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About the writing sample

What's the LSAT Writing Sample?

The LSAT Writing Sample is a mandatory writing assignment that you'll take on your own computer, using secure proctoring software you'll get from LSAC. You can complete the writing sample when it's convenient for you.
The writing sample isn’t scored, but copies are sent to all law schools to which you apply. You’ll have 35 minutes to plan and write an essay on the topic you receive.

What’s the task?

The writing prompt presents a situation to you, and you’re asked to make a choice between two positions or courses of action. Both of the choices are defensible, and you’re given criteria and facts on which to base your decision. There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” position to take on the topic, so it doesn’t matter which side you choose! What’s important is how well you support one choice and how well you criticize the other choice.

What’s a good approach?

It’s a good idea to read the topic and the accompanying directions carefully. Many students find it helpful to spend some time considering the topic and organizing their thoughts on paper before they begin writing. In your essay, be sure to develop your ideas fully, leaving time, if possible, to review what you’ve written. Don’t write on a topic other than the one specified.
You won’t need any special knowledge to do well on the writing sample. Law schools are looking at several things:
  • Clarity
  • Organization
  • Language usage
  • Ability to defend a position
  • Writing mechanics
How well you write is more important than how much you write—many successful students submit just two paragraphs for the writing sample, with one paragraph focusing on the choice they support and another paragraph criticizing the other choice. There are many ways to complete a satisfactory writing sample.


Directions: The scenario presented below describes two choices, either one of which can be supported on the basis of the information given. Your essay should consider both choices and argue for one over the other, based on the two specified criteria and the facts provided. There is no “right” or “wrong” choice: a reasonable argument can be made for either.
Prompt: Two pediatricians are deciding whether to relocate their small practice 10 miles away, to a large medical pavilion downtown, or to keep their present office and also open a second office about 20 miles away across the city. Using the facts below, write an essay in which you argue for one choice over the other based on the following two criteria:
  • The doctors want to attract new patients.
  • The doctors want to keep their current patients.
The Laurel Medical Pavilion is a new collection of medical office buildings adjacent to the city’s major hospital. The pavilion is convenient to public transportation. It offers ample free parking space. Although office space in the pavilion is expensive, it is going fast. The space the pediatricians would lease includes five examination rooms, sufficient office space, and a large waiting area that the doctors would be able to furnish as they like. The pavilion leases space to doctors in a wide variety of fields. It contains facilities for a wide range of laboratory and diagnostic testing.
The space the doctors are considering leasing as a second office is, like their present premises, a 100-year-old Victorian house in a largely residential area full of young families. The house has a large fenced-in yard and off-street parking space for five vehicles. The first floor of the house was recently remodeled to suit the needs of a small medical practice. Like their present premises, it contains three examination rooms, a small waiting area, and ample office space. The second floor has not been converted into suitable working space. The option of doing so is available to the doctors.

How might we start?

Thirty-five minutes is usually more than enough time for you to submit a high-quality writing sample, provided you plan your writing appropriately. We recommend spending about 10-15 minutes planning before you start writing.
✓ List the decisions.
  • Relocate 10 miles away (large medical pavilion downtown)
  • Keep present office and open second office about 20 miles away across the city.
✓ List the criteria.
  • Attract new patients
  • Keep current patients
✓ List 2-3 pros and cons of each decision.
Many students find it helpful to hold off on making a decision until after they’ve listed the benefits and drawbacks to each decision, since it often becomes clear in this process which decision will be easier to defend. Remember, there is no “right” or “wrong” decision, but you’ll generally feel at least slightly more comfortable defending one than the other.
Relocate 10 mi. to downtown (large med. pavilion)Convenient to public transport. (good for attracting new patients)10 miles away (harder to keep current patients)
Convenient to accessing other health services (good for attracting new patients + keeping current)Expensive (potentially less money for building clientele through marketing, technology, etc.)
Keep present office and open second officeLess chance of losing current patients since they can continue to go to the present officeLimited off-street parking (5 vehicles) (less comfortable to park than the downtown location)
Largely residential area full of young families (good for attracting new patients since they’re pediatricians)20 miles away (potentially difficult for the doctors to move back and forth between the locations, no immediate access to labs and diagnostic testing)
Two offices should attract more new patients than one office wouldSmaller than the downtown facility would be
✓ Make a decision.
On Test Day, make a decision based on which decision felt easier for you to defend while you were brainstorming. We’ll go with the decision to keep the present office and open an additional office 20 miles away. It’s important to be concise and decisive for your writing sample—law schools care about the quality of your writing and rhetoric, not the length alone.
✓ Organize your points.
One simple structure for the writing sample is to make a decision in the first paragraph and defend it, then address one potential strength of the decision you rejected. In the second paragraph, you can then discuss why you rejected the other decision, while also acknowledging a weakness in the decision you supported. That may sound somewhat abstract, so here’s a possible outline:
Paragraph 1: Keep present office and open second office.
  • Less chance of losing current patients since they can continue to go to the present office
  • Largely residential area full of young families (good for attracting new patients since they’re pediatricians)
  • Two offices should attract more new patients than one office would
  • One weakness of chosen decision: It’s true that the space the pediatricians are considering for their second office is less spacious than the downtown office would be, but there’s a whole second floor that could be converted into working space in the future, which could allow the pediatricians to expand the number of examination rooms and the waiting area.
Paragraph 2: Don’t relocate downtown.
  • One strength of rejected decision: While the downtown office does have immediate proximity to health services such as laboratories and diagnostic testing,
  • It comes with the steep literal price of renting the office space, and
  • The steep figurative price of losing current clientele who don’t want to travel 10 miles downtown.
  • The doctors would lose out on the thriving market of young families that the second office would represent.
✓ Write the sample.
The hardest and most important work should be done! Now, using concise writing and appropriate language, making sure to transition well from idea to idea (“first”, “second”, “finally”, for example), and keeping as constant a focus on the doctors’ criteria as possible, you should be able to write a very strong essay.

