Beginning Sept. 21, the LSAT will be administered entirely digitally. This is a landmark moment for the test, which has been given on paper since its beginnings in 1948.
The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), the body which administers the LSAT, cited a myriad of reasons for the transition. For one, the testing day is now shorter for students because the writing section, typically the last of the five sections, will now be taken at home, proctored online through the use of a secure browser and proctoring software that uses the webcam and microphone to ensure the student’s work is his or her own. Scoring the tests will also take less time. Because of this, the number of testing dates is increasing from six per year to nine.
The most recent testing date, July 15, had students take the test on either paper or on tablets, which was the first time the digital test was piloted. Jason Alaska, a fifth-semester student in the accelerated program in law, was part of that first group of students to take the LSAT on tablets.
“Honestly, I didn’t mind it. Everything’s digital nowadays,” Alaska said of the test, listing the timer and the ability to flag questions as some of the new functionalities that he found most helpful.
However, Alaska said the new medium most likely lowered his score.
“Being that I never took a digital one before that, I think it had a negative affect,” Alaska said.
Diane Whitney, a University of Connecticut pre-law advisor, acknowledged that some of her advisees are echoing Alaska’s concerns.
“The students who have not taken it yet are nervous about it,” Whitney said.
However, Whitney said her students who took the digital LSAT seemed to be “pretty neutral.”
Due to anxieties about the transition, students who took the test on the July 15 testing date have the opportunity to cancel their scores after viewing them and retake the test at any other time through the April 2020 testing date at no additional cost.
As for her opinion on the LSAT going digital, Ms. Whitney said it “was inevitable.”
Some have viewed this transition and the subsequent addition of test dates as a way to compete with the GRE, the more general standardized test for graduate school, which increasingly more law schools are accepting in lieu of the LSAT. Whitney said she is just beginning to notice that change.
“That’s largely because it’s just now that a significant number of law schools will take the GRE,” Whitney said.
The GRE in its current form has been offered online since 2011, and lets students know their unofficial score immediately after the test.
For now, the LSAT remains the standard for law school admissions. Despite any concerns, students taking the test this Saturday will be making history as the first group to take it entirely digitally.
Grace McFadden is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.