How to do well in LNAT - 2019 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!

Cam, LNAT Score 31, Offer from University of Glasgow

The LNAT is arguably one of the most challenging entrance exams to sit, and the best piece of advice I could give to anyone is PRACTICE. Although cliché, practice really does make perfect - you become more familiar with the format of the questions which really don’t vary that much.

The passages are seemingly straightforward to understand, which is one of the main challenges, as it comes to the answers and it seems none of them fit. This was perhaps the biggest challenge in the first section of the LNAT as while there were some questions which were easier, the harder ones, at first glance seemed impossible. I found the ‘meaning or purpose of the passage questions the most difficult, but after doing some of the Digest exercises my scores really started to improve.

I used Arbitio a lot, and I do genuinely believe it made a difference, as I was used to much harder passages when it came to sitting the exam, and hence less daunted and better at tackling the questions. It is really important to concentrate on the exact language used, as the possible answers may only differ by the smallest thing. Again, the best way to become better at this is to practice. Arbitio allows a great way to do this, as, with the Digest, and more challenging extracts, encourages to gain a deeper understanding much faster.

In the exam, I found the first section much easier, I had spent huge amounts of time preparing (and stressing!), however there were a few questions, where I did have to do a ‘elimination process’. This is a valid way, especially under the pressures of the exam to approach the trickier questions, but ONLY if you are really stuck. You are better to put one answer down than none, and if you can narrow it down to two, you have a better chance of getting it right, but I only used this towards the end of the exam when I was starting to run out of time.

In summary, it is a good feeling to find the exam easier than preparation, however do not underestimate it by any chance – you still have to apply yourself to the fullest and take exam in a most serious fashion!

Time Management is key to success in the LNAT, and while I had adequate time in the first section, I ran out of time in the essay component. Probably my biggest mistake in preparing for the LNAT was to not spend more time writing essays under strict time conditions. I personally was not used to typing exam answers under timed conditions, and I did panic a bit in the exam. If I could go back, I would do far more practice essays in Arbitio simulator, both marked and unmarked, and be very strict on the time allowed. This is especially important if you are aiming for Oxford as they read your essays twice, and it plays a large role in decision making.

For the essays, you also need to be comfortable writing about anything. The topics you get are quite similar in a sense that you have engage in the debate by structuring an argument, but it can seem initially daunting when you first read an essay title. The most important thing is not to panic, like I did, pick your question quickly and stick to it – it will never be ideal, just choose what you’re most interest in because you have to write convincingly. You might take a couple of minutes to plan, but time is tight so get writing as soon as you can. I would recommend giving yourself five minutes at the end, that way you won’t run out of time – the LNAT essay will cut you off mid-word so you need to keep timings under control. I ended up panicking with 20 seconds on the clock and striking the keyboard several times randomly, so the essay ended up a bit like this at the end - anfouvnaegvnaejb – which is never good.

What is important to remember is that the LNAT isn’t everything, and while you will end up stressing a lot, it isn’t that scary and if you have practiced you will be fine. There’s nothing to ‘know’ as such, it’s all skill based, so as long as you remain calm in the test you will do great. Just remember – PRACTICE and reflect on verbal reasoning – it is truly is a marriage of understanding the function of evidence in the passage AND fully comprehending the meaning of the question.

Clarissa, LNAT Score 29, Offers from Oxford, UCL and KCL

My LNAT multiple choice result was 29/42, in a year where the average score was 19.9/42. While we’re not given marks on our essay component, they are sent to our chosen universities – I was accepted at Oxford University for Law (BA in Jurisprudence) on the basis of this score, my essay, and other relevant factors.

I felt that the LNAT was by far the most stressful part of my initial application as it tested me in areas which I had no prior experience – specifically, critical thinking questions. My preparation was centred around the multiple choice section as I already had experience with essay-writing in A-Levels. I started slowly revising about one month before my scheduled exam, and would have spent around 20 hours revising in total. Most of this time was spent completing practice papers that I found online (Arbitio and the sample papers from LNAT people).

The multiple choice section allows for plenty of time to answer questions. The hardest part for me was being confident in the answer I chose, and these internal deliberations ate up a lot of my allotted time. My suggestion for the MC part would be to read each question thoroughly, without thinking about a potential answer, and then choose the first answer that seems correct or seems the most correct. After you’ve finished, you have time to go back and refine those answers if your “gut decision” seems incorrect.

The essay part was, in my opinion, easier as it was a task familiar to me. Unlike an English essay where you’re exploring a theme or a concept, the LNAT essay asks you to effectively define the debate, structure an argument and come to a conclusion about a controversial topic. My question was broadly about voting rights, with a specific instance of the challenge to its franchise. For instance, I made a point how those against everyone being able to vote may bring up that someone convicted of murder, for example, shouldn’t be able to vote on legislation regarding their own criminal conviction.

