Cover: LSAT For Dummies with Online Practice, 3rd Edition by Lisa Zimmer Hatch, Scott A. Hatch

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LSAT® For Dummies® with Online Practice, 3rd Edition

Published by: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774, www.wiley.com

Copyright © 2021 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey

Published simultaneously in Canada

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Library of Congress Control Number: 2020950312

ISBN 978-1-119-71627-3 (pbk); ISBN 978-1-119-71629-7 (ebk); ISBN 978-1-119-71628-0 (ebk)

LSAT® For Dummies® with Online Practice

To view this book's Cheat Sheet, simply go to www.dummies.com and search for “LSAT For Dummies Cheat Sheet” in the Search box.

Introduction

Welcome to LSAT For Dummies, 3rd Edition! This book contains updates to familiarize you with the LSAT’s Digital format so that you’re comfortable with taking the test on a tablet. Even though the delivery is modern, the content of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) hasn’t changed. You may have heard horror stories about the LSAT, especially about the infamous “logic games.” Yes, the LSAT is no walk in the park, but it’s not the hardest test in the universe. It doesn’t require you to brush off your math and science texts from high school, and it doesn’t expect you to remember anything from your history classes. It really just expects you to be able to read and analyze. If you can read carefully and quickly and then apply what you’ve read, you already have the skills you need to succeed on the LSAT.

This book helps you refine those skills and apply them to the particular tasks on the LSAT. If you go through this book and work through a healthy number of practice questions, you should have a good idea of what awaits you on test day.

About This Book

First, allow us to tell you what this book can do: This book introduces you to the LSAT and helps you get a handle on how to take it. It describes the three types of multiple-choice sections — analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension — and provides guidance on how to handle them, with plenty of practice questions and explanations. It also touches on the writing sample, which is unscored but still merits a bit of attention. The first three chapters discuss some basics of law school admissions, test-taking strategy, and other logistical entertainment.

On to what the book can’t do: This book doesn’t give you a bunch of tricks to help you “crack” the LSAT. The LSAT isn’t a nut; it’s a test, and to do well on it you have to apply your natural intelligence and experience. We give you plenty of advice on how to approach each question type to maximize your talents and train your mind to think in the most effective way.

Included in this book are three full-length practice tests, which you can use to try out the tips and techniques we provide throughout the chapters. The difficulty levels and thought patterns on the practice tests are similar to those on real LSATs. Actual LSAT test-prep instructors and LSAT-takers assisted us by massaging and tweaking the questions to make sure that they’re equivalent to the real LSAT questions. You can get real and valuable practice by using the questions in this book. But the fact is, no one makes real LSAT questions but the real Law School Admission Council (LSAC). If you want real LSAT questions, get yourself some LSAT PrepTests, which are real LSATs administered in previous years. That’s the most authentic practice you can find, and we highly recommend it. (You can order these official tests in text or digital form from the LSAC website: www.lsac.org. They come with answers but [in most cases] not explanations, so they’re great practice, but to figure out why your answers are right or wrong, you should work through this book first to get a sense of how the questions work.)

To help, we italicize any new LSAT-related terms that you’re likely to be unfamiliar with the first time we use it.

Because this book is a test-prep, you probably want to read most everything here. Besides, we worked really hard on this book! However, if you’re pressed for time or just have a short attention span, you can skip the sidebars and any text marked with a Technical Stuff icon without missing out on too much.

Foolish Assumptions

We make a few assumptions about you, the reader (we hope you don’t mind):

  • Call us crazy, but we’re guessing you’ve signed up to take the LSAT or you’re at least seriously considering taking the LSAT.
  • We know, of course, that you’re not a dummy. You’ve likely received or are in the process of receiving an undergraduate degree and are no stranger to thinking analytically. You simply need guidance regarding how to apply your already sharp skills to the unfamiliar question types on the LSAT.
  • Our third and final assumption is that you’ve chosen this book for one of several reasons — the fabulous For Dummies reputation for providing information in an easily accessible format, the price, or the attention-grabbing yellow-and-black cover — but mainly because you think you want to go to law school, and the LSAT is the primary way to that destination.

