By Tatum Wheeler • May 30, 2017•Law School, Pre-Law
Slowly, but surely, the Law School Admissions Council has rolled out a series of changes in 2017. I've included a brief description of each and my perspective on how they affect you, the applicant.
- “Starting with the September 2017 LSAT, there will no longer be any limitations on the number of times a test taker can take the LSAT in a two-year period. LSAC has revised this policy as part of its planning for additional administrations of the LSAT. We will provide more information about the LSAT schedule in the coming weeks.” -LSAC
This policy change allows students multiple opportunities to take the test without being penalized. It also allows further flexibility in deciding when to take the LSAT. Though the executive director of Kaplan’s Pre-Law programs Jeff Thomas referred to this change as “student-friendly," he was careful to note that this should not dissuade students from prepping before their first LSAT. Though having additional testing options does alleviate some of the pressure going into your first test, only taking the test once also alleviates pressure. In short, do the best you can with the least amount of stress.
This new policy reflects greater choice in determining when you take the LSAT and how often. Try for your best score the first time, but use these additional testing options to get your best score possible so that you can get into the best schools at the best prices.
The additional administrations of the LSAT have been determined from now until mid-June 2019. LSAC released the following Saturday test dates for 2017: September 16 and December 2. In 2018, tests will be administered: February 10, June 11, September 8, and November 17. In 2019, test administrations are scheduled for January 26, March 30, and June 3. Saturday Sabbath Observers will continue to have the option to take the LSAT the Monday following any Saturday administrations, with the exception of the September 2018 administration which offers the Saturday Sabbath Observer LSAT administration the Wednesday prior.
- On May 20, students at limited testing locations across the United States were administered a “pilot” digital LSAT. Although the test will not be scored, it was promoted as the LSAC’s investigation into developing a “possible future format” of the test in addition to its pencil and paper format.
LSAC seems to be falling in line as other graduate admissions examinations, like the GMAT, GRE, and MCAT, offer computer-based exams. I do not personally know anyone that took the digital test; however, the Thinking LSAT podcast provides feedback from those that did.
There does not seem to be any downside to having an additional format to the test. Although I am a bit more technologically averse than some of my peers, there seems to be no real disadvantage to having the digital test option so long as test administrations remain efficient.
- In February, LSAC announced that they would pursue a new partnership with the Khan Academy to provide free LSAT preparation courses expected for release in late 2018.
Although vague about the formatting of the program, I am optimistic that this may help increase access to useful LSAT prep lessons. In doing so, it will challenge some of the barriers to entry, namely costly prep services, associated with both higher education and the legal profession.
- On May 1, the LSAC partnered with CLEO (Council on Legal Education Opportunity), a D.C. area nonprofit with law school-focused programs nationwide. The goal of this partnership is to advance LSAC’s initiative to “enhance diversity in the legal profession.”
I mentioned CLEO in my interview with Pre-Law Director Genevieve Antono and would encourage anyone, from high-school to post-grad and anywhere in between, to reach out to them. They offer weekend workshops, courses for entering 1L's, mentorship for high-school students, admissions review services, and so much more; I can personally attest to their ASAP, CLAS, and Juniors Jumpstart the LSAT programs. I hope that this partnership allows CLEO to continue its goal of expanding opportunities for minority and low-income students and helps the LSAC to realize its goal of enhancing diversity.
On May 9, Kellye Y. Testy, former Dean of the University of Washington School of Law, was named the new President and CEO of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). She is the second woman to be named to this position.
Although organizations like the LSAC inspire mixed feelings for the costs and restrictions that they impose, it is empowering to see another woman in this role. The timing of her introduction with these accompanying changes makes me hopeful that the LSAC is moving in a forward, more progressive direction.
To quote President Testy, this is truly "a time of considerable change in the legal profession" and the LSAC. Overall, these changes point toward a more inclusive, forward-thinking Law School Admissions Council that will benefits applicants for the 2018 cycle and beyond.
I encourage you to comment below with your reactions and reach out with your perspective on these changes.
Tatum Wheeler is a fellow law aspirant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she’s not working as a Research Associate, she spends her free time exploring new trails with her dogs, reading narratives, and cheering on her favorite sports teams, the Cal Bears, Oakland Athletics, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Please feel free to contact her with any questions, comments, or further advice.