How To Tell Which Section of The LSAT Was Experimental

Test day scenario: You are panicking because you bombed a logic games section right before the break and are considering whether to just sit still for the rest of the test and then cancel your score.

Maybe you got lucky and this was the experimental section of the LSAT. 


The experimental section of the LSAT is an unscored section of the test that makes up 1 of the 5 total sections of the LSAT.

As if merely having to take the LSAT isn’t enough of a hassle, you are forced on test day to do free research for LSAC, the company that administers the test. Experimental LSAT sections contain questions that LSAC is considering whether to use for future test takers or questions that it is deciding how to use in calibrating the scale of future LSATs. The experimental section is the lab and you are the guinea pig.

However, this research wouldn’t work if test takers knew in advance which sections are scored and which one isn’t. Everyone would just skip that section and rest. However, by the time you have finished the test you can at least narrow it down which may influence your decision whether to cancel or not.

How to Narrow Down Which Section of the LSAT Might Have Been The Experimental

The scored portion of the LSAT always consists of one logic games section, one reading comprehension section, and two logical reasoning sections. Therefore if you see two reading comp sections on the test, then you know that the experimental section was one of them. Similarly, if you have three logical reasoning sections, then the experimental was one of those.

Unfortunately, this is just isn’t going to help you too much is deciding whether to keep or cancel your score.

But Someone Told Me You Can Tell Which Section is the Experimental!

That ‘someone’ took the LSAT in a bygone era when it was often possible to tell. Formerly, the experimental was always in the first three sections of the test, so if you had a second reading comp section after the break, you knew that the first one you did was the experimental section.

Now the experimental section may be any section of the test. It may be placed in the first three sections, or it may be in the final two.

LSAC likely changed this because cheaters were able to look ahead in their test book and thereby sometimes tell which section was experimental. They then could do this section half-heartedly or not at all and have an advantage by being more rested for the scored sections. It would have been hard to nail them because such a cheater could claim to merely have guessed which section was experimental.

Some people claim to be able to sense which section is experimental because ‘it just feels weird’ or it ‘contains strange questions.’ Do not try to do this as there is no way to do it reliably. If you are wrong, that’s obviously a total disaster.

Remember that when taking the test, the only sure strategy for doing well is to put your best effort into each and every section of the test.

Now for those of you who have read to the end, I should mention that there is one little remaining possibility for how to tell which section was experimental. If you go on the forums after the test, people may have identified which section is the experimental by comparing questions a little. If someone reports having a certain question that others did not have, then the section containing that question was the experimental.

So say there was a game about pumpkins on an LG section you had, and other people report not having a game about pumpkins, then that section was experimental.

HOWEVER, DON’T POST ANYTHING ON FORUMS ABOUT THE CONTENT OF QUESTIONS YOU HAD. Well, I don’t know anyone personally who hasn’t gotten in trouble for this, it is at least in theory against the LSAC’s rules (why they care if people say they had a game about pumpkins is beyond me, but the prohibition is out there nonetheless, and you could get in trouble).

So if it really might influence your decision to cancel, I think it’s probably okay to lurk on the forums and try to figure out which section was experimental. I’m sure the LSAC will find a way to make this impossible soon too. It’d be nice if LSAC simply declared which one was experimental after the test, but, as I sure we are all aware, LSAC is not our friend.


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1 Comment

  1. Love this post, Josh and Evan! You explain it all really well.

    Like you said, you can’t depend on the experimental being in the first three sections anymore. I agree with you on your last point too. I wish LSAC would just announce which sections were the experimental ones after the test is conducted. It’s the least they can do since they’re already using test-takers to *test* their questions. It doesn’t hurt LSAC’s cred or the test in any way and test-takers would actually have a little more info in which to use towards deciding if they want to cancel their test or not.

    C’mon, LSAC, are you reading this? Announce the experimental sections after the test is finished. Let us know you’re actually on the side of prelaw applicants around the world!

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