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LSAT Technical Reports

The Validity of Law School Admission Test Scores for Repeat Test Takers: 2005 Through 2008 Entering Law School Classes (TR 10-02)

by Andrea Thornton Sweeney, Laura A. Marcus, and Lynda M. Reese

Executive Summary

When faced with multiple scores from repeat test takers, users of standardized assessments typically employ three indices—most recent, highest, and average scores—in order to summarize an individual’s related performance. This study examines the validity of these three indices for Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores in terms of predicting first-year averages (FYAs). A fourth index—the initial score—was also considered in order to provide additional baseline information. Confirming earlier research study results, this study found that, among the indices considered, the simple arithmetic average of multiple scores provided the best prediction of subsequent law school performance for repeat test takers. This finding held when LSAT scores were considered alone or in combination with undergraduate grade point averages (UGPAs).

Note that this and previous studies also underscore the need to consider individual circumstances when evaluating scores for repeat test takers. That is, score users should evaluate multiple scores in the context of any additional valid documentation that might be available suggesting that any of an applicant’s test scores may not accurately reflect his or her actual abilities.

The current study was based on data from US ABA-approved law schools that participated in the 2008 and 2009 LSAT Correlation Studies. Results for four entering classes, from the fall of 2005 through the fall of 2008, were combined within each school. The sample contains only the 184 schools whose combined enrollment included a total of 50 or more first-year students who had taken the LSAT on more than one occasion. Data were combined across 4 years, as available, in order to obtain sample sizes large enough to ensure stability in the validity estimates. In addition to validity results, this study provides descriptive summaries comparing one-time test takers with repeat test takers. Repeat test takers tend to earn lower LSAT scores than one-time test takers regardless of whether the most recent, initial, highest, or average score is considered. One-time test takers also tend to have slightly higher UGPAs and FYAs.

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