New Kid on the Block
A new standardized exam, JD-Next, whose proponents say, unlike the long-dominant Law School Admission Test, predicts academic success with little score disparities for under-represented groups. This could be a massive change to law school admissions, especially in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision banning race-conscious admissions. In fact, 47 accredited U.S. law schools have been granted permission by the American Bar Association to use JD-Next in place of the LSAT in admissions decisions going forward.
Admissions Council Unconcerned
The Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, sounds skeptical about its new competitor. They say there is so little hard data about JD-Next that it is premature to speculate. Additionally they add that based on their data, there is no evidence that JD-Next can serve as an admission assessment.
According to JD-Next, more than 2,000 students have completed the course, which was initially offered as a bridge to prepare incoming law students. Its data, replicated across several years and by two different teams of analysts, has shown no significant racial disparities to date in its exam results.
Differences in Methodology
The LSAT measures reading comprehension and logical analysis, but doesn’t quiz applicants on specific legal knowledge or concepts. JD-Next, however, enrolls prospective law students in an 8-week online class similar to a first-year contracts course, then tests them on what they learned. JD-Next states that the focus is on assessing whether the students can do the sorts of legal analysis introduced in the course. They do so because this type of legal analysis will ultimately be the backbone of their law school performance.
Students in JD-Next take regular online quizzes on lectures and learn how to brief cases, posting their work to a virtual discussion board for feedback. All told, students are expected to spend about six hours a week on the class.