Legal Education

Number of LSAT tests administered jumps nearly 8 percent; is optimism or scheduling the reason?

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The number of LSAT tests administered in December increased 7.6 percent over December of last year, according to figures released by the Law School Admission Council.

The increase is the largest year-over-year growth in administration of the tests since December 2009, according to Russell Schaffer, senior communications manager for Kaplan Test Prep.

Jeff Thomas, Kaplan Test Prep’s executive director of pre-law programs, cautions about reading too much into the numbers. “We want to be cautious about saying this increase means a boon in interest in law school,” he tells the ABA Journal in an email.

Yes, it’s true that “the legal jobs market landscape has already bottomed out and many BigLaw firms have upped their salaries,” Thomas says. Pre-law students certainly pay attention to those statistics.

But the fall LSAT test was pushed back this year from early October to Sept. 24, a difference of more than a week. Because of the earlier date, many students were opting to take the test in December, rather than in the fall. “This could be part of the reason for the increase rather than a general renewed interest in law school,” Thomas says.

Taking a broader view, he says, there were 87,954 tests administered between June and December 2016, an increase of 2.7 percent over the same period in 2015. There appears to be strong interest among students preparing for the February 2017 LSAT, he adds. Those trends are “a good indication that we’ll likely a see a modest increase in applications to law school when data from the admissions cycle is available,” Thomas says.

“We are describing this as a fragile recovery, which means some things can break along the way,” Thomas says. “We’ve already seen one law school announce over the past few months that it’s closing and another law school is now on the brink. While the worst may be over in terms of the test taking trends and job numbers, there’s still a ways to go before saying that the law school landscape is on solid ground.”

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