Recent Changes to the LSAT

The LSAT Goes Digital

Most graduate-level standardized tests have been electronic for some time, but until now the LSAT has steadfastly remained a paper-and-pencil test. As of the July 2019 LSAT administration, the test will become available to selected students in digital format, with the transition to an all-digital LSAT to be completed in North America by September 2019 (the paper-and-pencil test will be discontinued). The exam itself will not change; the LSAT will retain the same content, timing, structure, and scoring as before. Unlike some other electronic standardized tests (such as the GMAT), computer adaptation will not be a feature of the digital LSAT (computer-adaptive tests adjust the difficulty level of later questions based on student responses to earlier questions). The digital LSAT is expected to give students the convenience of an electronic testing medium without sacrificing the test's tried-and-true credibility.

Digital LSAT Technology and Features

Students will take the digital LSAT on a tablet-type electronic device provided at the test center. Standard tablet features include adjustable font sizes, magnification, and brightness. Additionally, test-takers will be given a stylus, which will allow them to highlight on-screen passages of text. Each test section will include a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, which students can use to flag and return to specific questions. The tablets will be able to more easily accommodate special testing features for students with disabilities. A tutorial on the use of LSAT tablets is available on the LSAC website.

The New LSAT Writing Sample

Beginning with the June 2019 LSAT test date, students will no longer be required to complete the LSAT writing sample on the same day as the other exam sections. The essay task will remain the same, but test-takers will be able to write their essays anytime from the day of the test up to one year afterwards. LSAT writing samples will be proctored remotely, using the webcam, screen, and microphone of the test-taker's personal computer along with a writing interface that includes word processing software. For students who don't own computers, the LSAT writing section may be taken at authorized test centers.

Expansion of the Number of Test Dates, 2019-2020

For much of its history, the LSAT was offered just four times per year. This put the LSAT at a disadvantage in comparison to other common tests for graduate school (the GRE, for example, may be taken on almost any day of the year). In 2017, LSAC announced its intention to increase the number of yearly test dates to six, and as of the 2019-2020 testing year (which begins in June 2019), the total number of available annual test dates will be nine (once each in June, July, September, October, November, January, February, March, and April). LSAT administrations are held either on Saturdays or Mondays, with additional dates for test-takers who observe the Sabbath on Saturdays.

Other Recent Changes to the LSAT

The LSAT hasn't undergone many significant changes to its content in the recent past, but there was one noteworthy revision implemented in 2007: the introduction of a paired reading passage in the Reading Comprehension section. This type of exercise is generally referred to as "comparative reading," and it has become an entrenched feature of the exam's assessment of reading comprehension skills.

GRE Acceptance for Law School

More than 20 American Bar Association-accredited law schools currently permit their students to take the GRE instead of the LSAT, and this represents a substantial culture shift in LSAT acceptance. Harvard, Columbia, UCLA, and New York University are among the law schools now offering their prospective students the GRE option. Although the majority of current applicants to American law degree programs will still have to take the LSAT, surveys indicate that a significant expansion of testing flexibility is on the horizon.

More Information on the Digital LSAT

For students taking the LSAT in July 2019 or after, it's important to become familiar with how the new digital LSAT will impact test-taking and test preparation. LSAT students interested in receiving further details on the digital LSAT should read the following news article, which includes a discussion of digital LSAT features, a list of upcoming test dates, and quotations from an interview with LSAC president and CEO Kellye Testy.