It’s notoriously difficult to enter the legal profession. Whether you plan to become a solicitor, barrister, judge, lawyer, paralegal or other law professional.
One of the many hoops that you’ll need to jump through to work in the legal industry is the LNAT exam. To help you through this extra challenge, we’ve got a handy guide right here, telling you everything you need to know about the LNAT exam and how it works.
What is the LNAT?
The LNAT (The Law National Aptitude Test) is an exam. Some, but not all, universities require students to sit the LNAT as part of their application; it assesses whether applicants are ready to study for a law degree.
The test is taken on a computer and is formatted as an essay as well as a series of multiple-choice questions. We go into detail about what these questions involve further down the page.
What if I fail the LNAT?
You can’t technically fail the LNAT, although your results are important. You simply achieve a certain number of points in the test, and then the results of your LNAT are considered alongside your qualifications and your university personal statement (so you’d better get studying as soon as possible!).
If your application is rejected, you can resit the LNAT, but not in the same academic year that you already attempted it (unless you have been granted permission after extenuating circumstances). Here’s an example: if you sat the LNAT 2017 test in October 2017 but didn’t manage to secure a place on a law course with a September 2018 start, you could try again. However, you would have only been able to sit the exam again from September 2018, once the new academic year was underway (i.e. sitting the LNAT 2018, not the LNAT 2017 again).
Which universities require me to sit the LNAT?
There are 12 universities that require students to have sat the LNAT for 2024 entry. These universities may decide to remove this as a requirement next year, and others may be added for 2024 entry.
The 12 universities are:
- Durham University
- IE School of Law, Spain
- King’s College, London (KCL)
- London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
- SOAS University of London
- Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), Singapore
- University College London (UCL)
- University of Bristol
- University of Cambridge
- University of Glasgow
- University of Nottingham
- University of Oxford
The scores you need will depend on the university you are applying to. Some universities will also weigh their scores differently from others.
Notice a pattern amongst the LNAT universities? All but one are Russell Group Universities. Applying for the most competitive universities makes it more likely that you will need to sit an LNAT.
The LNAT is not the only qualification needed to study a Law degree, however. You will still need to achieve the grades set out in the university’s entry requirements. To make sure you are still achieving the required grades to meet the university’s UCAS points requirement, use a Uni Grade Calculator to calculator your grades before you apply.
What will I cover in the LNAT?
It’s not actually a law exam or an exam that tests your understanding of the law, but it’s more like an exam that tests your skills and the way your mind works. The LNAT assesses your ability to reason, think critically, evaluate, and explain. First, the LNAT will test your skills in verbal reasoning, processing of information and deductive reasoning.
These skills will be tested in seven different subject categories, which are:
You won’t need to study much for this exam (don’t get too used to those conditions, unfortunately!), but having at least a broad understanding of current events and understanding of your subject will obviously help you out a great deal.
How long is the LNAT?
The LNAT is two and a quarter hours in total and is split into two parts. One part is multiple choice and includes 42 questions divided into 12 subsections. The multiple-choice section takes 95 minutes and is the main section used to calculate your LNAT score. You’ll need to be able to understand arguments, differentiate between fact and opinion, recognise bias, and select any material that is relevant to your arguments and answers.
The second part is essay-based and takes 40 minutes to answer. This section tests your ability to structure and balance an argument.
What sort of LNAT essay questions might come up?
In the multiple-choice section, you will be given a number of articles to read. This will also have accompanying questions, and each question comes with 5 possible answers to choose from. The LNAT test questions are evaluative and may be comprehension-based, or could ask you which of the five statements can or cannot be verified, which are assertions of fact, which are opinions, what has been implied, or to identify the writers’ claims, opinions and criticisms.
Next up is an essay section. In the essay section, you will be presented with a contentious statement and be required to discuss it in a balanced way or argue for or against it in a short essay response. You may select one from a selection of offered LNAT essay questions, which will be along the lines of, ‘In Western society, arranged marriages should no longer be tolerated’; ‘the voting age for general elections should be lowered to 16’; or ‘the internet is profoundly changing our world for the better’. There are several LNAT past papers available on the LNAT website, so check it out to get the complete low-down.
When is the LNAT?
You can enrol for the exam when registration opens in August. Exams start in September, but the exact timing depends on the location where you will be taking it.
You sit the exam in the four-month window of the same academic year in which you’re applying. For example, if you are applying for September 2021, you need to sit an LNAT by January 2021 because this is when universities generally start taking applications. Oxbridge applicants need to sit the LNAT before November. You can sit the LNAT before or after sending off your UCAS Application: the choice is up to you.
