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LSAT vs GMAT
Which Test Should You Take?

William Cohen
Published by William Cohen
Last Updated On: November 30, 2021

GMAT and LSAT exams are standardized tests used to evaluate students who want to go to a business school or a law school.

These exams are considered among the most challenging tests you may encounter.

If you’re unsure whether these tests are for you, I’m here to help you. I’ll talk about who should take the LSAT and who should take the GMAT, as well as what each test covers.

Let’s start with the GMAT vs. LSAT breakdown.

LSAT or GMAT Summary

  • The LSAT is a test required to enroll in most law schools. The GMAT is a test needed to get into most business schools.
  • Both the GMAT vs. LSAT are difficult tests. 
  • LSAT has five sections, and GMAT has four sections.
  • The scoring on GMAT vs. LSAT is different.

The Lowdown on LSAT

Gavel and book in plain blue background

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized test administered by the Law School Admission Council.

If you want to go to law school, you have to pass the LSAT.

LSAT tests reading comprehension, ability to analyze logical arguments, and writing skills.

It is a multiple-choice exam given in two parts, and it lasts two days.

“The LSAT is a self-contained skills test. This means we don’t need to study outside material or learn any subject matter in order to do well on the LSAT.” Insight LSAT, Youtube Channel

Apart from answering multiple-choice questions, you’ll be asked to write an essay.

The LSAT used to be a pen-and-paper test, but starting from July 2019, it’s administered on a tablet.

The LSAT is given nine times a year, and you can take it up to three times in one year.

The LSAT isn’t a computer-adaptive test, meaning the difficulty of later questions isn’t based on responses to earlier questions.

Also, you can skip questions in a section you’re working on and come back to them later.

You can also return to the question you’ve already answered and change your answer.

Students who take the LSAT usually have undergraduate degrees in history, business, political science, and economics.

LSAT Structure

Student shading answer sheet closeup

The LSAT is a two-day test. One day is for answering the multiple-choice questions, and the second day is for writing an essay.

Note: Which day you’ll be answering what kind of questions depends on the day you’re taking the exam.

This is done to prevent the students from cheating, and so they don’t have the time to talk to each other about previous sections of the LSAT.

The LSAT tests five sections that cover three areas:

  • Logical reasoning — You have to be able to analyze a passage and critique arguments.
  • Analytical reasoning — It’s also known as Logic Games. You have to determine the outcome of a situation.
  • Reading comprehension — You have to show you understand a passage and can draw conclusions from the text.

The LSAT is three and a half hours long. [1] You are given 35 minutes for each section, and you can’t carry over the time between them. This is why you should practice pacing before you take the LSAT.

The LSAT has between 99 and 102 questions. However, 102 is very rare. The usual number of questions is 100 or 101, and these are multiple-choice questions.

The score ranges from 120 to 180. Many top-tier law schools accept students with scores 170 and higher.

Let’s dive into the LSAT sections.

Logical Reasoning

Brain with three light bulbs idea concept

This LSAT section consists of two parts, 24 to 26 questions each.

For each question, students are given a short scenario - usually a situation between two or more people, unrelated to law, and there are different ways to respond.

In the logical reasoning section, a student may have to:

  • Find an assumption in an argument — This isn’t fact but an opinion.
  • Find holes in an argument — This is more difficult than finding an assumption. The test taker has to differentiate between the right and wrong situation approaches.
  • Find an alternative solution to an argument — You’ll be given options, so you should study the argument carefully to find the answer.
  • Develop a parallel argument.
  • Boost the argument by finding its strong points.

If logical reasoning isn’t your strong side, the LSAT will be difficult for you.

Note: Although students looking to enter an MBA program have to take the GMAT, they’ll benefit from practicing the LSAT logical section. This section may have more difficult questions compared to the GMAT. Because of this, it is a great preparation tool for a reasoning test on the GMAT, even if you don’t want to take the LSAT.

Logic Games

Puzzle pieces held by four different persons

The Logic Games section of the LSAT has four logic games, for a total of 22 to 24 questions.

As for the difficulty level, it varies from person to person.

Some consider the logic games the easiest part of the LSAT, while others may consider it the most challenging section.

The logic games fall under four categories:

  • Complete and accurate questions — Usually, these are the first two questions and are considered easier than others. You have to guess how the game will turn out based on a set of outlined rules.
  • New information questions — You’re given some new information and asked to make inferences. 
  • Universal questions — These questions ask about the implication without giving new information. You are usually asked what must, could, or can’t be true.
  • Hypothetical questions — These are the trickiest ones, but luckily, they aren’t found frequently on the LSAT. These questions are about implications if game rules or scenarios are changed.

There’s almost nothing to memorize for the LSAT logic games, but it’s also not easy to prepare for this section.

Reading Comprehension

Turning a book on its next page

The LSAT reading comprehension has four passages, and you are given 35 minutes per passage.

Each of the four passages is 400 to 500 words long and has 6 to 8 questions per passage, so you’re likely to have about 27 questions on the reading comprehension.

Each passage is on one of the following subjects: humanities, science, history, arts, and law.

You can be asked questions about the passage as a whole or a particular sentence, word, or phrase in the paragraph.

This part of the LSAT is considered one of the easier because you have the answers in the passages.

Writing Section

A student writing an essay on his laptop

The LSAT writing is no longer done at testing centers; it is only done at home.

The students are required to install secure proctoring software on their computers.

