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LSAT Technical Reports

Accommodated Test-Taker Trends and Performance for the June 2012 Through February 2017 LSAT Administrations (TR 17-03)

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

Executive Summary

The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) provides modifications to standard testing conditions on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) for those test takers with documented disabilities who requested and were approved for testing accommodations pursuant to LSAC’s policies (the Accommodated group). Beginning with the June 2014 test administration and continuing through the February 2017 test administration, there were significant changes to LSAC’s Accommodated Testing policies because of a Consent Decree in the case The Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. Law School Admission Council Inc., case number CV 12-1830-EMC. The primary impact of these changes was a significant increase in the number of accommodation requests as well as a significant increase in the number of requests for accommodations that were approved. This report describes trends with regard to requests for and approvals of LSAT accommodations and summarizes the performance of those in the Accommodated group who went on to take the test for the 2012–2013 through 2016–2017 LSAT testing years. Specifically, the most recent data with regard to the number and types of LSAT accommodations being requested and approved, as well as the distribution of accommodation requests across the various disability categories represented, are summarized. In addition, the composition of the Accommodated group is described with regard to gender, race/ethnicity, and age, and where appropriate, compared to the standard test-taking population (the Nonaccommodated group). The LSAT performance of the accommodated test takers is also summarized and compared to the performance of test takers in the Nonaccommodated group. Finally, the performance of accommodated test takers who chose to repeat the test (accommodated repeat test takers) is summarized and discussed. In some analyses, the Accommodated group is categorized into subgroups based on whether they did (Accommodated/Extra Time) or did not (Accommodated/Standard Time) receive extra testing time. These subgroups are considered separately.

Some of the most relevant trends observed with regard to accommodated test takers for the 2012–2013 through 2016–2017 testing years are summarized below.

Trends With Regard to the Request for and Approval of LSAT Accommodations
  • The number of requests for accommodations increased greatly across the 5 testing years, starting at 1,581 in 2012–2013 and more than doubling to 3,789 in 2016–2017.
  • The number of approved accommodation requests increased across the 5 testing years, from 729 in 2012–2013 to 3,000 in 2016–2017, averaging 1,542 per year and representing 46–79% of the accommodation requests received. The proportion of those who received an approved accommodation request and who then went on to take an accommodated LSAT (i.e., the accommodated test takers) ranged between 65% and 77% across the study years.
  • In the first 2 study years, the Learning Disorder category comprised the largest number of test takers; the Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder category overwhelmingly comprised the largest number of test takers in the last 3 years of the study.
  • Most accommodated test takers (92%) used the standard test booklet rather than the large-print or Braille test booklet format.
  • The most common accommodations approved were Extra Test Time and Extra Rest.
  • For both the multiple-choice and writing sample sections, Time-and-a-Half (i.e., 53 minutes per multiple-choice section) was the accommodation category most frequently approved for all test administrations in this study. Note that under the terms of the Consent Decree, Time-and-a-Half became the minimum Extra Test Time accommodation beginning in December 2015.
Demographic Trends
  • There were more male than female accommodated test takers in the current report years, whereas there were more female than male nonaccommodated test takers across the same study period.
  • African American and Asian accommodated test takers were underrepresented, and Caucasian/White accommodated test takers were overrepresented compared to their representation in the Nonaccommodated group. Other racial/ethnic subgroups were similarly represented in the Accommodated group compared to the Nonaccommodated group.
  • There was a greater proportion of older accommodated test takers than is typically observed in the Nonaccommodated group.
Performance of Accommodated Test Takers
  • Accommodated/Extra Time test takers had higher average LSAT scores in 18 of the 20 test administrations in this report compared to the Nonaccommodated group. The Accommodated/Standard Time test takers (i.e., those who did not receive extra time but did receive accommodations such as a computer for the writing sample, food, ability to sit and stand, etc.) had higher average LSAT scores than the Nonaccommodated group in 12 of the 20 test administrations in this report. Notably, since fall 2015, test takers in the Nonaccommodated group have had lower average LSAT scores than test takers in both the Accommodated/Extra Time and Accommodated/Standard Time subgroups.
Performance of Accommodated Repeat Test Takers
  • Test takers who tested twice under accommodated/extra-time testing conditions exhibited similar score gains on average compared to the Nonaccommodated group, while those who switched from nonaccommodated to accommodated/extra-time testing conditions exhibited very high score gains on average.

Note that the trends presented in this report are purely descriptive in nature. While trends for the Accommodated group have been described and compared to trends for the Nonaccommodated group, explanation of the underlying causes of any differences observed is beyond the scope of this report. More specifically, those included in the sample of accommodated test takers being analyzed are, in several respects, self-selected. These test takers chose to take the LSAT and to request accommodated testing conditions, and then self-reported their subgroup membership with regard to such factors as gender, race/ethnicity, and age.

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