LSAT Performance with Regional, Gender, and Racial/Ethnic Breakdowns TR-98-04
by Deborah L. Schnipke, Lisa Anthony Stilwell, and Lynda M. Reese

Executive Summary

The purpose of this report is to provide summary information about Law School Admission Test (LSAT) performance for test takers classified by country, region of the United States, gender, race/ethnicity, and race/ethnicity within gender. LSAT performance is summarized for the 19911992 through 19971998 testing years (i.e., the years to date on the 120180 score scale). By compiling this summary information into a single report, trends with regard to the performance and representation of various subgroups may be tracked and monitored. The primary results observed for the time period covered by this report are summarized below.

In evaluating the results reported below, the reader should bear in mind that the test takers who contributed to the various regional, gender, and racial/ethnic statistics were self-selected. That is, these test takers chose to take the LSAT themselves; they were not randomly chosen to be assessed. Also, test takers voluntarily self-reported their gender and race/ethnicity. That is, individuals chose whether or not to respond to these classification questions and decided how they would respond (especially with regard to race/ethnicity). As a result, differences in LSAT performances across region, gender, or racial/ethnic subgroups cannot be attributed to these subgroups in general, but merely to representatives of these subgroups who chose to take the LSAT and identified themselves as belonging to these groups.

General Trends Regarding the LSAT

There has been a consistent downward trend in test-taker volume from the 19911992 to 19971998 testing years, although the decrease in volume was the smallest from the 19961997 to 19971998 testing years.

The overall distribution of LSAT scores has remained fairly constant.

The largest numbers of test takers have taken the LSAT at the September/October and December administrations.

Average LSAT scores have been slightly higher for the groups of test takers who test at the September/ October and June administrations and slightly lower for the group of test takers who test at the December and February administrations.

Trends Regarding Canada and Foreign Countries

Approximately 6 percent to 7 percent of all test takers have taken the LSAT in Canada.

Approximately 1 percent of all test takers have taken the LSAT in a foreign country. (For the purpose of this report, a foreign country is defined as any country outside of Canada and the United States.)

Canadian and foreign test takers have had slightly higher mean LSAT scores than test takers from the United States.

Trends Regarding the United States

The percentage of test takers who have taken the LSAT in each region of the United States has remained fairly constant. The highest percentage of test takers test in the Northeast region, and the smallest percentage test in the Northwest region.

The performance of test takers from the various regions has remained fairly constant. Test takers in the New England and Northwest regions have scored highest on average, and test takers in the Southeast and South Central regions have scored lowest on average.

Trends Regarding Gender

There have been slightly more male test takers than female test takers, but these differences have been decreasing. Nearly equal numbers of male and female test takers took the LSAT in the 19971998 testing years.

Male test takers have consistently scored slightly higher than female test takers.

The percentage of test takers who did not indicate their gender increased in the 19971998 testing year, compared with the three previous years, although the percentage was still small (0.3 percent). The no-response group has had the highest mean LSAT score in the past four years.

Trends Regarding Race/Ethnicity

Caucasian test takers have been the largest percentage of test takers, although the percentage of Caucasian test takers has been decreasing. African American test takers and Asian American test takers have been the next largest groups in terms of percentages, and both have been increasing percentage-wise, as have the percentages of other racial/ethnic groups.

Average LSAT scores have been highest for Caucasian and Asian American test takers. African American test takers and Puerto Rican test takers have had the lowest mean LSAT scores.

The percentage of test takers who did not indicate their race/ethnicity has steadily increased during the past seven years from about 0.5 percent in the 19911992 testing year to about 2.0 percent in the 19971998 testing year. The no-response group had the highest mean LSAT score in the 19971998 testing year and the second highest mean LSAT score in the previous six years.

Trends Regarding Gender and Race/Ethnicity

Among the Caucasian subgroup, there have been more male than female test takers, while there have been more female than male test takers for the African American subgroup. Male and female test takers have been approximately equally represented among the Hispanic, Puerto Rican, and Mexican subgroups. For the Asian American subgroup, there have been more male test takers before the 19951996 testing year and more female test takers afterward.

The number of test takers who indicated neither their gender nor their race/ethnicity increased noticeably in the 19971998 testing year compared to previous testing years.

LSAT Performance with Regional, Gender, and Racial/Ethnic Breakdowns TR-98-04

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