LSAT Writing Sample Guide
LSAT Writing is among the unscored sections of the Law School Administration Test. Although the Writing Sample of LSAT is unscored, it still carries great importance, and it is a necessary asset in the LSAT file of each student wishing to apply to law school. In the past, the Writing Sample was administered during the test day, after having completed five multiple-choice sections. In July 2019, the LSAC decided to develop a digital version of the LSAT Writing Sample.
LSAT Writing is an on-demand, supervised, online writing exam that you can take from the comfort of your home. Test-takers can complete LSAT Writing as early as eight days before the administration of the multiple-choice test. This new LSAT Writing testing method offers test-takers the flexibility to complete the section at their convenience and, not necessarily after completing the five multiple-choice sections.
Even with the digital format of LSAT Writing, test-takers are required to complete their writing assignment within 35 minutes, just like the other sections of the test. The Writing Sample structure is the same as it used to be before the digital transition. Test-takers are still expected to produce a persuasive and argumentative essay in response to a specific prompt. Your LSAT file will not be complete until you have submitted at least one writing sample.
What Does LSAT Writing Sample Section Look Like?
First, the LSAT Writing Sample section will provide you with the directions. You should make sure you read the directions carefully, so you do not miss any details. Most importantly, you will be introduced to a scenario that describes two different choices, both of which can be supported based on given information. The directions typically state that your essay should consider the two options and argue for one against the other.
The Writing Sample section of the test is designed to test your writing and argumentation skills. There is no right or wrong choice. The section will test your ability to provide a reasonable argument and present your point persuasively. Test-takers have to choose one of the two choices and provide a reasonable argument for one choice over the other. There is no specific ‘right/wrong’ answer, just ‘better/worse’ arguments.
The June 2007 LSAT, as published by the LSAC, provided test-takers with the following prompt:
BLZ Stores, an established men’s clothing retailer with a chain of stores in a major metropolitan area, is selecting a plan for expansion. Using the facts below, write an essay in which you argue for one of the following plans over the other based on the following two criteria:
- The company wants to increase its profits.
- The company wants to ensure its long-term financial stability.
The “national plan” is to open a large number of men’s clothing stores throughout the country over a short period of time. In doing this, the company would incur considerable debt. It would also have to greatly increase staff and develop national marketing and distribution capabilities. Many regional companies that adopted this strategy increased their profits dramatically. A greater number tried and failed, suffering severe financial consequences. BLZ is not well known outside its home area. Research indicates that the BLZ name is viewed positively by those who know it. National clothing chains can offer lower prices because of their greater buying power. BLZ currently faces increasingly heavy competition in its home region from such chains.
The “regional plan” is to increase the number and size of stores in the company’s home region and upgrade their facilities, product quality, and service. This could be achieved for the most part with existing cash reserves. These upgrades would generally increase the prices that BLZ charges. In one trial store in which such changes were implemented, sales and profits have increased. The local population is growing. BLZ enjoys strong customer loyalty. Regional expansion could be accomplished primarily using BLZ’s experienced and loyal staff and would allow continued reliance on known and trusted suppliers, contractors, and other business connections.
Your Writing Sample Success Plan
Choose the Option You Are Better Able to Defend: When deciding on your choice, you should keep in mind that the wisest thing to do is choose the one option you can provide a reasonable argument for. Take some time to think about the two choices, pick the one you tend to favor more, and focus your time on providing a solid and persuasive argument. Keep in mind that you only have 35 minutes to pick a side and write the essay, so do not waste time trying to determine the “right” choice, but rather create an elaborate argument.
Do Not Stray From the Topic: Whatever you do, keep in mind that you should not stray from your topic. If you are asked to argue either one point or the other, make sure you stick to the task. In the above example, test-takers were asked to either argue the “national” or “regional” plan. Candidates should in no way choose another plan that is neither “national” nor “regional.” Although there may probably be plenty of plans one could think of, it is important to go with the ones already provided.
Organize Your Thoughts and Write Clearly: Before you start writing, you can create a quick outline of what you plan to write and how you plan to structure your essay. The beginning and the ending sentence of the essay should state your conclusion, and the essay structure should be comprehensive and cohesive. A piece of advice would be not to start writing without a plan in mind because you might find yourself wasting precious time. Create, at least, a quick outline and begin with that.
Address Both Strengths and Weaknesses: Both choices will have their advantages and disadvantages. When writing about the benefits of your choice, you should also note its faults and downplay them. Similarly, when you are writing about the opposing choice’s weaknesses, you should also mention its advantages (and downplay them). Show that you are creating a strong argument by considering a variety of perspectives.
How to Write a Clear and Concise LSAT Essay
Although the LSAT Writing Sample is unscored, it is always good to remember that it might be evaluated by the law schools you apply to. Maybe the law schools you apply to will only skim through your Writing Sample, but there is a possibility that they might go through it carefully. So, no one is to say for sure whether or not your Writing Sample will have a say in whether or not you gain admission. But it is always better to stay on the safe side and make sure you submit a comprehensive, clear, and concise essay.
Here are a few tips on how to write clearly and concisely on your LSAT Writing Sample:
- Decide on the pros and cons of each of the two choices.
- Choose the side you think you can adequately justify.
- Create an outline to keep yourself organized.
- Paragraph 1: E.g., you may defend your position.
- Paragraph 2: E.g., you may criticize the other choice.
- Use clear and straightforward language.
- Use the active voice rather than passive.
- Avoid redundant words and phrases.
- Ensure the content of each sentence is relevant.
- Avoid unnecessary long sentences.
Keep in mind that you only have 35 minutes to complete the Writing Sample part of the LSAT. Before taking LSAT Writing, you can practice your writing and time management skills in an improvised environment (similar to the one on test day). Review your writing strategy and have a plan in mind, even before your LSAT Writing administration begins.