C’Mon LSAC, You Can’t Be Serious With This …

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The Law School Admission Council — AKA LSAC, the folks who write and administer the LSAT — just posted the deadlines to register for the September LSAT. Normally, this isn’t newsworthy. Especially when we’re still focusing on all of our students taking the forthcoming June and July LSATs. But we’ve actually been waiting on this news with baited breath, over here at Blueprint.

Is that because we’re total nerds who are way too obsessed with the vicissitudes of this exam? Perhaps — in a deep-seated-I’m-not-ready-to-acknowledge-or-publically-admit-this-kind-of-way. But the reason I’ll give you right now is a bit different. Since LSAC announced that there would be a July LSAT in 2018 for the first time, we — after the shock of a new LSAT subsided — realized that this new test might present a bit of a scheduling challenge to test takers.

You see, LSAC usually makes the deadline to sign up for an LSAT about five weeks before the date of the exam. They used to have a more expensive “late registration” deadline a week after, but they got rid of that this year. Anyway, if LSAC made the registration deadline to sign up for the September 2018 LSAT the usual five weeks prior to the test, that deadline would fall on the same week as the brand new July 2018 exam. So as we waited for LSAC to release the registration deadlines for the September tests, we wondered if they’d move the deadline a week back. To give July test takers who decided they wanted to take another bite at the apple and sign up for the September LSAT the time and opportunity to do so.

I mean, we thought this was a reasonable assumption. After all, last year LSAC removed the cap on the number of times people can take the LSAT, so clearly they’ve thought about this and want to encourage people to take the test more than once. And LSAC CEO Kellye Testy is out here, just this week, offering quotes like, “I want our organization to be the one to not only open those doors [to a legal education], but reaches out to help people through them. That’s my main goal: to position us as prospective students’ best friend.” So we figured that LSAC would make a student-friendly decision and put the deadline to register for the September LSAT at least a few days after the July LSAT, probably even a week after.

Boy, were we wrong.

LSAC announced that the deadline to sign up for the September LSAT is July 23, the same [explicative deleted] day as the July LSAT.

So, here’s the unfortunate reality for July test takers: You’ll take the July exam. We hope it goes great. If you’re a Blueprint student, stick to your current study plan, and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t go great.

At any rate, after the test is over, you’ll be ready to forget about the LSAT, for at least a day or two. To cast logic games and the common fallacies aside for just a moment and celebrate finishing a milestone on your path to a legal career.

Except you can’t really do that. Not yet, at least. You’ll have to make a decision, and you’ll only have a couple of hours to do so. If you think that you didn’t do as well on the July LSAT as you hoped, and you want another shot to try again before November, then you’ll have until 11:59 pm EDT — or if you live in the Pacific time zone, 8:59 pm PDT — to sign up for September. The July LSAT will excuse test takers around 5 or 6 pm. So you’ll literally have a few hours to make this decision. We’re not even sure how it’ll work for those of you in Hawai’i, who have a 5:59 pm deadline.

You might not think this is a big deal; making a decision within a few hours shouldn’t be that difficult or onerous. But here’s the thing: immediately after the LSAT, everyone feels like it didn’t go well. It’s a long and grueling exam. One that typically ends with the most difficult material. We always caution our students who are thinking about canceling their score or signing up to retake the test again to sleep on it and do some reflection.

Except July test takers won’t be able to do that. They’ll have to make their decision — distorted by the experience of having just taken the exam — within a couple hours. I’ve given countenance to countless students following an LSAT, and they’re often nervous and emotional wrecks. Some of my best students, who ended up doing great on their LSATs, were ready to cancel their scores immediately after the test, sight unseen. They’re good people, but they were in a position in which they’re prone to make rash decisions. I imagine that many July test takers will feel not great after the exam — even though they did quite well on the exam and don’t really have to take test again — and will decide to sign up for the September exam that day.

To add insult to injury, LSAC also announced today that they’re raising the fees to register for the LSAT. It’s not a huge change — it’s up from $180 to now $190 — but it’s a little bit of a low blow, right? They’re introducing a policy change that might lead to people unnecessarily signing up for a later LSAT and they’re making it more expensive to sign up for said later LSAT. As the youths say, smdh.

So the announcement today is disappointing to us. In the grand scheme of things, maybe not the biggest deal; after all, there were more upsetting announcements made today. And hopefully by next year, with a new schedule, LSAC will figure out a way for this to not happen again. But for an organization that has for a few years touted how it’s going to make the LSAC more open and accessible to students, today’s announcement runs counter to its stated ideals.

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