The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) has moved on from pencil and paper and will now be administered digitally.
The test is still given in predetermined locations with proctors but will be taken on tablets. According to the Law School Admissions Council, which administers the LSAT, students will have access to tools that help them use the new digital system. Also, the test will now be offered nine times a year, as opposed to the previous four dates offered annually.
Glen Stohr, senior manager of instructional design at education and test preparation company Kaplan, said the digital format could make cheating even more difficult and unlikely.
“The test should be more secure,” Stohr said. “These tablets on which the test is administered, basically, they have a proprietary software that delivers the test. If somebody tries to take one, once it’s out of range of its ‘mothership computer,’ it would have nothing on it.”
Stohr also said that the Law School Admission Council has done well in the creation of the digital test without sacrificing quality.
“They made the effort to find a digital way to administer the test that allowed them to preserve the structure and format of the test, almost entirely intact to what it was,” Stohr said. “There is no change whatsoever to the number and types of questions.”
To reassure students about the new version of the test, Stohr said that the students just need to be practical when using the testing system.
“I think so much of getting ready to use the digital tool is just a matter of practicality,” Sohr said. “It doesn’t affect the logic that you will be using or the reading strategies you’ll apply to the passage.”
Troy Lowry, senior vice president of technology products at the Law School Admission Council, said that the process of taking a digital test is often less stressful for the test takers.
“The interface is much cleaner and easier to use,” said Lowry. “The going back and forth with the scantron answer sheets is never easy, and it’s really surprising how often people would get the wrong answers.”
Lowry also said that since the official launch of the digital test on Sept. 21, students and professors have commented on the efficiency of the test.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Lowry said. “The test day itself is much quicker.”
Lowry also shared some of the helpful tools included in the digital testing system to aid the test takers.
“You can mark which [questions] that you’re not sure about,” Lowry said. “It tells you which ones you completed. Right along the bottom [of the tablet screen] you can tell which ones are done, which ones are not done.”
Karen Severn, professional school advisor at the Texas A&M Career Center, said that there are aspects of the test that are beneficial to students — especially financially.
“One thing I was very pleasantly surprised about the digital LSAT is that it really didn’t raise the price of the test,” Severn said. “All the other tests are more expensive.”
While the digital LSAT does offer more opportunities for students to take the test, Severn said that the new dates of the test are not at all convenient to the students.
“I think it’s awful; I might be the only person that says that,” Severn said. “The reason I think it’s awful is because of the day of the week. They’re almost all on Mondays, and that’s problematic.”
Severn herself has been very proactive in the argument against the test days offered, and even reached out offering a solution to the problem.
“They need to look differently,” Severn said. “If you’re going to give it on a weekday, why not Friday? Most community colleges, there’s a lot of them that don’t have classes on Friday afternoons.”
Lowry said that while the LSAT’s new format is important in the field of digital testing, the focus is still primarily on the people taking the test.
“We have heard from enough supervisors in particular that this is the cleanest test rollout that they’ve seen,” Lowry said. “Ultimately we want to make sure the test-takers have as good an experience as possible.”