The Role of Luck on the LSAT (and How to Prepare for it)

Today, all across the US and Canada (this is an LSAT blog, after all), many people of Irish heritage and not-one-bit-Irish heritage alike will celebrate St. Patrick by wearing green, drinking things that are green but aren’t normally supposed to be (If I must drink something green, make it a Chartreuse and soda), and generally carousing about town getting utterly plastered.

Nonetheless, it makes for a good excuse to discuss the role of luck in the LSAT. For the most part, the LSAT is a predictable test. Practice tests will generally give you a good gauge of where you stand. But at the margins, chance can play a role on LSAT test day. Here are some ways it can factor in.

How Luck Plays a Role on the LSAT I: The experimental section

No, it doesn’t count. But the experimental section on the LSAT can play a role in how much energy you have left for the subsequent real sections. Different people will hope for different kinds of experimental sections (personally, I’ll gladly do Logical Reasoning all day), but I don’t think there’s anyone out there who really wants to get two Reading Comp sections in a row. But it happens sometimes.

How Luck Plays a Role on the LSAT II: The selection of questions

This matters more for LSAT Logic Games and Reading Comp than for Logical Reasoning. Since there are only four games and four Reading Comp passages, as opposed to fifty-odd distinct Logical Reasoning questions, the random variations from test to test are more significant in the former categories. You might, for example, loathe LSAT Logic Games that combine grouping and ordering. Maybe you’ll get one and maybe you won’t.

How Luck Plays a Role on the LSAT III: The LSAT test day experience

Your proctors will likely be experienced experts. Or they might be nincompoops who don’t even really know what the LSAT is. We’ve heard enough reports of unevenly applied LSAT test day regulations to be wary.

How do you account for luck on the LSAT?

By taking it out of the equation, as much as possible.

If the thought of two Reading Comp sections in a row horrifies you, work on that endurance. In the weeks before the LSAT, practice doing two sections of Reading Comp in a row. And do a good number of 5-section LSAT practice tests so you’re used to the full length of the real LSAT.

If you’re scared of combo games, or of any particular kind of Logic Game or Reading Comp passage, don’t just hope you won’t get one. Practice until you’re more confident. Odds are that once you really figure out how it works, it won’t be inherently easier or harder than anything else on the LSAT.

The proctoring experience is a bit more out of your control, but there are some things you can do to minimize luck. Research your LSAT test center before you pick it. Then, familiarize yourself with the LSAT test day rules and regulations. If your proctors seem shaky on the subject, ask some questions to clarify things before the LSAT starts.

And happy St. Patrick’s Day!