Icons Used in This Book

This book, like all For Dummies books, uses icons to help you spot important tidbits of information and break up the monotony of otherwise plain and ordinary pages. Here are the icons you’ll encounter in this book:

Tip This icon marks useful bits of information that may come in handy when you study for or take the LSAT.

Remember This icon reminds you of valuable strategies to keep in mind as you work through the test content.

Warning This icon marks stuff to avoid, potential mistakes, and traps for the unwary.

Example This icon identifies practice questions that demonstrate how to apply specific techniques.

Technical stuff This icon highlights extra tidbits of info that enhance your reading but aren’t essential to preparing for the LSAT.

Beyond the Book

By now we’re hoping that you’re impressed with the wealth of content contained in this book. But to quote your favorite infomercials: Wait! There’s more!

In addition to what you’re reading right now, this book comes with a free access-anywhere Cheat Sheet that includes tips to help you prepare for the LSAT. To get this Cheat Sheet, simply go to www.dummies.com and type “LSAT For Dummies Cheat Sheet” in the Search box.

You also get access to four full-length online practice tests and approximately 500 flashcards. To gain access to the online practice, all you have to do is register. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Register your book or ebook at Dummies.com to get your PIN. Go towww.dummies.com/go/getaccess.
  2. Select your product from the dropdown list on that page.
  3. Follow the prompts to validate your product, and then check your email for a confirmation message that includes your PIN and instructions for logging in.

If you don’t receive this email within two hours, please check your spam folder before contacting us through our Technical Support website at http://support.wiley.com or by phone at 877-762-2974. 

Now you’re ready to go! You can come back to the practice material as often as you want — simply log on with the username and password you created during your initial login. No need to enter the access code a second time.

Your registration is good for one year from the day you activate your PIN.

Where to Go from Here

If you bought this book, you must have some plan — definite or tentative — to take the LSAT. But just buying the book alone won’t help you much. To get the full benefit, you have to open it up, read it, and work the problems.

There are two approaches you can take:

  • Read all the explanatory materials, work your way through all the practice problems, and then take the practice tests at the end and see how you did.
  • Take one of the full-length tests to see how well you do. Score your test. Then study the sections that give you the most trouble, concentrating on the questions you find difficult.

It’s up to you. You’re the one taking the test, and you’re the one who has to decide what you need to study and how much time you want to allocate to the process.

Part 1

Getting Started with the LSAT

IN THIS PART …

  • Gain insight into the minds that create the LSAT.
  • Discover tips for managing the LSAT and each of its question types.
  • Be prepared for exam day by knowing exactly what and what not to bring to the testing site.
  • Discover other important considerations for getting into your top-choice law school.

Chapter 1

The L Team: The LSAT and Its Administrators

IN THIS CHAPTER

check Exploring the various sections of the LSAT

check Understanding the LSAT scoring system

check Knowing how and when to register for the LSAT

check Studying for the LSAT

check Meeting the LSAC

If you want to go to law school, you’ll likely take the Law School Admission Test, also known as the LSAT. The more than 200 law schools that belong to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) require the LSAT (see the later section “What Have You Done for Me Lately? The LSAC” for info about the LSAC). Some schools may allow you to substitute a GRE score for the LSAT. Law schools that don’t require either the LSAT or GRE for admission may not be approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), which in turn may not qualify you for admission to a state bar, so be careful about choosing a school that doesn’t require the LSAT.

The LSAT, annoying though it can be, provides a significant metric for law schools to evaluate their applicants on the same playing field. Colleges are different, backgrounds are different, and cultures are different, but the LSAT is the same for everyone. The LSAT is carefully designed so that the testing experience of test-takers is virtually identical. Each LSAT test is crafted so that test-takers have a 90 percent chance of scoring the same on a different version. So, law schools feel confident that the LSAT is an objective measure of student ability.

Grade point averages, unlike the LSAT, are highly subjective; they vary depending on the difficulty of a school, the difficulty of particular courses, and other random and unpredictable factors (like the grading policies of individual professors). Law school applications include other information like personal statements that can give schools an idea of a student’s abilities, but the schools still can’t know for sure that they’re getting the real goods — plenty of students get help writing those essays. That leaves the LSAT as one of the most reliable and objective means to compare candidates.

