The Legal Level Podcast: Special COVID-19 Update - LSAT-Flex Remote Test, April LSAT Canceled, and More

Jelena:

Hey LSAT students, we're coming at you today with a special episode on the recent COVID-19 related news.

Speaker 2 (The Wire):

Pandemic, right here!

Branden:

Like most of the world we're social distancing right now. So if we don't sound quite as stellar as we did in our debut episode, that's because we're recording this from our respective closets.

Jelena:

Welcome to the Legal Level, a podcast from TestMax. I'm Jelena.

Branden:

And I'm Branden. We're your companions on the road to the legal field, whether you've just started thinking about law school or you've already passed the bar.

Max Fischer (Rushmore):

What are you, a lawyer?

Jelena:

The Legal Level is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and wherever you're listening to it right now.

Branden:

If you like today's episode, don't forget to subscribe and tell a friend.

Jelena:

After you're done listening, if you still have questions about today's topic, you can talk about it with the 99th percentile LSAT instructor by texting LSAT two (310) 818-7743. Or if you'd like your question to be on the show, just email podcast@TestMaxPrep.com, and we might answer you on the air.

Branden:

Today's episode is a special COVID-19 update on LSAT-Flex, the canceled April LSAT, and more.

Jelena:

So, headline news, no April LSAT, which is not a huge surprise. There was basically no way LSAC could justify holding large in-person gatherings around the world in April. Most students, including those rolled over from March, expected the April little test to be canceled. And as of April seventh, it has been.

Branden:

What is a little surprising is that LSAC has already announced a special at-home, remotely proctored test for April registrants, called the LSAT-Flex. These are truly unprecedented times, and this is an unprecedented test.

Jelena:

I am personally a little shocked LSAC is such a risk-averse organization, and this is a massive change. Let's get into what this means for test takers.

Branden:

Sounds pretty good. So, first of all, let's just talk about the structure of it. It's kind of like a mini LSAT, or I guess you could call it LSAT lite. The LSAT-Flex is just three sections, just one logical reasoning, one logic games, one reading comprehension. No experimental section. Sounds pretty good, right?

Jelena:

Yeah, it actually sounds so good that it's caused a lot of controversy already. There are students who are planning to take the typical LSAT later in the year, who feel like this three section LSAT is unfair to them. There are students who are very freaked out about whether or not LR is still going to be 50% of the value of the test, or if now we're totally changing it to a 33-33-33 divide between LR, LG, and RC. So, this sounds kind of great for people who are going to be able to take it in a good situation where maybe they have a quiet room and a great computer, and scary for people who might have to take it in a not so good situation and envy inducing for people who are taking the normal LSAT this year.

Branden:

Yeah, I guess it could be envy inducing. And I think the makers of the LSAT, as far as I have heard, have not actually answered that question about condensing LR. And so I think a lot of people are stressed out about that. I've heard from students who are stressed out about that, and it makes sense. I mean, you're just walking into something that's unknown. Obviously, if LR is your worst section, then maybe you're hopeful about it, but it definitely throws a wrench in works. How do you study for something like that? Are you still putting 50% of your time into LR? Who knows.

Jelena:

Right, right. That's one of the big unanswered questions here. And that's something I'm hearing from students too. For people who are lucky enough to be good at LR and were hoping to use their LR skills to maybe, fill in a little bit for another section where they're expecting to miss a few more points, they're a little nervous about this LSAT-Flex. And then of course, there are the people who think that it's going to be much easier to do the LSAT-Flex and are nervous about competing for admission with people who've taken the LSAT-Flex.

Branden:

Yeah. So, I kind of wonder, I mean, my speculation about that, as far as how our admissions officer's going to treat this thing, I just can't imagine that they would be cruel enough to put any kind of weight on it. I mean, this is a terrible situation for people to be in. So, just thinking about how admissions officers do their jobs, I would imagine that they're going to treat an LSAT-Flex score the same as they would treat a regular LSAT score, but who knows? It's all up in the air.

