LSAT Writing Sample: A Step by Step Example

Law School Writing Sample - image by Magoosh

Does the LSAT writing sample matter for law school admissions? Absolutely! First, you must have a completed LSAT writing sample on record in order to see your score for the other LSAT sections and for schools to get your LSAT score. But more importantly, even though the LSAT writing sample isn’t scored, it will be included as part of your law school application and admissions committees have the option to evaluate it as part of their decisions. So, make sure to prepare for the writing sample.

In this LSAT writing sample example, we’ll go over what you need to know about LSAT writing, followed by a step-by-step guide with sample responses. By following these basic steps, you can write a clear and persuasive essay that showcases your argumentative writing.


 

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LSAT Writing Sample Basics

You have 35 minutes to complete the LSAT writing sample portion of the test. Since the introduction of the Digital LSAT, you now take the LSAT writing section using secure proctoring software. You’re able to choose the day and time you take this part of the exam (so yes, that means you can complete the LSAT writing sample at home).

The LSAT writing prompt is often called a “decision prompt” because it asks you to make a decision between two choices based on the information provided. These choices can be anything from what pet a person should get to what kind of community center a town should build. There will be pros and cons for each choice. These choices don’t require any special knowledge of the topic—just use the information provided. The test-writers also don’t necessarily prefer one choice over the other—the point is that you must make a decision with your limited time and defend your decision well.

Note: As of July 2020, anyone taking the remote LSAT must have a complete writing sample on file before they can get their scores. So, if you’re wondering whether your LSAT writing sample matters, know that your scores won’t be released until you complete it! So, we don’t recommend putting it off for too long after your LSAT test day. If you’re feeling dread at the thought of completing this step of your law school application process, don’t worry; our LSAT experts are here to show you exactly how to approach the online LSAT writing sample!

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LSAT Writing Sample: How to Approach It

Example LSAT Writing Sample Prompt

Click here to view the LSAT writing sample prompt (taken from The Official LSAT Sample PrepTest of June 2007).

The June 2007 LSAT writing sample describes a decision that “BLZ Stores” have to make. They’re aiming to expand their stores and must choose a plan that should ideally accomplish two things. First, they want to increase their profits. Second, they want to ensure long-term financial stability.

We must choose between the national plan (to expand across the country in a short time) and the regional plan (to increase the number and size of stores in the company’s home region and upgrade their facilities, product quality, and service). Next, we’ll break down the decision-prompt structure and walk you through the key steps to writing a great LSAT writing sample.

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Step 1: Brainstorm and Make an Outline

The first step for the LSAT writing sample is to brainstorm. Take a moment to think about which option you can defend most easily. Once you’ve decided, quickly outline the points you’ll make to defend it. Admissions committees will be looking for a writing sample that is well organized, so make sure you set up a loose outline before you start writing.

Your outline should include four major topics:

  • Pros of your choice
  • Cons of your choice
  • Pros of the opposing choice
  • Cons of the opposing choice
Click to show the example for step 1

Put these items in an order that makes sense to you, and then get ready to write. In this example, let’s go ahead and choose the “regional plan” because:

  • It’s the safer, more conservative option for the moment.
  • The national plan puts BLZ Stores at a greater financial risk.
  • It can be the first step towards national expansion in the future.

Step 2: Begin Writing & Briefly Summarize Your Choice

The second step is to begin your LSAT writing sample. Start your intro paragraph by briefly summarizing what you’ll be discussing. It can go like this:

Click to show the example for step 2

BLZ Stores is facing an important decision for its business trajectory. In order to expand, the company must choose between a national plan and a regional plan. Ultimately, its aim is to maximize profits and ensure stability in the future. This is a challenging decision because one option, the national plan, offers the potential for dramatic profits. The other option, the regional plan, is significantly more conservative and may not produce as much profit.

Step 3: Make Your Choice and Give Support

Next, continue the essay by announcing the option you think is best and why. It’s very important that you give at least three solid reasons why you’ve made your choice. At this stage, you can mention how it fulfills at least one of the main considerations better than the other option. Even if it doesn’t fulfill both perfectly, it might do an okay job with one consideration and a great job with the second.

Lots of students try to make the LSAT writing sample easier by bringing in new information that is either made up or comes from their own stored knowledge. This actually makes for a weaker writing sample, so be sure to avoid it.

Law school admissions committees want to see how well you can argue using the facts provided. Think of the facts given in the prompt like evidence in a trial. While you can and should make reasonable arguments and inferences based on the evidence, you don’t get to make evidence up on your own.

Click to show the support and reasoning for step 3

Despite the difficulty of the choice, one option is better than the other. BLZ Stores should opt for the regional plan. Firstly, the regional plan takes advantage of BLZ Stores’ favorable position in its local area. It is already a well-known and well-liked brand, so if it is to expand it should begin in an area where it’s most likely to succeed.