You could similarly explore the real-life example of felons in the United States being unable to vote, or discuss how civil rights movements have impacted this right. I had two paragraphs supporting my final conclusion – of course, everyone should have a vote – and one paragraph exploring the counter opinion. The essay questions were very broad and would generally have allowed for candidates to twist the question towards a topic they are familiar with – but be careful here, responding genuinely to the difficulty of the debate is greatly valued! My essay reached the 750 word limit. I would recommend writing over 500 words – quality over quantity.

My top tips for the LNAT:
  • Make sure you’ve done as many practice papers for the MC paper

    The format of the question asks you to commonly find the most correct answer, but many other answers will appear to be correct at a glance. With practice papers, I would check whether or not your initial, “gut instinct”, is accurate or whether you would benefit from a process of elimination in answering.
  • Don’t panic!

    You have plenty of time for the MC paper as long as you do not make a cardinal error in time management – getting stuck on a passage or a question. With the essay, it’s easier to spend a five minutes or more on choosing and planning an essay question than to write an essay on the wrong question for you.
  • Do attempt the LNAT simulator found on their website

    It is great practice in navigating the program as quickly as possible.

Anna, LNAT Score 27, Offer from Bristol

LNAT was a stressful experience as it was very broad and anything could come up. So I did a lot of practice keeping in mind that at the end of the day I needed to cope with the unknown. That alone was really daunting so what I did was read up on a lot more news and tried to use key LNAT question phrases to see what this passage ‘referred to’ or the underlying meanings as I found those questions particularly difficult. I tried to train myself by reading quickly and efficiently and as with everything, this skill comes with a lot of practice.

My number one top tip for students is to PREPARE EARLY, maybe start around summer before you apply. You need to read a lot in law anyways, why not prepare through reading up on everything for the LNAT? That’s a good start. Just remember you are reading every discipline/area as the LNAT can ask you anything.

My second top tip is to not over-stress. Stay calm. I don’t know how many times I need to stress that it does not matter how many practices you do, if you are feeling sick, don’t force yourself. I wish someone had strongly recommended me not to stress that much about it as I stayed up to practice and I came down with a fever and had to reschedule my LNAT, which further stressed me out. During the LNAT, remember to stay calm till the very end – especially when you might have been a bit too careful and taken longer with previous questions and are half rushing the second half.

This leads me to my third piece of advice, TIME MANAGEMENT. It sounds simple – I thought it was simple until I did the exam. Practice tests definitely help with prepping but they cannot be like the exact thing (although some are close, most you come across in books are way easier…). One thing with the practice tests is that you should treat at least a few as your real one and prep your mentality.

To combat time-management issues, some tips that I have for the real exam is to DO ALL THE QUESTIONS– do not leave any blank. If you need it, you can flag questions so you can check it again should you have time, although that is not an ideal strategy – you don’t have much time to re-reading, sometimes you just have to discipline and mover yourself on the next question. Indeed, do not stay too long on one particular question unless it is a significantly difficult passage. Despite practice tests not inducing the same stress as the actual one, treat them as your real exam on a few practice rounds. What I did was to get a gist of how long I should take for each passage on average with around 5-8 minutes to spare at the end. Then I invested my spare time rereading tough passages whilst knowing that staying on a passage does not mean taking away potential time for upcoming passages.

Last but not least, some tips on in multiple choice. In most questions, you can always put it down to two options and I would say go with the more obvious one, it usually is right. Or reread the particular sentence which outlines this question and rethink it. If you cannot understand a passage reread it slower and try to create different layers or titles for each paragraph to guide your thought process.

Remember that you will be taking the LNAT in one of the Pearson Test Centres. In my particular case, I was unfortunately supplied with quite an old computer monitor and the point is to just be ready for that – it can be a bit more straining, but you have to pull through!

Practices that I did:
  • Arbitio

    I should have signed up for it earlier as personally I signed up only in late November and I had to rush my practices, which was not that useful as reading and building my skills for verbal reasoning requires time.
  • Mastering the National Admission Test for Law by Mark Shepherd

    The tests were ok for the easier questions, the book has been released a few years ago so I’ve felt the style of exam questions has moved on since.

P.S. LNAT can really give you anything from technology to philosophy through to arithmetic problems so be super analytical when you do the exam and in your everyday reading. All in all, you can only prepare so much and it all comes down to you and a small dose of luck. So good luck! If you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask the student room thread of Arbitio!