Jelena:

Right, right. And as far as is it going to be easier to get a high score on the Flex? Well, it's still going to be a curve test. So, they're still going to curve it so that only one in 10,000 people has a 180. So, it's not like all of a sudden, LSAC is going to start handing out way more 99th percentile scores. That's not how a percentile works. You have to be in the top one percent to get a 99th percentile score.

Elle Woods (Legally Blonde):

What? Like it's hard?

Jelena:

So, another thing that has been really on people's minds with LSAT-Flex is how it's monitored to prevent cheating. So, according to LSAC, all LSAT-Flex test takers will be monitored by live remote proctors via the camera and microphone in the test taker's computer. The video and audio feed will be recorded and further reviewed by human reviewers and artificial intelligence, AI techniques. So, basically you're going on FBI mode, people who have already taken the at-home, LSAT writing has done a mini version of this, where you do have to show your room, show that there's nobody assisting you. But with a live Proctor now, monitoring you, this is a whole new level of being watched. Who will watch the watchers. So, what do you think, Branden? Is there room for people to cheat in this at home situation? Should people be worried about that?

Branden:

Well, first of all, it's not creepy at all, you know?

Jelena:

No, no, not at all.

Branden:

Hopefully there's just no organ harvesting going on alongside of it. I have no idea. As far as can you cheat? I actually was talking to one of my students recently, before LSAT-Flex was announced. And I was telling him that I thought, in the fairly near future, that they would make an at-home LSAT, because I think it would be nearly impossible to cheat on it, because it's not like the thing where it's a general knowledge test and you can Google an answer on your phone if you can keep it below camera level or something like that. It's a test of reasoning. So, I don't see, unless you got a whole bunch of extra time that you could use, how you would even have time to cheat anyway. So, I think it would be nearly impossible. And if you try it while there is a webcam and somebody monitoring that webcam, then you're probably not serious about going to law school anyway. My advice to students always, always, always, is do not cheat because it really doesn't pay off in life. And it especially doesn't pay off on the LSAT.

Saul Goodman (Better Call Saul):

It's all good, man.

Jelena:

Right, right. Absolutely. I mean, I think even if you were trying somehow, if you felt like you had some brilliant technique worked out where you were going to game the LSAT-Flex, you would be so nervous at that point that you're going to get caught, that you'd probably blow any of your gains from cheating just by being too nervous to do the questions correctly.

Branden:

Yeah. Well, so it is, I know I went on their website and they were talking about how this might be something that they use again in the future. So, I guess maybe people could do some dry runs and start thinking critically about how to game the system afterward. But again, I just don't see how you can cheat on something like this. I just don't see how it would work.

Jelena:

So, we don't know yet if this will be the only LSAT-Flex, but when is the one LSAT-Flex that we know will be occurring, happening?

Branden:

I think sometime in the second half of May, is what they said, but the date has not yet been announced. So, as far as who can take it, you can't just sign up for the LSAT-Flex though. Only students who were registered for the April exam can take the LSAT-Flex. Now that does include March registrants, the March exam was canceled, who were automatically rolled over to April after the March cancellation, but it's not just an open exam for anyone to take, unfortunately.

Jelena:

Right. That's been one of the other big controversies that I've been hearing about from students, is okay, if they're going to offer this, why are they only offering it if they truly believe that it's equivalent to a live, proctored, group LSAT, why are they only offering it to people who've had their tests canceled? Why won't they just let everybody sign up for it? Which, my thinking on that is, it's just a capacity problem. If they opened this up to everybody, then they're in a whole new situation with having to train enough proctors quickly enough to maybe Proctor an exam, that could become one of the largest LSAT administrations ever, if people jump in thinking that it's going to suddenly be so much easier.

Branden:

Yeah. So, that's definitely not going to work out for people. One thing that I have had questions on is what is the writing sample going to be like? And I think the writing sample is just the writing sample. The writing sample has been a take-home exam ever since last year. And apparently, it's going to continue to be the same thing and you've had the opportunity to complete it, I think, within a year of taking your LSAT. And so, it's going to be the same thing. You're not going to get out of it. It's not going to change. It is what it is.

