Is the LSAT Going Digital?

May 16, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Digital has infiltrated nearly every corner of the world -- except for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which has been a pencil-and-paper test for its entire life spanning just under seven decades. But that’s about to change, according to a recent report from Above the Law. Here’s a closer look at what to expect as the LSAT sets its sights on entering the 21st century.

Overdue for Change

With the computerized GRE picking up steam as an alternative to the LSAT, a switch to digital seems timely. But, the computerization of the test has been in the works for roughly two decades, according to Law.com, which reports that the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) “has spent ‘tens of millions of dollars’ researching digital options, but has moved cautiously to preserve the integrity and security of the exam.”

A Test Test

A small group of test-takers will sit for the pilot digital LSAT this May 20. Explained Troy Lowry, director of candidate services, product development and deputy chief information officer at the LSAC, “The current concept—using tablet computers provided to test takers by the LSAC at traditional testing centers—emerged in 2012, with a prototype coming the following year. The tablet model has been tested in small-scale exams taken by people specifically recruited by the LSAC. Next month’s pilot is different both in its scale—it’s being offered at 20 different locations across the country—and the fact that participation was open to the public.”

LSAT test takers shouldn’t throw out their number 2 pencils just yet, however. Scores from this “unofficial” test will not be reported to the LSAC, however, and there is currently no firm timeline for when the test will become official. When it does, however, test takers will have yet another reason to celebrate: A computerized exam also brings with it the promise of more timely scores.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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