GMAT Vs. LSAT : The similarities and the differences

It is not even funny just how many MBA students are lawyers. In fact, recent trends show an increasing number of GMAT takers choosing to take LSAT as well and vice-versa. These two exams are essentially entrance tests but are meant for completely different careers. They are vastly different in their format and eventual goals.

Well, to put it quite simply, Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is the test that is mandatory, practically for all management schools. Law School Admission Test (LSAT) on the other hand is the standardized test for candidates who want to pursue JD programs at various law schools. To simplify the basic difference further, if you want to pursue a career in law then you could opt for LSAT while MBA hopefuls can appear for GMAT.


However there are several more intrinsic differences between these two popular exams. Here’s looking at them closely:

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  • Frequency: LSAT, which makes you eligible for entry in American Law Schools, is conducted 4 times a year while GMAT is conducted all through the year. However, you can appear for the latter, only once in thirty days.
  • Format: LSAT is more of a traditionalist. It’s conducted with a pen and a paper. The format is convenient since you have the option of choosing the sections you want to answer first and go back to the ones that are causing you a headache. GMAT; a computer adaptive test is trickier as the answers are locked in after you have confirmed them. You can’t go back to questions. To add to the woe, a computer algorithm decides further questions based on your replies. You got to be ultra careful to have GMAT work in your favor.
  • Comprehension: Like reading long essays and texts that are tedious (or shall we say, can make even the grammar Nazi sweat at times?) Well, then LSAT can be your dream test. It has four 400-500 word passages with 35 minutes to answer the questions. On the contrary, GMAT has 3-4 shorter passages and 25 minutes to answer.
  • Reasoning: This is the area where both the tests vary greatly because LSAT tests your Logical Reasoning with two sections, 25 questions and 35 minutes for each section. GMAT is a test of your Critical Reasoning via 14 questions that have to be answered in 25 minutes. It’s important to note that this test is worth half the final result for LSAT.
  • Do the Math: There is nothing funny and game-like about the Logic Games test of LSAT, which some consider quite simple but for many, it might not be a very smooth ride. There are 4 games with 25 questions that have to be answered in 35 minutes. LSAT demands passion for numbers and of course, with this kind of time bracket, a lot of stress management as well. On the contrary, GMAT Quant is comparatively easier to handle (but don’t take it for granted). You will come across multiple choice and specialty Data sufficiency questions; 37 in all with adequate 75 minutes to solve them. What you got to keep in mind primarily is, GMAT is smart. It keeps figuring out newer ways to present the materials. Just learning the formulas would not help. Know how and where to apply them.
  • Essays: Show off your writing skills with the essay that’s largely similar in structure for both the exams. The only difference being that LSAT essays need to be written on paper and your handwriting will come into the picture.
  • GMAT only tests: A grammar test where you have to correct a sentence (multiple choice answers) and Integrated Reasoning, which is a combination of Quant and Critical Reasoning are two GMAT specific tests but usually they are considered to be quite straightforward.

Each of these tests has its hallmark features and challenges. Overall, you will find that candidates who have better verbal skills and read a lot can flourish at LSAT. GMAT is tougher with Quant like thinking and is more suited for those who thrive at these questions.

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