Recent LSAT News
LSAC Releases a New Tutorial for the LSAT Accommodations Process
A new tutorial on LSAC.org provides a step-by-step guide to applying for accommodated testing. The tutorial is located in the LSAT/Accommodated Testing section of LSAC.org. Based on the questions that are most often asked, the animated screens walk users through completing the request process. You may also view a demo of the tutorial.
Acceptable IDs for Admission to the LSAT
According to LSAC, effective with the June 2009 administration, only a current, valid (not expired) government-issued passport book or driver's license containing a recent and recognizable photo and signature are acceptable IDs for admission to the LSAT. Government-issued employment IDs, passport cards and student IDs are not acceptable.
Changes to Test Center Regulations
According to LSAC, “Beginning with the June 11, 2007 LSAT administration, there will be a number of significant changes to test center regulations. Additional details about the new regulations, and lists of permitted and forbidden items, can be found in the 2007–2008 LSAT & CAS Information Book. This information will also be provided on LSAT admission tickets. Ignorance of these new regulations will not be considered an excuse for their violation. Bringing prohibited items into the test room may result in the confiscation of such items by the test supervisor, a warning, dismissal from the test center, and/or cancellation of a test score by LSAC.
Some of the most significant changes are listed below:
- Items permitted in the test room. Tests takers may bring into the room only a clear plastic ziplock bag, maximum size one gallon (3.79 liter), which must be stored under the chair and may be accessed only during the break. The ziplock bag may contain only the following items: LSAT Admission Ticket stub; valid ID; wallet; keys; hygiene products; #2 or HB pencils, highlighter, erasers, pencil sharpener (no mechanical pencils); tissues; beverage in plastic container or juice box (20 oz./591 ml maximum size) and snack for break only.
- Items permitted on the desktop. Test takers may only have tissues, ID, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, highlighter, and analog (nondigital) wristwatch. No electronic timing devices are permitted. This is a change from previous testing years.
- Prohibited items. Candidates are not permitted to bring into the test center the following items: weapons or firearms, ear plugs, books, backpacks, handbags, papers of any kind, calculators, rulers, timers, listening devices, cellular phones, recording or photographic devices, pagers, beepers, headsets, and/or other electronic devices. Bringing prohibited items into the test room may result in the confiscation of such items by the test supervisor, a warning, dismissal from the test center, and/or cancellation of a test score by LSAC. Prohibited items may not be used during the break. LSAC and LSAT testing staff are not responsible for test takers’ belongings.
- Hats/hoods. No hats or hoods are allowed (except items of religious apparel).
- Handbags, backpacks, briefcases. No handbags, backpacks, briefcases or other bags—except the ziplock bag described above—are allowed in the test room.
- Cancellation/Complaint deadlines. Test taker complaints and cancellation requests must be received at LSAC within six (6) days of the test date. (This is a change from previous years.)”
LSAT to Change in June 2007
According to LSAC, "Beginning with the June 2007 administration, LSAC will introduce a variant of reading comprehension, called comparative reading, as one of the four sets in the LSAT reading comprehension section. In general, comparative reading questions are similar to traditional reading comprehension questions. However, there is one significant difference: instead of being based on one longer passage, comparative reading questions are based on two shorter passages. The two passages together are of roughly the same length as one reading comprehension passage, so the total amount of reading in the reading comprehension section will remain essentially the same. A few of the questions that follow a comparative reading passage pair might concern only one of the two passages, but most questions will be about both passages and how they relate to each other.
Also beginning with the June 2007 LSAT, test takers will no longer be randomly assigned one of two different kinds of writing prompt—decision or argument—for the writing sample. All test takers will be assigned a decision prompt. The writing sample will continue to be unscored."
Although on the surface these changes may appear significant, the only important change for test takers is the Reading Comprehension revision. Fortunately for PowerScore students, we have a wealth of experience in working with comparative reading passages from our work with other tests, and we expect that our students will be able to attack this new passage type effectively.
June 2005 LSAT Reading Comprehension Question Withdrawn
For the first time in the modern LSAT era (1991 to the present), a Reading Comprehension question has been withdrawn from an LSAT for quality control reasons. According to LSAC officials, the ninth question of the Reading Comprehension section was withheld from scoring, leaving the test with only 99 questions. After the test, many students had complained that the question was one of the most difficult in recent memory, and apparently that difficulty was due to a flaw in the question. This withdrawal is the most recent in a series of question withdrawals (although several LSAT questions were withdrawn in the 1980s, none were withdrawn from June 1991 to June 1997). Copies of the withdrawn question were not released.
