National Law Journal, Embracing Digital, LSAT Loosens Its Grip on the No. 2 Pencil:
The Law School Admission Test’s 69-year stint as a pencil-and-paper exam could be coming to a close.
The Law School Admission Council Inc., which administers the LSAT, on May 20, will conduct the first nationwide digital exam with 1,000 prospective law students taking the test on tablet computers. The May exam is just a pilot to test the logistics of deploying the tablets, and the scores won’t be official or be provided to schools for admissions purposes. But the large-scale test signals that the LSAC is closely examining a digital future.
“The LSAT is the last remaining paper-and-pencil test out there, at least in the graduate school admissions space,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs for Kaplan Test Prep. “They’re late to the game.”
The [Graduate Record Examination] GRE and GMAT [Graduate Management Admission Test] are both computer-based, and the MCAT [Medical College Admission Test] was the latest graduate test to go digital — in 2007.
The LSAC has been examining a computerized LSAT for more than 20 years, said Troy Lowry, director of candidate services, product development and deputy chief information officer at the LSAC. It has spent “tens of millions of dollars” researching digital options, but has moved cautiously to preserve the integrity and security of the exam. There is no timeline for an official digital LSAT. ...
The LSAC’s move toward digital has not been a result of any competition coming from the use of the GRE in law school admissions, Lowry said. The project was in the works long before the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law announced in 2016 that it would accept GRE scores — a move Harvard Law School followed last month. Legal education experts have speculated that Harvard’s move will open the floodgates of law schools allowing applicants to take either the LSAT or the GRE. “It’s not in any way a reaction to the GRE,” Lowry said.
Even so, the LSAC is facing unprecedented pressure with law schools’ new embrace of the GRE, Thomas said. It makes sense that the organization is looking to update the test right now. “I do applaud the LSAC for looking at ways they can evolve their operating model and make the test more consumer-friendly, if you will,” he said.