October LSAT Data Update

Now that October 2020 LSAT registration has closed, a very brief update on how volume compares to the last couple of years.

As of the registration deadline, there were 32,561 individuals signed up for the October 2020 LSAT. This is double the number of people who were registered for the same test last year, and is the second test in a row with substantially increased volume compared to its prior cycle counterpart. In fact, proportionally, it's a much bigger growth than August — a 100% increase for October compared to a 75% or so increase in August.

Frankly, the October number is shockingly high to us — it seemed on track to grow, but we definitely did not anticipate it growing this much. The last few days of registration saw incredible sign-up volume, possibly triggered by LSAC announcing that the test would indeed be in Flex format.

Now, some caveats:

  1. The substantial growth in August and October this year won't be quite as high as it currently looks. We're comparing non-final registrants in 2020 to final registrants in 2018 and 2019. Every single test there are a substantial number of people who drop out or move their test date. August 2020, for example, had 35,020 people signed up for it the day after registration closed, but now that number is down by 6,167 people, almost 20%, with a week to go before the test (and the days immediately before the test always see substantial withdrawal volume). Point is, the numbers will go down. August 2020 has already declined more than we thought it would.
  2. The June 2020 registrant number is a bit funky, and appears to actually be the number of test takers, not registrants — the real number should be at least several hundred higher.
  3. July 2020, by contrast, is somewhat inflated by a thousand or so international test registrants not normally included in registrant counts, but lumped in because they took that Flex exam. It's possible the same phenomenon may be somewhat inflating October 2020 numbers; we'll look into that.
  4. As you can see, there was no October 2018 test, so the comparison to 2018 is a bit hard. Because there was no October test, the September and November exams were larger that year — November 2018 clocked in at over 34,000 test takers and was the largest test since LSAC began their new expanded testing schedule.
  5. We don't know how much of this volume is first-time test-takers versus retakers. The higher the proportion of retakers, the less the top-line registrant number matters — after all, you can take the test as many times as LSAC will let you, but you're still only one applicant. June and July numbers show those tests both had very slightly higher proportions of retakers than last year; however it's unclear if that trend will continue.

We predicted this cycle was likely to be up in respect to applicants and applications. These numbers definitely back up that possibility, though not quite as drastically as might seem at first glance. Don't panic, just use it as motivation to prepare the best application you possibly can.