Why is the July LSAT different from all other LSATs?

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You may have heard already that, beginning this summer, the LSAT will no longer be a pencil-and-paper test. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is adopting an all-digital format—partially in July, and fully in September. Once the LSAT is fully digital, applicants will take the test on a tablet, using a stylus, and with scratch paper provided. (The tablet and stylus are provided by LSAC.)  But the July test is special: half the test-takers will be assigned to take the test on tablet, and half will be assigned to take it using pencil and paper. Applicants will not know which they’ve been assigned until the day of the test. This is essentially the last big field test of the digital LSAT.

In exchange for being LSAC’s guinea pig, they are offering a pretty big prize: for the July 2019 test only, you will be able to see your score before you decide whether to cancel it AND, if you do decide to cancel, you’ll get to retake the test free of charge any time through April 2020. (Typically, applicants may cancel their scores within a few days after the test, but without seeing their scores.) This offer is available regardless of whether you are assigned to take the digital version or the pencil-and-paper version. If you cancel, the law schools will only see that you canceled, not what the original score was.

This makes the July 2019 test a pretty attractive one for anyone who was planning to take the test sometime in the next year anyway. After July, you’d have September, October, November, January, February, March or April as possible retake dates. (But note that only the September, October, or November tests make the most sense if you’re applying for Fall 2020 admission). And you have a 50% chance of having already experienced the digital format.

The July LSAT will be offered at many (but not all) of the usual test centers—you can find the full list here.

Note also that, beginning with the June LSAT, the essay portion of the exam will be separated from the in-person test. Applicants will complete the writing sample at home, on special software downloaded to your computer. More information on the new writing sample process can be found here.

Bottom line recommendation: if (1) you were planning to take the LSAT in the next year anyway, (2) you can prepare adequately for July 2019, and (3) you’re available on July 15th, you should sign up for the July 2019 administration.

More details are available about the digital LSAT format and the July 2019 test on LSAC’s FAQ page.