How to: Tackle the LNAT
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
Theodore Ka Fai Fung is a first-year law student (Bachelor of Laws LLB) at King’s College London. The main purpose of this article to help aspiring law students prepare for the Law National Aptitude Test LNAT on their own, without paying for any external services. There will be a brief explanation on how the exam works, followed by some tips and tricks for each section.
What is the LNAT?
The Law National Aptitude Test, or LNAT, is the national admission test for undergraduate law programmes in the UK. The exam is divided into two sections: Section A consists of multiple-choice questions, while Section B contains essay-type questions.
As of 2022, all students, regardless of whether they are home students or international students, are required to take the test if they wish to attend certain universities in the UK, such as King’s College London. The exam is crucial for aspiring law students, as universities might reject applicants based on the result of this exam alone. This is especially important for universities that do not interview applicants. On the bright side, the exam is another chance for applicants to demonstrate their skills.
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Section A: Multiple-Choice Questions
Law students throughout their studies need to read long judgments, deduce the legal reasoning behind, and apply the facts to the issue at hand. Reading comprehension skills is therefore crucial. This is the main assessment point of section A. Candidates are required to answer 3-4 multiple questions for each passage provided. There are 3 tips for section A:
Tip 1: Avoid presumptions based on knowledge outside the passage
The test is designed to assess the candidates’ reasoning skills, not their knowledge. Hence, all pre-existing knowledge that a candidate possessed should be deemed irrelevant when answering the multiple-choice questions. The choice of answers should be based on the content of the passage alone. Otherwise, candidates risk selecting the wrong answers. It is recommended that candidates demonstrate their knowledge in the essay in section B instead.
Tip 2: Distinguish opinions from facts
Candidates should be cautious about the source of a statement. It is recommended that candidates pay attention to the party that makes the statement. Time is plentiful for this exam, so students should read the entire passage word by word, instead of skimming through it. Some answers might appear correct at first glance but the devil is in the details. This skill is actually very useful for law students as well. In a judgment, not every statement made by a judge is the law. Judges tend to cite multiple sources and law students need to be aware whether the judge is simply restating the opinion of a counsel, or the view of judges from the lower courts, or the reasoning for a case that was not applied. The actual legal reasoning (ratio decidendi) in the judgment needs to be deduced with care.
Tip 3: Read news articles on niche topics
The content of the passages can be about anything, and is usually unrelated to law. It ranges from philosophy and economics to astrophysics and biomedical sciences. It is likely that candidates will be unfamiliar with the topics, and will come across concepts or terms that are outside their usual studies. I distinctly remember having to perform calculations during the exam, even though they are just simple arithmetic.
Therefore, reading news article beyond the subjects that candidates studies is a great way to polish their comprehension skills. Sites like the Washington Post, or the Financial Times that covers a wide variety of content can be a good starting point.
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Tips for Section B: Essay
In section B, candidates are required to write an essay, that is roughly 700 words long in 40 minutes. The section is also not centrally marked. Each university has their own criterion and assess the answers independently. Unlike section A, candidates will not receive a score for section B. There are 3 tips for section B:
Tip 1: Demonstrate critical thinking skills
The questions in section B are usually very short and straightforward, leaving a lot of room for candidates to express themselves. Many of the questions are usually argumentative in nature. Therefore, defining the terms is a good place to start, as it allows candidates to be clear about the arguments they want to make. Another tactic that is useful for these argumentative essay is to consider multiple situations, e.g. legal implications v moral implications, ideals v reality.
Tip 2: Manage the time wisely
Unlike section A, there are only 40 minutes to complete an essay in section B. Candidates should not take to too much time to choose which essay questions to answer. It is recommended that candidates simply select the topic they are the most familiar with. Most importantly, candidates should finish the essay at least a few minutes earlier to proofread. A good command of plain English is crucial for law students and making grammatical or spelling mistakes leaves a bad impression.
Tip 3: Practice using the sample tests provided by the official exam body
The official LNAT website provides online sample tests. It is a precious opportunity for candidates to familiarise themselves with the test format. This is also a chance to practice time management.
It is important to note that there are many external sites, like education consultancy companies, that offers LNAT practice tests, or even textbooks. However, candidates should remember that these tests are not official, and might not reflect the actual scenarios during the exam. Personally, I did not use or pay for any external services before taking the LNAT. Aspiring students should approach these services with caution.
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This article was written in early 2022, and some information can be outdated. Nevertheless, the skills are likely applicable even for future exams. For more information about the LNAT, the best place to check is the official website at https://lnat.ac.uk/.
For those applying to study law at King’s College London, the LNAT might seem daunting at first, but with proper preparation it should not be too big of a hurdle to jump across. I wish all candidates and aspiring law students the best of luck in their preparation.