How to do well in LNAT - 2017 Top Performing Students' Advice


In this Guide, we ask the following question of a few students who used Arbitio platform last year to prepare: how to do well in LNAT – what it is that they would have liked to know before they took the Test?

Each student shares his or her experience in detail and some of it may be particularly helpful in your position.

However, there is one theme that emerges from these extended write-ups.

To excel in LNAT, it takes practice in order to boost yourself from the starting point each student faces. Therefore, consider the following exercise: try our Free Practice Test, which is known for being quite challenging, and come back to read this Guide – see what resonated with you after a fully immersive LNAT Practice Test!

Darren – LNAT Score 27, Offers from UCL and King’s College London

“The LNAT can be a daunting experience, and no doubt you have done some research about what it involves and most importantly, how you can perform your best. You’ll hear many people say that you can’t “study” the LNAT as there is nothing to revise. This isn’t strictly true, and I would like to share my experiences and tips on how you can improve your performance on that important day when you take your LNAT, giving yourself the best opportunity to achieve a great score in support of your competitive application to the University of your choice.

  • Whilst the LNAT cannot be revised per se

    Completing practise tests is important as to familiarise yourself with the process. The more familiar you are with how questions are asked, how the test is completed and writing an essay in a timed manner, the better you will perform. By practising, you are ensuring you put yourself in the best position to succeed with that natural intellect you possess and minimise the chances of becoming overwhelmed with the occasion on the day itself.
  • Do not take too much notice of your practise scores

    There is no uniformity in the difficulty of questions amongst practise providers. Some providers you will score very high, others, which are tough such as Arbitio, you will score less.
  • Start practising as early as you can!

    The practise tests take a long time, and writing timed essays is not fun. By starting early, you can space your practise tests out (consider perhaps 1 or 2 a week) and ensure you have enough experience come the day for real.
  • If you are not applying for Oxford/Cambridge

    There is absolutely no harm in leaving the test as late as you feel is necessary to ensure you are fully prepared. I sat mine on January 14th (which was only a few days before the deadline) and I still received offers from every single LNAT Uni I applied to. Do not fret if people are getting their offers before you as they have completed their LNAT early. In fact, some Universities do not give out offers until after the deadline for LNAT completion. Take your time, the extra period over Christmas can be extremely useful for practising.
  • Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

    You will read some advice suggesting reading the passage first, and others suggesting reading the question first. I would suggest skim-reading the passage first to get the “flavour” of it. Look at the question, identify the relevant section to the question and re-read it. Then, answer your question.
  • You get roughly 2 minutes per question

    Minus what it takes you to read the passage initially. If you are struggling after this time, take an educated guess, “flag” it, and move on. You are not negatively marked in the LNAT so having a guess is better than not answering at all. Once you have attempted all of the questions, if you have spare time, you can return to all the flagged questions and have another go. Be warned though, it can be difficult to pick the passage back up when returning to it. I tried to not flag too many!
  • Considering time management

    Some questions seem extremely “easy” and the answer just jumps right out! Check it, and if you are happy, select your answer and move on. Time saved on those easier ones can be devoted on the harder questions.
  • The Essay!

    This is something where you can help yourself prior to the LNAT. The best advice I can give to prepare for this section is to keep up with current affairs, develop a view and then research other views. My essay was on a topical legal matter, I made my argument, acknowledged the counter-arguments and addressed them, showing why my argument was stronger. Do not sit on the fence, stand your ground, but do so in an articulate manner.

I scored very well on my LNAT in a tough year (average score less than 20), enough to suggest I would have a competitive Oxbridge application. To summarise my advice: Start your practice early, practise regularly, develop your strategy for answering questions, ensure you are informed on current affairs and relax!

Best of luck!”

Eleanor – Offers from UCL, King’s College London
(and LSE – before LNAT requirement this year)

“I wanted to apply to universities that required an LNAT score as part of the application from the very beginning, even before I started Sixth Form, so the LNAT was never something I could ‘escape’. I took my LNAT in late November, and started preparing at the beginning of the school year (September). Schoolwork took up the bulk of my time, so LNAT practice was always something extra to shove into my schedule at the end of the day. It was incredibly difficult in the beginning – I was not good at reading at the level the LNAT required and it was disheartening to do a test and score terribly at it. Slowly, however, while I continued to find the LNAT challenging, it became something I wanted to become really good at. I saw the value in the test, and the reading I did as part of the preparation was well beyond what I would have chosen to read independently. For example, I knew very little about Philosophy and certainly couldn’t apply logic and theory the way Philosophy students are trained to, but there seemed to always be a passage on very theoretical, abstract concepts in the test, so it pushed me to read wider. I enjoyed the process thoroughly, and I truly see why Law students have a specific aptitude test. The way the test requires one to read – in between the lines, with a lot of thought, a lot of care is precisely what makes a Law student.

One thing preparing for the LNAT really taught me I learnt through a teacher: you will never know everything, but you have to work with incomplete information and get on with it. I encountered passages about the law, history, social policy; but it would be inaccurate to place my bet on certain areas that come up, because there were also very random things like a passage on time zones, one on how children learn about numbers, and so on. I found questions in the format of ‘what can you infer from the passage?’ the most tricky because it was difficult to place a finger on what you can read directly from the text and what you have processed and come to a conclusion to. The clarity in thought this trained in me was very valuable. I was never really pressed for time, but I also could not afford the time to stop for a mental break. The precision and focus required for the test was difficult to live up to, but now looking back and realising that I did is extremely rewarding.

