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Counterpoint: The New LSAT Schedule Is Trash

Or, at the very least, it’s a missed opportunity

Yesterday, we talked about all the great benefits resulting from LSAC’s recent decision to offer two additional test dates per year. Today, I’m here to poop on everyone’s party. Here’s why you shouldn’t get too excited about having six chances to take the LSAT every year (aside from the obvious fact that no one gets too excited about taking the LSAT):

1. The changes are still in the distant future

The announced changes don’t really start kicking in until November … of 2018, which is the first time the LSAT will be offered outside its usual June-October-December-February cycle. Plus, that first year will be transitional, so—even though most people study for the LSAT over the summer—the added test administrations will still occur during the school year of 2018-19, instead of adding more summer options.

LSAC has indicated to LSAT Blog that in 2019, they’ll incorporate a July test, so that’s a step in the right direction. However…

2. LSAC still isn’t offering the LSAT at the most ideal time

If you’re a college student preparing for the LSAT, you’d ideally want to start studying at the beginning of the summer, and then take the test in August before you head back to school. That way, you maximize your summer study-time, and there’s no overlap with classes. (As someone who took the October LSAT while I was an undergrad, I can testify that being in the final stages of LSAT prep at the beginning of a new semester is not fun.)

As mentioned above, LSAC reports that they’ll add a July test, but that still cuts the summer in half. Anyone who wants to take the July test would have to start studying in the spring—probably not a big deal for those who have already graduated from school, but for the many, many undergrads who take the LSAT every year, it’s very far from ideal. If LSAC is going to go to the trouble of adding extra test dates, why would they NOT add more at the time when most students want to take the LSAT?

3. It’s unclear how this will work with LSAC’s current structure of score releases and deadlines

Under the current structure, someone who took the June LSAT this week can expect to receive her score by July 6. If, after receiving her score, she decides to retake the LSAT, she has until August 2 to sign up for the September test (or August 9, if she doesn’t mind forking over a late fee).

If someone takes the July 2019 LSAT, unless LSAC concurrently rolls out a faster way of releasing scores, that person won’t get her score back until August. At that point, she is already in danger of having missed the registration deadline—plus now she only has a month to study.

LSAC might very well change their registration deadlines, but unless they find a way to release scores in a more timely fashion, they won’t solve the basic problem of allowing students ample time to prepare for the subsequent test date.

4. LSAC is basically giving a big ol’ middle finger to night owls

Currently, the only administration of the LSAT that doesn’t start at 8:30 a.m. is the June test, which starts at the eminently reasonable hour of 12:30 p.m. Looking at the 2018-2019 schedule, the June test will continue to be the only test that starts in the afternoon. Or, to put it another way, none of the added tests are in the afternoon. Perhaps the July administration will be an afternoon test, but even if that’s the case, WTF, LSAC? You really couldn’t bother to give additional options to people who, for whatever reason, would prefer to not haul themselves to a test center by 8:30 in the morning? Again, if LSAC’s goal was to give test-takers more options, it seems like they missed out on an easy win.

With all of that said, overall I think the changes are a good thing—anything that makes the LSAT more user-friendly can only be a good thing. But it does seem like there are some fairly obvious holes that could have been plugged with relatively little effort. Here’s hoping that this change is just a step in the right direction towards future overhauls.