In this chapter, you get an introduction to the LSAT and its various parts and learn all about registering and preparing for the big day. You also get a peek at the organization behind all this madness, the LSAC.

Warning If you’re going to be a lawyer, you have to get used to disclaimers, and here’s ours for this chapter. The technical information we offer about fees and procedures is subject to change, so refer to the official website (www.lsac.org) to verify the facts and figures for yourself.

Getting to Know the Enemy

If you want to get a decent score on the LSAT, you need to know the test. You can’t expect to walk into a test center cold, never having encountered an LSAT in your life, and just ace the questions.

You don’t necessarily have to study for a long time. If you’re good at standardized tests, you may be able to flip through one or two sample tests, work a few of the problems, get the idea, and score in the 95th percentile. Some people can. If, on the other hand, you find standardized tests generally challenging, and the LSAT difficult in particular, you probably need to devote yourself to more practice time to master the proven strategies provided by this book. Whatever your situation, keep motivated and prepare with the certainty that you can and will improve with dedicated practice.

The LSAT is offered digitally and consists of four different question types:

  • Analytical reasoning questions
  • Logical reasoning questions
  • Reading comprehension questions
  • Writing sample

The analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension sections consist of multiple-choice questions. You take these questions at a testing center in a format called the Digital LSAT, which delivers these questions via an electronic tablet rather than a paper booklet. The tablet format is similar to a paper test, but instead of marking answers with a No. 2 pencil, you mark and eliminate answers and highlight portions of the questions with a stylus. The testing center supplies you with scratch paper and a pen to work through problems; you can also bring in your own pencils and eraser.

The Digital LSAT consists of five separate test sections presented in no particular order:

  • Two scored sections of logical reasoning
  • One scored analytical reasoning section
  • One scored reading comprehension section
  • One unscored section that can be another section of any of the three multiple-choice question types

You don’t know which section is unscored, and the unscored section looks just like any other LSAT test section. Every section lasts 35 minutes.

Technical stuff The unscored section that you take is a collection of questions that the LSAC is considering using on a future LSAT. The LSAC wants to see how well these new questions work when presented to actual LSAT-takers. This section can be analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, or reading comprehension; you don’t know which section is unscored.

The writing sample isn’t offered at the test center. You prepare an essay on your own computer at home (or some other secluded place free of interruptions) in response to a specific prompt. The scheduled writing session is timed and remotely proctored. You must complete at least one writing sample before the LSAC will report your LSAT scores to law schools, but you don’t need to complete a writing sample every time you take the Digital LSAT.

Tip The quickest way to get your hands on an actual LSAT is to take the free sample tests available at the LSAC website (www.lsac.org). Completing the samples is a good way to familiarize yourself with the test and its digital format.

Taking a Quick Look at the Types of Questions

The LSAT has three different kinds of multiple-choice questions and an unscored written essay. Each questions type has its own virtues and vices, and you’ll come to know and love them all (though we won’t blame you if you pick a favorite).

Analytical reasoning — playing games with your head

The analytical reasoning section consists of four logic problems — the infamous “logic games” — each of which is followed by between five and eight questions. These games involve a group of players (or game pieces) that you need to arrange or assign and the rules that govern how you go about it.

You may get something like: “Five college students — B, C, D, E, and F — must share three rooms in a house. B can’t stay with D. E must stay with F.” This fact pattern is followed by several questions that allow you to explore your understanding of the relationships between the students and the dorm rooms. One question may propose five possible roommate arrangements and ask you to choose which one is the only one that could work.

This kind of puzzle commonly appears on IQ tests or in books of games to amuse travelers on airplanes. What they have to do with law school is a mystery to many people. The LSAC PrepTest booklets say that these types of problems “simulate the kinds of detailed analyses of relationships that a law student must perform in solving legal problems.” And it’s true that the skills the analytical reasoning section tests are important in law school. To answer these questions correctly, you must read carefully and accurately. You have to apply rules to a system, which is similar to applying statutes or case law to a problem. You have to restrict your analysis to what’s directly stated or to what can be logically inferred. So the analytical reasoning section is fairly useful at predicting who might succeed in law school.

The analytical reasoning section is worth about 25 percent of your LSAT score. See Chapters 4 through 6 for more on analytical reasoning.