Jelena:

Right now, in retrospect, looking somewhat prescient of LSAC to move that writing sample to an at-home portion of the test so much earlier than they're now moving the entire test for at least one administration, to take-home. Speaking of taking it at home, you are going to need a Windows or Macintosh computer. You cannot use a Chromebook to take the test. So, that is, I think, going to leave a few people out, especially lower income people who may not have the device that is a full on laptop, that's a Windows or Mac machine. People who do their primary computing and their primary study activities on tablets are left out here. You cannot take it on an iPad, and also leaving out the nerds like me who use Linux or Ubuntu because you not only cannot use a Linux-based operating systems to take the LSAT-Flex, you also can't even use a virtual machine to sneak in either.

You're also going to need a webcam with at least 640 by 480 resolution. And there are some other technical requirements, which we will link to in the show notes. Now, the one silver lining to these strict tech requirements is LSAC is claiming that if you don't have the required device, contact them and they will try to get you a loaner. I don't know how exactly that's going to work, I don't know how they're going to make sure that those loaner devices are sterile and safe for people to use in this global pandemic, but they say that they're really, really going to try hard to help, if you do not have the right equipment and you have been registered for this LSAT-Flex.

Branden:

Yeah, I would imagine they would do that because they get sued a lot over access and over accessibility issues. And that was my first response when I saw this, is that this is going to create entire groups of people who just don't have the opportunity to take the LSAT. And when they're making noises about how maybe we're going to keep doing this and who knows what's going to happen, then I think they're really going to have to do a lot to figure out those logistics. And unless they have a whole bunch of stuff up their sleeves, I just don't really think this is going to go well for them. That said, there are a couple of more things that we should let people know. So scores, when do you get your score? Well, the score is going to be released approximately two weeks after the test date, which is not that far off from the normal LSAT. Usually it's somewhere between two and three weeks. So, that's helpful, but I don't know. Do you have anything else to tell our listeners about this, Jelena?

Jelena:

Yeah. So, just like the accommodations for your device, they are also saying that disability accommodations that you already received, will remain the same on the LSAT-Flex, as whatever you were already awarded for your regular LSAT. So again, the only people taking the LSAT-Flex are people who were already registered for March or April, before those exams were canceled. So, if you were already registered, your accommodation application should have already been processed and whatever you received there, you're going to hear from them soon. They are putting it in a, "Don't call us, we'll call you" way. They will talk to you about what your accommodations will look like on the LSAT-Flex. But their intention apparently, is to give you the same. So, whether it's extra time, whether it's extra breaks, they're going to try to give that to you on the Flex.

Branden:

And you don't actually have to take it if you don't want to. Nobody has to take the LSAT-Flex. They know that this is a different situation, and that it's going to make people nervous. So, if you want to make a different decision, if you want to opt out, LSAC has a form online called April 2020 Rescheduling Options. And you can fill that out to opt out of the LSAT-Flex. If you've been automatically registered. You'll get a coupon toward a different future test date, instead. If you don't fill the form out before April 15th at 11:59 PM, Eastern time, you lose the coupon option and you are automatically registered for the LSAT-Flex. So, that's what you're doing in lieu of tax day, on April 15th. Tax day is now July 15th. So, April 15th is a new deadline for you to worry about.

Jelena:

You will be taxed in the form of logic, pay your logic taxes, you peasants, or whatever you are.

Branden:

That is the most painful tax to pay, the logic tax.

Jelena:

Yes, yes. It's also a very regressive tax. It's not progressive based on your income level, as we have seen from certain rich people in the news lately.

Branden:

Yeah, no, it really isn't. It really is not.

