You most likely know that the LSAT has a 35-minute essay section. What you might not know is that the essay section has absolutely no effect on your overall score. Actually, there's a chance it won't even be read.
The writing prompt presents a decision problem. You are asked to make a choice between two positions or courses of action. Both of the choices are defensible, and you are given criteria and facts on which to base your decision. There is no “right” or “wrong” position to take on the topic, so the quality of your response is a function of how well your choice is supported and other choice is criticized.
You are not going to be typing the Writing Sample. This essay will have to be handwritten on the two pages of paper provided. So forget carpal tunnel worries; hand cramps will be your new problem.
It doesn't. Yes, you read that right; you have to spend 35 minutes composing an essay that has no effect on your overall score. The essay itself isn't even scored separately. Only four sections of the LSAT contribute to your score: one Games section, two Arguments sections and one Reading Comprehension section.
Not really. There's a chance that your essay just may go totally unread. When you're done with your LSAT, the writing sample is photocopied and shipped off to the law schools you designated to receive your test scores. Do they actually read this essay? Most likely not. LSAT writing samples are rarely used to evaluate law school candidates, so no matter how well or poorly you did, this exercise will most likely not affect your admissions chances.
In a word, yes. You won't want to totally blow it off since the Writing Sample is quite easy to master, plus there's always the chance that a newbie law school admissions counselor acting all ambitious will read it, so it doesn't hurt to put some effort into it. By the same token, by no means should you sacrifice study time from other sections of the LSAT to work on the Writing Sample. So unless you're scoring in the 99th percentile, 99% of your study time should be spent mastering the sections that contribute to your score.
When you are writing an essay for any type of standardized test, don't ever get it confused with writing a paper for an English class: They are not even on the same playing field. And even though they may not admit it, standardized test makers want only one thing: gaudy excess. They appreciate quantity more than quality, so keep it long and shoot for filling up all the lines. They also seem to enjoy paragraphs, so any crazy thoughts of condensing language into more efficient prose should disappear. And finally, they have developed a Pavlovian response to big, pretentious words. So when they come across a world like "Pavlovian," expect sheer enthusiasm.
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