Feeling overwhelmed and scared before taking the LSAT? Here’s the ultimate guide to making this journey easier.

GRE or LSAT: The Ultimate Decision-Making Guide



Are you thinking about applying to law school? If so, you’re probably aware of the importance of standardized tests for admissions. The two most widely recognized exams for these fields are the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). While both tests evaluate academic skills, they differ in terms of content, structure, and purpose. In this article, we compare the GRE and LSAT to help you make an informed choice.

Brief Overview of the GRE and LSAT Tests

The GRE is a computer-based exam that assesses skills in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. It’s designed to provide standardized measures of abilities that are relevant to various graduate programs, such as
● Business
● Science
● Humanities

The LSAT, on the other hand, is a paper-and-pencil test that measures skills in
● Logical reasoning.
● Analytical reasoning.
● Reading comprehension.

It’s specifically intended for applicants to law schools in the United States and Canada.

Importance of These Tests for Graduate and Law School Admissions

Many graduate and law programs require applicants to submit either GRE or LSAT scores as part of their application package. These scores provide admissions committees with a uniform measure of candidates’ academic potential and intellectual aptitude. Moreover, high scores can enhance one’s chances of gaining admission to highly competitive programs and receiving financial aid or scholarships.

Purpose of the Comparison

With the differences between the GRE and LSAT in mind, choosing the test that best suits your strengths, interests, and career goals can be challenging. The purpose of this article is to provide you with a comprehensive comparison of these exams, including their –
Format And Structure Content And Skills Assessed Scoring Target Audience Test Preparation Factors To Consider When Making Your Decision

Key Differences Between the LSAT and GRE

Purpose: The LSAT is designed exclusively for law school admissions, while the GRE is used for various graduate admissions.

Format: The GRE is computer-based, while the LSAT is paper-and-pencil.

Structure: The GRE consists of
●Verbal Reasoning,
●Quantitative Reasoning.
●Analytical Writing.

while the LSAT consists of
●Logical Reasoning.
●Analytical Reasoning.
●Reading Comprehension.

Content: The GRE focuses on vocabulary, math, and analytical writing skills, while the LSAT emphasizes logical and critical thinking, analytical and deductive reasoning, and reading and interpreting complex texts.

Scoring: The GRE gives a composite score of verbal and quantitative reasoning, and a separate score for analytical writing, while the LSAT provides a raw score and scaled score based on the number of correct answers.

Comparing Format & Structure GRE & LSAT

The format and structure of the GRE and LSAT determine the types of questions and time limits for each section. Here’s a closer look at what each test entails:

A. Description of the GRE Format and Sections

The GRE assesses skills necessary for success in graduate-level studies. The GRE test content consists of three topics:

  • Analytical Writing
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning

There are six sections on the test:

Analytical Writing (one section with two separately timed tasks) – 30 minutes per task

Verbal Reasoning (two sections) – 20 questions per section, 30 minutes per section

Quantitative Reasoning (two sections) – 20 questions per section, 35 minutes per section

Experimental Section or Research Section – Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning, 20 questions per section, 30 to 35 minutes per section.

Note that because there is one unscored section on the test (either Experimental or Research), only five of the six sections will count towards your final score.

B. Description of the LSAT Format and Sections

The LSAT consists of five multiple-choice sections and one unscored writing sample section. Here’s an overview of each section:

Logical Reasoning: Measures your ability to analyze, evaluate, and complete arguments based on given information. This section has two 25-question sets, with a total of 70 minutes to complete both.

Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games): Measures your ability to understand and draw inferences from complex relationships presented in systematic graphical or textual format. This section has one 23-question set, with 35 minutes to complete it.

Reading Comprehension: Measures your ability to read and analyze complex texts, including understanding main ideas, themes, and structures. This section has one 27-question set, with 35 minutes to complete it.

Content and Skills Assessed

Both the GRE and LSAT evaluate academic skills, but they differ in terms of the content and skills assessed.

A. Content Covered in the GRE

The GRE assesses three primary areas of academic skills:

Vocabulary and reading comprehension: These skills are tested through the verbal reasoning section, which evaluates your ability to understand and analyze written material in various fields of study.

