“Does LSAT Writing matter?” and Other Questions

This class is about LSAT Writing: why it matters, how it works, and how you can use it to maximize your chances of admission. Let’s start with some threshold questions.

Does LSAT Writing matter?

The short answer is yes: LSAT Writing actually matters. Admissions officers know that it’s the only part of the written application that can’t be “doctored,” in the words of 7Sage Consultant and former UVA reader Brigitte Suhr, and many of them use it to corroborate the personal statements of applicants who learned English as a second language. Even if an admissions officer doesn't give the writing sample a thorough read, she may simply check to make sure that the applicant took it seriously and followed directions. Another 7Sage admissions consultant, for example, recalled rejecting an applicant whose entire essay consisted of “Vote for Trump”—and to be clear, her rejection had nothing to do with politics. Finally, some admissions officers use the sample to see how the applicant writes under pressure.

To get a better sense of how often admissions officers read the writing sample, we surveyed our team of former law school admissions officers and some of our friends in the admissions community. Here’s a picture of the results:

A survey of admissions about how often they read LSAT writing

Writing sample doubters might point to the fact that nearly a third of our respondents rarely read the writing sample, but I’d turn that interpretation on its head: over seventy percent of the respondents said they sometimes, usually, or always read the writing sample, and all of them told us that they read it at least occasionally. Failing to prepare for the writing sample and hoping that none of your admissions readers will read it is a sucker’s bet. This is all the more true now that LSAT Writing went digital, which makes the essays much easier to read.

Do yourself a favor and take LSAT Writing seriously.

But how much does LSAT Writing matter?

As with many components of your application, LSAT Writing has more power to hurt you than to help you. This is a result of the funnel-like structure of admissions: most schools get more qualified applications than they can accept, so they’re looking for reasons to say no. You can torpedo yourself with a bad essay, but you can’t overcome an application problem with a great one.

Still, every qualitative factor can help a little, and your writing sample is no exception. Now that you can take the writing exam after your LSAT, there is no drawback to preparing for it: you don’t have to take study time away from the more important test.

Can you improve on the writing exam?

Yes. The writing exam is to writing what the Logic Games are to logic: a tiny exercise with predictable constraints. In other words, a game. If you learn the rules and strategies, you can do better.

How long do I need to study for LSAT Writing?

Not long at all! If you take a single practice exam, I think you’ll improve. However, I’d recommend that you study for about five days to a week, taking one practice exam a day and then reviewing the results.

But first, of course, you should read the rest of the lessons in this course.

Learn about our LSAT Prep courses.

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