Preparing for the June 2011 LSAT Experimental Section

Preparing LSAT Experimental SectionIn my LSAT study schedules, I recommend that you include extra sections in your practice exams. Why would I recommend such a cruel and difficult task?

Because LSAC uses test-takers as lab rats (like many organizations that administer standardized exams - think back to the SAT). LSAC includes an unscored experimental section on the LSAT and doesn't tell you which one it is. If you knew which one it was, you'd probably take a nap to recuperate between the sections you care about - the scored ones.

To LSAC's credit, this practice increases the validity of the scored sections of future LSATs. The experimental section allows LSAC to pre-test questions with several thousand applicants, helping LSAC determine which questions deserve to make it into future scored sections.

On the other hand, not knowing which section is the experimental can make it difficult to decide whether or not to cancel your score. If you bomb the experimental section, it may affect your performance on the other sections. Additionally, being forced to "donate" 35 minutes of free research for LSAC after paying to take the LSAT hardly seems fair.

Regardless, because you'll see a 5-section exam on test day, rather than the 4 you're used to seeing in your books of PrepTests, it's essential to prepare.

I decided to write this post after blog reader Katie wrote to me this week with the following question:
I have been taking 4 section timed tests for a while now but am starting to take 5 and 6 section timed tests as you suggest. I have two questions:

1. I assume that the type of "extra" section(s) I include should vary from test to test. For example, on one day, I would add a logic games section and the next day either a reading comprehension or a logical reasoning section. Is this what you would recommend?

2. What is the best way to score these tests? Which section do I omit? I took a test last night and did an extra logical reasoning section. The scoring for the test I took the extra section from was very different from the full test I was taking - does this make sense? I want to make sure I'm getting an accurate read of my performance.

Varying extra sections
There are two main approaches I'd recommend:

-You can rotate the type of "extra" section(s) that you use.
-You can make the extra section(s) the one that you like the least.

For most people, a combination of the two is probably ideal. Figure out which type of section you dread the most, and include it more often than the others.

Which section to omit
This makes perfect sense, Katie. To get the most accurate score reading, omit the section(s) that are not from the original exam. Different exams have different scales.

Another tip on preparing for the experimental section:

Mix up sections.
As I said earlier, on test day, you won't know which section is the experimental. For this reason, you may want to lay out the sections from each PrepTest beforehand. Take two from the "scored" exam and one "unscored" experimental, and mix them together.

This way, you won't know which ones are scored and which ones aren't, and you'll be forced to put the same effort into each.

Photo by happysteve


  1. Hi there, if there are two Analytical Reasoning sections in an LSAT, is it safe to assume one of them is the experimental section? Thanks!

  2. Great suggestions, but how do you "lay out the sections from each PrepTest beforehand" when the prep tests are printed on both sides of the page (last page of section 1 opposite 1st page of section 2, and so on)?

  3. Excellent question, Colleen.

    Why not photocopy the exam (and experimental section) before you take it? This way, you can lay out / mix everything up as desired.

  4. It's late, the day of the Feb. test. I had two games sections on the test. I'm usually pretty good at games but one was very hard and the other easy. Do you know which of the two was the experimental section?

  5. Hi Steve! I just took the LSAT I probably will cancel I'm just rethinking my options and my sections went LG RC LR LR RC. I thought the last RC seemed really hard. i've never heard of of an easy experimental section. aren't these questions supposed to be harder? also is it possible that the last RC was experimental especially because isn't disclosed. Maybe Feb doesnt usually have experimental in 1 of the first 3 sections??

  6. @Anonymous 2/6

    The experimental is traditionally one of the first 3 sections. Beyond that, I can't say.

    @Anonymous 2/7

    Nope, they can be easier too. Some LSAT-takers in the past have had really easy LG and RC experimentals. I'd still think the experimental is one of the first 3, even though it's a Feb exam.

    Take a few days before you decide whether to cancel. You have 6 calendar days from the test date to cancel.

  7. I had two games sections in Feb 2010 test, can any of those who had only one game section tell us whether all games were matching games and kind of difficult or it had sequencing and section games kind of easy? One was difficult and I hope that it was the experimental.

  8. Unfortunately, I had one section and it was all matching games but for one which was sequencing/matching hybrid sort of?

  9. I took the sabbath observer LSAT on February 8. There were 2 logic games. One logic game came 2nd and the other 4th. The second seemed like a regular LSAT logic game setup while the 4th one was much harder and much more unusual relative to other logic games.

    When I read your blog you said traditionally the variable or "fake section" has come from the first three sections. How do we know this?

    I called up the LSAC and they told me the variable section could be any section and is not only from the first three. She said some test prep people say this but it isn't true. On the other hand the operator could just be wrong.

    I was wondering if I could get your thoughts on this issue and see what you think. Are there variable sections given outside the first 3 sections, is the possibility very small or is there a regular chance. If not, I am dead meat.

  10. The LSAT prep industry knows this from surveying thousands of test-takers, as well as based upon personal experience.

    With Feb exams, it would be very difficult to know for certain since these exams are not released.

    LSAC does not want to compromise the integrity of the experimental section (meaning they want everyone to do their best on the experimental and believe that a given experimental section might be a scored section). They don't want people to flip through the test booklet and potentially determine which section is experimental beforehand (even though flipping through beforehand is most CERTAINLY not allowed). i believe this is why the LSAC rep told you the experimental is not necessarily one of the first 3 sections.

    I would say the possibility is very small that an experimental would be given outside of the first 3. The best way to confirm which section was experimental would be to speak with other test-takers who took the Sabbath exam.

    Good luck.

  11. if i had 1st section logic reasoning, 2nd games, 3rd reading comp and 4th and 5th logic reasoning. is it safe to say the first one was the exsperimental

  12. I've been following your study schedules quite religiously. By doing this I end up taking 3 preptests per week. In order to simulate the experimental section(s) I take two 5-section exams and one 6-section exam per week. I use a fourth pretest (as recommended in the study guide) for the experimental section(s). What I end up doing is having two different scantron sheets, one for the preptest I am actually taking and one for the experimental section(s).

    When I am taking the experimental sections I actually use the same scantron sheet every time. This way at the end of the week I have actually taken 4 Preptests, with four individual scantrons that I can grade and get a LSAT score from as opposed to having only three grades.

    Hope this helps ; )

  13. well am preparin for lsat givin in june 2011....
    any recommendations just started studyin a week back...