LSAT changes give aspiring law students more options

Aspiring law students will have more opportunities to take the LSAT following two major changes made by the Law School Admission Council this summer.

Starting July 2018, the number of annual testing dates will increase from four to six. The tests will be administered in July, September, November, January, March and June. In addition, LSAC is removing the three-test limit on the number of times a prospective student may take the test during a two-year period.

These changes will provide greater flexibility to prospective law students, helping them avoid potential scheduling conflicts, an LSAC press release stated. 

“The additional test dates are an important part of LSAC’s continuing efforts to reduce barriers to entry into legal education,” said Dean Susan L. Krinsky, chair of LSAC’s Board of Trustees.

A Kaplan Test Prep Survey of more than 500 prospective law students revealed strong support for these changes.

Among those surveyed, 83 percent said they supported the additional testing dates, and 66 percent said that the changes would have affected their test preparation, including the date they took the exam.

With regards to the removal of the two-year testing cap, 67 percent supported eliminating the cap, whereas only 11 percent opposed the change. The other 22 percent were indifferent.

“These two changes are student-friendly and could go a long way in de-stressing the admissions process by giving test takers more flexibility,” said Jeff Thomas, the Executive Director of Pre-law Programs at Kaplan Test Prep.

The removal of the two-year test cap may not be as helpful as the respondents may think, however. Law schools are able to see every score, and taking the exam “too many times in a condensed timeframe may raise a serious red flag,” Thomas said.

Half of respondents to the Kaplan survey said the elimination of the cap would not have affected their test-prep regimen, while 34 percent said it would have changed their study plans.

“Our advice is to prep comprehensively for the LSAT, get a great score once and leave no doubt in the minds of admissions committees as to your candidacy for law school,” Thomas said. “Of course, if you need to retest, you can and now LSAC is providing more flexibility to do so. But that should be your Plan B, not Plan A.”

LSAC’s decision to increase the availability of the LSAT came shortly after Harvard Law School announced it will begin accepting the Graduate Record Exam, or GRE, this fall. The GRE is offered continuously year-round and attracts a much larger, and more diverse, test-taking pool. Between July of 2015 and June of 2016, nearly 600,000 graduate school candidates took the GRE, whereas only 105,000 took the LSAT.

“LSAC is also understandably concerned about losing law school applicants to the GRE, now that Harvard Law School allows applicants to submit scores from that exam instead, with other law schools waiting in the wings to follow suit,” Thomas said.

“The LSAT has always been the most valid, reliable, and widely used test in law school admissions,” Krinsky said. “It is the best test for predicting success in law school, and therefore LSAC constantly explores ways to improve its delivery. We will continue to look for innovative ways to enhance access and diversity in legal education, while ensuring the quality of both the LSAT and all the services we offer.”

LSAC has announced several other test-related initiatives in 2017. In May, LSAC conducted a pilot of a digital LSAT exam as part of its research into alternative testing models. LSAC also partnered with Khan Academy in February to develop interactive online materials for free personalized LSAT practice. 

Photo by Eric Rothermel