Countdown to LSAT: The Essay
June is quickly approaching and you know what that means — the LSAT is too. Now that you’ve learned all about the Logic Games, Logical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension sections and how to deal if everything goes wrong on test day, let’s talk about another section of the LSAT — the essay.
You will have 35 minutes to write a persuasive essay based on a prompt, which will include a scenario and the choices of two options. The prompt will also contain two requirements that need to kept in mind when arguing your choice. There’s no prior knowledge needed — all you need to do is pick an argument, defend it, and then criticize the other side’s argument. The essay is just intended to test your ability to reason, argue, and persuade.
With that in mind, here are some important things to remember about the essay section:
It’s not scored: The essay section does not contribute in any way to your LSAT score, which is quite frankly rather frustrating given that you, of course, want to focus your attention on the parts that are scored. Instead of being scored, the essay will be photocopied and sent to any law schools to which you submit scores. Some admissions departments use them and some don’t. But just remember, because it isn’t scored, it’s nothing to stress about too much.
Remember, you already know how to write: If you’re at the point where you’re taking the LSAT, you have most likely completed (at least) a few years of college. You know how to write and make a convincing argument, otherwise you wouldn’t have made it this far. Rely on the skills that you already know and have cultivated for years.
It’s worth it to put in some effort: Even though the section isn’t scored, it is sent to law schools, which means you don’t want to do anything to hurt your chances. A wonderful essay most likely won’t make up for faults in other areas of your application, like a low LSAT score or GPA, or an inadequate personal statement. But a bad essay could convince a school not to admit you. If you really don’t try very hard, or just leave it blank, you’re showing the law school admissions officers that you weren’t putting effort into the essay just because it’s not scored.
Pick a strategy and stick to it: Because the essay section isn’t scored, it’s harder to figure out what goes over well. That problem is compounded by the fact that essays are subjective by nature. There’s no right or wrong answer. Some strategists think that essays that are flashy do better — Princeton Review recommends going for quantity over quality by filling up the entire area allotted for the essay, as well as using complex words and structures. Manhattan LSAT Blog, on the other hand, advocates simplicity, especially when forming your argument. Because it is that subjective, one of these strategies isn’t necessarily superior to the other — just make sure that whichever one you choose you’re consistent with it.
Plan it out ahead of time: The questions tend to require logic or analysis-based arguments, rather than moral or preference arguments, which means that you just want to focus on arguing what you think will be easier to support. Given that you only have 35 minutes to write a two-page essay, you’re probably going to better off planning it out ahead of time. Make some sort of chart or pro-con list just to make sure that once you start writing you can include everything you think is important.
And finally, make sure to proofread: Obviously, when you’re writing quickly and you’re in the middle of the LSAT, it can be easy to make silly grammatical or spelling mistakes. But make sure to go over your essay at least once to make sure it’s clear and not riddled with errors. In law school and as a lawyer, you’ll obviously have access to spellcheck, but it is important to show that you’re able to be detail oriented and organized when you need to be.
Overall though, the essay should be pretty easy for all of you taking the June LSAT. Just remember, it’s not worth anything in terms of points, so just relax and do your best.
Anneliese Mahoney (@AMahoney8672) is Lead Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at amahoney@LawStreetMedia.com.
Featured image courtesy of [Jeffrey James Pacres via Flickr]