What Law Schools Look For in Your LSAT Writing Sample

Ah, the LSAT writing sample. You will never find a more wretched collection of half-formed arguments and poor writing. You should be careful.

Or not.

Because, in all honesty, it doesn’t matter very much.

The writing sample on the LSAT always evokes a feeling of dread from first-time LSAT test-takers. You’ve sat in a room for over three hours, nerves shot and caffeine headache pounding, with dozens of other students, many of whom haven’t showered in the past few days in order to maximize their study time. The last thing anyone wants to do is write an essay.

Well, not exactly true. The last thing anyone wants to do is read hundreds of essays written by others in these conditions.

The people evaluating your law school applications know the testing conditions under which you take the exam. They know the writing sample comes last. They know your brain is fried at that point. And they know they have hundreds of these essays through which they can read.

For the most part, they don’t.

Sure, there might be a quick glance to make sure you can write intelligibly. But they’re not expecting something that would wow the Supreme Court.

“But Matt!” You lament. “Isn’t the writing sample closest to what you’ll be doing in law school?”

Yes, in a technical sense. No, in reality.

Law schools mandate a first-year legal research and writing class for a reason: none of you write like a lawyer. They assume you’re coming to law school with terrible writing skills and poor argumentative habits. They’ll train you to do better.

So they expect these essays to be substandard.

Focus on spelling things correctly. Put commas where they should go. Don’t try to use a semicolon if it’s not a regular part of your repertoire. And don’t drool on the page. Get those down, and you should be just fine.

Oh, and Happy Punctuation Day!

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