Law school hopefuls will soon have six opportunities a year to take the Law School Admission Test.
The Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, announced Thursday that it’s increasing the number of times the test is offered from four to six. Adding test dates will give takers more flexibility and help adjust to a changing law school admissions cycle, the Council said.
“The additional test dates are an important part of LSAC’s continuing efforts to reduce barriers to entry into legal education,” said Susan Krinsky, chair of the council’s board of trustees and associate dean for students at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Krinsky added that the Council, “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.”
The LSAT has long been offered in June, September or October, December and February. Beginning in the 2018-19 cycle, the test will be offered in June, September, November, January, March, and again in June.
The move is just the latest in a number of changes and new initiatives the Council has launched in recent months—an usual amount of activity for a standardized exam that has changed little in decades. The LSAT is facing new competition from the GRE, which a handful of law schools are using or will soon accept in admissions.
“It’s a great change,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs at Kaplan Test Prep. “It gives students more access, more choice, reduces the stress and anxiety a little bit and truly gives students time to prepare and take the test on the schedule that works better for them—at least better than being pigeonholed into four dates.”
The move isn’t exactly a surprise. Krinsky and incoming Council president Kellye Testy hinted strongly in May that the board would expanding the number of testing dates, in part because many law schools no longer adhere to strict application deadlines in the winter and spring.
Last year, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law became the first to use the GRE, and Harvard Law School announced in March that it will soon begin accepting that alternative test. Officials at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law said recently that they are considering using the test as well. The GRE is offered digitally on a rolling basis throughout the year.
“Candidly, I think [the Council] is maybe a little bit fearful of competition from the GRE,” Thomas said. “Anything it can do to make their test more accessible to students and lower that barrier to entry, those are all student-friendly changes.”
Last month, the Council conducted its first nationwide pilot of a computerized LSAT—it’s the only graduate-level standardized entrance exam still offered on paper. That pilot was a success, the Council said Thursday.
And several weeks ago, the Council announced that it was lifting its restriction on the number of times test takers may sit for the exam over a two-year period. That change may encourage people to sit for the test more times, though Thomas warned against the more-is-more approach.
“Students will still have all of their scores reported to the schools where they apply,” he said. “Our advice remains: Find a test date that works best for you, prepare for it once, get a great score once. Don’t leave any doubt in the minds of the admission committee.”
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