Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Nearly 90 Percent of Law Schools Say the Political Climate Was a Significant Factor in Application Increase

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Two new Kaplan Test Prep surveys find that politics continues to be a significant reason for the recent increase in law school applications.

Two new Kaplan Test Prep surveys find that politics continues to be a significant reason for the recent increase in law school applications.

New York, NY (February 25, 2019) – According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2018 law school admissions officers survey, an overwhelming 87 percent report that the current political climate in the U.S. was a significant factor in this past cycle’s application increase*. This includes 30 percent who describe it as a “very significant” factor. These were the results from a phone survey which included 121 law schools.

This politics-driven application bump may continue, according to a separate Kaplan survey of pre-law students**. Forty-five percent say that the current political climate impacted their decision to apply to law school, a marked increase from the 32 percent who answered this way in a Kaplan survey released last year.  Overall, 57 percent of those surveyed say they plan to use their law degree to advocate for political or public policy issues they care about.

The Kaplan survey also found that not only is politics driving pre-law students to their choice of careers, but also to where they plan to attend law school. Nearly half (46 percent) say it is important for them to attend a law school where their fellow students generally share their own political and/or social beliefs.

While law school admissions officers largely agree that politics is a major reason for their reversal in application volume fortunes, which came after years of application declines, they offer words of caution to pre-law students who say politics is their main reason to attend law school:

   – “Be careful about that, because the current political climate will change. Instead of worrying about that, focus more on the problems that you want to solve. Be specific about the problems in society or the corporate world or whatever you want to solve, and think about how best to do that.”

   – “I would caution them that there are lots of ways to be involved politically, and being a lawyer is a really serious commitment to a career. While lawyers certainly contribute and make change, it’s also a big decision financially and in terms of time, so they should put some thought into it and possible other ways to make change before jumping in.”

   – “I would tell them to make sure they find a program that specifically outlines and addresses that type of law their interested in. Do an internship focusing on that to make sure that’s the avenue they want to go down.”

“Throughout 2017 and into 2018, there were significant increases in both LSAT® takers and law school applications over the previous admissions cycle, which has fueled speculation about how much impact the political climate had on the law school admissions landscape. We now have an answer: according to both law schools and aspiring lawyers it’s meaningful. Politics is good for business,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of admissions programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “As law school admissions officers point out, caring about politics alone is generally not a strong enough reason to attend law school, as politics changes quickly.  We continue to advise pre-law students to be introspective about their reasons for applying and future-looking about what they plan to do with a JD in the long term.”

Thomas points out that although the number of LSATs taken in the last testing cycle was up double digits compared to the previous year, indications are that for the 2018-2019 cycle, that number is likely to be flat. “Perhaps the sugar rush for applying to law school is over due to reasons outside of politics, but applications will continue to be at elevated levels compared to just a few year ago,” he adds.

*Based on the results of Kaplan survey conducted by phone of 121 law schools between August and September 2018. Among the law schools polled were 30 of the top 50, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
**Based on the results of a Kaplan e-survey conducted in February 2019 of 146 pre-law students who took a Kaplan LSAT course.

LSAT® is a registered trademark of Law School Admission Council, Inc. which does not review or endorse specific test preparation materials or services.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 200 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Among those tests are the SAT®, PSAT®, ACT®, GRE®, GMAT®, LSAT®, MCAT®, NCLEX-RN® and bar exams. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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