Out of the 6 sections on the LSAT, the writing sample is by far the least studied … and for good reason. There’s a school of thought out there that thinks the LSAT writing sample doesn’t matter at all.
Well, I’m here to completely destroy that myth.
The truth, in fact, is much more sinister. It almost doesn’t matter. Continue reading to find out how much time you actually need to put into actually studying for this part of the exam.
Fact #1: The writing sample can only hurt you.
This probably sounds a lot worse than it actually is. Let me rephrase it slightly. Writing a great essay, instead of a good, or even mediocre one, doesn’t really matter.
The test takers just want to make sure that your argument skills are up to par.
The LSAC understands the constraints they arbitrarily placed on you. That’s kind of the point. So they don’t expect you to blow their socks of with some amazing argument. They just want to test your writing acumen under stress.
What does that actually mean for you?
Well, here’s one thing it means: your writing sample is allowed to be scattered a little bit. But you’re in trouble if it’s awful. While the law schools you apply to will at least glance at your essay, if it looks like something out of a high school remedial English class, it will probably knock you below other applicants with the same score.
Fact #2: There is no correct answer.
While the LSAT writing portion is meant to test your ability to write clearly, and concisely, under pressure, it’s also meant to test your ability to argue for and against a particular point of view.
Basically, the LSAC tells you a bunch of facts and then asks you to pick a point of view and back it up. In the process, you’ll also need to talk about why the other point of view is nature’s equivalent to a broken-down 1967 Chevy pickup.
In short, you’ll need to:
- pick which side you want to argue
- cram as many supporting facts as possible into your argument
- talk briefly about why the other alternatives aren’t as good, and
- make sure your conclusion actually fits your argument.
At the end of the day, if you can do those four things, you’ll be just fine. Trust me, I took it twice and was just fine. Just in case you were wondering, my writing sample never came up in the admissions process, at least that I was aware of.
For more information about the LSAT essay, read this post about what goes into writing an effective essay on the LSAT and also check out some of the topics the test-makers chose in the past.