Law Students: Thumbs-Up To LSAT Changes
Two recent changes to the way the Law School Admission Test is administered have earned the strong approval of aspiring law students in a new survey. Kaplan Test Prep, a standardized test preparation service, conducted the survey of more than 500 students and found support for an increase in the number of times the LSAT is administered from four to six, as well as removal of the cap on the number of times the test can be taken in a two-year period. Previously, that limit was three.
“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, executive director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep, in a news release. “This would seem to fit the approach of LSAC’s new President and CEO Kellye Testy, who has indicated her desire to evolve the organization.”
Testy was named LSAC president and CEO in May and will assume the post July 1. The two moves are largely seen as a response to Harvard Law School’s recent decision to accept the Graduate Record Exam in addition to the LSAT in admissions.
“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.
YOU CAN TAKE THE LSAT MULTIPLE TIMES — BUT SHOULD YOU?
The first change affects the test-taking calendar. The Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, will transition to six test dates over the next two years, with tests in July, September, November, January, March, and June. Previously, the LSAT only was administered in February, June, September/October, and December. Kaplan says this change drew the approval of 83% of survey respondents, with 66% saying they would have changed their personal preparation schedule for the test had the change already been in effect.
Two-thirds of respondents (67%) support the other change, lifting the cap on the number of times the LSAT can be taken in a two-year period. Only 11% opposed the change, while 22% were undecided. However, asked about the impact of the change, the response was mixed: 50% said it would not have affected their own study plans, 34% said it would have, and 16% were unsure.
Thomas said the ability to take the GRE and submit those scores in place of the LSAT won’t hide a low LSAT score, for the simple reason that law schools may see all LSAT scores taken over the past five years. “As far as the removal of limits on the number of times one can take the LSAT, it’s not a good LSAT strategy to use your first testing experience to establish a baseline score, so we strongly advise against students retaking the exam numerous times,” he said in the news release. “Law schools see every score, and taking it too many times in a condensed time frame may raise a serious red flag.
“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. 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.”
TESTY: CHANGES ARE ABOUT ACCESS
Testy signaled the changes when she was quoted in a May article at Law.com saying access is paramount.
“What students want is easier access — more test administrations and more formats,” she said. “As you do that, you have to make sure you don’t compromise quality. Some tests have gone so far to the access side that they’ve compromised their quality. We’re going to try to move toward access while still being the gold standard for quality.”
She added that a majority of law students will likely still be admitted through the LSAT, because it is designed to gauge likelihood of law school success, unlike the GRE. “I think that students deserve to make sure that law school is a fit for them, and that they’re able to succeed,” she said.
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