Curves. What a pointy, harsh, angular world it would be without them. And we can also thank them for their help boosting our scaled scores on the LSAT year after year. Recently, however, the LSAT seems to be reaching new heights on the Curvaceous Scale. The December LSAT had a -14 curve for a score of 170, and the June LSAT curve was -13.
Can we expect further blossoming of this trend, or is it soon to deflate?
While it would be a logical fallacy to assume a future outcome on the basis of past performance, we can entertain ourselves with speculation all we like. First, a little background on LSAT curve statistics.
As mentioned, on the December 2013 LSAT you could miss 14 questions for score of 170. This allowed for almost 3 more missed questions than the past average of -11.375 for a 170 on December LSATs. The June 2014 LSAT was also particularly forgiving, allowing -13 for a 170 when past June LSATs have only permitted -10 on average. (For reasons unknown, the curves have been historically more lenient on December LSATs, though this is not to say that those tests weren’t more difficult as well.)
Do these recent tests suggest a new direction for LSAC toward more challenging tests with correspondingly larger LSAT curves? Though it could be tempting to draw that conclusion, it is important to remember that two data points do not make a trend. Even if we continue to see more instances of comparable LSAT curves, it is not in LSAC’s interest to be predictable, so it is difficult to say whether its policy is shifting or it just likes to change things up from time to time.
What does this uncertainty mean for you as a future LSAT test-taker? The best way to use this information in your preparation is to be mentally prepared for more difficult questions, both throughout the test and early on in the sections. If you are expecting an extra challenge, you’ll either be pleasantly surprised if the test is easier, or you will keep your cool if the challenge does indeed come. If an LSAT seems to kick your ass more than usual, you will have the hope of a better curve to keep your spirits up.
Remember, difficulty can present itself in many ways. During my LSAT administration, someone fainted next to me and the proctors attended to her disruptively without pausing the test. Needless to say, that kind of challenge didn’t have an accompanying curve to lessen the blow. So remember that in addition to knowing the material like a pro, you need to maintain your concentration and confidence regardless of the tough questions or circumstances that arise.