They’re a lot better now.
A few weeks ago, LSAC updated its digital LSAT familiarization page with new practice exams. Now that we’re creeping ever-closer to the July unveiling of the digital LSAT, LSAC was kind enough to let prospective test takers get the full digital experience with full practice exams. And of course, LSAC wants people to get excited about this new version of the test, so if prospective test takers got jazzed about some of the new features in the digital format, all the better for them.
After LSAC posted these exams, I decided to try them out and write about the experiences. And, reader, when I tried out a practice exam, the initial results were a bit concerning to me. Or — judging by the unhinged tirade of a blog post (are there any other kind?) that followed the initial practice exam — quite a bit concerning to me. Standing on the figurative soapbox provided by this blog, I ranted about several issues I experienced on these tests. I complained that highlighting and underlining feature was slow, cumbersome, and unreliable, especially on Logical Reasoning. And that all that hard-won highlighting and underlining would get misplaced on the text when you toggled between “Passage Only” and “Passage with Questions” mode in Reading Comprehension. You can read more about those issues in that Yelp review of a blog post here.
After that screed, LSAC actually reached out to us, letting know that there some recent changes to the digital LSAT familiarization page may have affected the performance of the highlighting and underlining features, and that they made some updates to the page that should have fixed those issues. Plus — and this is probably most relevant to you, dear reader and prospective digital LSAT taker — LSAC assured us that these issues were limited to the digital familiarization page, and never affected the actual digital LSAT software test takers will use on the real digital LSAT. They also asked us to take another look at the digital familiarization site, and update our review. So we did.
Fortunately, the patched-up digital familiarization site resolved nearly all the issues I experienced in the initial practice exam. In Logical Reasoning and Reading Comp, highlighting and underlining was smooth and easy. I was able to quickly highlight or underline what I wanted to, without much thought or effort. When I accidentally highlighted or underlined something I didn’t want to, the eraser function allowed me to easily scrub that away.
Over on Reading Comprehension, the issues from the first exam were also almost entirely resolved. On the first exam, here’s what happened when I underlined and highlighted everything in “Passage Only” mode.
… and then switched over to “Passage with Questions mode.
But this time, here’s what happened …
Much better. Also, take a look at how much more confident the underlining was — I was emboldened to highlight in different colors, to switch up between underlining and highlighting mid-sentence. These were not things I would have possibly been willing to do on the first version of this test, so they really speak to how much better these highlighting and underlining functions are now.
Unfortunately, however, when I scrolled down to the last paragraph in “Passage with Questions” mode, I realize the issue of switching from “Passage Only” wasn’t resolved completely.
It’s not so off that it would present a huge challenge on a real test. But it’s definitely a little off. I had a few other quibbles, as well. For one, I still find the 5-minute warning a bit, in the parlance of the youths, extra, since it manifests as a pop-up window that dims the rest of the exam (also, pop-ups are just kind of inherently triggering to early-aughts kids who may or may not have infected their family’s computer with incessant pop-ups after trying to download Cam’ron’s “Hey Ma” on Kazaa).
I also wish there was an “Undo” option somewhere, especially after I accidentally highlighted a whole bunch of text trying to scroll through it.
(Note to digital LSAT takers — learn from my mistakes, and make sure to deselect the underline and highlight icons after you’re done underlining and highlighting!)
But even I have to admit that these are pretty minor qualms that shouldn’t take away from what was, overall, a vastly improved experience. And, most importantly, prospective test takers now have the option to play around with this digital interface on practice exams that better replicate the actual digital testing experience. So anyone planning on taking the LSAT in July 2019 or beyond doesn’t have to hope real digital software works better than that on the digital familiarization site — as I discussed at the end of the last blog post — but can actually use the site to prepare for the real digital LSAT.