Logical reasoning — putting your arguing skills to good use

The logical reasoning section consists of about 25 short (for example, three or four sentences) passages about various topics. Each of them is followed by one question. The questions ask you to identify the point of an argument, to make deductions about what the author is assuming, to draw conclusions, to identify principles or argument structures, to spot logical errors, and so forth.

Most of these questions involve informal or casual logic, the kind you use to make everyday decisions. All you have to do is read carefully (and quickly) and think clearly. Sometimes the wording is tricky, and you have to concentrate to avoid getting confused. Jotting down some notes or paraphrasing the passage in your own words can help you focus.

Every LSAT has two logical reasoning sections. Together, they’re worth about 50 percent of your LSAT score. Chapters 7 through 10 are full of information about logical reasoning.

Tip Because the logical reasoning section is worth a considerable percentage of your total LSAT score, work hard on your technique for these problems. You get twice the benefit if you do well on this section!

Reading comprehension — concentrating and remembering what you read

In the reading comprehension section, you read three fairly long and one pair of shorter passages on particular topics and answer several questions about them. The questions ask about the author’s conclusion, the author’s tone, the meaning of words, how the passage is organized, and other points designed to test your ability to understand what you read. The good news: The LSAT uses a limited pool of question types over and over again. Because you can predict the types of questions being asked, you can practice reading to answer the questions you know you’ll see.

Topics range from humanities and science and social science disciplines to law-related writing. You don’t need any expertise in any particular area; in fact, if you have expertise in the subject of a passage, try to forget your outside knowledge. You want to answer all the questions from the information given to you in the passage. Outside knowledge may actually distract you!

This section tests your ability to read and understand a fairly long reading passage. Reading and understanding a long passage is applicable to law school because most law classes consist of reading long, densely worded passages on obscure topics and then answering questions about them.

The reading comprehension section accounts for about 25 percent of your LSAT score. See Chapters 11 and 12 for the lowdown.

The writing sample — jumping the final hurdle

The other part of the LSAT is the digital writing sample. You get 35 minutes to write your essay on your own computer. The essay topic lets you exhibit your skills at using a set of facts to defend one course of action over another.

For example, your question may ask you to decide which dog a widow should buy: a German shepherd, which would be a good guard dog but not very affectionate, or a Pekingese, which would make a good companion but be utterly useless for home defense. (You can explore this question further in Chapter 13.)

Your selection doesn’t matter. There’s no right or wrong answer. All you have to do is pick a side and justify your decision. Chapters 13 and 14 go over this process in detail.

You don’t get a score on the writing sample, but the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) sends a copy of your essay to every law school that receives your LSAT score.

Remember Some folks wonder why they should prepare for the writing sample section if it’s unscored. Law schools often read essays in deciding borderline cases or comparing similar applicants. If your profile is substantially similar to hundreds of others, law schools often look at the essays to compare like candidates.

You Gotta Score!

The LSAT is scored on a scale from 120 to 180; every year a few people attain the Everest-like peak of 180, and they can pretty much write their own tickets to law school. Although percentile charts vary slightly among test administrations, the average LSAT score is around 152. Any score higher than 160 is quite good and puts you in the top 20 percent of test-takers (80th percentile). A score of around 164 puts you around the 90th percentile, and a score of 173 or above is where the top 1 percent of test-takers usually reside.

To get a 160, you need to answer about 75 percent of the answers correctly. To get a 150, you need to answer correctly about 55 percent. If you get 95 percent or more right, your score will be up in the stratosphere, around a 175. The LSAT scoring is straightforward. Your raw score is the number of questions you get right; no points are deducted for wrong answers. You plug that raw score into the score chart to determine what your LSAT score would be. So if, say, your test has 100 questions on it, and you get 75 of them right, your raw score is 75 and your LSAT score may be 161. If you get 44 right, you’d get more like a 144. The raw score to scaled score conversion changes very slightly from test to test to account for the minor differences in difficulty of each test.

Technical stuff The LSAT-writers work hard to ensure that the test is reliable. That means that the same test-taker should get scores in a similar range on two or three different tests and that luck in getting an easy test shouldn’t be a factor in scores. In practice, luck is always something of a factor, but it shouldn’t be a major one.

