Kaplan Test Prep Survey: The Politics-Driven Law School Application Increase Continues

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Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter: @KapTestNews, @KaplanLSATPrep

New York, NY (January 29, 2020) – According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey of more than 100 law schools across the United States, 84 percent of admissions officers believe that the current political climate was a significant factor in this past admissions cycle’s increase of 3.3 percent in law school applications*. This includes 26 percent who describe it as a “very significant” factor. In Kaplan’s 2018 law school admissions officers survey, a similar 87 percent said the political climate drove the cycle’s nearly nine percent increase in applications, the first significant increase after years of plummeting application volume after the Great Recession. 

This application bump—driven by an interest in politics—may continue, according to a separate Kaplan survey of over 400 pre-law students**. Forty-one percent say that the political climate impacted their decision to apply to law school, a decrease from 45 percent in 2019, but a marked increase from 32 percent in a Kaplan survey released in 2018

Among the students who said politics was a significant factor, one said: “It’s getting harder and harder for people to come together over basic policies, and as a result, those with less influence (i.e. marginalized individuals/communities) are being forgotten. I want to be a lawyer in large part to bring a voice back to these individuals and fight for equality under the law.” However, another student said it was technology, not politics, driving her interest in a career in law:  “I am interested in studying and practicing intellectual property law, as I believe that with the growth of media technology like streaming, intellectual property attorneys will be in increasing demand.”

Further, the Kaplan survey found that an interest in politics was also driving the choice of where to attend law school. Nearly half (46 percent) say it is important to attend a law school where fellow students generally share their own political and/or social beliefs, the same percentage as last year’s survey found.

“Since 2017, we’ve seen increases in both LSAT® takers and law school applications, which has fueled speculation about how much impact the political climate is having on the law school admissions landscape. At Kaplan we thought it would be worth securing hard data on the issue and tracking this for subsequent cycles. We now have an answer: the impact remains significant and appears to have staying power,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of admissions programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “As law school admissions officers point out, caring about politics alone is not a strong enough reason to attend law school.  Your career in law will outlive any particular presidency. A term in the House lasts two years, law school lasts three years, and a presidency can be as short as four years, but your career will last decades. That’s why we continue to advise pre-law students to think carefully about why they are applying and what they plan to do with their degree in the long term.”

Thomas points out that although the number of law school applications was up this past cycle, the number of first-year students remained flat. “The fact that the number of 1Ls is essentially unchanged from last year despite an overall application increase suggests that law schools may be becoming more selective about who they let in. The number of jobs in the legal sector isn’t keeping up and they are mindful of that. It’s also worth noting that over the past year or so, several law schools have announced plans to close or not accept any new students. This is having an effect too.”

For more information about results from Kaplan’s surveys, contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212.453.7538.

*Based on the results of a Kaplan survey conducted by phone of 101 American Bar Association-accredited law schools between August and September 2019. Among the law schools polled were 29 of the top 50, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

**Based on the results of a Kaplan e-survey conducted between April 2019 and February 2020 of 421 pre-law students who took a Kaplan LSAT course.

LSAT® is a registered trademark of the 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. Among those tests are the SAT®, PSAT®, ACT®, GRE®, GMAT®, LSAT®, and MCAT®. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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