LSAT goes digital, allows for new opportunities

Natalie White studies on her laptop in the J. Reuben Clark Law School. (Preston Crawley)

Are you planning on taking the LSAT? If you’re not a paper and pencil person, the Law School Admission Council released a digital version of the test on Sept. 21.

Features of the test include highlighting erasing and underlining tools as well as buttons to change the screen brightness, text size and the spacing between lines. Unlike the paper-and-pencil LSAT, the digital LSAT also allows the test taker to flag questions. The digital practice test, also available online, allows users to navigate and become familiar with the new testing format.

Nicole Lagemann, a teacher for BYU’s LSAT preparation class, said that although there are benefits to having access to these tools in a digital format, there are also drawbacks — particularly in the reading comprehension section. Because the format is digital, the space for reading the passages is limited. However, it is possible to enlarge the text so it takes up the whole screen.

“But again, it’s on a tablet, it’s a touchscreen, so that’s a pretty easy thing to maneuver, but you still don’t have it all right in front,” Lagemann said. “So, I think that’s a little clunkier. I don’t know how you fix that on a test that’s digital.”

One aspect of the digital test that Stacie Stewart, BYU Law dean of admissions, said she is excited about is the written portion.

“I’m super excited that the writing sample’s going to be online,” Stewart said. “Some people just have better handwriting than others. So, I’m actually excited that the writing portion will be on the tablet because it will be much easier to read.”

Stewart said that instead of taking the writing portion of the test for every attempt at the LSAT, the written portion can be carried over.

“If somebody took the LSAT two or three times, they would have to do the writing portion two or three times,” Stewart said. “Where now that it’s digital, they only have to take the writing section once.”

According to Stewart, online grading means test takers may be able to receive their scores sooner than the current three-week turnaround as the digital test is more firmly implemented.

Comparing past and future test administration and approximate score release dates, the anticipated 28-day wait time for the test administered Oct. 28, is approximately 10 days faster than the wait time for the July 15 test. The July test occurred during the LSAT’s transition to the digital format.

Though the digital format has been released, Sam Dampt, a student at the BYU Law School for over two years, said if he had to take the LSAT again, he would still take the written version.

“Maybe that’s just because that’s what I’ve already done,” Dampt said. “At least I would know what to expect.”

According to the Law School Admissions Council, the next LSAT will be offered Nov. 25 starting at 12:30 p.m. Unlike the test offered Oct. 28, this will be a disclosed test.

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