The GMAT vs. The LSAT

There are some big differences between the GMAT and the LSAT.  The biggest, of course, being that the GMAT is used primality to determine admissions to business schools and the LSAT is used for law schools.  If you are applying to a JD/MBA program, there are some schools that allow you to take only one test.  For example, Northwestern’s 3 year JD/MBA program will only accept the GMAT and not the LSAT.

While there are some similarities between the format and sections of the tests, but there are also a lot of differences.

 GMATLSAT
MediumComputerPaper
# of Sections46
Time for each section30-75 min35 min
Essay1 (beginning)1 (end)
Score Range200-800120-180
How is score determinespercentile rankingpercentile ranking
Breaks2*8 minutes (optional)1*15 minutes
Outside Knowledge RequiredYesNo

mult choice krakenThe biggest difference between the formats of the tests is that the LSAT is done on paper and the GMAT is done on a computer.  This means that during the LSAT, you can take notes on the actual exam and skip around and go back to questions, as long as you remain in the same section.  The GMAT, however, is computer adaptive, which means it gets more difficult the more questions you get right.  This also means that you cannot go back to questions once you have submitted an answer.  You also cannot write on the test, because it is all on a computer screen, so you will be given a separate note-board to take notes on.

For the GMAT, there are a lot of grammar and math rules to learn to be able to tackle certain questions.  However, for the LSAT, you do not need any outside knowledge, other than the strategies to tackle the questions and a college level vocabulary.  Thus the study strategy for the LSAT requires mostly practice, while for the GMAT, content learning is also necessary.

Another difference to keep in mind is that for the LSAT the essay is at the end and for the GMAT, the essay is in the beginning.  Neither essay is weighed too heavily by admissions committees, in fact, the essay on the LSAT isn’t even scored.  However, since the essay is at the beginning of the GMAT, you still need to practice completing it to build your mental endurance for the whole test. For the LSAT, practicing completing the essay is not important, because it will only come up after you have completed the scored section.

What is being tested, the LSAT vs. the GMAT

The two biggest similarities between the LSAT and the GMAT is that they both test reading comprehension and argument analysis (called critical reasoning on the GMAT and logical reasoning on the LSAT).  Those sections are more difficult on the LSAT and comprise of much more of the LSAT and the GMAT.  While arguments and reading comp are only 2 of 3 question types on the 75 minute verbal section that comprises of 1/2 of your overall score.  The equivalent sections on the LSAT make up 75% of your overall score.

Meet the Author

Eliza Chute

I was always just an average student, but with the right course prep I was able to score a 770 on my first try. I had to wade through a lot of material to find what was right for me, but luckily for you I've done all the research for you! See more on my GMAT courses page.

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