Jelena:

On a completely, completely different note, one of the other things that we've been hearing a lot of anxiety about, regarding these changes to the LSAT, is application deadlines. So of course, there are a small handful of test takers who take the test in March, who are still planning to apply for this season. In other words, Fall 2020 admission. Many schools close around that time, but there are a lot of schools that you still potentially could apply to, either shooting to be wait-listed and maybe get in off the wait list, or because they are schools that may be just get a little fewer applications and really still do have seats available in March or April. Obviously, if there's no March or April test, and do you have to wait for the LSAT-Flex in the second half of May, you are wondering what's going to happen to your plan to apply for Fall 2020 admission.

Now, LSAC does not have a universal answer for you, but they have confirmed that they're working with law schools to extend application deadlines this year. But for right now, you still have to check with the schools on your list individually, to see if they've done so. There is a pretty solid FAQ on this, including those admission season questions on LSACs website. And we will link to that as well in the show notes.

Branden:

So, that's where things stand with regard to the April LSAT. Obviously, this is a first time format, so like the first digital LSAT, expect some hiccups. Proctors may have unclear instructions or just not understand the technology. There might be unexpected technical difficulties with the platform.

Jelena:

Basically, what we're saying is expect the unexpected. Of course, that goes for the regular LSAT too.

Branden:

As far as how to prep for the LSAT-Flex, the questions are going to be standard LSAT questions, just presented in a different format. So really, your study plan doesn't have to change dramatically.

Jelena:

Now we are helping you with the changes that you may want to make. So, TestMax is working very quickly to update our LSATMax app with an LSAT-Flex mode for you Flex studiers. So very soon, look out in your email, if you are already an LSATMax student, very soon, we will enable for all 89 practice tests, the ability to take them in LSAT-Flex mode. In other words, to take only three sections with only one LR.

Branden:

Hooray!

Jelena:

Right? Yes, yes. Hurray, only one LR, although bummer for those of you who are relying on your LR to save you from Reading Comp and Logic Games.

Branden:

Well, my concern was just that you can get to the drinking more quickly if there's only three sections.

Jelena:

Now that is true. That is universally true. You are going to want to stop prepping on your tablets, since you can't use them for the LSAT-Flex. So, anybody who thought that you were doing a really great thing by going out and getting a Surface Go, so that you could take the LSAT on the same device you were practicing with at home, sorry. Now, you just have a tablet that hopefully, you can watch Netflix on? Start doing your practice on a Windows or Mac computer, ideally the same one that you're going to use for the LSAT-Flex. And you might want to take that sticky note off your web cam, paranoids like me, before you get your remote Proctor wondering why they can't see you.

Branden:

So, we've taken a lot of time with the one LR section, and I don't want to belabor it but I really think that you should keep studying your weaknesses. I don't think that this change in format should change up your studies too much because all of the same stuff is going to be tested on the exam. And especially, when it comes to logical reasoning, the concepts that are tested there are tested on reading comprehension and are tested on logic games and other forms as well. So, I think a lot of the practice that you do there, can still be helpful. So, I think your most important goal right now, is especially if you're at the end of studying and you're at that point where you're just working on your weaknesses and shoring up those weaknesses, that's what you should still be doing. Don't reinvent the wheel. Did we already use that metaphor? I think we already used that metaphor. Don't reinvent the wheel. Just don't do it.

Jelena:

Yeah, I would agree with that. It's still the LSAT. You're still going to get a 120 to 180 scaled score. You're still doing LG, LR, and RC. Don't change your study too much, but do certainly try out our new LSAT-Flex mode on the LSATMax app, if you are an LSATMax student, and if you are not yet, you can always start your free trial today by searching for it in either app store that you use. One of the other questions that we are getting from students is about scratch paper on logic games, on the LSAT-Flex. We're wondering about that too. It is not addressed in LSACs FAQ yet, but of course, they're going to expect you to diagram. So, best guests here, I would be shocked if it was any different than this. You will be allowed to provide your own scratch paper, but you will probably have to show both sides of it to the remote Proctor, so that they can see that you haven't made any notes on it.

