LSAT vs. SAT: Explaining the Difference and Application


Even though the LSAT and SAT share acronyms, the two are varying tests taken for different reasons. Statistically, an average of 130,000 applicants take the LSAT, compared to the 1.7 million yearly SAT takers. The difference between LSAT vs. SAT extends much deeper than these numbers. In this post, we explore both exams’ sections, timing, and scoring. Our entrance exam experts also compare the difficulty level of the LSAT vs. SAT to settle the age-long debate over which exam is more challenging. Contact us if you need help handling any of the two exams, and we will gladly help.

LSAT vs. SAT: Purpose

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) are exams required to gain admission into higher learning institutions. However, the LSAT gauges the ability to join law school and become competent lawyers. On the other hand, the SAT determines high school students’ readiness for college or university admission.

LSAT and SAT: Exam Structure

The LSAT and SAT exams differ in structure. The following is a detailed look at each exam’s format:

LSAT Format

The LSAT has 120 and 130 multiple-choice questions and four main sections. They include reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical thinking, and an unscored section. The exam also has a separate essay-writing section that students must complete before tackling the multiple-choice questions. 

The LSAT reading comprehension section contains four passages with six to eight questions, while the analytical section has 24 questions. The logical thinking part has 26 questions, while the unscored number of questions is unspecified in the exam. Instead, they’re spread across the different sections and used by the LSAC to improve future exams.

SAT Format

The SAT is a pencil-and-paper test with two mandatory sections and an optional part, depending on the state. The two main SAT sections are evidence-based reading, writing, and mathematics, while the optional feature is an essay. The evidence-based reading has 52 multiple-writing questions, whereas writing contains 44 questions. The math section has 45 multiple-choice questions on algebra, data analysis, and problem-solving.

LSAT vs SAT: Timing

The LSAT and SAT have varying time lengths. Excluding the essays, both exams take approximately three hours. Whereas, if the essays are inclusive, the LSAT takes 3 hours and 30 minutes, and the SAT takes 3 hours and 50 minutes. The reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical thinking LSAT sections take about 35 minutes each. Students also get 10 to 15-minute breaks between the third and fourth sections of the paper.

Conversely, the SAT evidence-based reading and writing section gets 100 minutes, with 65 minutes allocated to reading and the remaining 35 minutes for writing. Similarly, the math section receives a maximum of 80 minutes, with 25 minutes used without a calculator and 55 minutes with a calculator.

LSAT versus SAT: Scoring System

According to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), LSAT scores range from 120 to 180. 120 is the lowest score, while 180 is the highest grade. The final scores are scaled from a “raw score” to represent the performance across different LSAT administrations. The scaled scores are available on the LSAT Score Report. It contains the current score, reportable scores on all LSATs taken, and a percentile rank based on overall exam performance.

Conversely, the SAT exam awards a composite score of the two main sections from 400 to 1600. Each section gets an average of 200 to 800, while individual sections, such as reading and writing, get between 10 and 40. Students also get sub-scores between 1 and 15, which indicate their performance on specific questions in the exam.

Both LSAT and SAT don’t deduct points for wrong answers.

LSAT vs SAT: Testing Dates

In a calendar year, LSAT administration occurs in January, February, April, June, October, and November. Aspiring law students can apply for the LSAT through the official LSAC website months before the deadline. For example, January 2024 LSAT exam registration is currently ongoing.

Similarly, SAT administration is in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. Students can register for the SAT by phone or on their school website. Specific registration and administration deadlines for both exams may vary depending on the location.

LSAT versus SAT: Difficulty Level

Many students argue that the LSAT is more complex than the SAT due to the number of questions and the limited timing. However, the difficulty level of the LSAT vs. SAT depends on a student’s strengths and weaknesses.

Students more adept at math and English may find the SAT less challenging than the LSAT. Conversely, those who grasp methods and concepts rather than memorize could find the LSAT easier. It all depends on the exam’s focus areas.

Master the LSAT and SAT: The Key Differences

The difference between LSAT vs. SAT is clear, so students should never confuse the two entry-level exams. LSAT has a different purpose, format, timing, scoring, and testing dates than the SAT, but the difficulty level depends on students’ academic strengths and weaknesses. Our expert LSAT and SAT exam takers can help students prepare for their upcoming LSAT and SAT tests, ensuring they get the required grades to gain admission into higher learning institutions.

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