The Performance of Repeat Test Takers on the Law School Admission Test: 2010–2011 Through 2017–2018 Testing Years (TR 18-01)

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 2010–2011 through 2017–2018 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 8 testing years were about 68%, 26%, and 5%, 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 80% in June, 73% in September/October, 58% in December, and 57% in February.

In 5 of the last 8 testing years, there were more female than male 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, Multiple Ethnicities, Puerto Rican, and Native American test takers, though the Asian subgroup percentage surpassed the African American subgroup percentage in third-time test takers over the 8 testing years. 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 (151.9), followed by first- and third-time test takers (150.7 for each). Second-time test takers had the highest mean LSAT score across all 8 testing years. First-time test takers had the lowest mean score across the final 5 years (2013–2014 through 2017–2018) of the study, whereas third-time test takers had the lowest mean score for the first 3 years (2010–2011 through 2012–2013). The same trend also held in most cases across the male and female gender subgroups.

Second-time test takers scored an average of 2.6 points higher than they did the first time, and third-time test takers scored an average of 2.3 points higher than they did the second time. Male second-time test-taker score gains were 0.3 points higher on average than female second-time test-taker score gains (2.8 points vs. 2.5 points, respectively). For the six largest racial/ethnic subgroups, the mean score gains for second-time test takers, in descending order, were 2.8 points (Caucasian), 2.7 points (Asian), 2.6 points (Puerto Rican and Multiple Ethnicities), 2.4 points (Hispanic/Latino), and 2.1 points (African American).

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.