Focus: Writing Sample

This section Sample shows law schools how well you can argue for a position while breaking down the argument of an opponent.

The Writing Sample on the LSAT

The Writing Sample comes at the end of your test day experience. It is ungraded, but is sent to law schools along with your LSAT* score. On the test, you\’ll be given a scenario followed by two possible courses of action. You will have 30 minutes to make a written case that one is superior.

·30 minutes
·1 essay
·Task: choose between two alternatives and make a sound argument for your choice
·Tests ability to write a clear, persuasive argument
·Doesn\’t require outside knowledge
·Photocopied and sent to schools along with your score report
·Read and used to evaluate applications more frequently than is commonly thought
·Helps schools choose between relatively equal candidates and decide on borderline candidates

Eight Basic Principles

1.Use Scrap Paper to Plan Your Essay

The proctors give you scrap paper for a reason. Use it. Make yourself a rudimentary outline, listing the points you want to make in each paragraph. Ideally, you should know what you want to say and how you want to say it before you write.

2.Don\’t Obsess Over Your Choice

Nobody really cares which choice you make. What\’s important is how well you support the choice you make.

3.Get to the Point

The first sentence should immediately offer a solid endorsement of one choice over the other. Assume that the reader is already familiar with the situation; there\’s no need to waste time describing the scenario and the alternatives.

4.Use a Clear, Simple Format

Your essay should be coherent and clear in its reasoning. The more organized your essay is, the more persuasive it will be.

5.Loser\’s Strengths and Winner\’s Weaknesses

Recognizing and dealing with possible objections makes your argument that much stronger.

6.Don\’t Repeat Facts

Try instead to offer an interpretation of the facts in light of the stated criteria.

7.Write Well

It sounds obvious, of course; but you should try to make your prose as clean and flawless as you can. And write legibly. Nothing annoys essay readers more than an illegible essay.

8.Budget Your Time Wisely

We suggest spending roughly 5-7 minutes reading the topic, making a decision, and planning out your essay. Then spend about twenty minutes writing the essay. This should be plenty of time; remember, we\’re only looking at two or three paragraphs at the most. This schedule will leave about three to five minutes at the end to proofread your essay for spelling and grammar.


The people who write the LSAT have published fifty Writing Sample topics and plan to recycle some or all of those on future tests. The odds are good that examinees on future tests will have to write essays based on these published topics.

You can find them at the back of LSAC\’s new book Triple Prep Plus. Copies are likely to be available in centers for Kaplan students\’ perusal as well. We don\’t suggest that you write all 50 essays for practice, but you certainly should give them a good look before LSAT day.