Students applying to law school will now have to take the Law School Admission Test via a computer-based format.
The Law School Admission Council announced Oct. 3 the LSAT will transition to being administered solely on tablets beginning July. LSAC is also increasing the number of times a year the test will be administered from six to nine.
The change to a digital format follows the transition of other graduate school admission tests, such as the GMAT, MCAT and GRE exams.
Law education professionals were already expecting the LSAT to shift to a computer-based format, said Jeff Thomas, the executive director of prelaw programs for Kaplan Test Prep. He said it was mainly a question of when LSAC would make the transition.
Thomas added test preparation will be conducted via computer to simulate the testing conditions of the exam. However, he noted the content of the test itself would not change at all.
Thomas said prelaw students should take the test before July if they have been studying the pencil-and-paper format.
For the next exam in July, some students will be chosen at random to take the tablet version, while others will take the traditional pencil-and-paper test. Due to this randomized selection, students will be allowed to cancel their scores after they receive them, said Kellye Testy, president and CEO of LSAC.
July will be the first and only time test-takers will have the opportunity to cancel their scores. Those who decide to cancel can choose to retake the test again through April 2020 free of charge.
To adapt to the new format, LSAC developed different technology from other testing services to prevent cheating and protect against security breaches.
“We were not satisfied with the current electronic testing formats available,” Testy said. “We wanted higher security and a better user experience.”
Though students may take time to get used to digital testing, the change will allow students at various schools and testing centers to have consistent experiences with the exam’s timing and administration, Thomas said. Students will also receive their scores sooner since the computer-based tests will no longer use Scantron forms that have to be shipped to a main facility.
Priya Desai, a second-year psychology and prelaw student, said she thinks the computer-based format will change the way she studies.
“I will take practice tests online to simulate the real thing, but I still think it may be better to have a physical prep book so I can annotate (reading) by hand,” she said. “When I type notes, I don’t retain as much information as when I write.”
Desai added she hopes the change will make the test-taking process more organized and smooth. She said she wants to take the test to challenge her critical thinking, logic and reasoning skills, which she thinks will help her in her career.