Is the LSAT Harder Than the GRE? Comparing GRE vs. LSAT

Balanced scales to represent gre vs lsat difficulty choice

How do the GRE and the LSAT compare? As more and more law schools start to accept the GRE, this question can have huge implications for your law school admission! In this post, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about the GRE vs LSAT, including GRE vs LSAT difficulty, to answer that big question: is the LSAT harder than the GRE?

If you’re applying to graduate programs more generally, it doesn’t actually matter: you’ll have to take the GRE, as non-law graduate schools don’t accept the LSAT at this point. However, if you’re choosing a law school entrance exam, you have more flexibility. Here’s what you need to know to choose!


 

Table of Contents


 

Which is harder, GRE or LSAT?

Neither test is objectively harder. However, different test-takers will definitely find one exam or the other easier, depending on their skillsets!

Here’s a quick rundown of which test could be right for you based on your strengths and weaknesses.

Verbal

If you’re a vocal maven, there’s no doubt about it: the GRE will be a good choice for you. The test loves to pull out obscure vocabulary words, both within its reading comprehension passages and tested on their own.

Both exams do test reading comprehension, but in different ways. The LSAT’s focus is on critical reasoning, while the GRE’s is on reading comprehension. In addition, the GRE Verbal section makes up 1/3 of the test, while the LSAT Reading Comprehension makes up 1/5 of the LSAT-Flex and 1/6 of the regular LSAT.

In other words? When it comes to Verbal questions, the GRE is harder than the LSAT.

Logic

If you’re great at logical and analytical reasoning, the LSAT is the better choice for you. Not only does the test contain a Logical Reasoning section (two if you’re not taking the LSAT-Flex), but it also has an Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games) section.

Improve your GRE score with Magoosh.

The GRE does contain logical reasoning-style questions within the Verbal section. However, these are a subset of its Reading Comprehension questions and overall make up far less of the test.

In short, the LSAT is harder than the GRE for logic questions.

Math

Great at math? Your choice is easy—the GRE is your test! The LSAT doesn’t have math questions at all, whereas they make up 1/3 of the overall GRE.

No question about it: the GRE is harder than the LSAT for math. There’s quite literally no comparison!

Writing

If you’re a great writer, the GRE is the better choice. The GRE AWA requires two separate 30-minute essays written on test day (the argument and the issue essays). On the other hand, the LSAT writing sample is one 35-minute essay that you do on your own time, separately from the rest of the test. Furthermore, the GRE AWA is scored, while the LSAT writing sample is not.

Overall, the GRE is harder in terms of writing.

 
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GRE vs LSAT similarities table - Magoosh

GRE vs LSAT: The Similarities

1. Reading Comprehension

Both the GRE and the LSAT include a reading comprehension component, and the two exams are very similar on this point. On the LSAT, just like on the GRE, you’ll read a passage (or two), and then answer a series of question about the passage(s).

It’s really very nearly identical to the GRE’s Reading Comprehension questions. In fact, if you’re studying for the GRE, it might be worthwhile to use some LSAT resources to enhance your studying!

2. Logical Reasoning

The LSAT has a specific “Logical Reasoning section,” while in the GRE logical reasoning-style questions are merely a subset of the Reading Comprehension section (a subsection of the Verbal Reasoning section). In style, though, the two exams are very similar: you are asked to logically evaluate an argument.

The only difference is in quantity. The LSAT includes a much greater proportion of this type of question than the GRE does. You’ll see this especially in the infamous Analytical Reasoning section (logic games). There isn’t really an equivalent of these question types in the Verbal section of the GRE.

3. Writing

Both the LSAT and the GRE ask you to write at least one essay as part of your exam. The similarities between the two exams really stop there, though, because the style and content of the two writing assignments are very different.
 
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GRE vs LSAT differences table - Magoosh

GRE vs LSAT: The Differences

1. Writing

You’re not seeing double here—the writing sections have both similarities and differences. Like we mentioned, the GRE has two essays whereas the LSAT, however, only has one unscored essay (the writing sample), though you are required to complete it in order to see your LSAT scores.

2. Math

This one is simple—the GRE has entire sections of math questions: Quantitative Reasoning Sections. The LSAT has no math at all.

3. Vocabulary

Knowing vocabulary won’t hurt for the LSAT, but vocabulary is a major difference in the GRE vs LSAT comparison. Verbal GRE questions focus more on vocabulary than LSAT questions do.

While the GRE explicitly tests your knowledge of difficult vocabulary, the LSAT does not. You can put away the flashcards if you’re studying for the LSAT.

4. Logic Games

The LSAT contains a Logic Games section (also known as Analytical Reasoning) that is unique to this exam. The section contains four “games” that you’ll need to analyze, set up, then answer questions about them.

5. Scheduling

You can take the GRE at virtually any time of the year. Besides holidays, you can almost always find a spot to take the GRE at your local testing center—assuming you register in advance. The LSAT is only available on a much more restricted schedule. In most locations, it’s only available four times per year.
 
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Which Law Schools Take GRE Scores?

Let’s get right down to it! According to ETS (the GRE test-maker), these are the law schools accepting GRE scores for JD programs as of 2021.

