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Lsat Essay Question

The LSAT test-writers must have some serious faith in you! They know that after five sections of intense logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and logic games, you will have the energy and willpower to write a wonderful essay on any random topic. Sounds great, right? Well, maybe it doesn’t sound so exciting at first.

But, thankfully, you can prepare for a pretty straightforward writing topic that will not stray too far from topics of the past. The main theme for LSAT writing sample topics could be described as “Making a Choice” (the LSAC calls them decision prompts). If you’re familiar with the basics of the LSAT writing sample, let’s move forward and take a look at some summaries of past LSAT writing topics and the general themes they’ve come under.

LSAT Writing Topics – “Making a Choice”

1. A City Newspaper – Business Decision – Preptest 36

For its new Arts & Leisure column, the Tribune must choose between a theater review and a restaurant review. You must help them choose one over the other, considering two major concerns–increasing circulation/advertising and helping revitalize the Lakewood district.

2. An Architect gets a partnership offer – Life Decision – Preptest 36

A landscape architect has to choose between partnering with a larger firm or continuing to work for himself, considering his reputation and interest in the work he’s doing.

3. Summer Care for the Wang Family – Life Decision – Preptest 62

The Wangs must choose between two summer programs for their ten-year-old. They must consider how the summer care would add variety to their child’s experience and how easy transportation will be for them. Each of the two programs has pros and cons that may satisfy one consideration or the other.

How to Approach “Making a Choice” Topics

Your task here is to decide which option of two is the best and clearly supports your choice with solid reasoning. As we learned from the basics of the LSAT writing sample, “Start with an introduction paragraph that explains the issue and its two sides, then pick your stance in your thesis statement. Follow up with at least three points to support your stance, and refute the side that you did not select. Don’t forget to write a conclusion paragraph that ties your ideas back to your original thesis statement.”

Hopefully this sampling of writing topics will help you feel more comfortable tackling the LSAT. You can practice at home by using the full prompts from the LSAC’s page on the writing sample. Finally, Magoosh’s video lessons on formal logic and flaw questions are great tools to understanding how to spot a flawed argument and avoid making one yourself–essential skills for the writing section.

Use these sample LSAT test questions as part of your LSAT prep to see where to focus your study time and help you get ready for what to expect on the actual test.

Are you prepared for the LSAT? Try these sample LSAT test questions to determine where to focus your study efforts. Answers are provided at the end of all the questions. For more comprehensive preparation, check out Peterson's full-length practice tests.

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Logical Reasoning

When pregnant lab rats are given caffeine equivalent to the amount a human would consume by drinking six cups of coffee per day, an increase in the incidence of birth defects results. When asked if the government would require warning labels on products containing caffeine, a spokesperson stated that it would not because the government would lose credibility if the finding of these studies were to be refuted in the future.

1. Which of the following is most strongly suggested by the government's statement above?

(A) A warning that applies to a small population is inappropriate.
(B) Very few people drink as many as six cups of coffee a day.
(C) There are doubts about the conclusive nature of studies on animals.
(D) Studies on rats provide little data about human birth defects.
(E) The seriousness of birth defects involving caffeine is not clear.

Analytical Reasoning

1. Buses 1, 2, and 3 make one trip each day, and they are the only ones that riders A, B, C, D, E, F, and G take to work.

Neither E nor G takes bus 1 on a day when B does.
G does not take bus 2 on a day when D does.
When A and F take the same bus, it is always bus 3.
C always takes bus 3.

Traveling together to work, B, C, and G could take which of the same buses on a given day?

(A) 1 only
(B) 2 only
(C) 3 only
(D) 2 and 3 only
(E) 1, 2, and 3

Reading Comprehension

Many, perhaps most, well-disposed, practical people would, if they had to designate a philosophy that comes closest to expressing their unstated principles, pick utilitarianism. The philosophy that proclaims as its sovereign criterion the procuring of the greatest good of the greatest number has indeed served as a powerful engine of legal reform and rationalization. And it is a crucial feature of utilitarianism that it is consequences that count. Now it is interesting that some judgments that are actually made in the law and elsewhere do not appear to accord with this thoroughgoing consequentialism. For instance, both in law and morals there are many instances of a distinction being made between direct and indirect intention — i.e., the distinction between on the one hand the doing of evil as an end in itself or on the other hand bringing about the same evil result as a consequence of one's direct ends or means. So also the distinction is drawn between the consequences that we bring about by our actions and consequences that come about through our failures to act. Also, when bad consequences ensue from our actions and what was done was in the exercise of a right or privilege, the law is less likely to lay those bad consequences at our doorstep. And, finally, if the only way to prevent some great harm would be by inflicting a lesser harm on yourself or on others, then too the law is inclined to absolve us of responsibility for that avoidable greater harm. It is as if the net value of the consequences were not crucial, at least where net benefit is procured by the intentional infliction of harm.

