(SEE STAYING COMPETITIVE, PAGE 8)
The number of June 2012 test takers was down nearly 6 percent from last June, and there
were 16.4 percent fewer October test takers than last year. Combined, there were 12.5
percent fewer tests administered in June and October this year compared to 2011.
December test registrations are running about 15 percent behind last year as well. If we
project this trend out to the remainder of the 2012–2013 testing cycle, it is possible that
the final number of tests administered will be between 110,000 (if the decline is 15 per-
cent) and 117,000 (if 10 percent). In either case, it would be the smallest number of tests
administered since 2000–2001.
Although application-volume data is still very preliminary, with only about a third of the
expected total volume known at this time, the number of applicants to at least one ABA-
approved law school is running 23 percent behind last year’s pace, and those applicants
have generated 25 percent fewer law school applications thus far. For law schools in the
United States, the downturn seems to be fairly evenly distributed across regions and
between public and private law schools, although variations exist.
The situation in Canada is rosier. With nearly 80 percent of anticipated final volume already
known, the number of applicants is holding steady with last year. Those candidates have
filed 10 percent more applications this year than last.
In times of increasing and decreasing test taker and applicant volumes, LSAC often
receives queries from admission offices regarding differential changes across the
distributions of these populations (e.g., are there more or fewer high-scoring applicants
than expected this admission cycle?). LSAC staff are currently researching these distribu-
tional changes and will provide a full reporting of their findings.
Preliminary results, however, suggest that while the annual distributional properties of test
takers have remained fairly similar over time, applicant behavior regarding the law schools
to which they are applying may have changed. So, for example, while the proportion of
high-scoring test takers has not significantly varied over time, individual law schools may
have experienced increases or decreases in their numbers of high-scoring applicants
above and beyond those expected simply due to changing applicant volumes.
n previous newsletter columns, I’ve written about the “new normal.” With regard to law school
candidate volumes, at least, it may be that volatility is indeed our normal state of affairs. As the
chart on page 8 illustrates, we have seen a fairly steep decline over the last two years in the num-
ber of LSATs administered, and the number of applicants has followed suit. The early indicators
for the 2013 entering class show that the downward trend is continuing this year.
DANIEL O. BERNSTINE