If you’re taking the LSAT-Flex or regular LSAT and have realized that you need to submit your LSAT writing sample online before you can get your scores, don’t worry! There’s no need for the LSAT writing sample to stress you out. Follow these five simple LSAT writing sample tips in order to put your best foot forward and make your law school application shine.
1. Know what you are up against.
It is always best to be prepared and know what the test will ask of you before you even open the browser. In this case, you will be given 35 minutes to prepare a writing sample on a given topic. The format of the LSAT writing sample generally asks you to choose from one of two positions and then write a convincing essay in support of the side you choose. For more information on the basics of the writing sample, check out this article.
2. Pick a side, and go with it.
If the prompt asks you to pick between two sides, JUST PICK. The two sides will always be evenly matched, and there is no “right answer.” Wasting a lot of time trying to pick the “better” argument will hurt you in the end. You should be able to write equally well in support of both sides. If I were taking the LSAT today, I would go in with the plan to write about the first choice presented, no matter what it is. If you pick your side quickly, you will have more time to carefully craft a thoughtful essay. Thirty-five minutes goes by very fast, and you don’t want to waste precious time on a decision that really doesn’t matter much anyway.
3. Lead with your conclusion, and then stay organized.
The first (and last) sentence of your writing sample should lay out your conclusion very clearly. After that, your writing sample needs a cohesive structure. You should be able to outline each paragraph very easily, and the information in each paragraph should be on point.
4. Be honest by addressing the weaknesses with your argument.
Whichever side you choose, it will have a downside. You cannot ignore the potential downside of your choice. Rather, you must acknowledge the downside, and then downplay it. Likewise, you need to acknowledge the strengths of the opposing argument. Once you have acknowledged them, you want to downplay those as well. In a nutshell, tell the reader why the downside to your argument and the upside to the opposition are really no big deal. Ignoring these aspects of the scenario presented will make your writing sample weaker.
5. Don’t bring in outside information.
As tempting as it may be, do not bring in any outside information that you think supports your argument. Remember, admissions committees want to see that you can argue well….no matter the argument. Bringing in outside information to bolster your argument while leaving out outside information that bolsters the other side, changes the nature of what they are asking you to do in the writing sample. It makes your writing sample less of an argument and more of a narrative.
The writing sample is presented to you online, is unscored, and is generally not considered to be high on the list of admissions committees’ considerations. However, you never know what might be the one thing in your application that sticks out to give you a leg up on your competitors, and it is worth it to make your writing sample excellent.
The University of Chicago admissions committee puts it this way: “Remember that you are applying for a professional program and it reflects very poorly on an applicant’s judgment when we see a writing sample that reflects a lack of effort or professionalism.”
For a detailed breakdown of the writing process, as well as more tips and sample prompts, check out this LSAT writing sample step-by-step example.