Not only are these distinctions drawn in some moral systems, but there are numerous places in the law where they are made regularly. Since in utilitarianism and consequentialism in general the ultimate questions must always be whether and to what extent the valued end-state (be it happiness or possession of true knowledge) obtains at a particular moment, it is inevitable that the judgments on the human agencies that may affect this end-state must be wholly instrumental: human actions can be judged only by their tendency to produce the relevant end-states.

Indeed it may well be that even the point and contents of normative judgments — whether legal or moral — are concerned not just with particular end-states of the world but also with how end-states are brought about. These kinds of substantive judgments take the form: there are some things one should just never do — kill an innocent person, falsely accuse a defendant in a criminal proceeding, engage in sex for pay. These are to be contrasted to judgments that this or that is an unfortunate, perhaps terrible, result that (other things being equal) one would want to avoid. The former are — very generally — judgments of right and wrong. It is wrong to do this or that, even if the balance of advantages favors it; a person is right to do some particular thing (help a friend, protect his client's interests) even though more good will come if he does not.

1. The author's point in the passage is primarily that:

(A) law and utilitarianism are not always compatible.
(B) utilitarianism is the operating philosophy of most people.
(C) consequentialism is the basis for legal reform.
(D) direct and indirect intentions lead to different end-states.
(E) judgments about human actions can be made only by the resulting end-states.

2. Which of the following is NOT a feature of utilitarianism?

(A) Results are considered important.
(B) Consequences are considered important.
(C) The valued end-state is considered important.
(D) The means of achieving results are considered important.
(E) The net value of consequences is considered important.

Writing Sample (sample only)

Alice Anderson is a senior at John Paul Jones University. She has been offered two positions as a result of her outstanding record in her major, Television and Radio Broadcasting. As her counselor, you are to write an argument favoring one of the two offers. Two considerations guide your decision:

    * Alice has a large student loan debt that she has to begin to repay immediately upon graduation.
    * Alice has as her career goal a position as a network news anchorperson.

WAND is the only television station serving a large area located some 250 miles north of the capital of the state. The station has offered Alice a job as a reporter whose principal assignments would be to cover the activities of local governments, politics, and business. In addition to her assigned stories, Alice would have the opportunity to independently prepare stories for possible broadcast. Because the station is small, has a very stable staff, and has limited growth prospects, Alice's chances for advancement are not good. WAND's owner is a former network executive who purchased the station in order to get away from the pressures of broadcasting in major markets. Alice would get only a modest salary at WAND, and she would have to supplement her income with outside work.

KBSC is one of three television stations located in the state capital. The station has offered Alice a job as a production assistant in the news department. She would primarily do background research and check facts and sources for the producers and reporters. Production assistants who work hard are promoted to positions as special assignment reporters in about two years. There are many special assignment reporters competing for assignments, most of which involve covering minor events such as political dinners, award ceremonies, and concerts and writing human-interest stories. Most special assignment reporters spend at least five years covering minor events before moving into a position as a general report-anchorperson. KBSC would pay Alice a salary in excess of the amount she would need to live comfortably in the city.

LSAT Answers

Logical Reasoning

1. The correct answer is (C). If the government acts before the study can be proven conclusively, it will lose credibility.

Analytical Reasoning

1. The correct answer is (C).

Bus 1: If B, then no E or G
Bus 2: If D, then no G
Bus 3: C always
Bus 3: When A and F take the same bus.

Reading Comprehension

1. The correct answer is (A). The passage goes into great detail on how different types of "normative" law, laws based on the righteousness of action, are in contrast to utilitarianism, where it is only the net value of the consequences that are important.

2. The correct answer is (D). Choices (A), (B), and (C) all say approximately the same thing about utilitarianism: it is the results, the consequences, the "end-states" that are important when taking action. Choice (E) can be inferred from the last sentence in the first paragraph, where the author states the lack of emphasis on the net value of consequences as a weakness of the non-utilitarian laws and judgments being described. Choice (D) is the correct answer — in utilitarianism, "procuring the greatest good of the greatest number" is important. The author goes to great lengths to contrast this idea with laws and judgments in which human actions, and not the results of those actions, are judged.


After you get a sense of where you stand on the LSAT, check out these law school searches to start discovering what programs would be the best match for you:

  • All law schools
  • Online law schools
  • Schools for international law
  • Schools for business law
  • Schools for environmental law


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