So final, final thought here on LSAT-Flex. Yes, it is a strange new format. We don't know yet whether or not it'll ever be repeated. It may have to be repeated if the course of this pandemic is not the way that we all hope that it goes. If we're not back out of our homes and able to hold gatherings in time for say, the June test. But of course, this is, of all of the unprecedented things that are happening in the world right now, this is not necessarily the one to be worried about. This is something that is a best effort by LSAC, to serve the needs of students, even as an organization that historically is not known for moving quickly to better serve the needs of students. And they're doing their best here. We will get all of this information as it comes out.

My final advice to students, whether or not you're able to take the LSAT-Flex, is take a deep breath. And if it's really stressing you out, whether you're taking it or you're upset that other people are taking it and you don't have the option to take it, refocus your attention on the things that matter more to day to day life right now, your health, your family, whether or not you're able to work and support yourself right now. The wonderful thing about the LSAT, and one of the things that makes me like it better than other standardized tests is there are always more chances to take it. This is going to be a weird season, no matter what, but if you take the Flex and it doesn't work out for you, you can always take a real LSAT whenever they open back up. And if you don't have the chance to take the Flex this time, frankly, if it goes well this time, they may well offer it again.

So, just stay tuned. If you really would prefer to take the test from home. Let's just see how things pan out. I guess my plea here is for turning the panic and the controversy over LSAT-Flex, down from an 11 to maybe like a six and a half, if we can do that.

Kramer (Seinfeld):

Serenity now.

Branden:

Yes, the LSAT is, for better, for worse, a turtle. So, it's there now. It's going to be there when this is all over. You are going to get your chance to take it. And if you put in the work, if you do what you're supposed to do, you will get the score that's going to get you to the school you want to be in. It's been said before, but this is true, this, and just everything else passes. LSAT-Flex may end up staying with us. Maybe it's a good thing. Maybe it will be nice to take an LSAT from home. Well, whoever called taking LSAT nice, probably me and one other person, but maybe it won't be as bad you as you think.

Jelena:

I'm the other person. It's me.

Branden:

All right, thank you, Jelena.

Jelena:

That's why we have an LSAT podcast now.

Branden:

Dear listener, you have found the two people on the face of the planet who love, love, love the LSAT. Here we are.

Jelena:

And we apologize for the impact and the personal victimization that our existence has had on you. Raise your hand if you have been personally victimized by our love of the LSAT.

Branden:

Well, luckily, I can't see any hands from here.

Jelena:

No, no. Weird, weird. Ooh, where are all of our students? Where are all of our Level listeners? No, we're clearly becoming silly at this point. So, we should probably wrap up. Just remind everybody that whatever panic, anxiety, plans to figure out how to game the test, wherever you're putting any kind of nervous frantic energy, just put it into studying instead. That will serve you better. That is why we are continuing to do free office hours for all of our LSATMax students, everyday in April. So, check your email for that, if you're a student. We've also got that LSAT-Flex mode coming to the app very soon, for all 89 practice tests.

And we've got some free webinars coming up. So, make sure that you are tuned in for those, whether you are a current student in our premium course or not.

Branden:

Awesome. So, that's it for our special COVID-19 LSAT update episode. Keep an eye on your feed for more bonus content dropping very, very soon.

Jelena:

We hope you're all staying safe and healthy out there. And as always, if there's anything that we can do to help you navigate LSAT prep during a pandemic.

Speaker 2 (The Wire):

Pandemic, right here!

Jelena:

Please reach out. You can text LSAT to (310) 818-7743 or email podcast@testmaxprep.com.

Branden:

Thanks for listening.

Jelena:

You can find all of our episodes on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else you get your podcasts. If you're enjoying the show, we would love a five star rating and a review on Apple podcasts.

Branden:

You can also check out the show notes for links to further reading and resources from today's episode.

Jelena:

Until next time, stay hydrated, study hard, and remember, plenty of heroes carry a briefcase.

Branden & Jelena:

Plenty of heroes carry a briefcase!

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