ItemWise: A new LSAC LSAT Tool
LSAC has announced a new LSAT assistance service: LSAT ItemWise. "With ItemWise, you can answer questions comprising all three LSAT® item types-logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension; keep track of answers; and view explanations as to why the answers are correct or incorrect. Although it is best to use paper-and-pencil Official LSAT PrepTest® products to time yourself and otherwise prepare for taking the LSAT, you can enhance your preparation by understanding all three LSAT item types and why answers are right or wrong. For a one-time fee of $18, you can have unlimited access to LSAT ItemWise for as long as you have an active LSAC online account.”
Test Development at Work: Potential New LSAT Question Types
Perhaps you have noticed or even participated in the recent open-invitation from LSAC to take one of their two new experimental field tests. The initial testing phases-a February writing pilot test and a March full-LSAT field test-are part of the test maker's ongoing efforts to challenge future test takers with fresh, innovative question types. The findings by LSAC have suggested two potential categories that could be added to future LSATs: a scored writing measure and a listening comprehension assessment.
For a number of years LSAC has considered adding a scored writing assessment to the LSAT (the current writing sample, added in 1982, is unscored and often ignored in the application process). It is LSAC's belief that scoring this section would further standardize evaluations by application committees as well as offer a more reliable assessment of an admission candidate's writing ability. Some of the field-tested question types were multiple-choice, some required a brief (one-to-two sentences) response, and some required an extensive essay. Further analysis and testing will be conducted before a final format is decided upon.
A second question type under consideration is a listening comprehension assessment. Test takers listen to prompts, both long (about 3-5 minutes) and short (about 30 seconds), consisting of either a dialogue or monologue played just once on a CD player. For each long prompt, six questions are administered, while the short prompts support a single question. Obviously, questions of this nature would test not only a familiarity with the English language, but also retention over an extended period of time (as you cannot go back and review the audio prompt) and dictation (as reliable notes must be made during the stimulus).
The field tests also included new analytic reasoning and reading comprehension questions. A recent LSAC Report describes the potential question types as follows: "Analytical reasoning questions are grouped in sets based on scenarios. Some new analytical reasoning questions focus on discerning common structural aspects of the scenarios (formal analogy questions). Comparative reading questions use two related passages rather than a single passage as the basis for a set of questions. The Skills Analysis Study indicated that among the fundamental tasks required for law school are analogical reasoning and creativity, as well as understanding and analyzing information from multiple sources. Law students read multiple cases in which they must find relevant similarities and differences, and comparative reading question types have been developed to assess these skills."
While progress is certainly being made toward developing these new questions, the test makers report that "much work remains to be done." In fact, there is no certainty that any of these question types will ever be incorporated into an officially administered LSAT. What deserves acknowledgement is that LSAC continues to make important steps towards constructing a comprehensive test to accurately indicate future law school success, and perhaps these new question types will one day assist in that effort.
Nonstandard LSAT Scores ExaminedThe
LSAC Board of Trustees has recently reviewed its policy on flagging nonstandard LSAT scores, particularly those earned with extra time, and has strongly affirmed the current practice of "flagging." This decision was based on a concern for the integrity of the test and LSAC's psychometric research finding that additional-time scores are not comparable to standard scores. The Board did decide, however, that beginning next year the nonstandard score letter will include information on how the nonstandard scores should be interpreted and used.
October 2000 LSAT Rescored; Test Taker Identifies Flaw in One Question
The following LSAC press release can be accessed on the PRNewswire: The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) announced today that 3,571 of the 37,847 people who took the October 7, 2000 LSAT will receive a one-point score increase following a decision to give all test takers credit for a flawed question on that test.
The question's flaw was discovered by a test taker who notified the LSAC earlier this month. After a careful review, officials at the LSAC determined that the logical reasoning question had no correct answer. "Because we cannot determine the question's impact on any individual test taker, we decided to rescore the test after giving everyone credit for it," said Philip D. Shelton, LSAC President and Executive Director.
"I have written to thank the test taker who brought this to our attention," said Shelton. "This is a rare event, one that we take every precaution to avoid. But when something like this occurs, we are ready to admit our mistake and take whatever steps are necessary to correct the error."
