Deep Existentialism: Why the LSAT Exists


At this point in your LSAT studying, there’s a halfway decent chance you’ve already cried a couple of times. You’ve probably become a much angrier driver. You’ve almost certainly had more conversations about the direction of your life during these past few months than you’ve had throughout all the lazy, drunken days of college.

That’s all within the bounds of normal, but according to me, all that stress and turmoil boils from one question: Why does the LSAT exist?

Me, I always want to know why I’m doing something before I do it, which is probably a good indication as to why I live a life of uninhibited indolence. So to do you all a favor, I’m going to try to clearly describe why the LSAT exists, and why you have to take it to go to law school.

I’m tempted to answer “because life is hard” but, if I have one guiding principle in my life, it’s that I always try to avoid making myself sound like an old man in a Western. So, let’s dive in.

Let’s make sure we all understand something at the get-go: for whatever reason, the LSAT is the number one indicator of law school success. That’s why the thing exists, and that’s why it’s never going to go away. What we’re going to get into here is why that is the case.

First, the argument that the LSAT doesn’t test anything you need for law school is more or less moot as far as I’m concerned. You could make the argument that the intensive reading comprehension you do on the test is great preparation for the intensive reading of nonsense you’ll do in law school, but you could also make the argument that reading an Economist article does the same thing. Law schools could just assign required reading lists for the summer before law school or something (hello, 9th grade). But I’m willing to go either way on that. As for logical reasoning, I’m pretty sure none of that has any relevance to the law, because most of the people who wrote our laws were idiots who wouldn’t recognize a contrapositive if it grew hands and bitch slapped them. We’ll not discuss logic games, because we all understand how clowns being fit into a car applies to law school.

Long story longer, I don’t assign much significance to the idea that the LSAT tests any kind of knowledge base or way of thinking that is applicable to law school. Or at least, I don’t think the correlation between LSAT skills and law school skills is strong enough to explain the much more obvious correlation between LSAT success and law school success.

But there’s one thing people seem to miss when they’re discussing the LSAT: how mind-numbingly, painfully hard it is. To do well on it, unless you’re just one of those naturally awesome individuals who could take a standardized test blind-folded, you need to study. And you need to study really, really hard. Probably harder than you’ve ever studied for anything.

That’s the equalizer, kiddies. The LSAT tests your ability to work like a dog, and so does law school. Law school means a ton of reading every night, hours and hours of writing and rewriting briefs, and more or less the most time-consuming work of your life. By showing you have the ability to excel on the LSAT, you’re showing law schools that you can at least focus for three months on a course of study. The ability to intensely focus on something is the key; it’s not the stuff you’re focusing on.

For what it’s worth, I imagine success on the MCAT would be an awesome indicator of law school success as well.

3 Responses

  1. […] Most Strongly Supported LSAT Blogs – Deep Existentialism: Why the LSAT Exists […]

  2. Fabulous post – you make me laugh.

    I think one thing the LSAT also tests is how you think (rather than what you know) and how quickly you can think in that way.

    The first time I wrote an LSAT, I thought my brain was trying out to be a contortionist.

    Recognizing flaws in arguments, for example, can be a crucial skill for law school (even if it is about how unrepresentative a sample is) – because law itself is diverse (from tax law to malpractice law, to entertainment law!) but the flaws in arguments can be the same.

    For me the challenge was less about figuring out what the issue in the question was, and more of how quickly I could get my brain to figure it out, and change my thinking to be better suited to the LSAT. In the beginning, for example, I needed to re-draw out every “if” question in a logic game, with months and months of practice, I can steer my brain into thinking “logically” a lot easier and quicker than before.

    And you are right – the LSAT is difficult, and does aim to prove to the law school you can sit there and study for months at end. But it also is a demonstration that you can think critically and analytically quickly, and that you can flex those brain muscles :)

    Thanks for filling my philosophical nutrient requirement for the day.


    Surviving Studenthood

  3. James Russo says:

    I have worked in the courtroom. Logic has nothing to do with the law. The reason is people are creatures of emotion, not logic. I have never seen a lawyer mention the contrapositive or anything like that. Jurors respond to lawyers they like. In Orange County, it’s all about politics and who is most liked. Don’t go to Civil Court in Orange County because you just won’t win, no matter what.

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