Students taking the Law School Admission Test will soon have to take the two sections of the exam in two separate sittings under the new digital format.
This is one of a number of changes to the exam as it moves to its new digital format.
The Law School Admission Council, the organization that administers the LSAT, announced it would change the test to a digital format in October. Beginning in July, the LSAT will be delivered on tablets instead of booklets. The tablets will be provided to test takers at the test center and will contain the same multiple-choice questions as the paper examination.
LSAC said in an email statement that administering the two sections of the exam separately will shorten the amount of time test takers have to spend in one sitting.
LSAC added that by recording the scores immediately after the exam is completed, these changes will help discourage cheating and the manipulation of exam scores.
Troy Lowry, senior vice president of technology products and chief information officer at LSAC, said field testing has shown test takers find the digital LSAT easy to use with general feedback being positive. The test might also speed up score delivery time, thus giving law school applicants more time to focus on the next steps in their application processes, he added.
“The digital test will mean no answer sheets, no bubbling in little ovals and no risk of misgrading and will help relieve some of the anxiety in taking the test – anxiety about errors due to having put all answers on the answer sheet,” Lowry said.
Lowry said the digital LSAT would allow LSAC to gather more information on the test-taking process and help it make improvements.
Axel Sarkissian, president of the Pre-Law Society at UCLA, said the new changes will have both positive and negative impacts, and it is important to know how it will affect the law school admissions process.
Sarkissian said he thinks students will likely take the test more frequently given the increased accessibility of the new digital format and the removal of a cap on how many times they can take the test after 2017.
“The more times you take it your score goes up because this is an exam that can be learned, but the downside is that there will be more higher scores out there when you apply to law school and make it more competitive,” he said.
Rachel Sheffield, director of academic support for LSAT preparation company TestMasters, said the changes to the LSAT will be very beneficial to test takers because they will increase the quality and streamline the administration of the exam.
“Students would come to me to complain that the proctor had cut off their time by a minute or two and they were very frustrated,” she said. “In this new format, every single tablet has its own time and students will know they have 35 minutes to the second.”
She said the digital practice tests will allow TestMasters to collect more data on students’ performances and provide more personalized advice to students.
“A lot of people who have taken the exam know how you take the exam is a big part of the exam itself and can play a pretty big role, so it will take some getting used to and when you prepare for the exam you will probably want to take a few practice ones on a tablet or something that mimics that experience,” Sarkissian said.
LSAC said in its statement the organization released two practice exams Tuesday to help students get acquainted to the new digital platform.