We have some updated LSAT data for all of you! You might be wondering why we've been so focused on the June and July numbers. Well, they're our first real information we have to anticipate the 2019-2020 cycle. LSAT applicants remain the dominant factor in cycle volume. To date, the 2018-2019 cycle has about 4.25% non-LSAT applicants. While this is notable growth over past cycles, and we expect that growth to continue, LSAT takers comprise the vast bulk of the applicant pool.
So, without further ado, the numbers. June LSAT registrants as of test day numbered approximately 18,500 individuals. This is a significant decrease from initially reported numbers of around 24,000. We expect many June registrants were tempted by LSAC's extended deadline to switch their testing date to July.
Please bear in mind that final test taker numbers are always lower than registrants. The "no show" percent usually hovers between 5 and 10 percent, and can vary wildly from test to test. Assuming a conservative 4% "no show" rate, June test taker numbers would be approximately 17,760.
Take a look at our projected estimates for this year versus last.
As you can see, based on these numbers and assumptions there would be a significant decline (21%) in June test takers. This will be the smallest June LSAT administration since LSAT started publishing their numbers in 1987.
In a previous blog we discussed how June is somewhat, but not entirely, predictive of cycle volume. The difficulty in using June to project this year comes from the addition of a July test for just the second year (as well as unique features of this July test) that is likely cannibalizing June test takers. Let's look at those July numbers now.
As of the June 4th deadline there were approximately 26,000 registrants for the July LSAT administration. There has been enormous demand for this test. Anecdotal reports of widespread waitlists for testing center spots had us intrigued, but this number is truly shocking- last year saw about 11,500 July takers. It's closer to what one would expect for a September LSAT administration than anything.
We've talked about why the July test is especially appealing. With a chance for a free retake, and the last opportunity to take a paper test, the July numbers are naturally going to be strong. But remember, registration numbers only go one way post deadline: down. Further, there will likely be significant score cancellation volume after July thanks to the aforementioned free retake for those who cancel. July is, for many reasons, not especially helpful for forecasting. Applicants shouldn't start wondering if 2019-2020 will be an "up" cycle, and schools shouldn't start planning as if it will be. Personally, we believe that July is simply shifting forward a lot of the "demand" for LSATs this year; and that these numbers do not represent some fundamental spike in potential applicants.
If July numbers hold relatively strong, it does suggest that we will continue to see strong early cycle application volume, especially in the 160+ range. There has been a trend of earlier and earlier applications, and volume in the first few LSATs of the cycle is key to that. We'll revisit this idea closer to or after the July test, when we have more finalized July data and initial September reports. July is also likely to accelerate the decline in first time test taker percentage in this cycles LSAT administrations.
That's it for now! We will continue to monitor this topic and provide updates as we get them. We also will be adding to our advice on our YouTube channel and on this blog with tips and insider tactics on how to stand out in the upcoming cycle.
Written by Justin Kane and Mike Spivey