LSAT trends

encaenia
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Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2011 1:54 pm

LSAT trends

Postby encaenia » Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:40 am

Is the LSAT getting easier as fewer people take it? (I mean, easier in the sense of the curve (difficulty getting a +170) or easier in terms of question difficulty.)

Is there any going back to the happy days of PT20-30s, where theres 2 or 3 basic linear games in the LG section?

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tmon
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Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:52 pm

Re: LSAT trends

Postby tmon » Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:43 am

encaenia wrote:Is there any going back to the happy days of PT20-30s, where theres 2 or 3 basic linear games in the LG section?

Not a chance. The test progresses as people figure it out. There's no reason for it to regress that much.

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Nova
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Re: LSAT trends

Postby Nova » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:16 pm

soj wrote:True or false?

1. The LSAT is "curved" in the sense that on harder tests, you can get more questions wrong and still get the same scaled score.

True.

LSAC goes through a bunch of steps to make sure you're not penalized for getting a tougher test or rewarded for getting an easier test. First, LSAC pretests questions using the experimental sections. Ambiguous or poorly worded questions are thrown out. Questions that seem to reward poor reasoning (i.e. questions that low scorers tend to get right more often than high scorers do) are thrown out. Then they combine the remaining questions so that the test has a good mix of hard, medium, and easy questions. But some tests inevitably end up being tougher than others, and so LSAC comes up with a conversion method that takes difficulty into account. If a test has too many easy questions, then it takes more credited responses to get a 140 on that test than on a test with fewer easy questions. If a test has too many hard questions, then it doesn't take as many credited responses to get a 170 on that test than on a test with fewer hard questions.

2. The LSAT is "curved" in the sense that every test is meant to have the same distribution of scores. In other words, if all the smart people took the June test, then the June test will have a tougher curve, and it'll be harder to score higher in June than in other administrations.

False.

The LSAT standardizes scaled scores, not percentile scores. In theory, a person will always get the same score that reflects that person's reasoning abilities. If it weren't for outside factors such as test-day condition, relative strength in a certain question type over others, and random luck, someone with a "170" reasoning ability will get a 170 no matter when that person takes the LSAT. Your score has nothing to do where you stand relative to others taking the same test. You're not competing against others sitting in your testing room. If all the smart people take the test in June, it may be more difficult to get a certain percentile score in June, but no more difficult to get a certain scaled score. If test-takers are getting smarter or more prepared, then more people will achieve high scores. But from the perspective of a single test-taker, no single scaled score will be harder to obtain. The fact that people are better prepared for the LSAT these days is reflected in the fact that a 170 used to be a 98th percentile score but is now a 97th percentile score. But people who scored a 170 in 2011 are on average no better or worse reasoners than people who scored a 170 in 2001.

3. Whether a question is labelled easy, medium, or difficult depends on how well previous test-takers did when that question was used in an experimental section, so the fact that people are getting smarter and more prepared is setting the bar higher.

False.

Everything before "so the fact that" is true. Yes, how well previous test-takers did on individual questions in experimental sections partially determines whether LSAC considers a question easy or difficult, but keep in mind that LSAC has been equating the exams precisely to deal with this problem. Conversion scales are set so that a given scaled score on any exam is equivalent to the same scaled score in the previous generation of exams, which is equivalent to the same score in the generation of exams before them, and so on. As a result, a given scaled score on any exam is equivalent to the same scaled score on all the other exams. If there are more high scorers in a certain administration, that just means more high scorers to use as data points when determining the scale for the next administrations. It does not "raise the standard."




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