A key change to the LSAT is coming next year.
According to the Law School Admission Council, the Analytical Reasoning portion of the exam, commonly known as “logic games,” will be replaced with a second Logical Reasoning section effective August 2024.
LSAC announced the change on Oct. 18, following a 2019 settlement with two blind test takers who claimed they were disadvantaged because they could not draw or use diagrams to answer questions in the Analytical Reasoning portion.
“This concern was not shared by all blind test takers,” Susan Krinsky, executive vice president for operations and chief of staff at LSAC, wrote in an Oct. 18 announcement. “Nevertheless, in order to address any concerns about diagramming, LSAC committed to research alternative methods for assessing analytical or deductive reasoning skills, as well as the extent to which those skills are assessed on other existing sections of the LSAT.
“After extensive review of alternatives,” Krinsky said, “LSAC has decided the best way to continue to assess students’ reasoning skills is through the addition of a second Logical Reasoning section to replace the existing logic games section.”
On the new version of the LSAT, test takers will sit for two scored Logical Reasoning sections, one scored Reading Comprehension Section, and one unscored section of either Logical Reasoning or Reading Comprehension that will allow LSAC to pilot items for future tests.
“Replacing the current logic games with a second LR section will ensure that the LSAT continues to assess the reasoning skills that are so important to the study and practice of law, while eliminating the concerns that were raised about the use of diagramming,” Krinksy wrote.
She continued, “Extensive research, involving hundreds of thousands of test takers over multiple years, has confirmed that substituting a second logical reasoning section for the logic games section had virtually no impact on overall scoring — an analysis of over 200,000 test sessions found that the mean score changed by 1/100th of a point.”
Now or later?
With the LSAT change still some nine months away, undergraduate pre-law advisers are working with their students to evaluate the best time to take the exam.
David Bolk, formerly a judge on the Vigo Circuit Court and now a senior lecturer at Indiana State University, said his current guidance to pre-law students depends on whether a student does well with logic games.
If so, then Bolk is encouraging prospective law students to take the test now. But if not, then waiting may be the best option.
“If you’re really good at it, you need to take the LSAT before no later than June,” Bolk said. “You probably should take it maybe in April, which I hardly ever recommend. But taking it in April, then if you don’t want your score, you can take in June.
“If you wait until June and you don’t do as well … your logic games (score) is going to be gone if you take it in August,” he continued. “I think that’s the biggest issue, and so students need to really kind of self-identify.”
Registration is currently open for the January, February, April and June 2024 exams.
LSAC said it will be providing test preparation materials that mirror the revised test beginning in February 2024. It also announced that it is working with Khan Academy and Equity Accelerator on updating study materials.
“Because students are already very familiar with the (Logical Reasoning) section of the LSAT, adding a second LR section at the beginning of a new testing year will have minimal impact on test takers who have already begun to prepare for the LSAT,” Krinsky wrote Oct. 18.
Bolk also said he does not think the preparation process will change much for students, adding that online test prep sites are also informing students of the upcoming revisions.
Shana Stump, a clinical associate professor at IUPUI, shared the same sentiment as Bolk and added that the exam is set up to test how many questions can be answered in a certain amount of time.
“I think part of LSAT preparation has always been learning how to work your way through the set number of questions in the set amount of time, and that is not changing,” Stump said. “Students are still going to have to do this kind of preparation similar to what they’ve been doing, because so much of the preparation has always been making sure you understand how much time it takes you to work through each kind of question.”
Stump said it’s about personal assessment.
“I do talk to students who are thinking of applying in two years or aren’t sure what their timeline is going to be, and those are really the students who need to make a personal assessment of what that section is like for them and decide whether to take it now or wait a year,” she said of the Analytical Reasoning section.
She added that the logic games were a portion that many found challenging, and she welcomes any changes to make the exam more accessible.
Tim Luczak, assistant dean of enrollment management at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said the upcoming changes to the LSAT won’t change much for the school’s admission policies given that analytical reasoning is tested in other sections of the exam.
But Luczak added, “It’s kind of changed how we’re talking to students right now.”
Because some students do well with logic games and others not so much, Luczak said applicants are being informed of the upcoming changes and encouraged to assess their skills in that area.
“It’s really just also making sure that we are kind of catering to the student and their strengths to make sure that they have the strongest application possible,” he said.
Also, IU McKinney, IU Maurer School of Law and Notre Dame Law School each accept Graduate Record Examination scores in place of the LSAT for students who may be applying to other graduate programs or have recently completed a master’s program.
“That’s another way that we have where students are able to take the GRE in lieu of the LSAT if that is something that they would like to do,” Luczak said.•