In October 2018, the Law School Admission Council made two announcements about 2019 LSAT test changes with the stated goal of modernizing law school admissions and easing the process of applying to law school for students taking the LSAT in summer 2019 and beyond.
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What’s changing on the LSAT in 2019?
First, the LSAC announced the transition to a digital tablet-based testing format from its paper-and-pencil format. Digital testing should allow for a more consistent test-taking experience and for scores to be in students’ hands faster.
This move from paper-and-pencil also has the thumbs up from law schools. In Kaplan’s 2018 law school admissions officers survey, nearly 80 percent of the JD programs we spoke with think this move is a good idea. In fact, LSAT is somewhat behind the curve in this area — the other major graduate level admissions exams like the GRE, GMAT, and MCAT have been digital for years already.
When is the LSAT digital transition happening?
The LSAT is now administered digitally. Here’s how the transition went down:
- The June 2019 LSAT was the final exam that was paper-and-pencil for everyone.
- The July 2019 LSAT was a “transition” exam, with half of test-takers being assigned a paper-and-pencil exam, and half of test-takers being assigned a digital exam.
- The September 2019 LSAT was the first fully digitally-administered exam.
According to the LSAC, “The structure of the test sections and test questions will not be any different than the paper-and-pencil LSAT, and we’ll be providing free online tutorials, so we don’t think test takers will have any problems moving to the digital version.” In other words, the content of the LSAT and the skills tested remain exactly the same.
How does the digital LSAT work?
- Test-takers are given a tablet, blank test booklet, and stylus/pen for test-taking.
- The test booklet is scratch paper that test-takers will use for diagramming Logic Games, etc.
- The interface does not include stylus drawing on the tablet itself.
- The tablet includes new highlighting, underlining, and annotation tools for the Reading Comprehension section.
What does the digital LSAT look like?
The LSAC has released Digital LSAT tutorial videos to help you become familiar with what taking the new, digital LSAT will be like. While you’ll be able to practice highlighting passages, undoing answers, making the font bigger, and more, you won’t be able to score these practice passages or use them to practice your other LSAT skills.
You’ll want to use a tablet with a touch screen when using the Practice and Try Out sections since that’s what you’ll be using on test day. If you don’t have access to a tablet, the videos are also a great resource for more information about what to expect.
The LSAC has published three full practice tests to the Digital LSAT familiarization site. You can visit the LSAC’s official Familiarization Site for the new digital LSAT.
How has the LSAT writing sample changed?
LSAT Writing is now a proctored, on-demand writing exam that you will take online using a secure proctoring software installed on your own computer. There is an additional fee of $15 for LSAT Writing. You can find out more information in the LSAC site’s FAQ section.
The LSAC has produced a familiarization tool for LSAT Writing so you can get to know the section and web format before taking the exam as part of your LSAT. In addition to this, “Get Acquainted with LSAT Writing” (including demo software) has been added to student LSAC accounts.
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What is staying the same on the LSAT Writing section?
You will still see the same decision-prompt structure that the LSAT has used in previous administrations. You’ll still have 35 minutes to write an essay in response to the prompt. The writing sample remains as an unscored portion of the LSAT. This means that while law schools will continue to receive a copy of your writing sample, it will not be scored and law schools use your writing sample in various ways.
How does the on-demand LSAT Writing section work?
After installing the secure proctoring software on your computer, you will access the LSAT Writing prompt directly from your LSAC account. You will be recorded, have to present government ID to the camera, and audio and video from every testing session will be reviewed by trained proctors. Candidates now register for LSAT Writing at the same time they register for the LSAT, and will be eligible to take LSAT Writing beginning on the day of their LSAT administration and for up to a year after that date. Candidates are not required to pay for LSAT Writing until they are ready to take the writing test.
Why is this digital change happening to the LSAT?
The LSAC is responding to test-taker and law school feedback by making LSAT test day shorter, making testing more flexible, providing typed writing samples (so law school admissions officers don’t have to try and decipher handwritten responses), and simulating conditions under which you might take law school exams in the future.
How has Kaplan updated LSAT prep courses to reflect the changes?
Kaplan has been working feverishly to update our curriculum to reflect digital test-taking strategies and will be providing extensive practice tools, including a digital test user interface. You can get tips and strategies for taking on the exam’s digital format in our free e-book.
The LSAC also announced an expansion to nine testing dates for the 2019-2020 testing year, giving you more opportunities to test when you’re ready. Here’s the full calendar of the remaining upcoming test dates and times:
- Monday, January 13, 2020 12:30 p.m. – moves earlier from 2019 date
- Saturday, February 22, 2020 8:30 a.m. – new testing date
- Monday, March 30, 2020 12:30 p.m.
- Saturday, April 25, 2020 8:30 a.m - new testing date
Saturday Sabbath observers may request to take the test on an alternative date that will be scheduled within one week of the published test date. They will first need to register for the LSAT and indicate their request for an alternative date, then provide a signed letter from their cleric to authenticate their request.
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As is customary, the June, September and November administrations will continue to be the three annual disclosed tests, meaning, they will be released as PrepTests after the fact.