Students can do the writing sample up to 8 days before they take the test [2].

Note: You have to complete and submit the essay to see your LSAT scores and to have the scores submitted to the desired school.

You’re given 35 minutes to write an essay where you must pick one decision and create an argument that explains why your decision is correct.

The good thing is that there aren’t any right or wrong answers, but you have to make your argument believable.

Also, it is debatable if and how essential the essay is. You already have to write an application essay for most schools you apply for, so not all schools will place importance on the LSAT essay.

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How is the LSAT Scored?

A woman looking at her laptop waiting for exam result

You need the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) to enroll in MBA programs.

The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test that's offered 365 days a year. However, you can only take the GMAT every 17 days. [3]

On the LSAT, you can skip questions and come back to them later.

You don’t have this option on the GMAT, nor can you change your answers once they’re confirmed.

Also, a computer algorithm picks the following questions based on your previous answers.

The Graduate Management Admissions Test tests your ability to read and write, do the math, and analyze information.

The biggest LSAT vs. GMAT difference is that you need the LSAT exam to go to law school and get a law degree, and you need the GMAT exam for MBA programs.

Also, on the LSAT, each section has only one question type, but on the GMAT, each section has several different types of questions.

GMAT Structure

Eraser and pencil on top of answer sheet

The GMAT has four parts:

  • Integrated reasoning — Answer questions about a data interpretation, graph, or a particular case.
  • Analytical writing ability — You’re given a prompt and have to write a few hundred words long essay based on the prompt.
  • Quantitative reasoning — Tests mathematical skills, such as arithmetic and algebra.
  • Verbal section Tests verbal skills such as sentence correction and critical reasoning skills.

Integrated Reasoning

A student answering on an examination

This section is comparable to the reading comprehension on the LSAT.

It has four different types of questions and 12 questions in total. You’re given half an hour to complete the section.

You have to show your ability to analyze a data table, interpret graphics, or do a two-part topic analysis.

Types of questions in integrated reasoning are:

  • Multi-source reasoning — Checks if you’re able to examine data from several sources, such as text, tables, and graphics.
  • Table analysis — Checks if you’re able to analyze a table of data, such as a spreadsheet, to determine relevant information.
  • Graphics interpretation — Checks if you can interpret the data shown in a graph or an image, such as a bar chart, pie chart, or scatter plot.
  • Two-part analysis — Covers a wide range of content, such as quantitative, verbal, or a combination of these two. 

Note: You’re allowed to use an online calculator to answer the questions. For an answer to count towards your GMAT score, you have to answer all responses to a question correctly. Partial answers won’t count.

Analytical Writing Assessment

A woman with glasses holding a pen writing on a notebook

The analytical writing assessment is comparable to the LSAT writing section.

These two sections are similar in duration. The writing section on the GMAT is 30 minutes long.

You’re given one task - to analyze an argument and come up with a critique for it.

It tests your ability to think critically and show your clear writing skills in an essay.

The topics vary. GMAT is a test taken to enter a business school, so you may be given some business topics, but it doesn't necessarily mean you’ll have to write about business.

You don’t need to have specific knowledge of the topic. It’s more important to show you can write analytically.

Quant Section

Notebook with a pencil, and numbers

GMAT quant section has two kinds of questions: problem-solving and data sufficiency.

To do these, you need to know arithmetic, elementary algebra, and basic geometry concepts.

Note: You can’t use the calculator to answer these questions. All the work is done on graph paper with a pen.

This section has 31 multiple-choice questions, and it’s 62 minutes long.

Verbal Skills

A person talking to another

The verbal section of the GMAT has questions for reading comprehension, sentence correction, and critical reasoning.

There are 36 questions. For every question, you get 5 answer choices and 62 minutes to complete the whole section.

This section aims to test your command of the English language and how skilled you’re in analyzing arguments and critical reading.

How is the GMAT Scored

Erasing an a shaded answer

The GMAT has a score between 200 to 800. The score is in increments of 10, and it’s graded on a curve.

You’re shown your total GMAT score and subscores on the score report.

“The actual scoring happens in the last two sections: the quant or the math section, and the verbal section. These are the two sections most people spend 95% of their time preparing.” Crackverbal, Youtube Channel

The scores for sections are:

  • Analytical reasoning 0.0 to 6.0
  • Integrated reasoning 1 to 8
  • GMAT Quant and verbal reasoning 6 to 51

The system gives a sub-score to each section, and they’re converted to a final composite score.

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LSAT Vs. GMAT: Which One Should You Take?

The decision between taking the GMAT or the LSAT standardized test depends on the type of school you intend to enroll in.

If you are still deciding whether to choose MBA programs or a law degree, consider taking a practice test. Compare your LSAT and GMAT score from the practice tests, and take the exam you did better on.

Opting for the best MBA programs give you plenty of future career path options, including consulting MBA, entrepreneurship MBA, general management MBA, technology management MBA, finance MBA, and more.

The same goes for law school. If you score well on the LSAT, you’ll be able to choose between top law schools and maybe even start your own private practice one day.

Finally, no matter which test you go for after your undergraduate degree, make sure to prepare on time, and if you need additional help, find an LSAT or a GMAT tutor.


References:

  1. https://www.princetonreview.com/law/lsat-information
  2. https://www.lsac.org/lsat/taking-lsat/about-lsat-writing
  3. https://www.mba.com/exams/gmat

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