The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

"In Defense of the LSAT"


From Clayton Kozinski (Newsweek); seems quite right to me. An excerpt:

[S]tudies have consistently shown that LSAT performance is the single strongest predictor of academic success in law school….

Criticisms of the LSAT largely echo criticisms of standardized tests more generally.

Essentially, they boil down to the claim that the LSAT does not objectively measure ability because children from wealthy backgrounds can more easily afford elite prep courses and personalized tutoring.

It certainly seems unfair that such a significant portion of the admissions criteria favors the wealthy. But even critics of the LSAT concede that the same is true of nearly every other component of the admissions process. The wealthy can hire tutors to improve their GPA and snag better recommenders. And they can pack in more extracurriculars because they are less distracted by resource requirements.

In fact, by one reckoning, the poor benefit significantly from the fact that the LSAT is such a heavily weighted portion of the application calculus. Rather than hiring a cavalcade of tutors for each class or making time for a mountain of extracurriculars, limited resources can be focused on a single, highly important test. Moreover, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) periodically analyzes various methods of LSAT preparation. LSAC's data show that among the most effective is the organization's own $99 prep material. Sure, that's an expense, but it's hardly out of reach for most applicants. And sure enough, LSAC—which administers the LSAT—notes that doing away with the test has been shown to work against minorities and the economically disadvantaged.

LSAT opponents know all this. So why do they still single out the LSAT?