editor note: LSAC is the Law School Admission Council. It is
responsible for the development, testing and administration of the Law
School Admission Test (LSAT).
excerpted from LSAC Cautionary Policies Concerning
LSAT (December, 1999)(Complete
These Cautionary Policies are intended for those who set policy and
criteria for law school admission, interpret LSAT scores and LSDAS
reports, and use other LSAC services. The Policies are intended to
inform the use of these services by law schools, and to promote wise and
equitable treatment of all applicants through their proper use.
. . .
Because LSATs are administered under controlled conditions and each
test form requires the same or equivalent tasks of everyone, LSAT scores
provide a standard measure of an applicant’s proficiency in the
well-defined set of skills included in the test. Comparison of a law
school’s applicants both with other applicants to the same school and
with all applicants who have LSAT scores thus becomes feasible. However,
while LSAT scores serve a useful purpose in the admission process, they
do not measure, nor are they intended to measure, all the elements
important to success at individual institutions. LSAT scores must be
examined in relation to the total range of information available about a
prospective law student. It is in this context that the following
restraints on LSAT score use are urged:
Do not use the LSAT score as a sole criterion for admission.
The LSAT should be used as only one of several criteria for
evaluation and should not be given undue weight solely because its use
is convenient. Those who set admission policies and criteria should
always keep in mind the fact that the LSAT does not measure every
disciplinerelated skill necessary for academic work, nor does it measure
other factors important to academic success.
Evaluate the predictive utility of the LSAT at your school.
In order to assist in assuring that there is a demonstrated
relationship between quantitative data used in the selection process and
actual performance in your law school, such data should be evaluated
regularly so that your school can use LSAT scores and other information
more effectively. For this purpose Law School Admission Council annually
offers to conduct correlation studies for member schools at no charge.
Only by checking the relationship between LSAT scores, undergraduate
grade-point average, and law school grades will schools be fully
informed about how admission data, including test scores, can be used
most effectively by that school.
Do not use LSAT scores without an understanding of the limitations of
Admission officers and members of admission committees should be
knowledgeable about tests and test data and should recognize test
limitations. Such limitations are set forth in the Law School Admission
Reference Manual and are regularly discussed at workshops and
conferences sponsored by Law School Admission Council.
Avoid improper use of cut-off scores.
Cut-off LSAT scores (those below which no applicants will be
considered) are strongly discouraged. Such boundaries should be used
only if the choice of a particular cut-off is based on a carefully
considered and formulated rationale that is supported by empirical data,
for example, one based on clear evidence that those scoring below the
cut-off have substantial difficulty doing satisfactory law school work.
Note that the establishment of a cut-off score should include
consideration of the standard error of measurement in order to minimize
distinctions based on score differences not sufficiently substantial to
be reliable. Significantly, cut-off scores may have a greater adverse
impact upon applicants from minority groups than upon the general
applicant population. Normally, an applicant’s LSAT score should be
combined with the undergraduate grade-point average before any
determination is made of the applicant’s probability of success in law
Do not place excessive significance on score differences.
Scores should be viewed as approximate indicators rather than exact
measures of an applicant’s abilities. Distinctions on the basis of
LSAT scores should be made among applicants only when those score
differences are reliable.
Do not misuse repeater scores.
LSAC research indicates that when an applicant has taken the LSAT
more than once, the average of the scores has more predictive validity
than any one of the separate scores unless special circumstances that
undermine the predictive validity of one of the scores are present. In
the absence of such circumstances, a decision to use one of the separate
scores rather than the average is probably unwise.
Carefully evaluate LSAT scores earned under accommodated or
LSAC has no data to demonstrate that scores earned under accommodated
conditions have the same meaning as scores earned under standard
conditions. Because the LSAT has not been validated in its various
accommodated forms, accommodated tests are identified as nonstandard and
an individual’s scores from accommodated tests are not averaged with
scores from tests taken under standard conditions. The fact that
accommodations were granted for the LSAT should not be dispositive
evidence that accommodations should be granted once a test taker becomes
a student. The accommodations needed for a one-day, multiple choice test
may be different from those needed for law school coursework and
Avoid encouraging use of the LSAT for other than admission functions.
The LSAT was designed to serve admission functions only. It has not
been validated for any other purpose. LSAT performance is subject to
misunderstanding and misuse in other contexts, as in the making of an
employment decision about an individual who has completed most or all
law school work. These considerations suggest that LSAT scores should
not be included on a law school transcript, nor routinely supplied to
inquiring employers. Without the student’s specific authorization, the
Buckley Amendment would preclude the latter, in any event.