October 19, 2023 Yesterday we learned that the LSAT’s Logic Games are being replaced by an additional section of Logical Reasoning. The change takes effect with the August 2024 test. Games will be included on five more administrations of the LSAT: November 2023 and January, February, April, and June 2024. What the removal of the LSAT’s logic games means in short Overall, it’s not a huge deal. We’ve known since the settlement of a 2019 lawsuit that the games would eventually be replaced. The decision to remove them entirely is a bit of a surprise, but two-thirds of the test remains untouched, and no new content is being added. The biggest news is that the balance of the test will shift dramatically toward Logical Reasoning. A bit of history and this change in context A second section of Logical Reasoning is nothing new per se. Until 2020, the LSAT included two scored sections of LR, one section of RC, and one section of games. In spring 2020, as part of a quick transition to online testing, one section of LR was dropped. With that move, the balance of the test suddenly shifted from 50-25-25 to 33-33-33. That’s been the status quo until now. The removal of Logic Games is an even bigger change. Starting in August 2024 the test will include two parts LR and one part RC. It’s been quite a ride for Logical Reasoning! Until 2020, it was half the test. From then until now, it was only one-third of the test. And starting in 2024, it becomes a whopping two-thirds of the test. Its importance to law school candidates will double overnight. And some candidates are likely to fare better with that change than others. Who wins in the demise of LSAT logic games The change was just announced, so these are hot takes, but it’s clear that those who excel at LR and struggle with games are big winners here. In my experience, these students tend to be native English speakers, poli-sci or English majors, and LSAT novices generally. Logic Games has always been the most intimidating section of the test for most new students—it was for me—so I anticipate that the new LSAT students of August 2024 will approach the test with a bit less trepidation. I also think today’s students who have already made progress on the games are big winners, because they will have the choice to take the test with games or without. Or both. More on that below. The change also benefits people who have previously tried to study for the LSAT but never cracked the code on the logic games. Starting in August of 2024, they’ll have an opportunity to try again with no games required. Who loses in the demise of LSAT logic games More hot takes: Obviously, the change is bad news for those who do better at the games than they do at LR. In my experience, these students tend to include non-native English speakers, international students generally, and some STEM types—although this last group fares quite well on all three sections of the test. The change also seems likely to reduce the outsized impact of extra-time accommodations. For many accommodated students, 53 or 70 minutes for a section of logic games is an overabundance of time that allows them to simply brute-force every question if need be. (Those with only 35 minutes have no such luxury and must practice a more tactical approach.) In that sense, removing the games seems to restore a bit of parity between accommodated and standard-timed students. Who this doesn’t affect The change doesn’t take effect until August 2024, so it doesn’t impact students who hope to start law school in fall 2024. Those students are stuck with the games, for better or for worse. It also doesn’t affect students who are equally good at games and LR. And it doesn’t affect those who already have an official test score they’re proud of. Should you take the LSAT with logic games, or without? Students who are planning to start law school in 2026 or beyond have the luxury of choosing whether they want to take the test with games or without. Many will choose simply to ignore the logic games and focus on LR and RC. I can’t blame them. If they haven’t already started studying the games, they could rationally choose to never even look at them. Then again, the games are learnable, and LG is the one section that students most commonly score perfectly on. If you’ve taken a diagnostic and you thought the games weren’t that bad, you’re right! Games are so learnable that it might be worth trying to perfect this section before it disappears. But remember games currently comprise only one-third of the test. Don’t rush into an official test if your LR and RC aren’t in great shape. Students who hope to start law school in 2025 will take the LSAT the year of the transition. Many of them are already prepping for the LSAT. Those who aren’t yet prepping should consider starting ASAP. They’ll have a choice to take the test before August 2024, with games, or wait to take it without. But a word of caution on this latter plan: Students often need one or more retakes before they get a score that reflects their ability. If they don’t start taking the test officially until August 2024, retakes will push them later into the cycle and increase the pressure they’re putting on every test. “I need my best score today” is a counterproductive thought. One-and-done is a nice thought, but it’s not a good plan. So don’t put the LSAT off until August 2024 unless you’re comfortable with the risk that your first attempt or two doesn’t go smoothly and you end up putting law school off until 2026. Students who are dead set on law school in 2025 might consider a hybrid approach. Applicants are allowed to take the LSAT five times in five years. So a student who