Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

ABA to Require Schools to Report Highest LSAT Scores from Multiple Tests, Rather Than Average Scores

At its June 8-11 meeting in Cleveland, the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar voted to change its data collection procedures to require law schools in computing the 75th percentile, median, and 25th percentile LSAT scores of their entering classes to report the highest score of matriculants who took the test more than once. The ABA's prior rules had required schools to report the average LSAT score of students who took multiple tests.  The rule change follows similar action taken by the Law School Admission Council.  Although the change will encourage students to take the LSAT more than once, current LSAC rules limits applicants to three tests in any two-year period.

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» The LSAT Change from Concurring Opinions
To get into law school, people must take a fun test called the LSAT. Sometimes people have a bad day and want to take the test over again. But there used to be a problem. A student's LSAT scores would... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 17, 2006 4:15:09 PM

» The New LSAT Score Reporting Policy from CALI's Pre-Law Blog
A while back, Professor Paul Caron of TaxProf Blog reported the new policy regarding law schools' reporting of LSAT scores to the ABA. Whereas the ABA previously required that law schools report the average LSAT score of an applicant, the ABA now allow... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 3, 2006 11:59:28 AM


The LSAT is simply a disquised intelligence test, much like life.....

Posted by: Joey Bootz | Apr 17, 2008 3:28:07 PM

I think it's amazing how taking the LSAT more than once, and up to three times equates with being 'rich' for many people. We are talking about a 118 dollar test, right? The difference between shelling out $118 or up to $354 over 2 years time doesn't convince me that one would be poor nor rich.

Think about it. The cost of tuition for law school makes the cost of one or two extra cracks at the LSAT seem like pocket change. But I don't see anyone marching the streets convincing law schools to make the actual cost of the education more 'fair' to the non rich. Not everyone gets a scholarship. It would be much more believable that a 'non rich' person would be deterred by the cost of tuition and NOT the cost of a second or third test.

People do have bad days, despite the ability to use logic well enough to excel within law school. The person who bombs a test and cancels it is favored by the old policy while someone who, in the same circumstance, does not cancel the test is at a disadvantage when scores are averaged. The fact of the matter is, however, that they both were sub par the first time around and that one of them had a much better shot during the admissions process for dumping the first score before seeing it. What does this really measure in the end? Not much when comparing candidates.

Posted by: Anne B | Dec 5, 2006 9:51:09 PM

I think the change will help SOME people. As of today, UF's website still states they take the AVERAGE score.

The problem is that standardized tests aren't a predictor of success in all cases. I scored average (1270) on the SAT, but graduated UF in under 3 years with an overall 3.8 GPA (I had a 3.93 in my major and a 4.0 in my minor.

My LSAT score was a 155 (average) and I was waitlisted at UF and FSU, the only schools I applied to (sue me, I didn't have $1500 to spend on apps and didn't want to spend more than $10 K a year on tuition.

Posted by: Eric P. | Aug 7, 2006 7:23:10 AM

According to the link, this policy takes effect for Fall 2007.

Posted by: im_blue | Jul 7, 2006 1:50:55 AM

When will this take effect? Could it impact applicants waitlisted for fall, 2006 admission?

Posted by: Beth | Jun 20, 2006 1:21:04 PM

do you think this might positively effect my chances this cycle( 2006) . my scores are 159 and 165, and i've been waitlisted by two schools.

Posted by: tim | Jun 18, 2006 5:47:17 PM

I don't think the change favors rich students as much as "Alarm" fears.

Rich students are most likely, prior to their first time taking the LSAT, to have spent money on all those prep courses and prep materials. Therefore, they are already near the top of their personal learning curve when they try for the first time -- and subsequent takings aren't likely to improve their score much, if at all.

Students who don't take prep courses or buy prep materials are the most likely to improve on their second try, because (1) they learn from their first experience under exam conditions, and/or (2) they realize they had better scrape together some cash for prep materials or a prep course before they take the test again.

I don't think the change benefits rich students as much as it disadvantages the very poorest -- those who can neither afford to pay for test prep nor afford to take the test more than once. Those folks are now at a greater disadvantage as compared to everyone else.

Posted by: Not So Alarmed | Jun 16, 2006 4:55:36 PM

Even if the LSAC reports all scores, if all the schools have to report to the ABA is the highest score, I think there will be implications for law school admissions policies across the country. As mentioned above, the US news rankings use the ABA data, and its pretty clear that most schools care a lot about the US news rankings.

If all schools adopt the policy of judging students by their highest score, then I think in the next few years the LSAT statistics for a lot of schools will go up--maybe way up. I guess it depends on how much people generally improve after retaking the test; I've heard that the average test taker does not improve much (a couple points), but I'm not sure if that's the case for the upper 15% or so of students.

Posted by: Freethinker | Jun 16, 2006 7:28:34 AM

I just called the LSAC and they said that their rules have not changed. They will report all LSAT scores to law schools.

Posted by: R Duffy | Jun 15, 2006 1:01:59 PM

What prior action did LSAC take? What effect, if any, does prior LSAC action have on law school reporting requirements? The rules you link to still state that law schools are advised that the average of multiple scores--especially if taken in a short period of time--best represents the student's ability.

Posted by: j | Jun 15, 2006 9:45:10 AM

This is a bizarre change--students will have to take it three times if highest scores are taken by schools since they can only gain from retaking (if they score lower, the first score is the highest score). What the ABA likely intended was more justice by not tying one's fate to a bad day. However, the implementation only favors rich students since only non-rich students would even consider taking less than three times.

I suspect the solution that they were searching for would be to allow reporting of the _most recent_ score rather than the highest score.

Posted by: Alarm | Jun 15, 2006 5:36:39 AM

This should be a great development for students, and encourage schools to only consider the highest of multiple LSAT scores:

What schools report to the ABA is what determines their USNWR rankings. So; in the past, if a school wanted to only go by the high score, they'd be doing themselves a "disservice", because the rankings would reflect the average of multiple scores.

But under the new rule, the rankings will reflect only the highest of multiple scorers... and thus, going forward, schools will have no ranking penalty for accepting someone with one low and one high score.

Posted by: denk | Jun 14, 2006 5:58:43 PM