LNAT Essay: Section B
You’ve gotten a better idea of the LNAT multiple choice questions, but what about the LNAT essay? It’s time to turn to those good, old written communication skills as we guide you through the essay question, and how to create a compelling argument.
Although you score is not based on your essay, it’s still crucial that you write something that is going to impress law school admissions, so read our advice carefully…
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LNAT Essay: The Basics
Section B of the LNAT exam, also known as the LNAT essay, lasts 40 minutes. You will select one of three possible titles and write a well-argued essay.
The key to doing well in this section of the LNAT exam is picking the right title, planning the essay carefully, writing it well, and giving the LNAT examiners what they want.
Below you’ll find all of our greatest tips and tricks to succeed in each of these goals.
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LNAT Essay Tips and Top Tactics
Picking the Right Title
The LNAT website is slightly contradictory. It advises you to pick the topic about which you are most informed, as opposed to the one you feel most strongly about.
However, it also says that they do not care about any data you may have, and that an essay based on assumptions is perfectly fine – as long as you explain what those assumptions are.
This second point is quite instructive. As soon as you read an essay title, you should start thinking: ‘what approach can I take and how can I clearly frame this question’?
Topics tend to be quite esoteric. They are usually either a quote to discuss, or wide-ranging questions. Examples include:
- What disciplinary sanctions should teachers be allowed to use?
- Make the best case you can for public funding of the arts.
- Should private cars be rationed? If so, how?
- ‘It is right that students should contribute to the cost of their degrees.’ Do you agree?
Ideally, there will be at least one title that you understand well and can formulate some arguments around. Remember: quality of argument trumps personal opinion.
It is essential that you avoid any title which seems to you to be ambiguous, or contains terminology of which you are uncertain. Writing an essay based upon uncertainty is like building a house on sand.
Planning Your LNAT Essay
You have 40 minutes to complete Section B of the LNAT. Your essay will be 500-600 words long, with an absolute maximum of 700 words. It won’t take long to write this up.
So, there’s a lot of time to plan. We suggest taking a full 15 minutes to do this. A typical essay plan might look as follows:
- Define key terms;
- Explain assumptions;
- Frame the question;
- Signpost your approach.
Arguments in Favour of Your Position
- Why do you agree/disagree?
- Three clear, well-defined arguments with examples.
Arguments to the Contrary
- Identify arguments against your position;
- Can these be undermined?
- What do you believe and why?
Writing Your LNAT Essay Well
The ability to communicate your ideas clearly and concisely is essential. Poor spelling and grammar is an immediate red flag. The examiners are expecting strong, cogent prose.
Clearly planning your essay, as described above, is the first step to producing a great final draft. But when you’re writing it out, there are also certain things to bear in mind:
- Keep sentences short. This will enhance clarity and make your arguments more persuasive.
If you are using a lot of semi-colons or employing multiple conjunctives (like ‘and’ or ‘but’) in a single sentence, look to simplify your approach.
- Sound your essay out as you write it. Obviously, you can’t read out loud. But by sounding out the words in your head as you write them, you will get a sense of how they flow – and, crucially, whether they make sense.
- Remember the words of Enrique Jardiel Poncela: “when something can be read without great effort, great effort has gone into its writing.”
Make it easy for the examiner to follow your arguments and buy into your view point.
What Examiners Want
There are different types of essay. Some are extremely balanced, appreciating all sides of a contentious topic. The LNAT examiners aren’t looking for this. They want you to argue a position.
The LNAT website specifically says: “don’t sit on the fence.” It claims to be an exam that rewards creativity and originality of argument. It does not want you to play safe, but to offer an interesting view point and defend it rigorously.
Equally, it is clear from scouring the mark scheme that opinions are not highly prized. It’s all about building a strong case. So, avoid listing unexplored views or opinions.
LNAT is also extremely precise on word count. Effectively, it says that 500-600 words is ideal, but more or less will not be looked upon favourably. So, practice writing essays that hit the right length every time.
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