The first-ever online LSAT is in the books! We’ve spoken with our students across the country who sat for the exam earlier this week and put this debrief together from their experiences. We’ve summarized everything for you below.
Before the test:
Familiarize yourself with the test-day rules and procedures here: https://www.lsac.org/update-coronavirus-and-lsat/lsat-flex
You will need to take the test on a Windows or Mac computer (not iOS, so no iPads) that has a webcam and a microphone. You will need to use Chrome or Firefox as your browser. The software that LSAC is using is provided by ProctorU. You can see specific system requirements here: https://support.proctoru.com/hc/en-us/articles/115011772748-Equipment-Requirements
If you don’t have a device that meets the requirements, LSAC will loan you one. Some students report receiving a Surface Pro tablet (the same device on which the digital LSAT is administered). This seems a bit at odds with ProctorU’s claim that tablets are “unsupported devices”. To be safe, you should get used to taking practice tests on a laptop or desktop computer.
Finally, be ready to sign in to both LSAC and ProctorU. You will have accounts, usernames, and passwords for both websites.
During the test:
When you log into ProctorU at your assigned time to take the LSAT, the first thing that you will have to do is wait in a queue for a live proctor. On Monday (5/18) and Tuesday (5/19) these waiting times were typically short, typically just a few minutes. However, some people had to wait 1-2 hours to get assigned a proctor. This seemed to happen more often later in the day, suggesting that ProctorU was overwhelmed with traffic. **Important** Even If you are waiting for a long time, DO NOT disconnect from the system! You will be bumped to the end of the queue if you do. Even with the longer waits, you will still be able to connect with a proctor and test eventually, so be patient!
Once the ProctorU system has found a live proctor for you, you’ll see a 60 second countdown timer, and then a “Begin Session” button appears. Clicking the button opens a new window, and the ProctorU website starts inspecting your computer to make sure it meets the test requirements. Everything at this point is still automated; no live person will have entered the picture yet. The ProctorU website uses your browser to look for a webcam, check your internet speed and operating system, and make sure that no additional monitors are hooked up to your system. Then you have to agree to some terms of service (e.g. you agree to be video recorded). After that, you hold your ID up to the webcam. At this point you will be allowed to download the app from ProctorU. Install the app and then get connected to a live proctor.
Your proctor can see you, but you can’t see him/her. He/she might chat with you in a friendly way throughout this process, or he/she may say only what is on the script. The proctor will ask you to move your webcam around to record the entire room--all the corners, and even under your desk/table. This part of the process will be very thorough. The proctor might ask you to use a phone or a mirror to help them see corners of the room if your computer isn’t able to move that far. The proctor might also ask you to use a mirror or your phone to show them your computer’s screen.
Once the proctor has looked all around your room, you log into LSAC’s LawHub and begin your test. You might not hear from the proctor again.
There has been a lot of reported inconsistency on the issue of “proctor strictness” so far. Some proctors are very strict and thorough, while others have been more lenient and less rigorous.
Proctors also varied widely in how well they knew/understood the LSAT rules. ProctorU proctors are used for a wide variety of tests with different sets of rules, and they can get confused about the particulars.
You are responsible for knowing what is and what isn't allowed on the LSAT. If your proctor says something wrong about the rules (e.g. that you can’t use scratch paper, which is usually true on the ProctorU platform, but not true for the LSAT) you need to push back as hard as necessary. You can always show your proctor the LSAC rules page online, but if it comes down to it you may need to refuse to take (and therefore postpone) your test.
Some of our students had issues with their proctors once the test began:
If you get interrupted for a longer period, as a few unlucky students did, I suggest that you stop and DO NOT COMPLETE the test. You will get an opportunity to make it up. LSAC/ProctorU will have a video of the whole interaction. For this May exam, most of those who had major issues will be offered free make-up exams this week, or the option to make the test up in June.
During this first administration, some people got away with more than is typically allowed. We heard about some major violations, like test-takers being allowed to take bathroom breaks. Some were minor violations, like people using mechanical pencils, which are not allowed. Be prepared to follow the rules strictly on your test, because LSAC will likely tighten things up and make them more consistent in the future.
As you proceed through the test, you’ll get a 60 second countdown at the end of each section and before you start the next one. This is a longer “break” than you typically get on the in-person LSAT, where the next section always begins right away.
For the May 2020 test, there were 2 main test forms that had 3 totally different sections. and then several people reported getting tests that mixed those 2 forms together (they had the RC from test form A but the LG from test form B). So it sounds like there will be at least a few different sections of each type that will be presented at each administration.
One interesting thing that was pointed out on reddit–You can use command-f to search for words on the page (this function is built into all modern browsers). LSAC has said that this is OK, and it’s something that could help with Reading Comprehension if you are searching for a particular word in the passage.
Tuesday went more smoothly than Monday. LSAC had almost 5000 people take the test each day, and on each day fewer than 100 test-takers had serious issues that prevented them from finishing the test. Those people will mostly be offered free make-up exams this week, or the option to make the test up in June.
Scores come out June 5th, and we will be right here reaching out to our students to evaluate their results.
We hope you find this helpful; if you do, please hit us with a like and check out our other blogs at www.lsatengine.com/blog