Online version of LSAT gaining clout with law schools

Like many things that scrambled to the virtual world as the coronavirus chased everyone inside their own homes, the online version of the LSAT is turning out to be a popular replacement to the traditional in-person law school entrance exam.

Law schools around the country said aspiring law students who take LSAT-Flex – the shorter, at-home version of the Law School Admission Test – will not suffer a disadvantage during the admissions process, according to a recently released survey of 91 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association.

The survey found 92% of the law schools said they will evaluate applicants equally regardless of which version of the LSAT they take. Also, 60% agreed that an at-home version of the LSAT “would produce a fair, reliable score for test-takers” while 13% disagreed and the remaining 27% did not offer a definitive opinion.

“The most asked question we’ve received from pre-law students this year has been ‘Will I be at an admissions disadvantage if I take the shortened LSAT-Flex instead of the longer regular LSAT?’” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of legal programs at Kaplan. “Now we have an answer. Almost every law school reports that a strong score is a strong score no matter which version of the test you take.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic slammed the United States, the Law School Admission Council canceled the March and April dates for the LSAT. The council rolled out LSAT-Flex in May as an alternative to having the applicants gather in one place to take the test. Since then, the online LSAT has replaced the in-person version through the summer months and will continue to be given at least through November, according to the LSAC website.

Applicants taking LSAT-Flex use their own laptop or desktop computers and are monitored by live remote proctors through the camera and microphone on their computers. The exam itself uses genuine LSAT questions to test reading comprehension, analytical reasoning and logical reasoning. It consists of three 35-minute sections as opposed the four 35-minute sections plus an unscored section on the traditional test.

Year-over-year registrations for the admission test dropped off dramatically in with summer with June and July seeing roughly 22,730 registrants, nearly 20,000 less than June and July in 2019, according to LSAC data. However, the registrations for the October and November exams have reached 68,213, almost 28,000 more than the 2019 figures for the same months.

“At Kaplan, we strongly encourage aspiring law school students to take advantage of the at-home version of the LSAT instead of waiting for testing centers to reopen,” Thomas said. “Not only is the exam significantly shorter than the regular LSAT, but there’s also no telling when the regular LSAT testing centers will be offered again, as LSAT-Flex is the only version being administered through the end of 2020.”

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