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Why is the LSAT Paper-Based?

Why is the LSAT Paper-Based?

As you may know, the LSAT is currently a paper-based test. Like the grade-school tests we’ve gotten used to, this means that test-takers use an old-fashioned number two pencil to “bubble in” their answer choices.

However, the times are definitely changing. Many students are now given tablets to do all of their school work. Entire courses can be done online. And students are much more used to typing than hand-writing their work.

So why is the LSAT still paper-based? Well, it won’t be for long. Starting with the September 15, 2019 exam, the LSAT will be digital!

Benefits of Computer-Based Test

There are many benefits to computerized tests. For one, a computer-based test is more in line with the current trends in education. More and more students are accustomed to typing, researching online, and using screens to read and do their work. Clearly, the writing section will be significantly easier for many test-takers who are used to typing quickly.

Additionally, with a computer-based test, the LSAC will be able to offer the exam more times each year. In fact, the LSAC is planning to offer the exam nine times a year starting with the 2019-2020 cycle, up from the current five times a year.

And most importantly, with a computer based test, test-takers would likely be able to quickly see their scores, like with the GRE. We’ll see if this holds true with the first digital LSAT.

LSAC Research on Students’ Readiness for a Computer-Based Test

The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) has been in the process of evaluating how the test can be moved to computers without losing the validity and reliability of the test results. After completing a pilot of the digital LSAT, LSAC is ready to rollout the digital format starting in July 2019.

The July 15, 2019 administration will be offered in both paper and digital formats. Since it’s the first administration of the digital LSAT, students will be given the chance to see their scores before having to decide to cancel, so there’s a little wiggle room for the first group of digital test takers.

Starting with the September 2019 LSAT, however, all LSAT administrations will be digital. Students should plan to practice with some online exams prior to their tests to ensure they’re familiar with the online format.


The LSAT has long been a paper and pencil exam, but it’s getting an upgrade in 2019. The digital LSAT will be offered on tablets provided by LSAC, and if you want to practice the new format prior to the exam, a free online tool will be available from LSAC. If you have more questions about the digital LSAT, be sure to check out the LSAC’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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2 Responses to Why is the LSAT Paper-Based?

  1. Obsessing over the small stuff October 23, 2016 at 9:00 AM #

    This may sound like a really crazy question, but some test prep companies offer supplemental practice tests on recycled/newspaper material, but the official prep tests from LSAC come on regular printing/copy paper.
    Is the official test on test day printer/copy paper or recycled/newspaper material?


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 16, 2016 at 2:10 PM #

      That’s a great– if unusual– question. I got curious enough about this to contact LSAT customer service. They said that their answer sheets are not printed on recycled paper. They also informed me that the paper for their test booklets is purchased in bulk form a paper manufacturer, and that their contract with their paper vendor does not specify that the paper has to be recycled or “new growth.” So there’s no guarantee that the test-booklets are made from recycled paper. But there’s a possibility some of them might be.

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