LSAT Tea-Leaf Reading: October 2013 Edition

Apparently the news got out before the LSAC could update its Web site, but the proof is at The Wall Street Journal. There were only 33,673 LAST-takers in October 2013, which is just shy of the record low of 33,558 in 1998 going back to the 1980s.

No. LSAT Takers, 4-Testing Period Moving Sum

The four-testing-period moving sum is at 107,182, a record low going back to February 2000 (107,153). To give some perspective, the record low for the moving sum was 15 years ago in October 1998 (102,073). Notably, the October LSAT decline is decelerating, last year there were 16 percent fewer test-takers; this year there are only 11 percent fewer. I’m not sure if the record low for LSAT-takers will arrive next year or the year after.

Despite the news around the Web (e.g. New England Law’s consolidation plans, declining LSAT scores, etc.) it’s still remarkable how resilient law schools have been. They’re offering bigger programs for fewer applicants. I know I’ve said this before, but if it weren’t for Grad PLUS loans and nondischargeable private loans (if that), certainly some schools would’ve failed by now. Talk about a bailout that came just in time.


  1. As to the “resilience” of law schools, this just means that the problem won’t ever be fixed until the federal guaranteed loan spigot is shut off and/or the loans are dischargeable in bankruptcy. So long as the trough remains full, the pigs will keep eating.
    – Mo

  2. lawmrh is right; this will keep on going-with higher and higher acceptance rates-until the flow of federally guaranteed loans is cut off.

  3. A better value would be the number of “first-time test takers.” Due to ABA rules regarding LSAT score reporting (i.e., average v. highest score of each applicant), it was uncommon to take the LSAT more than once until 2008 or so. But these days, prospective applicants routinely take the LSAT three times. Therefore, simply comparing “number of LSATs” between earlier times and now can be difficult.

    1. Yup. The LSAC is stingier about giving out first-time taker data to the public. However, I gather that the percent of first-time takers has declined by 13% for Oct. 2013 as opposed to the overall drop of 11%.

    1. Technically Standard 503 only obligates law schools to consider enrolling applicants who’ve taken an admission test that’s valid and reliable. The LSAT is a safe harbor, but a law school can make its case for other tests. Law schools also don’t have to give any weight to the admission test whatsoever in making admission decissions, so it’s a bizarre requirement unless you think the LSAC needs a welfare check.

      Personally, I don’t think the LSAT is the only thing obstructing hordes of mental incompetents from going to law school, although it probably helps discourage some reasonable people with very low scores. I’d a bet a higher percentage of high-scoring takers apply whether they’re reasonable or not. Hey, the test says they’d make good lawyers, so of course law school is a good move for them.

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