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

Friday, March 3, 2017

Khan Academy Offers Free LSAT Prep; Is Free Bar Exam Prep Next?

KALSATMBEThe Khan Academy and the Law School Admission Council have announced a partnership to offer free official online practice materials for the LSAT:

Aspiring law school students will soon have access to free online practice materials for the LSAT from Khan Academy and the Law School Admission Council, the maker of the test.

Today the organizations announced a new partnership to make personalized LSAT practice widely available to all, absolutely free. ...

 “The Law School Admission Council is committed to providing students an opportunity to learn the skills they need most to do well on the LSAT and succeed in law school,” said Athornia Steele, interim president of the Law School Admission Council. “We think those skills will have a positive long-term impact on their careers."

Traditionally students have paid test prep providers hundreds of dollars to more than $2,000 for various LSAT prep packages.

Today’s announcement continues Khan Academy’s tradition of providing free, official practice for critical standardized exams. In 2015, Khan Academy launched Official SAT Practice with the College Board. More than three million students have used Official SAT Practice at roughly equal rates across income levels, race, ethnicity, and gender.

ABA Journal, Free LSAT Prep Courses to be Offered by Khan Academy: Could State Bar Exam Help Come Later?:

When asked if the LSAC was influenced by recent discussions about using other entrance tests, like the GRE, for law school admission, [Lily Knezevich, LSAC’ Senior Director of Test Development] said no, adding that conversations between her group and Khan Academy started more than two years ago. “We want to make law school accessible to all who are interested in pursuing it, and we don’t want cost to be an issue,” Knezevich said.

Indeed, economic situations’ influence on law school opportunities, with race frequently figuring into the discussion, is a long-standing concern among many lawyers. A study released this month [more here] found that although law schools have become more generous with merit scholarships, most of the funds go to affluent students. LSAT scores frequently determine who gets the scholarships, according to the study.

“It’s been long known that well-to-do students are better able to maximize their performance on the [LSAT] through preparation aids that are cost-prohibitive to many other students,” says Aaron Taylor. He serves as director of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement, which released the law school merit scholarship survey.

It’s interesting, Taylor adds, that for many years, the LSAC’s position was that its test could not be “gamed” by commercial test prep courses. “The Khan partnership seems to be a tacit—and long-overdue—acknowledgement that these tests can not only be gamed, but have been gamed,” says Taylor, a Saint Louis University School of Law professor. “Hopefully the partnership will be designed to provide substantive assistance to all prospective applicants, irrespective of their socioeconomic backgrounds.” ...

Some law schools with many students of color have said their students may forgo bar prep courses because they can’t afford tuition fees. The ABA Journal asked [Salman Khan, who founded Khan Academy] if he could see his platform also offering bar prep courses in the future. “We would absolutely be open to conversations with people who administer those exams,” he said.

National Law Journal, Salman Khan Is Bringing Free LSAT Prep to the Masses:

The new partnership aims to address one of the common criticisms of legal education's heavy reliance on the LSAT: That it disadvantages applicants who don't have hundreds or even thousands of dollars to spend on professional test prep. ...

We caught up with Salman Khan, who founded Khan Academy in 2006 after tutoring a cousin over the internet, to discuss how the LSAT program will work and what will set it apart from traditional test prep programs. ...

So does that make you the worst enemy of for-profit providers like Kaplan Test Prep?
We didn't get into this, either from the SAT or LSAT point of view, saying, "We want to go after Kaplan or whomever else." It was really around, "We want to help level this playing field." ...

You aren't a lawyer but you've taken the LSAT and are a fan, right?
I was pre-law for a little bit in college and took the LSAT. I decided to go work in Silicon Valley instead. I actually loved the test. I think, because it's so pure on critical thinking, logic and reasoning, that it's a good standardized test for a lot of things, not just law school.

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Comments

It looks like the LSAC is afraid that both law school applications and applicant quality will continue their downward trajectory unless "something dramatic is done." At least this is a financial incentive that doesn't favor the upper- and upper-middle class students like the "merit scholarships" did. In fact, the free program probably will encourage diverse communities to try out practice tests, build confidence, and reduce fear of the LSAT, thus resulting in more and better-prepared LSAT-takers.
As for using Khan Academy for bar preparation, I think it should be the responsibility of the law schools to offer courses in state practice that would prepare students for practice as well as for the bar exam. I always thought it odd that law schools left that important part of educating lawyers to commercial businesses.

Posted by: Old Ruster | Mar 3, 2017 6:40:36 AM

This is WONDERFUL news. I love the idea.
I am studying for the LSAT now on my own, because I do not have the money to attend classes, which cost hundreds of dollars. I hope to do well in October, 2017 on my test. However, when I came upon the idea that Kahn's Academy is offering this course for free, I immediately email it to my friend who is also studying for the test. Thanksyou. I hope your organization will get the opportunity to prep for the Bar exam too.
Best,
Prospect
Law Student.

Posted by: Natasha | Mar 4, 2017 8:36:43 AM

Keep up the great work Khan' Academy. I will definitely encourage anyone I know who is interested in Law school, to take advantage of this dynamic and great opportunity of a lifetime.
Thanks

Posted by: Natasha | Mar 4, 2017 8:40:20 AM