TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, January 9, 2017

Kaplan Test Prep Predicts Fall 2017 Law School Applicants Will Increase, Despite Early Declines, Due To Later LSAT Test-Taking

KaplanFollowing up on last month's post, Fall 2017 Law School Applicants Down 5.1%:  Jay Thomas, Executive Director of  Pre-Law Programs for Kaplan Test Prep, predicts that this early decline in law school applicants will reversed due to a shift toward later LSAT test-taking:

In 2015, the fall LSAT administration — the most popular administration each year — was October 3rd. This year's fall administration date was September 24th. Many students, particularly undergraduates, will ramp up their LSAT preparation after Labor Day when the semester is earnestly in swing. This year given the early administration date, we are finding many students shifting their desired test date to December, rather than the traditional fall.

While LSAC has not released test-taker numbers for the December exam date yet, we are anticipating a fairly sizable year-over-year increase (at least by recent standards). In fact, the 1% increase we saw for this fall's administration was probably 5-10 points "better" than we would've predicted, suggesting the December increase year-over-year could be 10 or even 15 points. As you know, an applicant's law school application is not complete until they have a reportable LSAT score. December LSAT scores will be returned in early January, at which point, I'd anticipate a sizable bounce/rebound in your trends — and ultimately, a likely increase in both applicants and applications.

Time will certainly tell, but regardless, it will be interesting to watch.

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The early results of this cycle are devastating. Not only are applicants down about 3.5%, they are markedly down at the top LSAT bands. Notably, applicants in the 175+ band are down 25% and applicants in the 165-169 band are down 16%. Meanwhile, applicants in the 145-149 band are up 5%.

The trend of increasingly late applicants stopped last year. In fact, it reversed a bit, as applicants dipped late in the cycle. The idea that we will see another acceleration of a trend toward late applications is, in my opinion, wishful thinking. Especially as it regards competitive applicants who plan better and who are well aware that applying earlier in the cycle confers at least a minor advantage.

Posted by: JM | Jan 9, 2017 12:40:02 PM