Introduction to LSAT Writing
Test takers are given 30 minutes to complete the brief writing exercise, which is not scored but is used by law school admission personnel to assess writing skill. Read the topic carefully. You will probably find it best to spend a few minutes considering the topic and organizing your thoughts before you begin writing. Do not write on a topic other than the one specified. Writing on a topic of your own choice is not acceptable
There is no “right” or “wrong” position on the writing sample topic. Law schools are interested in how skillfully you support the position you take and how clearly you express that position. How well you write is much more important than how much you write. No special knowledge is required or expected. Law schools are interested in organization, vocabulary, and writing mechanics. They understand the short time available to you and the pressure under which you are writing.
Confine your writing to the lined area following the writing sample topic. You will find that you have enough space if you plan your writing carefully, write on every line, avoid wide margins, and keep your handwriting a reasonable size. Be sure that your handwriting is legible.
Scratch paper is provided for use during the writing sample portion of the test only. Scratch paper cannot be used in other sections of the LSAT.
The writing sample is photocopied and sent to law schools to which you direct your LSAT score. A pen will be provided at the test center, which must be used (for the writing sample only) to ensure a photocopy of high quality.
Sample LSAT Essay
The English department at a university must choose a text for its first-year composition course. Write an argument in favor of selection either of the following texts with these. Considerations in mind:
The department has a strong commitment to teaching basic writing skills, such as grammar and essay organization
The department wants to increase the students enthusiasm for and interest in writing.
During the three years that the department has used The Standard Textbook of English, instructors in other departments have reported significant improvement in students writing skills. Nicknamed “The Best and the Dullest” the text contains classic essays from both ancient and modern authors and is organized to illustrate the various forms of the essay- such as narration, exposition, and persuasion. The essay average more than 10 pages and almost all are written in a formal style. While students find some of the subjects foreign, they feel the materials covered are often useful in their other coursework.
A new text, The Modern Writer, contains both an introductions describing the basics of grammar and a number of journalistic essays by contemporary authors. The pieces are typically short (only 2 to 3 pages) and explore topics of interest to most college students, such as popular music and career planning. The style of the essays tends to be informal, even colloquial. Each chapter contains several essays on a given topic and exercises designed to aid students in developing essays of their own. Although the introduction provides an adequate overview of basic grammar, the text does not discuss the essay form.
I would urge the English Department to change its English composition textbook from The Standard Textbook of English to The Modern Writer. By helping to make the students more enthusiastic about writing, the new textbook should ultimately boost the students writing skills in general.
To give credit where credit is due, we must acknowledge that The Standard Textbook of English is not a bad book. This textbook has shown itself to be somewhat effective in helping to improve the students basic writing skills, and it presents a variety of essay forms, exposing the students to different types of essays they have to either write or understand late on. It would be a safe choice for the department to continue its use of this time-tested book.
But the past glories of the old textbook cannot hide its problems, particularly its dullness. The essays in this textbook are obviously too long for first-year students to appreciate their beauty. While various essay forms are illustrated in this textbook, they are often illustrated with content that students find very hard to relate to. Students using The Standard Textbook of English may have improved their writing skills in the past three years, but if that is true, they must have had a hard time doing so, to the possible detriment of their performance in other areas. Such problems can only be solved with a new textbook like The Modern Writer.
The Modern Writer is such that it should generate a lot more enthusiasm in students for learning English writing. The essays in this book are much shorter and therefore easier for university beginners to grasp. Moreover, these essays explore topics that are of interest to most college students such as popular music and career planning. Given the built-in appeal in this new textbook, just no student will have to be compelled to read and learn from it. With this book, the students can be expected to learn while they are having fun or at least thinking of issues that they care about. In all likelihood, the enthusiastic student will be a better student than the bored student.
The Modern Writer should be able to reach students basic writing skills at least as well as, if not better than,The Standard Textbook of English. The new textbook contains not only a good description of the basics of grammar but also carefully designed exercises to aid students in developing their own essays. In contrast, the old textbook may load the students with too much grammar but give them little chance to actually use it. With their enthusiasm and opportunities to practice, students should be able to pick up writing skills fairly easily, even those skills that are not fully covered by the textbook. The interested students can, for example, do their own research on essay forms.
Although The Standard Textbook of English is okay as a writing textbook, The Modern Writer should now be preferred. The new textbook can match the old one in strength bur does not have its problems. Besides, the new textbook contains qualities that are not only lacking in the old one but also fundamentally important to the learning students.