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What’s the point of the LNAT?

Dr. Liora Lazarus, Chair of the LNAT, explains why she thinks the National Admissions Test for Law is an opportunity rather than a hurdle for students applying to study law at university…

Imagine that you’re going to the cinema and you’re trying to pick which movie you want to watch using only the film titles. On the surface, some might sound good, but without knowing more about them, you wouldn’t know which one to pick.

This is similar to the job that many university law school admissions tutors are asked to do: To choose from thousands of almost identical applications from high achieving students, all eager to win a place to study undergraduate law. 

With more than a quarter of all A-level candidates (27%) gaining an A or the new A* grade last year,and competition for university places becoming ever fiercer as government funding for higher education is cut, the task of differentiating between candidates will inevitably become even more difficult for them.

So how can you make your application stand out against thousands of others?

Well, this is where those taking LNAT are lucky. Rather than being a test to pass or fail, it enables students applying to study law to show off their natural ability in the skills that will matter in the study of law.

Unlike an A-level exam or piece of coursework, the LNAT is designed to measure a student’s critical reasoning skills or more specifically, their comprehension, interpretation, analysis, synthesis and deduction skills; all of which are essential for studying law.

So how can you ace the LNAT? 

The good news is that, since expensive coaching or books are unlikely to help you, everyone who sits the LNAT is on a level playing field and no-one has the upper hand.

In fact, the LNAT has been recognised as being a fairer test than A-levels as it measures raw talent, which cannot be enhanced by expensive schooling or coaching.

However, it’s important not to be complacent. Most people find that certain types of mental preparation for the LNAT can help them on the day.

Before the test, it’s important to understand what is meant by critical reasoning. The LNAT website contains sample essay questions and answers to show the style of factual, persuasive writing required.

A range of sources on critical reasoning exist, from websites to dedicated text books; all of which can be used to help develop a better understanding of what it is and why it is important for studying law.

Two and a quarter hours (or 135 minutes) may sound like a long time, but most people find that it flies by. The LNAT website also contains a simulation of the LNAT for people to do a practice test against the clock, so that you can get a feel for how long to spend on each question and the essay. It also enables them to familiarise themselves with the format of the test, the navigation and the word processing tools they will have access to on the day. 

There are also tips from past candidates on the site, which range from regularly reading a quality newspaper to developing an understanding of current affairs, which may crop up in the test, or simply remembering to bring photo ID to the test itself.

The key is to remember that the LNAT gives you the chance to impress admissions tutors and to get a feel for the critical reasoning skills needed to study law at university. Rather than resenting it, try to see it as a valuable opportunity and grab it with both hands.