By Aaron Searle
Adjustments to the Law School Admission Test could bring a sigh of relief for some students, but changes to the Medical College Admission Test might turn out to be a mixed blessing.
Typically, around 840 BYU students take the LSAT every year, according to BYU”s Preprofessional Advisement Center, and this year there is a change in the way the scores of students who take the test multiple times will be handled.
“This change is about the American Bar Association and what they require law schools to do in terms of reporting the LSAT scores of their students to them,” said Anne Brandt of the Law School Admission Council.
The bar association wants to know the characteristics of each new class entering law schools every year. This includes their LSAT scores, Brandt said.
In the past the bar association has required law schools to submit the average LSAT score of their students who have taken the test more than once, but this past summer they announced they will now accept those students” highest score, instead of their average, Brandt said.
Though law schools have always been able to use either the applicant”s average or high score in their own admissions decisions, the fact that schools now can report students” LSAT high scores to the bar association has an impact on law schools” admission decisions, said Catherine Bramble, prelaw advisor at the center.
“I think some law schools were hesitant before,” Bramble said. “They said ”Yeah, we really want to give weight to the highest score because that”s what the student”s aptitude is, but we realize there”s this drawback, we still have to hand in to the ABA an average score for the student and that might lower our overall numbers.” So I really think this change has freed up the law schools to get rid of any of that type of hesitancy.”
This might give relief for some students who need to repeat the test, Bramble said, but it”s still better for the students to take the test once and be done with it rather than rely on the “multiple attempt” tactic.
Though there is little concern over the changes to the LSAT, mixed feelings exist about modifications to the MCAT. Starting January 2007, the MCAT will be administered entirely electronically, said Nicole Buckley, media relations manager with the Association of American Medical Colleges. This new format will provide a number of benefits, Buckley said in an e-mail.
The number of dates students can take the test will increase from two to 22 a year, the test will have fewer questions, the test day will be about half as long as it used to be and the wait students must endure to get their score back will be reduced by half.
Though all these benefits exist, some students still have apprehension about the new test format.
“The students who work in my office and took the MCAT last summer have said they would prefer not to take the computerized MCAT,” said Jeanine Ehat, office specialist for the Preprofessional Advisement center. “I think there are a couple of things that factor into that. One might be the fear of the unknown, because they”ve practiced and prepared for that paper exam. They also might wonder if they”re going to be guinea pigs for the computer exams.”
It is also a legitimate concern, Ehat said, that the limited seating due to the new technology requirements will fill up faster and students won”t be able to take the test on the day they want to.
“If I were a student, I would pay attention to when I could start registering and I”d be on the computer registering for the date I wanted as soon as I could,” Ehat said.