Less Than Stellar Testing Centers


Less Than Stellar Testing Centers
So there are good testing centers and there are okay testing centers.  We generally define a good testing center as one that has tables instead of desks (not as cramped) and lacks a reputation for conducting the LSAT in a parking lot.  You think we jest, but this actually happened near LAX in Los Angeles last year. Allegedly, there was a motorcycle convention at the same time the LSAT was being administered in a hotel’s parking garage.  As if the test isn’t stressful enough, imagine taking it over the roar of a Harley.

If you’re one of ours, we emailed you to let you know about the best testing centers in your area and to encourage you to sign up quickly since good sites fill up fast.  But if you’re signing up for the LSAT now, you’re going to find that the good centers are already gone and you may have to drive as much as three hours to take the LSAT at all.

If you’re in the latter group, this post is for you.

What are my options?

If the testing center you want is closed, you can register at an alternate location within a 100 mile radius of the site you wanted.  The official LSAC stance is that they only open up a closed testing center if every center within 100 mile radius is full.

One option, then, is to register at an alternate location and drive further the day you’re taking the LSAT. This is always open to you.

If you’re bound and determined to go to a certain center, however, the first thing to attempt is to check the LSAC site several times a day to see if spots have opened up at the center you want.  We know anecdotally that this has been successful for students in the past.  And it makes sense that as students cancel taking a particular LSAT administration, seats open up at testing centers.

If too much time has elapsed and you’re still not getting a seat (the deadline to register for the LSAT is August 25th or you can pay a late fee and register by September 4th), you can always enroll in the less optimal center and then switch to another testing center, later.  The switch will cost another $34 and you’ll still have to check back on the LSAC site often to see if the center to which you want to transfer has any openings.

If all the centers within a 100 mile radius of the testing center you want are closed (Manhattan and San Francisco are like this now), then you can sign up for a waiting list.  LSAC will try to accommodate your preferred location, but they will slot you in wherever a space opens up within a 100 mile radius.  That doesn’t seem like a great option.  Another little special LSAC gift is that you cannot be registered for a particular testing center and also be placed on the waiting list; you have to choose one or the other.

It is also possible to take the test at a particular center just by showing up the day of the test (e.g. you’re registered at one location but just show up at another).  If people don’t show up to take the test, you get a seat.  But if everyone shows up, you’re not taking the LSAT this time around.  This strategy has a high risk, but we’ve had students who have done it and we’ve never heard of someone not getting a seat. Nevertheless, you could be the first and you wouldn’t want that.

So what should I do?

Our advice, for what it’s worth, is just get into the center closest to you from the available options and don’t worry too much about it.  By far the most important thing right now is studying for the LSAT.  No matter how little you drove in the morning or how nice the table on which you’re taking the LSAT, if you can’t figure out what must be true from the stimulus, you’re hosed.

But if you’re really freaked out by taking the test anywhere but the location on which you have your heart set, then we suggest that you wait a few more days and try signing up on September 3rd and 4th. That’s because this is the deadline to change LSAT testing dates or cancel registrations.  As students cancel their registrations for whatever reason, there should be a fair number of spaces opening up on those days.  So haunt the LSAC site and see if you can get the testing center you want.

In the meantime, we suggest trying some shaved ice.  We just tried rainbow medley from a taco truck parked outside the office and I assure you it is delicious.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/josephrobertson/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Article by Jodi Triplett of Blueprint LSAT Preparation.

5 Responses

  1. Joseph says:

    Thanks for the helpful article. Can you give any suggestions on the best testing centers in the NYC area? What’s the best way to find out?


  2. Sarah S. says:

    Hi Joseph,

    The test centers we recommend in New York are Eleanor Roosevelt High School and Rutgers – The State University. We recommend those locations because we have received positive reports back from students and friends we know who have taken exams there. This typically means full desks (none of those ridiculous arm-flippy things), a quiet location and good proctors.

    Hope that helps!

  3. maw says:

    Thank you for giving me some great things to think about. Like the last post, can you tell me which test centers are best near west L.A. and/or the San Fernando Valley? Thanks!

  4. Sarah S. says:

    Hi Maw,

    The LA-area centers that we recommend are Southwestern Law School, University of West LA and Rio Hondo College.

    You definitely want to avoid UCLA and Cal State schools – they tend to stick you with the tiny little chair/desk combos.


  5. JCH says:

    Hi, are you referring to the University of West LA in San Fernando/Chatsworth or the location in Inglewood? Also, they have tables or desks? I’m trying to figure out which location is better since Southwestern is not offered for the June test. Southwestern is by far the best! Thank you in advance.

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