Being a law student is an exciting journey, with numerous obstacles along the way that both challenge us and teach us new skills. For many, a significant stage in this journey is facing the LNAT: The Law National Admissions Test. This test is used by some universities as part of their undergraduate Law admissions process. With autumn officially upon us, the time for booking, preparing for and taking the LNAT has also come around the corner, and TSL is here to provide those applying to LNAT-required universities with a comprehensive guide to tackle this complex test.
The LNAT, unlike other tests you may have taken at school, is a test of aptitude, determining whether students have the right skills for studying law at university, and possibly a legal career – with such skills including deduction, analysis and comprehension. This is a computer-based test that is run by an independent exam body and, before starting to prepare, it is crucial to understand the criteria you need to meet and what to expect on test day. The best place to start is the LNAT website but read on for a breakdown of the key LNAT facts.
As mentioned above, the LNAT is used by a selection of universities as a further way to distinguish between their law applicants. These universities are (currently) Bristol, Durham, Glasgow, KCL, LSE, Nottingham, Oxford, SOAS and UCL. When applying to study law to enter university the following autumn, registration and booking for the LNAT opens in August and testing begins in September. The earlier you book, either before or after deciding on your university choices, the more choice you will have of the date you take the test. The deadlines for booking and sitting the LNAT are in January, however if you are applying to Oxford, you must have taken the test before the end of October – allowing the admissions directors to process your application before interviews start. It must be remembered that you cannot re-sit the test should you not do as well as planned, and results from one academic year (September to next June) cannot be carried over, so if you are re-applying to university, the LNAT must be taken once again.
The LNAT lasts for 2 hours and 15 minutes and consists of two sections that test different types of skills that are beneficial to legal studies.
There are two main ways to approach the multiple-choice section; firstly, you can read the passage of text and gain a general understanding, then read the questions and pick your answer, secondly, you may choose to read the questions first, then read the passage with a focus on what the question is specifically asking. The first way will prevent you from missing any information, whilst the second will save you time. Each student is different, thus it is advisable to practice the LNAT tests in both ways and see which works for you, not only what comes naturally but what gets you a better score. As there are no negative marks, you should always at least guess at a question you are stuck on, or flag it for review so that you can return and have another look later. Crucially, you should never rush your answers, as this may result in making simple errors that cost you marks. Moreover, when reading the questions, take a moment to consider what is really being asked and do not jump to conclusions from the answers provided. You should always answer in the context of the passage so, for example, if you are asked what a word means when used by the author in question, don’t reflect on your general knowledge when providing a definition. Sometimes words in a question will be emboldened to mark their importance, thus you should recognise that this is what you should be focusing on when giving an answer.
With only 40 minutes on the clock, Section B will require you to draw upon skills learnt from writing essays for English or History at school, ensuring that you both spend time planning and adding detail to your writing, as well as producing a sufficed amount of words in the time limit. The first and perhaps most important decision you will make is your question choice. Always opt for the topic on which you can provide persuasive and clear arguments and counter-arguments, even if there is another question that looks interesting but would be more difficult to write about. The next step is to start planning, doing so with a clear vision of your argument and which side you are going to take. An introduction (defining key terms, setting out your case), a main body (giving convincing points, counter points and ways to discredit them) and a conclusion (that avoids ‘sitting on the fence’ and makes an impact) are essential and require planning – don’t just jump straight into writing as you risk losing focus and ‘rambling’. Your points should be explained and backed by evidence, giving equal time and weight to each, and avoiding merely stating your opinions. It is also beneficial to ‘think outside the box’ and stay away from conventional statements. When practicing, you should aim to replicate exam conditions a closely as possible, writing in the time limit without additional resources, and picking topics that are unfamiliar to you, so that if you know little about the real three topics, you don’t panic and know how to tackle an unknown subject. On the other hand, a good general knowledge of current affairs will put you in a good place for any set of LNAT essay topics. When writing, also keep your spelling and grammar in mind, and read over what you have written in the final 5 minuets of the time. Though it may seem obvious, any flaws in your English skills will display you in a negative light to universities.
The Registration and Booking – Key Information
This is the day that all your preparation (which was hopefully started well in advance) has been building to. The best advice anyone can give here is to stay calm and keep your head clear and focused – this will allow you to perform best under pressure. Of course, you should begin your morning preparation the night before with a good night’s sleep, followed by a substantial breakfast that will slowly release energy throughout this lengthy exam. In addition, there are a few things to remember in order to make sure the day of the test goes a smooth as possible:
The two sections of the test are reviewed in different ways: For the multiple-choice questions, an LNAT computer system checks your answers and you are given an overall mark out of 42 – this is your LNAT score. For the essay, it is the universities that you acknowledged in your application that read your arguments and judge your ability to write persuasively – there is no set mark for Section B.
It must be remembered that this result, though important, is looked at in addition to the other information you submitted to universities, and so a potential university offer is not dependent on the LNAT score. There is no ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ mark. For those that took the test before October, universities can see your result at the end of October, and for those that took it on a later date, a university may access your score within 24hours of your test. Results will be emailed to you directly from the LNAT exam board, those that were tested before January will find out what they got in February, and those that took the test later will find out in August.
As with any stage in a student lawyer’s journey, the amount of effort you put in will be reflected in the result you achieve. By following the prescribed advice, practicing, and following your personal initiative, you will be able to both tackle and exceed in the LNAT. Please remember, however, that this is just one piece if your university application, and a low score won’t necessarily ruin your chances of admission. Moreover, many universities with amazing reputations and teaching facilities don’t require the LNAT to study their law course. No matter what path you choose on your legal journey, the TSL team will be here to offer a helping hand and, of course, wish you good luck!
Article by Eliza Liddicott. Eliza is one of our TSL Tutors, a collection of the best private law tutors in the country. Check out her profile on the TSL Tutors page.