Summary of Self-Reported Methods of Test Preparation by LSAT Takers for Testing Years 2014–2015 Through 2017–2018 (TR 18-03)

Executive Summary

This investigation of Law School Admission Test (LSAT) preparation patterns for the 2014–2015, 2015–2016, 2016–2017, and 2017–2018 testing years represents a replication of earlier studies, with an additional testing year (i.e., the earlier studies spanned three administrations, whereas the present study spans four). From a list of nine possible test-preparation methods on the answer sheet, test takers were asked to voluntarily select the method(s) they had used to help them prepare for the test. As with the earlier studies, all analyses in this report are descriptive in nature, and no attempt is made to evaluate the effectiveness of the various test-preparation methods.

In this study, five types of analyses were performed. First, analyses comparing the response rates for each testing year were conducted to determine whether there were appreciable differences in response rates across these years, and to assess the extent to which response rates in this study differed from those reported in earlier studies. Second, analyses designed to compare respondents and nonrespondents in terms of mean age and mean LSAT score were conducted to determine the extent to which the respondents were typical of the entire test-taking population. Third, an evaluation of the utilization rates for the different test-preparation methods was carried out to assess the frequency of use of the different methods. Fourth, the extent to which test takers used multiple test-preparation methods was evaluated. Finally, self-reported users and nonusers were compared for each method in terms of mean LSAT score and mean age to evaluate the extent to which users of a particular method are different from nonusers.

Overall, the patterns of results for respondents and nonrespondents were consistent across testing years. In general, the mean LSAT score was higher for respondents than for nonrespondents, and the mean age was slightly higher for nonrespondents than for respondents. This relationship was similar to patterns reported in earlier studies. These results indicate that the respondents differed systematically from the nonrespondents, and caution should therefore be exercised in generalizing any of the findings of this study to the nonrespondents. However, the response rates for all of the testing years were so high that this represents only a very minor limitation in the interpretation of the results.

The patterns of usage for the various test-preparation methods varied slightly across testing years. Of the nine methods listed, self-study was the most popular method for all 4 testing years studied, and using a book not published by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) was a close second. Official LSAC test-preparation materials and commercial test-preparation schools were also heavily used across testing years.

On average, respondents reported using two to three methods to prepare for the LSAT. For the 4 testing years covered by this report, approximately 35% of the respondents for each testing year reported using one testing method; 11–23% of the respondents reported using two, three, or four methods.

The most significant finding in the analysis of users versus nonusers of each method was that LSAT scores were higher for respondents who reported using the sample test available on LSAC’s website, official LSAC test-preparation materials, non-LSAC books or software, commercial test-preparation schools, and self-study methods. LSAT score means were lower for respondents who reported using sample questions available on LSAC’s website, undergraduate institution test-preparation courses, other preparation, and no preparation.

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