get ready and do it once. Some of you will want to repeat it if the initial score was disappointing. However, many repeaters do not improve; some lower their scores. Many schools will average multiple scores, which means you will have to get a significantly higher score on your second test to raise your overall LSAT score. But, some law schools will use the second score if it is considerably better than the first. Contact your law schools of choice to determine how they handle multiple test scores.

 What is a "good" LSAT score?

The scoring range on the LSAT is 120-180. Over the past five years, Cal students who have been accepted to law schools have averaged 161 on the exam. Generally, a score of 165 or higher is a competitive score for the top 20 law schools.

How should I prepare for the LSAT?

Since the LSAT is a very important factor in admissions decisions, preparing in advance for it is crucial. Most students start preparing for the LSAT at least 4-6 weeks prior to their test date. People prepare in different ways, depending on the manner in which they learn best, their financial situation, etc. The Career Center does not endorse or recommend any particular course, or even that a course be taken. This is an individual matter based on need, learning style, etc. Many take a review course; others do not. Opinion varies on the value of the courses. There is extensive study material provided through the Law School Admission Council, including suggested approaches to questions, explanations, and LSAT Prep Tests.

How do I register for the LSAT?
The easiest way to register is through the Law School Admission Council's website.

If my LSAT score is low, should I re-take the test?
The answer to this question is not an automatic "yes." First, ask yourself:
When you took the LSAT...
· were you sick?
· were you going through something emotionally stressful?
· were you not able to give your LSAT preparation 100%?
· knowing what you went through (and all the things you still have to do), do you want to do it again?
A positive response to one/any/all above special circumstances may mean you should re-take the test. But, keep in mind that most people who re-take the LSAT fail to score substantially higher on it the second time around. Some even score lower. Also, keep in mind that most law schools average multiple test scores, so you would have to score significantly higher the second time around. Finally, keep in mind the timing of your application. Is the next LSAT administration too close to application deadlines?
Are accommodations available for students with disabilities?
Yes, accommodations for the LSAT are available for students who have documented disabilities. To find out more about these types of accommodations, please see the Accommodated Testing section of the LSAC website or contact the Law Services Testing Accommodations Section at accom@lsac.org or (215) 968-1001.

How long are LSAT scores valid?

LSAT scores are valid for 5 years.

Do I need to take a test preparation course to do well on the LSAT?

Deciding to enroll in a test preparation course is up to you and should be based on your individual needs (not on apprehension created by peers or LSAT preparation providers). If you feel you would benefit from the structure that a course provides, you may want to consider signing up for one, keeping in mind that it can be expensive. On the other hand, if you have the self-discipline to set up your own study schedule and stick to it, you may want to utilize a study guide and/or practice LSATs. At the Career Center, we have heard positive and negative reports on all forms of test preparation. In addition, students who have used self-study or classes have experienced both high and low scores. In general, we advise that you take LSAT preparation seriously and that you plan to spend as much time preparing for it as you would attending and studying for an extremely challenging course. But when it comes to particular methods and vendors of books and courses, you will need to use your best judgment.

How can I request a LSAT/CAS fee waiver?

Information about fee waivers and downloadable forms are available on the LSAC website.

CAS and Transcripts---

What is the CAS?
CAS stands for the Credential Assembly Service (previously known as the LSDAS). It is a service administered by the Law School Admission Council (the same organization that administers the LSAT) that standardizes your grades and sends them as a part of a report to the law schools you want to attend. Almost all American Bar Association approved law schools require applicants to use the CAS. Your LSDAS subscription is good for 12 months, so sign up for it just in advance of the time period in which you will apply to law schools.

How do I sign up for the CAS?
You may sign up for the CAS through the Law School Admission Council's website.

What's in my CAS report?
The CAS facilitates the law school admissions process by compiling and disseminating most parts of the law school admission application. The CAS report contains:

  • LSAT scores and writing sample
  • CAS GPA
  • Copies of all transcript(s), including all undergraduate coursework taken at other institutions
  • Copies of letters or recommendation processed by the CAS


What is a CAS GPA?
Because of the wide range of grading systems used by US colleges and universities, the CAS converts records into a standard format. Your CAS GPA may be different from your Cal GPA. For example, the CAS assigns an A+ a value of 4.3, while at Cal, an A+ is equivalent to 4.0. Since the CAS also takes into account all undergraduate coursework taken at other institutions, your CAS GPA will probably be different from your Cal GPA if you took classes at other colleges or universities. Detailed information about CAS GPA calculations can be found on the LSAC website.

Do I have to send transcript(s) to each law school I apply to?

No. Send all college transcripts to the CAS. Once you send a copy of all transcripts to CAS, it sends a copy of your transcripts to each law school you apply to. Each transcript you send to the CAS must be accompanied by a CAS transcript request form, available through the LSAC.

Should I wait for my fall grades before sending my transcript(s) to CAS?

No, go ahead and start your CAS subscription without your senior year fall grades. Applying early in the admissions season can be advantageous, especially if you apply to schools that use rolling admissions. So, don't wait for fall grades. Once your fall grades are posted, forward a copy of your updated transcript to the CAS that will send a new report to the schools to which you've applied.