Law schools should focus less on LSAT scores

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The Law School Admission Council offers the Law School Admission Test four times per year to people who plan to attend law school.
The Law School Admission Council offers the Law School Admission Test four times per year to people who plan to attend law school.

On Monday, the Law School Admission Council released the scores for the September LSAT. I checked my email that evening to find my score and my percentile, and then began considering whether to retake the test and which law schools would realistically admit me. LSAT scores are worth a significant portion of a student's application, and this is ridiculous because the score a student earns on this test is so dependent on various factors that have no effect on whether this student will succeed in law school. On test day, students may be tired, have had an emotional week, have testing anxiety, or any number of things unrelated to their abilities, but these things could negatively affect their performance and cause their score to end up lower than their practice test scores.

The exam tests students on how quickly they can read a passage — because obviously, if you're a quick reader, you'll undoubtedly be a phenomenal lawyer — and answer questions about it. It tests students' abilities to weaken and strengthen arguments, which I think actually can partially indicate how effective of a lawyer a student will become, and the third section type is the logic games section — basically a more intense version of those elementary school math class games with instructional clues like "Bob works three days a week, and Jane works four. Bob can't work Tuesdays, Bill has to work the day after Jane and Joe must work Thursdays."

The test also includes an unscored writing section, which serves absolutely no purpose because most law schools don't even look at it, and an experimental section, because of course, 100 scored questions on each test four times per year aren't enough for LSAC to analyze, and requiring students to answer 25 extra questions that have no bearing on their score but huge effects on their levels of mental fatigue is just such a great idea.

The LSAT is one of many examples of the ineffectiveness of standardized tests. Education institutions tout their focuses on their student bodies' diversity and merit, but selecting students based largely on their performance on a test that's standardized to allow no creativity or diversity is hypocritical. Law school admissions officers should focus their considerations more on other parts of a candidate's application — GPA, personal statement, essays — and less on how well a student performs on a singular test.

Voeller is an associate editor.