This is the first time since the September 1989 LSAT administration that LSAC has had to recalculate and rereport LSAT scores due to a flawed question. More than 4,000 different LSAT questions have been administered to well over 1,000,000 test takers since that time without a similar incident.
"The one-point score change is well within the standard error of measurement for LSAT scores," Shelton said. "A difference of one point should not have an impact on any law school admission decisions. Nonetheless, the LSAC is reporting revised scores in the interest of accuracy."
The LSAT is a half-day standardized test required for admission to all LSAC-member law schools. It consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. Four of the five sections contribute to the test taker's score. These sections include one reading comprehension, one analytical reasoning section, and two logical reasoning sections. The fifth section is typically used to pretest new test items and to equate test forms. The score scale for the LSAT is 120 to 180.
The LSAC is a nonprofit organization whose membership includes 183 ABA-approved law schools in the United States and 15 Canadian law schools.
Computerized LSAT Delayed
The LSAC Board of Trustees recently approved a three year extension of the research and development process for the computerized LSAT. Accordingly, the earliest date a computerized LSAT could appear is 2007. In the meantime the LSAT will retain the traditional paper-and-pencil format.
Last year a prototype of the computerized LSAT Reading Comprehension section was shown at the Law School Forums. Although still in development, the program allowed students to underline text, eliminate answers graphically, and return to questions within a passage question set. However, of concern to test takers is the fact that in the Reading Comprehension section the passage is split on a paragraph basis into different viewscreens. Thus, the test taker must click on a tab or arrow to view different paragraphs which are then displayed on a new screen. (The same process is required to move from question to question). In addition, there is no way to make notations on the screen text. Hopefully, the additional three years of research and development will yield improvements in the prototype. Until then, PowerScore will continue to oppose the use of computerized tests.
LSAT Thieves Sentenced
This report from the PRNewswire: The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) today hailed a decision by a California Superior Court judge sentencing two men to a year in prison for stealing a copy of the LSAT in February of 1997.
"We hope this sends a strong message to those who think they can cheat their way into law school," said Philip D. Shelton, LSAC President and Executive Director. "Instead of promising careers in the legal profession these men now face futures as convicted felons."
Danny Khatchaturian and Dikran Iskendarian were each sentenced to a year in county prison and 5 years probation by Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler for their role in the conspiracy. A third conspirator, Ashot Melikyan, was sentenced in October to a year in prison for stealing the test at knifepoint. The answers were transmitted to Khatchaturian and Iskendarian via pager at a LSAT administration given later the same day in Hawaii. Fidler also ordered the trio to pay nearly $97,000 in restitution to the LSAC to compensate it for the cost of developing the test.
"If you are going to cheat you may be caught and if you're caught you will be punished," said Fidler at the sentencing.
For more on this story, see our original report below.
October 1999 Answer Sheets Missing from Rutgers
The following report was released by ABC News: "Answer sheets for more than 100 aspiring lawyers who took the Law School Admissions Test at Rutgers University are missing. They were supposed to be sent to the grading center by Federal Express. But the test administrator sent the sheets by regular mail. The Post Office has NOT been able to locate the sheets from the October second exam. If they're NOT found by November second, the scores will NOT count and test takers will have to retake the exam or get a refund." One suspects the Rutgers' test takers will go postal if the results are not located soon.
October 1997 LSAT Question Withdrawn
For the first time in the 1990s, a question has been withdrawn from an LSAT for quality control reasons. According to LSAC officials, the first question of the second Logical Reasoning section was withheld from scoring, leaving the test with only 100 questions. Although several LSAT questions were withdrawn in the 1980s, none has been withdrawn since the advent of the most recent LSAT test format in June 1991. Copies of the withdrawn question will not be released. Strangely, student score reports indicate that the answer to the withdrawn question was (C).
In events proving that some people don't know what the "law" in "lawyer" actually means, LSAC officials announced that a copy of the February 1997 LSAT was stolen from a University of Southern California test center. Several suspects have been arrested in the case, and the possible loss to LSAC totals $500,000. Attempting to exploit the Hawaii-California time zone difference, one test taker walked out of the testing center with the exam and then allegedly transmitted answers to another test taker in Hawaii via pager. For more details, read the article in the USC Daily Trojan.