Why do some universities require the LNAT and some don’t?
Universities often alternate whether or not they require the LNAT to be sat. University entry requirements change every year for each university, meaning that a university's requirement for an admissions test may also change.
The test itself is used to see whether or not a student is suited to the course they are applying for. The LNAT is useful to admissions officers because a large number of students applying to study law at university have no formal qualifications in the subject and/or may not have any experience with such a demanding course; admissions tutors can then compare students without having to stack up A Levels against other qualification types such as T Levels or the International Baccalaureate. The university therefore asks you to sit the LNAT as a way of deciding whether you’re up to the demands of their law programme. In that respect, it’s as useful to you as it is to the university because it’s an indicator of whether you possess the necessary critical thinking skills to succeed in law: neither you nor the university want you to be struggling through a law qualification.
Do I need to study the LNAT to go to Oxbridge?
The LNAT is required for students who wish to attend Oxbridge. Oxbridge have different application dates compared to the rest of the UK, meaning that students who wish to read Law at either university will need to sit the LNAT a little earlier than if you are applying elsewhere.
Students looking to study Law at Oxbridge will need to sit the exam in September. After this, students will need to submit their UCAS application in October for Oxbridge entry.
Do I take the LNAT at my school?
No. The LNAT is taken at a testing centre of your choosing. The LNAT can be taken in 500 international test centres, 150 of which are located in the UK, so you’ll have your choice of where to sit the exam.
How do I arrange to sit the LNAT?
The LNAT must be booked in advance. The test is run by a company called Pearson VUE, which provides all sorts of qualifications for specific vocations. You or your parent or guardian will need to book the test on the Pearson VUE website. The process is very straightforward and only requires you to sign up, then pay for and book your test.
Do I need a UCAS Number to book the LNAT?
It isn’t a requirement, but it is useful if you have one. If you haven’t yet received your UCAS personal identifier number, you enter 0000000000 during the registration process instead, but you must log back in to update it once you do have a UCAS number. If you don’t do this, the test results cannot be shared with the universities you’ve applied to.
How do I book the LNAT if I have specific exam requirements?
If you have any special requirements or allowances when sitting an exam, then it is not advisable to book the test online. The best thing to do in this situation is to register for the LNAT and then complete an EAR form (Examination Access Requirements). After this, you should supply the EAR department with professional evidence of any special requirements (such as a dyslexia diagnosis or a doctor’s note for a broken arm). LNAT will then call you back to confirm your booking.
How much does it cost to sit the LNAT?
The cost of sitting the LNAT depends on the location for which you have booked it. For those taking the LNAT in a UK or an EU-based test centre, the cost is £50. For those outside of the EU, it costs £70. There are a number of means-tested grants, bursaries and scholarships that you can qualify for at university, and it’s no different for those that are studying the LNAT. The LNAT offers an LNAT bursary that will cover the cost of the exam. Those looking to claim an LNAT bursary will need to have this confirmed before booking, however. Contact LNAT for more information.
What are the important dates for the LNAT?
Given the small window of time in which you can sit an LNAT test, there are a few dates that you should keep an eye on (add them to the calendar quickly!)…
- LNAT registration: 1st August
- LNAT testing begins: 1st September
- Deadline for booking LNAT for Oxbridge applicants: 20th October
- Deadline for sitting the LNAT for Oxbridge students: 20th October
- Deadline for sitting the LNAT for other universities: 20th January
What kind of LNAT practice can I do?
Check out the LNAT website for a selection of LNAT past papers and sample LNAT essay questions, as this is a great place to familiarise yourself with the type of task you need to tackle.
Read and watch the news in the months and weeks leading up to the test to ensure you’re aware of current affairs and contentious social topics. Try reading a mixture of media with varying ideological perspectives (such as a left-wing newspaper like the Guardian alongside a right-wing newspaper like the Daily Telegraph). This is great LNAT practice because it allows you to view the newspapers’ ideas with a critical lens, comparing how the same story is presented with different biases.
If you’re out of the habit of essay writing, don’t leave it until test day to re-familiarise yourself. Writing skills (such as organising ideas and explaining with clarity and cohesion) work like muscles, so train them in advance of the LNAT test by writing a few essays in the run-up and doing an LNAT practice test or two.
What is a good LNAT score?
This will largely depend on the university you are applying to. You can ask the university you are applying to for the scores they are looking for, but the university may not tell you so as to incentivise you to achieve the best score possible.
A good score may also depend on you and your own interpretation. Generally, 22-27 is considered to be a good score for most universities. Despite this, the entry requirements may be higher than the score you have, but that does not mean that the score is bad.