Still, you’ve probably taken a metric ton of tests by now, and you know that everyone has good days and bad days, good tests and bad tests (hey, even good hair days and bad hair days!). The combination of a bad test and a bad mood (say, for instance, despite our advice to the contrary, you pull an all-nighter before exam day) can lead to a misleadingly bad score. If that happens, you can cancel your score and try again (see more about doing this in Chapter 2). On the other hand, you may be in the test-taking zone on test day, and every question seems laughably easy to you. It can happen that way. If you have a good day, thank your lucky stars because that’ll probably result in a good LSAT score and law school admission.

Tip What if you get a 160 and your friend gets a 163? Does that mean your friend is a better law school prospect than you? Probably not. Small differences among test-takers aren’t usually due to actual differences of ability. Your score will be in the range of scores you’re capable of, but if you take the LSAT several times within a short period of time, you probably won’t get the same score every time. It may go up or down slightly, but it should be within 3 points up or down of your original score (though your mileage may vary).

Registering for the LSAT

The LSAT typically happens eight times a year: one Saturday every month except for March, May, September, and December. If you want to enter law school the next fall, you should take the LSAT by the prior December, or February at the latest, though we recommend taking it earlier. August, October, and November are the most popular test dates because some law schools start taking applications in the fall and begin accepting applicants early in the winter; the earlier you apply, the better your odds of acceptance.

The registration fee for the LSAT is currently $200. (Prices are subject to change — and likely will — so be sure to check with the LSAC to find out current charges.)

Keep the following things in mind when registering for the LSAT:

  • Be sure to register. Okay, duh. But really, be sure to register. The deadlines for registration fall well ahead of test dates, so you need to be on the ball. You can find the deadlines on the LSAC website (www.lsac.org). Plan accordingly. And make sure you’re free the day of the test!
  • When you register, be very careful to enter the correct code for your test center. If you get the code wrong, you may be assigned a test center in a different state — not convenient. (The LSAC doesn’t check for accuracy; the LSAC has no idea where you really want to take the test, so it doesn’t know if you make a mistake.) Driving several hours the day before your test definitely won’t calm your nerves. You can change your test center through the LSAC website for a fee, but you don’t want to have to worry about that if you can avoid it.
  • Upload your picture before the deadline. When you register for the LSAT, you need to include a picture of your face. You don’t need to upload the picture at the time of registration, but you should. Your picture must be in the system by the upload deadline (about a month before the test date), or you won’t be able to take the test on that day.
  • If something comes up — you catch the flu, you get sent overseas to war, you go into labor — and you’re unable to take the LSAT, you can get a partial refund. Granted, you get only a small portion of your registration fee back, but that’s better than nothing. The LSAC website has deadlines for sending in the request.
  • If you discover before the test date that you won’t be able to make it that day, you can change your test date. Of course, you have to pay a fee. The LSAC website has the deadlines for sending in a written request.

Tip If you absolutely can’t afford the cost of the LSAT, you can apply for a fee waiver on the LSAC website. The LSAC doesn’t want to deny access to the legal profession solely on the basis of economic disadvantage. Be warned, though; the requirements are quite strict.

Preparing for the LSAT

Helping students prepare for the LSAT has become a multimillion-dollar (at least) industry. Test-prep companies promise huge score increases; students spend thousands on semester-long courses and tutors. Every major bookstore is full of books to help prospective lawyers on their way.

Warning Be wary of expensive classes or snake oil salesmen that promise to reveal secrets or give you huge score increases. Usually, all that most people need is a good LSAT prep book (such as this one!) and a few recent LSAT tests to do their best on test day. Save your money for law school! But be warned: Many folks lack the motivation and discipline for self-study. If this describes you, buckle down and sign a contract with yourself, form a study group, or consider enrolling in a reasonably priced test prep course.

What really helps

What really helps you succeed at the LSAT is exposure to the test. Exposure may mean something as simple as taking one or two sample tests the days before you take the official one. More often, though, it may mean several weeks — or even months — of practice.

Tip If you need extra prep materials, you can’t do better than the official LSATs sold by the LSAC; compilations of prior paper tests are available in texts called PrepTests, and they’re the actual LSATs that have been administered to willing victims over the last decade. Be warned, though; the LSAT has increased in difficulty and changed slightly in format over the years, so you’ll get your most valuable practice from the most recent tests. You can take two Digital LSATs for free from the LSAC website and also buy access 60 official tests in the digital format for one year.

