Monday, June 1, 2020

LSAT to go digital this month

September 20, 2019
“The Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215 -2015” by The American Bar Association in conjunction with the U.S. Library of Congress is displayed in the College of Law on Feb. 12, 2019.
“The Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215 -2015” by The American Bar Association in conjunction with the U.S. Library of Congress is displayed in the College of Law on Feb. 12, 2019. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

The Law School Admission Council, administrators of the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, have decided to make the test completely digital starting Sept. 21.

“The current test change is entirely a change in the format of the delivery,” Glen Stohr, Kaplan LSAT teacher and senior manager for online design, said. “The questions are the same kinds of questions, the same number of questions, same timing on the section, but there's no more paper book and no more bubble sheet.”

The now-digital LSAT soft launched in July, where those in charge of making the test administered a paper and pencil test to half of test takers and a digital version to the other half.

“Based on a survey of Kaplan students who took the LSAT in its new format in July, respondents were practically even in their evaluation as to whether the digital test was easier, harder or about what they anticipated, although the largest number claimed it was easier,” according to a press release.

On test day, aspiring attorneys will get an admissions ticket after they register, which they will bring to their assigned testing room. There, they will receive a tablet and a stylus to take their LSAT.

Stohr said the most important thing for students to do to prepare for the new medium is to learn the technology and its tools.

“They need to learn the digital interface and they need to practice in that digital interface enough that they know which of the digital tools they want to use and how they want to use it most effectively," he said.

The digital test features new tools to allow test takers to underline, highlight and even grey-out content to improve the test-taking experience. According to the press release, test takers liked some functions more than others.

“While those results are mixed, digital LSAT takers were more conclusive when specifically asked about technological aspects of the exam like touch-activated page turning, stylus functionality, and time keeping. A majority rate this experience ‘very good’ or ‘good,'" the press release said. “Some students, however, called out specific challenges they faced. The most commonly cited issue was with the stylus, with one student saying, ‘I kept underlining or highlighting things that I didn’t mean to, or undoing my earlier annotations when I accidentally highlighted more than I needed to.'"

The LSAT isn’t the first standardized test to go digital.

According to Stohr, tests like the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) have already made strides toward being online.

“Over the last decade, all of those tests have had this same kind of transition,” Stohr said. “They have gone from old paper test to a new, online, computer-based or computer-adapted format. So, we’ve had a lot of experience helping people get ready and take the practice and the learning they’ve done in paper and translate it to strong performances in an online or computer-based environment.”

To ease test anxiety from the new format, Kaplan released a free downloadable e-book, which outlines everything test takers need to know about the online test. Stohr believes practicing the digital interface will help test takers take advantage of the change.

“Don’t let the digital format freak you out,” Stohr said. “Get familiar with it, learn how to use it effectively and it’ll actually be to your advantage. Let the other people who are coming in be freaked out because they haven’t done the work to get ready. If you really prepare yourself, a test change like this can be really to your advantage.”

Correction: A previous version of this story stated Kaplan administered the LSAT. It has been updated to reflect that the Law School Admission Council administers the test.

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