Secondly, since BLZ Stores is facing competition from other stores that can offer lower prices, the company should spend more time on its branding and marketing. It is important that if a company can’t offer the lowest prices, it offers ample reasons for customers to spend more at their store. For example, BLZ Stores can make its name synonymous with quality, luxury, or top-class shopping experience. This strategy will help defend the company against its increasing competition.

Most importantly, the national plan will place too much of the company’s focus on expansion. There will not be enough resources to fine-tune this marketing strategy. Thus, in the long run, it puts the company more at risk for huge financial losses.

Additionally, although the regional plan has less potential for immediate large profits than the national plan, it at least offers the chance of a fair amount of profits. It is a good balance of risk and reward.

Step 4: Acknowledge the Other Option’s Pros and Cons

Be sure to acknowledge the arguments in favor of the other option while discussing why those arguments don’t support your option as strongly. If you can’t think of a rebuttal to a particular point, that’s okay. You can always acknowledge that point and say that it doesn’t outweigh the factors in favor of the option you chose.

Click to show the example for step 4

Next, it’s important to note that while the national plan offers the potential of higher profits, it is also a very high risk for BLZ Stores. Other companies in presumably better positions have failed at dramatic, national expansions. Since this company aims to ensure long-term financial stability, it’s not in its best interest to take such a significant risk. Plus, the risk is amplified by the fact that they are not well-known outside of their hometown.

Step 5: Reiterate Why Your Choice Is the Best and Summarize Your Argument

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to close your writing sample with a concise conclusion. Writing samples that end mid-thought are weaker than those that end with a strong and concise statement of the position you argued in favor of.

If possible, also try to leave yourself one minute at the end of the LSAT writing sample to go through your essay and check for errors.

Click to show the example for step 5

In the end, BLZ Stores should choose the regional plan because it takes advantage of its good position in its community, offers a fair amount of profits, and can allow the company to improve its branding and popularity for the future. Although the national plan might produce higher profits if it succeeds, it does not satisfy the company’s objective of having long-term financial stability. With a solid strategy in mind, BLZ Stores are bound to fare better under the regional plan.

 
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How do I practice LSAT writing?

The best way to hone your LSAT writing skills is to write practice essays and compare it to our step-by-step guide. Did you clearly make a decision and back it up with evidence from the information provided? Did you lay out the pros and cons of your side and the opposition’s? Keep all this in mind as you write and review your practice essays.

To get you started, here is one more LSAT writing sample topics for you to practice with. Try to complete this practice essay within the 35-minute assignment time limit.


 

LSAT Writing Sample Prompt (PrepTest 73)

This prompt comes from the official LSAT PrepTest 73 and is provided with LSAC®️’s permission.

Directions: The scenario presented below describes two choices, either one of which can be supported on the basis of the information given. Your essay should consider both choices and argue for one over the other, based on the two specified criteria and the facts provided. There is no “right” or “wrong” choice: a reasonable argument can be made for either.

A medium-sized company is located in a technology park in a sparsely populated area outside a major city. It has had difficulty retaining employees because of the long and expensive commute between the city and work that nearly all of its employees face. Consequently, the company will implement a commuting assistance plan. It must decide between operating a free bus for employees and subsidizing employees’ costs of using public transportation. Using the facts below, write an essay in which you argue for one plan over the other based on the following two criteria:

  • The company wants to minimize its employees’ commuting expenses and frustrations.
  • The company wants reliability and flexibility in its employees’ work schedules.

Under the first plan, the company would lease a bus and hire a driver. The bus would make several daily circuits between the company’s location and a single downtown stop, accessible by public transportation and close to a large, inexpensive parking garage. The only riders on the bus would be the company’s employees. The bus has reclining seats and free Wi-Fi. The average total commute time for an employee would be 75 minutes each way. A breakdown of the bus would be disruptive to the company’s operations.

Under the second plan, the company would partially reimburse employees’ cost of using public transportation to commute to work. The average savings for an employee would be about 80 percent. Most of the employees live within walking distance to a bus stop. Most employees would have to make one or two transfers. Buses are scheduled to arrive every half hour at a bus shelter in the technology park. Buses are sometimes late. None of them have Wi-Fi. The average total commute time for an employee would be 60 minutes each way.

How do you think you did? Let us know in the comments below. For more advice on how to tackle this important LSAT section, check out these five tips for the LSAT writing sample.
 

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Author

  • Kevin Lin

    Kevin Lin earned a B.A. from UC Berkeley and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. After working as a lawyer for several years, both at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and at a large New York law firm, he succumbed to his love of the LSAT and teaching and has been a full-time LSAT instructor since 2015. Beginning first at a major test prep company and rising to become one of its most experienced and highly rated instructors, he began tutoring independently in 2019. Kevin has worked with LSAT students at all stages of their preparation, from complete beginners to LSAT veterans shooting for the 99th percentile. Connect and learn more about Kevin on YouTube, LinkedIn, and his website.

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