View list of law schools that accept the GRE
  • Albany Law School
  • American University Washington College of Law
  • Boston College Law School
  • Boston University School of Law
  • Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School
  • Brooklyn Law School
  • California Western School of Law
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
  • Columbia Law School
  • Cornell Law School
  • Duke University School of Law
  • Florida International University College of Law
  • Florida State University College of Law
  • George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School
  • Georgetown University Law Center
  • Harvard Law School
  • Hofstra University – Maurice A. Deane School of Law
  • Indiana University Maurer School of Law
  • Kern County College of Law
  • LMU Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
  • Massachusetts School of Law at Andover
  • Mercer University School of Law
  • Monterey College of Law
  • New England Law
  • New York University School of Law
  • Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  • Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law
  • Pennsylvania State University Dickinson Law
  • Pennsylvania State University — Penn State Law
  • Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso School of Law
  • San Luis Obispo College of Law
  • Seattle University School of Law
  • Seton Hall University School of Law
  • Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
  • St. John’s University School of Law
  • Suffolk University Law School
  • Syracuse University College of Law
  • Texas A&M University School of Law
  • UIC John Marshall Law School
  • University of Akron School of Law
  • University of Alabama School of Law
  • University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
  • University of Baltimore Law School
  • University at Buffalo School of Law
  • University of California, Davis School of Law
  • University of California, Hastings College of the Law
  • University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
  • University of Chicago Law School
  • University of Dayton School of Law
  • University of Hawai’i at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law
  • University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
  • University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law
  • University of New Hampshire School of Law
  • University of Notre Dame Law School
  • University of Oklahoma College of Law
  • University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
  • University of Southern California Gould School of Law
  • University of South Carolina School of Law
  • University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • University of Virginia School of Law
  • Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Washington University School of Law
  • Willamette University College of Law
  • Yale Law School
  • Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law


 

What You Need to Know About Law School Admission & GRE Scores

Schools that accept GRE scores in place of LSAT scores treat them equally, so there are three main questions test takers need to answer: where are you applying, which test will you do better on, and when do you need your scores

If you’re only applying to schools that take the GRE and you’re a math whiz who kills it on the quantitative section of the GRE but hates logic games, your answer is simple. Otherwise, read on!

If all of your schools accept the GRE, the best solution is to take a diagnostic for each test and see which exam comes more naturally to you. Magoosh offers a GRE diagnostic as well as a free LSAT practice test you can use as a diagnostic!

If only some of your schools accept the GRE but you’re doing significantly better on it in terms of both test scores and ease, you’ll need to weigh up exactly how much better you’re doing to see if taking both tests is worth it for you. In almost all cases, it won’t be—but if you can get a perfect GRE score without any test prep (and don’t mind spending the time taking two official tests), more power to you!

Finally, remember that the LSAT (even the LSAT-Flex) is only offered on specific dates. On the other hand, the GRE (including the GRE at-home) is offered most days of the year. So if you need to take a test and your deadlines are coming up ASAP, the GRE may be the better choice for you—if you take both of the above factors into account as well!
 
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GRE vs LSAT: Deciding Which Test to Take

Overall, the GRE vs LSAT exams are quite different. Law school applicants who do well on the GRE’s reading comprehension section are likely to enjoy the LSAT, and vice-versa. But the similarities stop there. The GRE’s vocabulary section and math components bear no resemblance to the LSAT. So which standardized test should you take?

In the end, prospective law students should base decisions on the schools they’re applying to, their strengths and weaknesses, and the logistics of their situation. If you do this, you won’t go wrong. Good luck!

P.S. Ready to improve your GRE score? Get started today.

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7 Responses to Is the LSAT Harder Than the GRE? Comparing GRE vs. LSAT

  1. Deeksha October 6, 2015 at 5:42 am #

    Hey.
    I am a law student and next year will be my last year. I am really confused regarding what i want to do next. I am thinking of pursuing the field of cyber law and the same time i want to improve my writing skills. What should i go for?

    • Siddharth October 8, 2017 at 9:57 am #

      I am a cyber risk management professional , trying to get back to school [Law] for career advancement. I have two graduate degrees, One is Computer Science and Another one in Management Information Systems, Will I be in disadvantage in the application process as i don’t have any Law background? Also, I am not sure where to and how to start. I thought Magoosh was a great point to initiate the discussion since you guys helped me in my last grad school admission. Please let me know your thoughts.

  2. Justine B November 3, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    Do you recommend formal test prep or is self study sufficient for either or both tests?

  3. E October 22, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    How similar are the RC passages and questions on the LSAT to those on the GRE. I’m mostly wondering if using LSAT RC passages to practice for RC on the GRE would be helpful.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele October 22, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      Hi E,

      Yes, I think LSAT passages and questions def. overlap well with the GRE, esp. on the one long passage you will get test day. There will be question types that are different on the GRE, though there are few such questions. You’ll also get a smattering of shorter passages on the GRE. Otherwise, the logic and approach you use on both tests is very similar.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Shannen Spiess July 19, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    Hi, I’m going to be a senior in September and I dont have an exact plan to go to grad school as soon as I graduate, I just want the scores in case things dont go the way I plan when I graduate.

    I’m trying to decide whether to take the GRE or the LSAT. I’m majoring in English so needless to say i SUCK at math and I’m really good at words, reading comprehension, and verbal stuff. Does that mean I should take the LSAT instead?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele July 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

      Hi Shannen,

      Taking the LSAT, though it might play more to your strengths, severely limits the grad programs you can enter. Basically, the LSAT is only valid for law schools. Sure, the GRE math will be tough–at least at first–but with a good GRE score your options are wide open: anything from b-school to just about any field of grad study that is not medicine or law.

      Hope that helps!


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