takes the test with games in February, April, and June 2024 could take it without games in August 2024 and one more time that fall if necessary. Law schools only care about your highest score, and they give five- and six-figure scholarship offers to students with stellar LSAT scores. You’ll be handsomely rewarded if you study hard, don’t take your first official test until you’re happy with your timed practice scores, and retake the test liberally until you achieve your true potential. A wistful goodbye to logic games On a personal note, I’ll miss the logic games! As I mentioned above, LG was the most challenging section when I prepared for the LSAT back in 2007. But games were fun to practice, and it was quite gratifying when I mastered them. They’ve also always been a joy to teach and to continue learning. Every time I look at my students’ diagrams, I see clever new approaches to each puzzle. I’ll miss adopting new ideas and spreading them to new students. Nerd alert: I spend a lot of time playing games. Lately I’ve been into the board game Frosthaven and the PC game Starfield. I’ve also been getting humiliated by the chess app on my phone. I’ve taken for granted the part of my life where I get to play and analyze games with my students. I’ll try to savor those parts of class for the next nine months, before saying goodbye forever. But I’m a big winner here, too, because I love teaching Logical Reasoning most of all. With double the LR, I’m looking forward to bigger doses of detailed fact-scrutinizing and gleeful bullshit-calling in each class. Oh, and Ben and I can take down the whiteboards in our homes and offices. In the future, my LSAT is diagram-free.
The LSAT and Law School Rankings Aren't Going Away Anytime Soon Yale and Harvard, then Berkeley and Stanford, then several more law schools have all announced that they’re opting out of the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of law schools. Meanwhile, the ABA continues down its path toward eliminating the requirement that accredited law schools use an admissions test. What’s this mean for law school applicants? In short, it doesn’t mean anything at all. And even if it does mean something, it doesn’t mean much. And even if it does amount to something meaningful, it won’t amount to anything until 2025 at the soonest. Here’s why: Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and other top law schools will continue to be ranked by U.S. News. U.S. News has stated that they will continue to rank law schools, including those that cease to participate in their annual survey. Most of the data used to determine rankings are available publicly. There is still a demand for rankings. People aren’t suddenly going to ignore them. School opt-outs might make it a bit harder for U.S. News to fabricate their annual rankings, but that’s about it. Merit-based scholarships aren’t going away. The vast majority of schools—especially those that aren’t at the top—will still feel institutional pressure to respect the rankings. Under the current system, the best way for a school to boost its ranking is to give out scholarships. The LSAT isn’t going away. The ABA announced their decision to nix the requirement that law schools use a standardized test as part of the admissions process. But it won’t take effect until 2025. And remember: all we’re doing here is removing a requirement to use an admissions test. Law schools don’t use the LSAT because they’re required to use it! They use it because they find it helpful for making sound admissions decisions. Consider this letter from 60 law school deans who clearly told the ABA that they think the LSAT helps them make better, fairer decisions. The LSAT is the best equalizer available in the law school admissions process. Without a standardized test like the LSAT, law schools would be compelled to lean more heavily on undergraduate GPA and school pedigree—metrics that are even more biased in favor of richer, whiter applicants. The LSAT isn’t perfect, but it is a way of finding diamonds in the rough. Students from less advantaged backgrounds who score well on the test are able to compete with more privileged students. The LSAT is the best indicator of future success in law school. The ABA never required schools to weigh the LSAT so heavily in their admissions decisions. The fact that schools weigh the LSAT as much as five times as heavily as they weigh undergraduate GPA is entirely their choice. By admitting students with high LSAT scores, law schools achieve two goals: improving their rankings and increasing their likelihood of admitting successful students. It’s no surprise that the LSAT is given a lot of weight in the admissions process. In some cases, the LSAT keeps people out of the profession who shouldn’t be going into it. While there are some exceptions, the LSAT is a dependable predictor of first-year grades in law school. Insofar as law school grades are correlated with success as an attorney, then, poor performance on the LSAT may prevent people from going down a debt-ridden path into a career that doesn’t suit them. The test is very learnable, so nobody should get discouraged by a poor diagnostic test. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can improve by at least 10 points and frequently 20 or more. If you’re not willing to put in the work, it’s better that you don’t continue down the law school path—lawyers work harder than anyone. Add it all up and, well, it just doesn’t amount to much. Don’t let the headlines fool you. Law school rankings and the LSAT remain the reality for anyone applying to law school any time soon.
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