History and Performance of Chinese Law School Admission Test Takers (RR-96-02)
by Xiang Bo Wang and Vincent F. Harris

Executive Summary

Although Chinese test takers have long been international Law School Admission Test (LSAT) participants, there is very little documentation on the history, test taker volumes, performance, or law school admission rates of these candidates. The purpose of this study is to address the first three of these four issues: (1) to review the history of LSAT administrations in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; (2) to delineate volumes of Chinese test takers in the three regions; and (3) to describe and compare the LSAT performance of Chinese test takers from the three regions since 1991.

Both archival information dating back to 1974 and more recent LSAT data since June 1991 concerning Chinese test takers were used in this study. The archival information was used to look into the history of LSAT administrations to Chinese test takers, while the latter data were used to assess and compare their LSAT performances.

On the basis of the available archival LSAT registration booklets, it was found that both Taiwan and Hong Kong have consistently hosted LSAT administrations since 1974, while it was not until December 1989 that the LSAT was first administered to three native Chinese in China. Between June 1986 and February 1991, a total of 14 test takers in China, 141 in Taiwan, and 128 in Hong Kong took the LSAT.

Between June 1991 and December 1995, the number of Chinese test takers in China increased from 3 in 1991, to 30 in 1995. Such a sharp rise in test taker volumes was concurrent with the recent fast economic and political developments in China. The test taker volume in Taiwan also grew—from 21 to 48. Meanwhile, the test taker volume in Hong Kong steadily declined from 26 in 1991, to 8 in 1995.

In June 1991, the LSAT adopted its new 120-180 scale. Based on data since then, the performance of international Chinese LSAT test takers was assessed and compared. Three major findings were discovered. First, the average performances of the Chinese LSAT test takers in the three regions are quite comparable, and also comparable to the average performance in the general LSAT population. Second, female Chinese test takers tended to score slightly higher than their male counterparts. Finally, and not surprisingly, those Chinese test takers whose dominant language is English performed substantially better than those whose dominant language is Chinese.

With the increasing number of contacts between the U.S. and China through political, cultural, technical, and trade exchanges, a future surge in the number of Chinese LSAT test takers may be realized due to China's need to acquire substantially more expertise in U.S. and international law. Already this year, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has observed a new wave of inquiries from China concerning LSAT administrations. As of October 7,1996, a total of 69 Chinese nationals have registered for the December 7, 1996 LSAT administration, the only administration in China this year. This number already represents twice the total 1995 test taker volume in China.

History and Performance of Chinese Law School Admission Test Takers (RR-96-02)

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