Math and problem-solving skills: These skills are tested through the quantitative reasoning section, which assesses your ability to solve problems using arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.

Analytical writing abilities: These skills are tested through the analytical writing section, which requires you to write two essays that analyze complex issues and ideas in an organized and coherent manner.

B. Content Covered in the LSAT

The LSAT evaluates skills that are specifically relevant to legal education and practice:

Logical reasoning and critical thinking: These skills are tested through two sections of logical reasoning, which assess your ability to understand and evaluate arguments based on a given set of facts and assumptions.

Analytical and deductive reasoning skills: These skills are tested through the analytical reasoning section, which requires you to understand and draw inferences from complex relationships presented in logical or graphical format.

Reading and interpreting complex texts: These skills are tested through the reading comprehension section, which assesses your ability to read and analyze complex texts on a variety of subjects and understand their main ideas, structures, and themes.

Scoring and Interpretation

Understanding how the GRE and LSAT are scored can help you manage your test preparation and align your target scores with your chosen schools’ expectations.

A. Explanation of the GRE Scoring System

The GRE provides scores for each of the three main sections: verbal reasoning (130-170), quantitative reasoning (130-170), and analytical writing (0-6). The verbal and quantitative reasoning scores are reported on a scale of 1-40, in one-point increments, which are then converted using a formula to a scaled score between 130 and 170. The analytical writing score is reported on a scale of 0-6, in half-point increments.

B. Explanation of the LSAT Scoring System

The LSAT provides a raw score based on the number of correct answers, which is then scaled to a score range of 120-180. The LSAT includes one unscored section, which is used to test new questions for future exams. Test-takers don’t know which section is unscored, so it’s essential to attempt every section to avoid losing points.

Target Audience and Test Purpose

The GRE and LSAT serve different purposes, depending on the target graduate or law schools’ requirements and personal career goals.

A. GRE’s Relevance for Various Graduate Programs

The GRE is widely accepted by various graduate programs across the world, including business, science, and humanities. However, students should research the specific requirements of their desired programs to decide whether the GRE is mandatory or recommended. Some programs might require specific subject tests, such as the GRE Subject Tests, in addition to the general GRE.

B. LSAT’s Significance for Law School Admissions

The LSAT is specifically designed for applicants to law schools in the United States and Canada. Many law schools rely heavily on LSAT scores in their admissions decisions, which can also have a significant impact on scholarship awards.

Test Preparation and Resources

Both the GRE and LSAT require significant test preparation to maximize your chances of gaining high scores. Various test preparation options are available for each test.

A. Overview of Test Preparation Options for the GRE

Here are some common test preparation options for the GRE:

Study guides and practice tests: These resources offer a comprehensive review of the test material and provide sample questions to practice.

Online resources and courses: These resources provide video lectures, interactive exercises, and full-length practice tests to help test-takers build their skills, boost their confidence, and track their progress.

B. Overview of Test Preparation Options for the LSAT

Here are some common test preparation options for the LSAT:

Official LSAT Prep materials: These materials include practice tests and study guides from the creators of the LSAT, providing you with a comprehensive review of the exam’s content and structure.

LSAT prep courses and tutoring services: These resources offer guided lessons, personalized instruction, and expert feedback to help test-takers improve their scores and overcome their weaknesses.

Choosing the Right Test

Choosing the right test can be a daunting task, as it requires considering various factors, such as your target schools’ requirements, personal strengths and preferences, and test preparation options.

A. Factors to Consider When Deciding Between the GRE and LSAT

Before deciding on the GRE or LSAT, consider the following factors:
Target graduate or law schools’ requirements: Some programs require specific tests or scores, and failing to meet those requirements can disqualify you from consideration.

Personal strengths and preferences: Consider the type of questions that you feel most confident about and enjoy answering. Also, consider the type of exam format that you’re more comfortable with, such as computer-based or paper-and-pencil.

Test preparation options: Evaluate the availability and affordability of the test preparation options that suit your needs and preferences.

