The LSAT Inconveniences Students For Profit

A.J. Fezza, Opinion Editor

As hordes of freshmen settle into life on Villanova’s campus, many seniors are making preparations for life after Villanova. For some, this includes preparing for law school and thus taking the notorious Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT.

This past week, on Aug. 31, tens of thousands of students across the country received results from their August LSAT. Next week, on Sept. 9 and 10, thousands more will take the September LSAT.

One would probably assume that those who are dissatisfied with their August scores can register to retake the test in September, and likewise, that those who did well in August can cancel their September test registration if they wish. However, you would be assuming incorrectly. 

LSAT registration deadlines for a given test are routinely scheduled right before the preceding test date. For example, the September LSAT registration deadline was 13 days before the August LSAT. 

There is no clear reason for such an early registration deadline. Since 2020, the LSAT has been a fully-online exam, identical for all students. There are no physical tests to distribute and no physical testing centers to prepare. The only reason why the LSAC (Law School Admissions Council) may need such early registration dates is to prepare digital proctors. 

The SAT (taken for undergraduate university admission) has no comparable timeframe. For comparison, SAT registration deadlines are typically within a mere four weeks of the test date.

It is almost as if the LSAC wants a person to empty his or her pockets by signing up for an unnecessary number of LSAT dates, unaware if one’s first LSAT score is satisfactory for target schools.

Yet, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues surrounding the LSAT.

The LSAT price stands at a whopping $215 per exam, making retakes a costly endeavor. 

Meanwhile, the SAT is only $55 per exam. An argument could be made that more people take the SAT, making distribution easier. Still, pricing at almost quadruple the amount of the SAT is excessive. 

This is especially true when considering that the LSAT is the only exam prospective law students can take. Most law schools will not accept alternatives to the LSAT in the way that universities accept both the SAT and the ACT.

In terms of content, the LSAT has three sections: Analytical Reasoning, Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. These sections require test-takers to analyze logic games, short passages and long passages, respectively. The LSAT is designed to test reasoning skills in order to gauge suitability for law school. As such, it would make sense that the LSAT would be an exam one cannot easily study for, like most IQ tests. After all, one’s innate reasoning ability does not undergo drastic improvement over the course of three months (the most common length of LSAT preparation).

However, the LSAT is not designed in this way whatsoever. The test is highly memorizable, and students can improve through repetition. Thus, the test favors those who have the time and money for test preparation services like those offered by Kaplan and the Princeton Review.

At the very least, it would be better if the LSAC admitted as much and adjusted its messaging and services accordingly. It could make all of its previous LSATs available for free so everyone has the chance for repetitive practice, instead of charging $99 for this service. Additionally, LSAT score reports could include breakdowns by section instead of simply showing your score and your percentile ranking, so that one can adjust their studying habits for future test dates. Yet, none of these measures have been adopted. 

Some Villanova students, like senior Hunter Dickson, appreciate the LSAT as a tool for law school admissions.

“I like the LSAT because it removes all the externalities,” Dickson said. “There’s no superfluous stuff to the [law school] admissions decision. It’s pretty much based on your LSAT and GPA and very few supplemental things, so it’s really good for giving everyone a clean slate.”

For Dickson, the problem with law school goes beyond its admissions testing process and into its actual content.

“What I don’t like is that it’s meant to prepare you for the language and skills used in law school, but law school doesn’t actually prepare you for the realities of being a lawyer whatsoever, so it seems like the mindset is kind of messed up,” he said.

Even if the LSAT is theoretically a valuable tool and a “clean slate,” it is hard to deny that it is much more poorly-managed and unfair to test-takers than the SAT. If the College Board’s greed surrounding SAT practices is disheartening, then the LSAT is a nightmare.