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LSAT enters digital age with transition to tablets

Testers will now take the LSAT on a Microsoft Surface Go tablet.

Paper score sheet, No. 2 pencils and testing booklets are a thing of the past for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) as it crossed into the digital realm Sept. 21.

The most important standardized test for aspiring lawyers became fully digital this past weekend at all of its testing centers across the nation. Testers will still have 35 minutes to complete the 22-28 questions for the four timed sections. However, the only difference is that test-takers will be using a tablet instead of paper.

The USF Testing Center administers over 1,500 exams every month and is one of the few state university test centers in Florida to be certified by the National College Testing Association, according to Testing Services Assistant Director Leonor O’ Relly.

O’Relly said that Testing Services administered 419 LSAT exams last year with approximately 60 to 140 people in each section.

Glen Stohr, Kaplan Test Prep’s senior manager for instructional design, said the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) began administering the exam digitally in July to test out the new change.

The July 2019 test consisted of roughly half of the testers taking the exam on paper while the other half took the test digitally on tablets.

USF Testing Services was one of the locations who experienced the early change.

“We started the digital section on July 15,” O’ Relly said in an email to The Oracle. “The test administrators/proctors attended training provided by LSAC to get familiar with the new process/software/equipment.”

Stohr said the vast majority of testing locations had zero issues, but there were some that had technical glitches.

O’ Relly said Testing Services did not experience any issues since transitioning to the tablets. He said the proctors enjoy the new platform more than what was being used before, however, there has been one difficulty in having to use nearly 100 tablets each session.

“The only con is the loading of the suitcases that contain the tablets from the storage area to the testing rooms and from the testing rooms to the storage area,” O’ Relly said.

Because of the number of people who take the LSAT at USF, Stohr said it is vital for testers to understand how to use the tablets to eliminate any distractions during the exam.

“There are a lot of USF students that are taking the LSAT and applying for law school every year,” Stohr said. “This test is the most important part of your law school application and I don’t say that to scare you, I say it because it’s true — you need to be diligent.”

Stohr is referring to the new tools on the Microsoft Surface Go tablet, which include a stylus, adjustable font sizes, (8, 10, 12, 15, 18, and 27-point font) underlining and highlighting tools, adjustable line spacing and brightness adjustment.

The LSAT considers this to be the biggest change to the exam in more than 25 years, according to Stohr’s e-book about the exam. This was in an effort to modernize itself with other standardized tests such as the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).

However, the LSAT sets itself apart since other standardized tests use computers instead of tablets. This is the LSAT can more conveniently transport the required materials to various testing locations.

“The LSAT specifically comes to college campuses to administer the materials for the exam,” Stohr said. “Tablets are portable and it enables proctors to use the same rooms that they’ve used before.”

In addition to the digital changes, people now have the option to take the written section up to one calendar year after the date of the exam. In years prior, participants had to take the written portion of the exam in a separate test booklet immediately after the exam.

Stohr said testers can get to know the digital interface by utilizing the tutorial videos and practice exercises on the LSAC website.

“This is a golden opportunity for test-takers to become familiar with the new platform because there will be people who won’t practice and be focused on the device instead of the material,” Stohr said. “This version of the test will be as good for you as you are prepared for it.”