My strength was always more in the essay section rather than the multiple choice questions, but only select universities consider the essay, while the multiple choice questions give you a score that is, in a way, a simpler and more direct indicator of a student’s ability. The essay questions are always rather abstract, and closely linked to social issues. The one I opted to write in my LNAT was (roughly) about gender quotas for university placements for competitive subjects. By the time I got around to taking the test, I had given up ever encountering an essay prompt I was 100% confident about. However, LNAT essays are not as academic as traditional History or English essays, and there is more capacity to use the odd rhetorical question or play around with words to ‘stand out’. After all, there is usually a banded score attached to the essay (closer to a degree classification) and it is a chance to showcase one’s writing ability. I found myself writing in a way such that I was always asking myself – ‘if this was one of the texts in the LNAT multiple choice section, are you being clear enough? Would someone have hell trying to figure out what you mean? Have you answered the question?’, and this training was very rewarding and one I carry with me even after the test.

I was lucky enough that all the universities I applied to gave me offers. They do not all require the LNAT, but most of them did. In all honesty, the training LNAT gave me, I believe, will continue to help me in my studies and it is definitely a test I would go back and think about again.”

Abi – Offers from UCL and King’s College London

“Whilst preparing for the LNAT, I was overwhelmed with stress from trying to balance practice tests with normal revision for A-Levels. The best way to reduce this stress is to talk to people in a similar position to you and this doesn’t just mean people taking the LNAT. It includes students taking any admissions test.

I started preparing in summer and booked my test in September for mid-October. Something I would strongly advise is to book the test as soon as you begin preparing. I found I kept delaying the test and this meant some dates became unavailable. Once I had booked my test, it made it more concrete and I had more structure in my revision, which is something I wish I had done earlier on. I would also recommend sitting the test early on and not leaving it till after December since this could be when you start revision for A-Level mocks – naturally, remember the sooner Oxford deadline.

My preparations mainly included practice tests. I started by doing 1 test a week and going through it in great detail. I began to increase this and eventually started alternating between doing a test and doing an essay each day.

I subscribed to Arbitio LNAT and found the LNAT Digest particularly useful as this was a quick way of preparing and helped me become familiar with reading articles. The tests were also very useful and the layout is almost identical to the real test, which makes the exam much less daunting!

During the test, I didn’t find concentration an issue but you can always put the headphones on to minimise noise. If you find yourself not taking the article in then I would recommend starting the sentence again. In general the passages can be on a range of subjects from Psychological Studies to Land Law. Reading 12 passages and answering 42 questions is really hard to do in 95 minutes. You have just under 8 minutes to complete one passage. I would advise using the 8 minute mark as a rough guide. If you go over, don’t panic! Some passages are longer or more complex than others, which means you will use more time.

Having said that, try not spend more than 10 minutes on one passage though as this would make you short on time. If you struggle on any questions then just flag them and come back to them at the end – perhaps jotting down on the whiteboard the paragraph number where you think the evidence to select the right answer is to be found. Don’t waste time trying to find the answer! If you come back to this and still don’t know then make an educated guess! You have a 1 in 4 chance of getting it right!

I approached the multiple choice questions mostly by the process of elimination. I did this for pretty much every question and found it much easier than just looking for the answer. I found the essay easier than the multiple choice questions but I think this depends on your experience with writing essays and how familiar you may be with the topic. You get a choice of three so take your time to pick one and make sure your answering the question. Plan for about 5 minutes but in my opinion I think you have enough time for the essay section. Check whether your university even looks at the essay as I know some don’t (King’s or LSE).

Looking back, I wish I didn’t take my scores too seriously since this just increased my stress. My average on Arbitio was around 21 and I still thought this wasn’t enough but this year the average was 19.9 out of 42 (perhaps a selection factor, since Arbitio probably attracts students most serious about their preparation). This means I was performing above average, which universities will consider when deciding who they accept. If you get a bad score when practicing, let yourself be a little upset but move on quickly! My scores ranged from 10-32 (I supplemented my prep with some LNAT books and these were usually easier than the real deal). In the end I got 22 and an offer from both UCL and King’s!”

Amy – LNAT Score 32, Offers from UCL, Bristol and Nottingham

I’ve thought of trying to keep my suggestions distilled and focus on what I’ve found to be most crucial.

  • Read the question. Then read it again

    The phrasing of the questions is really important and often it is designed to catch you out. Make sure you know exactly what they’re asking you. I always read the question before the article so I knew what to focus on.
  • Manage your time

    I know so many people who ran out of time halfway. The LNAT is already hard, without guaranteeing yourself missed marks by not answering at all. If you manage your time well, it is possible to do it with half an hour to spend going though answers you aren’t sure on. I’m certain that some of those later changes I made secured me marks. If you’re stuck on a question, pick an answer, flag it and return to it later.
  • Use standard multiple choice strategy

    Sometimes you will have to guess. Eliminate what is obviously wrong and make an educated guess. You can’t afford to get hung up on questions - you will run out of time.
  • Know your Essay structure and do a final overview

    My main strategy for the essays was focusing on having a clear structure and getting it written before redrafting. You have the ability to make edits, so ensure you take advantage of it, without becoming distracted by it. Do not fret over the topic selection you will be given – for example, I’ve written an essay on some form of criminal punishment and I bet anyone of us could develop a reasoned argument on the topic within the exam constraints.

Ultimately practice makes perfect. If you get used to the test and the timed essays, the real exam will go smoothly. Taking advantage of resources like Arbitio, and help from teachers, will prove invaluable. You will never regret the work you did do, only the work you didn’t do. Good luck!