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Changes to the LSAT Exam in 2018, Explained

Changes to the LSAT Exam in 2018, Explained main image

Last year saw several alterations introduced to the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which is a crucial part of the law school application process. If you’ve not encountered it before, the LSAT measures your aptitude in disciplines required in the legal profession, focusing on understanding and creating solid arguments, logical thinking and document analysis.

Firstly, there’s a lot that hasn't changed about the LSAT over the years. For example, it continues to be measured with a score ranging from 120 to 180, drawing upon four multiple choice sections. While the writing section on the test isn't graded, it remains seriously evaluated by law school administrators. There also continues to be an unscored variable section and no penalties for incorrect answers.

However, the 2018 and 2019 LSAT calendar year brings with it alterations regarding how many times a year the test is given, the termination of times a student can take the exam as well as a trend amongst some schools of accepting the GRE in tandem with the LSAT for admissions.

More test dates

Beginning September 2017, the LSAC announced it would increase the number of times a year it would give test dates from four to six. This is to accommodate the rolling basis of admissions, as law schools don’t adhere to strict application deadlines in winter and spring.

Traditionally, the LSAT was offered four times a year: June, September/October, December and February. In a move to offer more flexibility, the test will now be provided in June, September, November, January, March and then again in June. This applies immediately to the 2018/19 cycle.

Dean Susan L. Krinsky, chair of LSAC's Board of Trustees said: "These additional test dates are an important part of LSAC's continuing efforts to reduce barriers to entry into legal action. These LSAT has always been one of the most valid, reliable and widely used test in law school admissions. 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."

It's expected that this newly updated flexible testing schedule will benefit anyone who has conflicts with one or more test dates.

End of the test cap

In the past, it was a well-known rule that you couldn’t take the LSAT more than three times. Beginning in May 2017, there is no longer a limit on the amount of times you can take the exam. While this restriction may be a relief for some, it’s still important to accommodate your LSAT study path to do as best as you can on test day.

Keep in mind some law school administrators are wary of those who take the LSAT a multitude of times, as it can convey a lack of judgment to admissions offices that they won't look favorably on. If you don't perform as well as you'd like on the first try, it may be smart for you to take it again as law schools only consider the highest score, but approach retaking the LSAT judiciously.

LSAC recommends retaking the exam if you feel external personal or health-related circumstances affected your first score—for example, if you believe that illness prevented you from performing optimally and therefore does not reflect your true ability. Unusually, large differences in scores between a first test and a retake might be reviewed by LSAC for any misconduct as well.

GRE/LSAT in the Admissions Process

Recently, Harvard Law, the University of Arizona Law School’s Roger College, Northwestern and Georgetown University have all announced they’d accept GRE scores in addition to the LSAT and more schools are expected to follow.

The reasoning behind this is so law schools can ultimately cast a wider net to recruit applicants who otherwise might not have set their sights on the legal field. Since scientists, mathematicians and engineers typically take the GRE, law schools are hoping more of them will enroll.

William M. Treanor, Dean of Georgetown Law, said: "We believe this change will make the admissions process more accessible to students who have great potential to make a mark here at Georgetown Law and in successful legal careers, but who might find the LSAT to be a barrier for whatever reason."

Digital LSAT?

While the LSAT has been known for being a paper-based test exclusively, it’s beginning to teeter into the 21st century, as LSAC recently conducted a digital LSAT pilot test in May 2017. While the tablet-based reality of this digital LSAT might be several years away, LSAC continues to conduct trial runs, meaning this surely isn't too far off.

These alterations are important to keep in mind if you might be taking the LSAT. While these changes don’t affect the material of the test itself – which is a measurement of reading ability, verbal reasoning and writing skills – the new flexibility around frequency of test dates and limitations on how many times you can take the exam are sure to prove useful in planning your course of study.

Ultimately, this provides LSAT test takers more options, greater flexibility, easier access and riper opportunities to get you that high score.

About Manhattan Review: Manhattan Review LSAT Prep is brought to you by Manhattan Review, an international test prep firm. Founded in 1999 by Dr. Joern Meissner, an internationally renowned business school professor, our company helps students gain entrance to their desired degree programs by working to improve their admission test scores. Headquartered in New York City, Manhattan Review operates in many cities in the United States and in selected major cities around the world, including Hong Kong.

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Dr Joern Meissner
Written by Manhattan Review
Manhattan Review, providers of Manhattan Review GMAT Prep, was founded by Dr Joern Meissner (pictured), an internationally renowned business school professor, in 1999. Headquartered in New York City, Manhattan Review operates in many cities in the United States and in selected major cities around the world. It helps students gain entrance to their desired degree programs by working to improve their admission test scores.

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