Practice makes perfect

Any book you consult will recommend that you prepare for the LSAT by taking a full, official practice test or two under simulated test-day conditions. That means sitting down on a Saturday morning (or some other day when you have three hours unscheduled) with access to an official Digital LSAT practice test from the LSAC website, some scratch paper, a No. 2 pencil, and an eraser, working your way through the test, section by section, stopping work when the timer buzzes.

Taking a timed, full-length practice test is ideal, but if you’re unable to carve out three hours to complete this useful exercise, don’t despair. Your valuable (and presumably limited) study time may be better spent working through questions slowly and carefully, making sure that you really know how to work the analytical reasoning problems and analyze the logical reasoning questions. Then take timed practice sections to hone your time-management skills for each question type.

However you decide to practice, just be sure you give yourself enough time. Try to start at least a couple of weeks before the test date. The more exposure you have to test questions, the more comfortable you’ll be on exam day.

What Have You Done for Me Lately? The LSAC

Did you ever wonder who makes up the LSAT? It comes from the minds of the Law School Admission Council, or LSAC, a nonprofit corporation in Newtown, Pennsylvania. The LSAC comprises the majority of law schools in the United States and Canada; the member professors and attorneys volunteer their time to the council. The LSAC offers a number of services designed to facilitate applications to law school and improve legal education, and it also sponsors research into issues such as minority representation in the legal profession.

Tip If you’re serious about applying to law school, familiarize yourself with the LSAC and its offerings because the LSAC will be part of your life for a while. You can visit the LSAC, register for the LSAT online, and do various other fun activities at the LSAC’s website, www.lsac.org.

Creating and administering the LSAT

The LSAC administers the LSAT to more than 100,000 people every year. The organization creates at least eight complete tests every year and constantly works to develop new questions and refine the LSAT’s accuracy — that’s one reason why you get to take an extra, unscored section of multiple-choice questions when you take the LSAT. The LSAC compiles statistics on the number of people that take the tests and the scores they receive, schedules test dates, fields questions and complaints from test-takers, and generally makes it possible for many people to apply to law school every year.

Aiding in law school applications

The LSAC also plays a major role in law school applications. When you register for the LSAT, you can also sign up to participate in the Credential Assembly Service, or CAS, for an extra fee. Law schools require you to use the CAS to send your application documentation.

The CAS streamlines the law school application process by assembling most of the information needed to apply to law schools and sending it to the schools in one package. A CAS report includes

  • Summaries of transcripts from all your undergraduate and graduate schools
  • LSAT scores and copies of the LSAT writing sample section
  • Letters of recommendation

The LSAC gets you coming and going. In addition to paying the CAS fee, you need to purchase a report for each law school on your application list. CAS registration lasts five years. Almost all the law schools approved by the ABA require that their applicants use the CAS, which makes your life much easier. Rather than having to assemble all that information for every school to which you apply, you just give the information to the LSAC (along with your money), and it takes care of everything. When you apply to a law school, the school requests the report from the LSAC, the LSAC sends the report, and you just sit back and wait.

You can register for the CAS on the LSAC website (www.lsac.org) at the same time that you register for the LSAT. When you do this, you authorize the LSAC to release information about you to eligible law schools, which means law schools that are interested in you may contact you.

Remember If you don’t register for the CAS at the same time that you register for the LSAT, you still must register before you apply to law schools. Do this at least six weeks before you start applying.

Providing other goods and services

The LSAC does a number of other good deeds for the legal education system:

  • The Candidate Referral Service allows law schools to search CAS data for students who match particular profiles (for example, LSAT scores of a certain level, minorities, women, students from a certain region, and so on) so that they can contact them and invite them to apply.
  • Law school forums held in different states give prospective law students an opportunity to find out more about law school and the legal profession.
  • The LSAC sells LSAT prep materials and other information; you can buy these materials on the website. Buying recently administered LSATs is one of the most useful tools. They come with answers, not explanations, but they’re the real thing and make great practice tests.
  • The LSAC also works to increase minority representation in the legal profession.