A few final thoughts on the writing sample

  • Spelling matters. As a general rule, if you aren’t sure how to spell something, it’s best to use a different word that you do know how to spell. That said, on Test Day, LSAT Writing's interface includes a spell check feature!
  • Choose a side and stick with it. Be confident in your decision—don’t ride the fence and try to make a strong case for both decisions.
  • Write clearly. Practice writing legibly in pencil if you don’t feel confident about your ability to do so.
  • Don’t get fancy. This isn’t a “law school essay.” Everything you need to draw upon is in the writing prompt, so you shouldn’t be pulling in any outside knowledge beyond what’s common knowledge.

Want to join the conversation?

  • leaf yellow style avatar for user Lea
    May I make up additional support for my argument that is not found in the passage? For example if the prompt was about whether a company should expand nationally or regionally, (assuming the passage doesn’t mention a location), if I choose the side of “regional expansion,” am I permitted to say something like “The company is in a prime region for their product, Los Angeles. LA is a historical hotbed for success pertaining to this particular product, so this is another reason why the company should expand here in LA.” Or can I ONLY use info from the passage to support my stance? I’m I allowed to make assumptions that aren’t written into the passage? Thank you!
    (15 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Dale Hite
    How come there are few examples of possible writing scenarios?
    (29 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user ddoc12345
    Since the writing sample is now online (not paper and pencil), would you still recommend using the 2 paragraph approach? Or is 3/4 paragraphs better suited since typing is faster than writing?
    (21 votes)
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  • sneak peak green style avatar for user G. Tarun
    What's the best way to begin my write-up? Should I get right to the point and present my principal argument in the introduction itself? Am I expected to use phrases like "In this essay, I will..." or "This essay will..."?
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Lynne Hildreth
    I'm curious why you don't suggest a third, concluding paragraph.
    (12 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Jaelyn Guiton
    Regarding the outline of the writing portion (first paragraph covering the pros of your decision, second acknowledging the cons of the other along with one negative about the position taken), why end on a negative regarding your own position? Wouldn't it make more sense to end with something that will allow the reader to possibly come to the same conclusion? Or am I missing something?
    (7 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Christian Chudzik
    Right under "Organize Your Points" you state to: address one potential strength of the decision you rejected in paragraph 1 and acknowledge a weakness in the decision you supported in paragraph 2. In the outline you do the opposite, you list a weakness of your chosen decision in paragraph 1, and list a strength of the rejected choice in paragraph 2. Which one should I be following?
    (2 votes)
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    • spunky sam blue style avatar for user jacobsmithguitar
      I think the approach taken by the outline works best. The two are equivalent (somewhat): a strength of the rejected choice actually is a weakness of the chosen choice. The focus of the first paragraph should be your choice, and the focus of the second the rejected choice. Therefore, it makes more sense to frame the first weakness as a weakness of your plan, and the second weakness as a strength of the other plan.
      (10 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user sakaikei8
    How long should the writing sample be on the LSAT?
    (3 votes)
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    • piceratops seed style avatar for user anhchi
      From the author:Hi! Great question - the writing sample should be nice and concise. Many students do well with the two-paragraph structure that we outlined in the article, and as long as you're defending your points well, then you don't need to worry about length. Plus, remember that you're writing (by hand?!) with a No. 2 pencil! A long, wordy, essay would actually hurt you if it sacrificed clarity and reasoning. I hope this helps!
      (6 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Sadie Peay
    Where are the actual lessons?
    (4 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user sbeecroft
    Is writing in cursive acceptable/suggested, or is printed lettering better?
    (3 votes)
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