The Performance of Repeat Test Takers on the Law School Admission Test: 2006–2007 Through 2012–2013 Testing Years (TR 14-01)

Executive Summary

The purpose of this report is to provide an update of summary information about the number, percentages, and performance of repeat test takers on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The number and percentages of repeat test takers as well as their LSAT performance (mean LSAT scores and mean score gains) are summarized for the 2006–2007 through 2012–2013 testing years and compiled into a single report, enabling trends to be tracked and monitored.

Summary information is reported first across testing years to show general trends, and then by individual test administrations (June, September/October, December, and February) to show finer distinctions and within-year trends. Finally, the percentages and performance of repeat test takers are summarized by gender and race/ethnicity. The primary results covered in this report are summarized below.

The average percentages of first-, second-, and third-time test takers over these 7 testing years were about 71%, 25%, and 4%, respectively. Within testing years, the percentages of first-time and repeat test takers have followed a cyclic pattern. On average, the percentage of first-time test takers was about 83% in June, 76% in September/October, and 61% in both December and February.

In 5 of the 7 testing years, there were more male than female first-time test takers. There were more female than male second- and third-time test takers in each of the testing years in this study.

Caucasian test takers made up the largest percentage of first-, second-, and third-time test takers, followed by African American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Puerto Rican, and Native American test takers. However, the percentage of Caucasian and Puerto Rican test takers decreased as the number of tests taken increased. The percentages of most of the other racial/ethnic subgroups increased as the number of tests taken increased.

Across testing years, mean LSAT scores were highest for second-time test takers (151.7), followed closely by first-time (151.0) and third-time (149.4) test takers. In the 2006–2007 testing year, first-time test takers had the highest mean LSAT score. Second-time test takers had the highest mean LSAT score across the last 6 testing years. Third-time test takers consistently had the lowest mean LSAT score (of first-, second-, and third-time test takers). The same trend has also held in most cases across the male and female gender subgroups.

Test takers who repeated the LSAT gained an average of 2.8 points the second time they took the test and 2.2 points the third time they took the test (compared to the second time). Mean score gains for male test takers were 0.3 points higher on average than mean score gains for female test takers (2.9 points vs. 2.6 points). Of the largest racial/ethnic subgroups, the mean score gains in descending order were as follows: Caucasian, 2.9 points; Asian, 2.8; Puerto Rican, 2.6 points; Hispanic/Latino, 2.5 points; and African American, 2.0 points.

In evaluating the results reported here, especially regarding gender and racial/ethnic results, the reader should bear in mind that the test takers were self-selected. That is, these test takers chose to take the LSAT themselves, possibly more than once; they were not randomly chosen to be assessed (or reassessed). Also, test takers voluntarily self-reported their gender and race/ethnicity. That is, individuals chose whether to respond to these classification questions and decided how they would respond (especially with regard to race/ethnicity). As a result, differences in LSAT performance across gender or racial/ethnic subgroups cannot be attributed to these subgroups in general, but merely to those who chose to take the LSAT and identify themselves as belonging to those subgroups.

Also note that summary statistics across gender or race/ethnicity describe subgroup differences, not individual differences. Thus, for example, a repeat test taker from one racial/ethnic subgroup may outperform 90% of the repeat test takers from another racial/ethnic subgroup, even though the subgroup mean differences might suggest otherwise.

Request the Full Report

To request the full report, please email Linda Reustle at lreustle@LSAC.org.