LSAC Partners with Microsoft to Digitize the LSAT
By Henry Kronk
December 10, 2018
While most affairs that once required ink and paper now occur in digital environments, some functions, like standardized test taking, are difficult to convert. On Monday, however, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) announced that, in partnership with Microsoft, they will begin to offer the LSAT test exclusively in digital format beginning July 2019.
Test takers will use Microsoft Surface Go tablets to fill in their multiple choice answers. LSAC has purchased thousands of these devices for test sites around the country. Microsoft in turn has adapted their tablet to ensure the security required by such a heavily weighted test is in place, along with preloaded software allowing students to complete it.
“Legal education and the legal profession need to keep pace with technological advancements,” said Kellye Testy, president and CEO of LSAC, in a statement. “With the breadth of their solutions and their commitment to privacy, security, accessibility, and inclusion, Microsoft will be a tremendous help to the legal education community as we navigate these accelerating changes.”
“There are clear and profound opportunities for the legal profession to use data and digital technology to support its timeless and important role in society,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft in a statement. “Microsoft is excited to partner with the LSAC on its digital transformation.”
“Microsoft’s leadership on accessibility was one of the reasons LSAC selected the Surface Go as the tablet for the Digital LSAT,” said Troy Lowry, senior vice president of technology products and chief information officer at LSAC in a statement. “Surface Go is a great device, and it includes Windows 10 capabilities like a built-in screen reader, text and icon magnifier, and many other accessibility features. LSAC and Microsoft are working together to ensure the Digital LSAT on Surface Go provides a wide range of accessibility features and functionality for test takers who need them.”
Other Upcoming Changes to the LSAT
The digitization of the LSAT is just one change LSAC will implement in 2019. Based on feedback, the association will also double the number of test administrations it will offer.
LSAC is also switching up the essay requirement of the LSAT. As of next July, the writing portion will be separated from the in-person test to be completed on a separate secure online platform. This allows test takers to type, rather than hand write, their essay. It also allows them to write it at a convenient time and shortens the time to complete the in-person test.
“We’re responding to feedback from test takers that having to complete a written essay in a large-group setting at the end of a rigorous examination is not conducive to doing their best writing,” said Lily Knezevich, senior vice president for learning and assessment at LSAC. “This new approach will provide test takers more options for how and when they generate their writing sample, while maintaining the integrity and security of the process.”
“We know that many schools value the LSAT writing sample in making their admission decisions, because it is the only essay an applicant submits that is written under standardized, proctored conditions and in response to a prompt specifically designed to capture the kind of persuasive argumentation required in law school,” Knezevich said.
Images courtesy of LSAC.