The Big News Behind LSAC’s New Policy

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It’s no secret that this year has shaken the Law School Admissions Council. Although there has been an increase in the number of people taking the LSAT in the last few years, the number of test takers was trending downwards for years and years, and the current amount of test takers is nowhere near the apex of the 2009-10 academic year. Plus, the slight increase in test takers hasn’t led to an increase in the number of people applying to law school, which is also of concern to LSAC. Then Harvard Law School flexed hard, and announced that it would allow applicants to apply with a GRE score, in addition to the LSAT. Harvard reasoned that the GRE was more open and accessible to potential applicants than the LSAT, which is admittedly quite restricted in the times and places you can actually take the exam.

All of this has got LSAC positively shook. With both the threat of more law schools accepting the GRE (which, as opposed to the LSAT, does not line LSAC’s coffers with revenue) and the pressure from law schools to get them more applicants, the LSAC is about to make some changes. New LSAC CEO Kellye Y. Testy is out here toying with the idea of increasing the number of dates the LSAT is administered. And the LSAC is openly flaunting a potential digital future for the exam, which may eventually mirror the GRE’s accessibility and adaptive format.

But so far, these changes have all been hypothetical. The first significant change coming from LSAC following all this pressure is … initially kind of anticlimactic. But it’s still worth discussing.

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LSAC announced on Twitter today that starting in September 2017, there will no longer be a limit on how many times test takers can take the LSAT. Since then, LSAC confirmed the news on their website. As of 11:00 am PST today, the tweet has 33 likes, so the news hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. But it’s nonetheless a first step LSAC is taking to make the LSAT more open and accessible to test takers.

Before today, LSAC had a somewhat confusing rule on how many times a test taker could actually take the LSAT. The rule was that you couldn’t take the LSAT more than three times in a two-year period. This means if you took the December 2016 exam, then the February 2017 exam, and then June 2017 exam, you would have hit the three-test limit. You’d have to wait two years from that December 2016 to take the exam. Meaning you’d be waiting until the next congressional class takes office in February 2018 to take the LSAT a fourth time.

Let’s be clear: this previous rule affected very few test takers. Very few people have the need or desire to take the test four times, and even fewer have the tenacity to actually bother taking the test the fourth time. So this rule, on its face, is mostly just a symbolic gesture to make the test seem more accommodating.

But as we all know, there are games beyond the game, motives beyond the motive. As LSAC claimed in its announcement today, the real implication of this rule change is to open the door for LSAC to administer additional LSATs.

That’s right—the LSAT may soon be given more than four times a year. The LSAT studying schedule, in perhaps the very near future, will not be tethered to the February/June/September/December calendar the LSAT has relied on for time immemorial. This is very big news, and a sign that the Testy Administration might just be willing shake up the LSAT, for the benefit of test takers.

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