B. Advice for Prospective Students on Making an Informed Decision

To make an informed decision on which test to take, consider the following advice:
Researching program preferences and admissions policies: Review the admission requirements and criteria of the schools you’re interested in to determine which test they require or recommend including the following high-profile academic institutions.
● Boston University School of Law
● Columbia Law School
● Cornell Law School
● Duke University School of Law
● Georgetown University Law Center
● Harvard Law School
● New York University School of Law
● Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
● Notre Dame Law School
● University of California—Los Angeles School of Law
● University of Chicago Law School
● University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
● University of Southern California Gould School of Law
● University of Virginia School of Law
● University of Texas—Austin School of Law
● Yale Law School

Evaluating personal skills and test preparation options: Take practice tests in both formats and explore the different test preparation options that are available to you. You may also want to seek advice from graduates or admissions experts to help you understand the nuances of each test.

Reading Speed: A Key Factor for LSAT Success

The Importance of Reading Speed on the LSAT Unlike the GRE, which emphasizes vocabulary and analytical thinking, the LSAT places a greater emphasis on reading speed and comprehension. Here’s why reading speed is particularly vital on the LSAT:

Time Constraints: The LSAT imposes strict time limits, requiring test-takers to read and answer questions quickly. The reading comprehension passages are lengthy and require thorough analysis. To maximize your score, you must read efficiently within the given time frame.

Comprehension Accuracy: While speed is crucial, it should not compromise comprehension accuracy. The LSAT demands both speed and accuracy in reading. Finding the right balance between reading quickly and fully understanding the content is essential to avoid errors and misinterpretations.

Analytical Reasoning Connections: Reading speed on the LSAT is not only about understanding the passage but also about making connections to the analytical reasoning questions. Quick identification of relevant information and comprehension of the passage’s structure enable efficient answering of questions.

Strategies to Improve Reading Speed for the LSAT
To enhance your reading speed for the LSAT, consider implementing the following strategies:

Practice with Timed Reading: Simulate the LSAT environment by practicing timed reading. Gradually decrease the time allotted for reading each passage to improve your speed. This practice will help you develop a sense of urgency and train your brain to read swiftly while maintaining comprehension.

Skimming and Scanning Techniques: Utilize skimming and scanning techniques to quickly identify main ideas, topic sentences, and key details. Skimming involves rapidly glancing through the text to grasp the general understanding, while scanning involves moving your eyes quickly to find specific information. These techniques allow efficient extraction of crucial information.

Build Vocabulary and Background Knowledge: Enhance your vocabulary and broaden your knowledge base to aid reading speed. Familiarity with a wide range of topics and terminology enables rapid comprehension. Engage in regular reading of diverse materials to expand your vocabulary and improve overall reading fluency.

Eliminate Subvocalization: Reduce subvocalization, which refers to silently pronouncing words as you read. Instead, focus on absorbing the meaning of the passage without mentally pronouncing every word. This technique accelerates reading pace without sacrificing comprehension.


Choosing the right test can be the first step towards achieving your career goals. By comparing the GRE and LSAT, you can determine which test best aligns with your strengths, interests, and target schools’ requirements. Remember, the decision-making process involves evaluating your personal skills and test preparation options, researching program preferences and admissions policies, and seeking advice from admissions experts when needed. We hope this article has helped you make an informed decision and wish you success on your academic journey.

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Most of the students who have appeared in both examinations, the GRE and LSAT, have found that the LSAT is harder than GRE. The GRE questions are more memorized based whereas the LSAT does not, the GRE does not have logic questions and the LSAT is unique from other exams.
Well, the good news is that both the GRE and LSAT scores stay valid for a solid five years. So, you’ve got plenty of time to use those scores for your applications and make your way towards your academic and career goals. Just keep in mind that the clock starts ticking from the day you take the test.
Comparing the difficulty of the LSAT and GRE is subjective, but there are a few factors that might make the LSAT appear more challenging. The LSAT focuses heavily on logical reasoning, analytical thinking, and reading comprehension skills, which are crucial in law school and the legal profession. On the other hand, the GRE covers a broader range of subjects, including math, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing. Ultimately, the perception of difficulty may vary depending on your strengths and weaknesses.
Most law schools still prefer the LSAT, as it specifically evaluates skills essential for legal studies. While a few schools accept the GRE, it’s generally advisable to take the LSAT to maximize your chances. It’s crucial to research individual schools’ requirements to make an informed decision that aligns with your goals.
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