Summary of Self-Reported Methods of Test Preparation by LSAT Takers for Testing Years 2000–2001 Through 2002–2003 (TR-03-02)
by Andrea E. Thornton, Deborah A. Suto, and Lynda M. Reese

Executive Summary

This investigation of Law School Admission Test (LSAT) preparation patterns for the 2000–2001 through 2002–2003 testing years represents a replication of earlier studies by Wightman (1990), McKinley (1993), Thornton, Reese, & Pashley (1998), and Thornton & Reese (in press). As with the earlier studies, all analyses reported here were descriptive in nature, and no attempt was made to evaluate the effectiveness of different test preparation methods.

In this study, five different types of analyses were performed. First, analyses were conducted to compare the response rate for each testing year to determine whether there were appreciable differences in response rates across these years and to assess the extent to which response rates in this study differed from those reported in earlier studies. Second, analyses designed to compare respondents and nonrespondents in terms of mean age and mean LSAT score to determine the extent to which the respondents were typical of the entire testing population were carried out. Third, an evaluation of the utilization rates for the different methods of test preparation was carried out to assess the frequency of use of the different methods. Fourth, the extent to which test takers used multiple test preparation methods was evaluated. Finally, users and nonusers were compared for each method in terms of mean LSAT score and mean age to evaluate the extent to which users of a particular method are different from nonusers.

Overall, the patterns of results for respondents and nonrespondents were consistent across testing years. In general, the mean LSAT score was higher for respondents than for nonrespondents, and the mean age was higher for nonrespondents than for respondents. This was similar to the pattern reported for the earlier studies. These results indicate that the respondents differ systematically from the nonrespondents, and caution should therefore be exercised in generalizing any of the findings of this study to the nonrespondents. However, the response rate for all of the testing years was so high that this represents only a very minor limitation in the interpretation of the results.

The patterns of usage for the various methods of test preparation varied slightly across testing years. Of the eight methods listed, using a book not published by Law School Admission Council (LSAC) was the most popular method across all three years studied, and self-study was a close second. Using sample questions in the LSAT Registration and Information Book, attending a commercial test preparation school, and using official LSAC test preparation materials were also heavily utilized across all testing years.

On the average, respondents used between two and three methods of preparing for the LSAT. The most common number of methods was one (selected by slightly more than one-third of the respondents for each testing year), but typically from 10% to 27% of the respondents reported using two, three, or four methods.

The most significant finding in the analysis of users and nonusers of each method is that LSAT scores were higher for respondents indicating use of Methods 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7, and lower for respondents using sample questions in the Information Book, undergraduate institution courses, other methods, and no methods.

Among the conclusions reached for this study were the following.

  • Overall response rates were consistent across the three testing years.
  • Female test takers were slightly more likely to respond than were male test takers.
  • Caucasian test takers had a consistent response rate of more than 90% for the three testing years. The highest response rates were observed during the middle testing year for the majority of the subgroups. Those that did not indicate their ethnicity were least likely to respond.
  • Those who are not fluent in English were less likely to respond than those who are fluent in English.
  • Respondents tended to be, on the average, one year younger than were the nonrespondents and tended to score between one and two points higher on the LSAT than did the nonrespondents.
  • Books from publishers other than LSAC was the most popular method across all three years studied, and self-study was a close second.
  • The Information Book and official LSAC test preparation materials continue to be popular preparation methods, especially among certain subgroups of the test-taking population.
  • Relatively few test takers reported using preparation courses provided by undergraduate institutions and using other test preparation methods.
  • Female test takers tended to use more methods of preparation than did male test takers.
  • Puerto Rican test takers and test takers not fluent in English tended to use fewer methods of test preparation than did other subgroups.
  • Members of the Black/African American, Caucasian, and Chicano/Mexican American subgroups reported using more test preparation methods than did other ethnic subgroups over all three testing years.
  • Users of the sample questions in the Information Book, undergraduate institution courses, other methods, or no methods tended to have lower scores than nonusers of these methods.
  • Users of the sample test in the Information Book, materials published by LSAC, commercial schools, self-study, and non-LSAC books tended to have higher scores than did nonusers of these methods.
  • Users of the Information Book materials and users that did not use any methods of preparation tended to be older than nonusers of these materials, while users of commercial schools and self-study tended to be younger than nonusers.

Summary of Self-Reported Methods of Test Preparation by LSAT Takers for Testing Years 2000–2001 Through 2002–2003 (TR-03-02)

Research Report Index