Dec 22, 2022

Written By Toby Clyde

How long does it take to prepare for LNAT?

Dec 22, 2022

Written By Toby Clyde

Every year, on August 1, registration for the National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) opens. A month later, testing begins. This crucial exam, used by some UK universities as part of their selection process for undergraduate law courses, comes at a tricky time. The good news is that the LNAT doesn’t require months of painstaking revision. Plan a little ahead and you’ll be done in no time.

What is the LNAT?

First, a quick refresher. The LNAT was adopted in 2004 as a way for UK universities to test students in the key skills required to study law. It’s two hours and fifteen minutes long and comes in two parts.

Section A is a multiple-choice exam. You’ll be given passages of text to read and the questions will test how well you understand them. Section B is an essay. You’ll need to write an answer to one of three proposed subjects.

This isn’t a replacement for other metrics like your UCAS application, but an extra piece of information to help universities select applicants from a competitive field. There’s no pass mark; your score from Section A, together with your essay from Section B, is used differently by each participating university depending on their admissions policies.

You only need to sit the LNAT when applying to undergraduate law courses at a few universities. Note that you don’t need to sit the LNAT in September and test dates are available later in the year. However, because Oxford and Cambridge require their applicants to sit the test on or before October 15 of the year they wish to apply, many students do so.

Two kinds of preparation

Although the LNAT is not a test of your knowledge of the law, it does require preparation. Even the most gifted student will struggle if he or she is unfamiliar with the format. But you should also do more than go over a few practice tests. After all, the LNAT is ultimately a test of your ability to think, and this isn’t something you can revise the night before.

With this in mind, how much time should you spend revising for the LNAT? There are two answers to this question.

Familiarising yourself with the format—i.e., reviewing sample essays and taking practice tests—is best done in the weeks leading up to the exam. If you’re pressed for time, this may only take a few hours. But, to develop the broader critical reading and thinking skills that are being tested by the LNAT, it helps to start much earlier.

The summer before

The LNAT is not a test of current affairs, but it relies on a broad understanding of how the world works (or, more often, how it doesn’t). It is hard to construct a reasoned and balanced argument about an issue you’ve never encountered before. In the words of Fran Lebowitz, “Think before you speak. Read before you think.”

However, this isn’t something you can start doing the week before the test. A quick glance at the daily headlines won’t cut it either. No matter how far away university applications may seem, you should consider developing a daily habit of reading the news, even if you’re uncertain about studying law. This will be useful no matter what you decide to study.

A good time to begin is at the start of your summer holidays prior to the LNAT. And, even better than a quality newspaper or magazine is reading widely. Planning out some varied reading on a broad range of topics and giving yourself time to think carefully about what they mean (and potential counterarguments) will take time.

The weeks before

As soon as you have booked a date for your LNAT, the next step is to plan your exam practice. Familiarising yourself with the test format and question style is the most important thing you can do to prepare, and, thankfully, this needn’t take very long. Depending on your schedule, work backwards from the test date and consider a few things:

How comfortable are you writing essays? If not, you’ll need to set aside lots of time to practise in exam conditions. Perhaps you’ll want to get feedback from teachers or friends, and they’ll need a minimum of a few days to get back to you.

What are your verbal reasoning skills like? Like any aptitude test, this isn’t something you can easily revise for. But there are lots of tricks and tips to learn and, as always, practice helps. You might want to set aside a full day to run through some practice exercises a few times.

Finally, there is lots of material on the LNAT website that you will need to go over in detail.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you an idea of how much time you’ll need in the weeks leading up to the test.

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The night before

Although it’s better to give yourself lots of time to prepare, don’t panic if you’re only reading this a few days (or hours) before the test. At the very least, you’ll want to read through the LNAT preparation guide and go through the online sample test on the LNAT website. There's also preparation tips on our LNAT hub. This won’t take more than two to three hours at most and is much better than no preparation at all.

Whether you have a few months or a few days, there is a lot you can do to prepare for the LNAT. But, if you can, begin the summer before and give yourself lots of time to prepare. Good luck!

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