During the first fully digital administration of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), Binghamton University students and other test-takers were unable to complete their exams, and their data was wiped due to technological problems.
The digital exam was being administered in three different BU lecture halls on Sept. 21, but only one was affected when all the tablets were disconnected from the network four-fifths through the exam. After 45 minutes of attempting to restore the system, the test was canceled.
One of the affected test takers was Amanda Ricci, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law. According to Ricci, the test-takers seemed upset and confused as test administrators struggled to resolve the issue.
“I was very shocked that they canceled our test,” Ricci said. “Multiple people started crying. Some were arguing with the [Law School Admission Council (LSAC)] administrators, and others were trying to find a solution to fixing the network.”
Test-takers were not the only distressed students. Stephen Perez, a junior double-majoring in political science and sociology, plans on taking the LSAT next summer. Perez said this incident has made him feel more nervous about taking the exam.
“I know that some things are largely out of control when it comes to technology, but students pay so much money to take these tests and receive their scores,” Perez said. “These scores play a vital part in the application process and can make or break someone’s application. All of that studying and mental preparedness and for what? For a test to be erased? It’s so awful and discouraging.”
According to the LSAC website, BU was not the only location to experience technical issues, and some other locations experienced an error in shipping their tablets to other testing locations.
Over 21,000 students were registered to take the Sept. 21 LSAT, according to Troy Lowry, senior vice president of technology products, chief information officer and chief information security officer at the LSAC. According to Lowry, there were more than 550 testing centers across North America, and a majority of them did not experience any technological difficulty.
“While the test day went smoothly at the vast majority of test centers, we did have some unfortunate situations that prevented the test from happening in a few locations,” Lowry wrote in an email. “Unfortunately, the Binghamton University center experienced technical issues which affected some test takers’ ability to complete the test. We are deeply sorry for the problems that occurred at Binghamton [University] and other locations.”
Although the digital interface is designed to save test-takers’ progress to a central hub in the testing room, the affected students at BU will still have to complete a new exam. The LSAC will be providing reparations by allowing test-takers a free make-up test and four free law school reports to use in their law school applications, according to Lowry. The LSAT costs $200 to take, and each individual law school report costs $45.
According to Lowry, the LSAC’s current focus is to decrease the impact the technical issues have on the test-takers’ application process.
“We have communicated directly with all affected test takers and are doing everything possible to address their needs,” Lowry wrote. “We will also continue to gather feedback from test takers and test center staff to improve the digital experience for future LSAT administrations.”
Lowry wrote that in addition to constructive criticism, the LSAC has received optimistic responses to specific features of the digital LSAT, such as the on-screen timer, five-minute warning and the ability to flag questions to go back to.
Despite the issues, Lowry said future administrations of the LSAT will remain digital.
“We apologize for the issues that affected a small number of testing centers in September,” Lowry wrote. “We know how hard students work to prepare, so we will not be satisfied until we have zero technical issues, and the test day experience is smooth and positive for 100 percent of our test takers.”