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Santa Barbara, California-

You have spent long, lonely months in rigorous training for a single day, and a three hour test that may determine much of your future course in life: the day of the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT.

The LSAT is one of the major factors that decide entry into law school — whether you are able to get a seat a super elite law school, such as Stanford or University of Chicago, or will be going elsewhere, is often a matter of 5 points either way on this test.

Thousands of students are expecting their scores right now for the recently administered December LSAT. For many, it will determine whether this is a merry, relaxed, Christmas break or whether they are back to studying ferociously for the February retake. Students that took the test at University of California Santa Barbara already received some very bad news: LSAC, the makers of the test, lost a pile of completed score sheets in transit, and is forcing these students to either retake immediately or sit this year out and try again.

“It’s an extremely unfortunate accident that rarely ever happens, and we are offering the best options we can,” said Wendy Margolis, a representative from LSAC. “We are sorry for the students that took that test. We hate it. We waited as long as we could before making the decision,” she added.

The test makers generally take three full weeks to score the exam and announce student scores. Given the weight that students and school place on these scores, you would think that the completed test sheets would travel by armored car. Instead they go by UPS.

In the rest of the holiday commerce, it appears a bunch went missing. The testing center turned the answer sheets over to UPS and the package now cannot be accounted for.

Even if it is found, the test sheets will not be scored at this late date, the LSAC announced. Citing security reasons, the answer sheets are now considered null and void.

Use of the make-up date or a late retake will be free for the affected students, and this will not count to their normal limit of taking the test only three times in two years that potential law students face. Given the enormous effort that goes into the test, this is likely to be small consolation. Here is the email students received from LSAC:

From: <Lsac_alert@lsac.org>
Date: December 22, 2015 at 8:51:17 AM PST
Subject: Important Notice from LSAC regarding your December 2015 LSAT

RE: Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

Dear Test Taker:

I am writing regarding a situation relating to the December 5, 2015 Law School Admission Test administered at Test Center #13861, University of California at Santa Barbara.

As of this date, the answer sheets and test-related documents from that test center have not arrived at the Law School Admission Council. At this point, we have declared the answer sheets to be lost. To protect the integrity of the scores, we will not score these answer sheets even if they are found.

You will be receiving a full refund of your December LSAT registration fee (this does not apply to fee waivers). In addition, you have the option of taking a make-up test at no additional charge, to be administered on January 9, 2016.

If you choose not to take the make-up test, you may retake the LSAT at no additional charge on February 6, 2016. Please note that the February test administration is nondisclosed. You would have online access only to the LSAT score, score band, percentile rank, and writing sample. Submit your request by completing the attached form, then sign it and fax it to 215.968.1277 or scan and e-mail it to LSACinfo@LSAC.org for receipt at LSAC by Monday, January 11, 2016, 5:00 pm (ET).

If you wish to take the make-up test, report to the following address no later than 8:30 am on Saturday, January 9, 2016:

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT SANTA BARBARA
Buchannan Hall Room 1910
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93106

To be admitted to the make-up test, you must present this letter, proper identification (see LSAC.org), and an admission ticket containing the required passport-type photo.

If you take the make-up test and then decide to cancel your score, your score-cancellation request must be received at LSAC no later than Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 11:59 pm (ET).

If you take the make-up test, a letter will be included with all score reports sent to law schools to which you apply. The letter will explain that the score attributed to the December 2015 test administration was earned at a make-up test given on January 9, 2016. The letter will indicate that you were in no way responsible for the delay of your score report. We will make every effort to report the make-up test scores as soon as possible. Make-up test administrations are nondisclosed. You would have online access only to the LSAT score, score band, percentile rank, and writing sample.

If you do not take the make-up test, your file will reflect an LSAC cancellation for the December 2015 LSAT. An LSAC cancellation indicates that you took the December 2015 test but LSAC could not report a valid score for that administration because the answer sheets from that test center were lost in transit. A letter will be included with all reports sent to law schools to which you apply. The letter will indicate that you were in no way responsible for the cancellation of your score due to the loss of the answer sheets.

Only one make-up test is being offered so that we can process the answer sheets and provide scores as quickly as possible.

Loss of answer sheets in transit is an extremely rare occurrence. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this causes you.

Sincerely,

Daniel Bernstine
President, Law School Admission Council

LSAC customer service representatives are available by e-mail at LSACinfo@LSAC.org, or phone 215.968.1001, Monday through Friday, between 8:30 AM and 6:00 pm (ET).
_____________________________________________________________________

How would you react if this happened to you? Let us know in the comments!

Story by Evan Jones and Joshua Craven of lawschooli.com, a boutique LSAT prep company that makes online LSAT courses and aids in the law school admissions process.

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29 Comments

  1. Wow!!! How unfortunate, I too took the LSAT in December but not in California. I feel so sorry for those test takers; too bad they cannot be “grandfathered” into their law school of choice. I wish them luck as I anxiously await my score.

  2. This is unbelievable!

    I cannot imagine what I would do if I were one of these test takers and I just found out that I will have to retake this test again-and in about 2 weeks time! Seriously… studying over the holidays after thinking you were finally done with this exam?! Happy holidays from LSAC!

    In this day and age, the fact that this test isn’t done electronically is just ridiculous anyway! Aren’t other grad school entrance exams done via computer? It’s common knowledge that WHERE you actually take the LSAT can drastically affect your test taking experience anyway, which is also inherently unfair for those who get stuck in an awful exam setting. Variables like careless or noisy procters, inaccurate time keeping, disruptive test surroundings, (including noisy facilities or fellow test takers who are distracting), overcrowded testing rooms, tiny desks…all these things can have negative consequences for a test taker, who is already anxious about the exam itself without any of those additional hurdles with which to contend.
    Then to go through all of that, only to find out that the exam you just spent months and months preparing for (literally putting your life on hold to prepare for!)- that “somebody” accidentally misplaced those tests and well, you will have to redo it all over again. And by the way, sorry about that! Really?

    I honestly don’t know what the answer is to this enormous debacle but it just seems like the LSAT owes these test takers more than a free retake and a half ass apology. The entire process is flawed in many ways and this is just the most recent highlight of that fact. My heart goes out to my fellow California test takers down in SB. I think every one of us realizes just how easily that Tweet from LSAC could have mentioned their own testing site instead. Truly horrifying, plain and simple.

  3. My friend was one of the unlucky ones.

    If this had happened to me last year though I would have been screwed. I have a two year old and started working inmediately after the test. I would have had no other time to take it.

    I wish there was a better solution. My friend works full time, it doesn’t seem fair that now she has to juggle studying and work because of their error.

    Annoying!

  4. It is Not the fault of LSAC that UPS lost the tests! Given this debacle, to ensure that no other tests are lost or misplaced in the future, Perhaps a security strategic plan need to be in place. I would recommend an Armored security company to “hand deliver” the tests.

    • Given the high importance of this test & the significance of the impact that the results have on the lives of students taking it, it seems reasonable to have a contingency plan in place to preserve these documents.

      For example, digital copies could be retained at the point of origin prior to transit of the originals.

      No such plan has been in place, and as of our interview with LSAC officials this afternoon, no such plans are in the works.

      • agreed- for some people the second chance may be a good thing but for others it could completely mess them up, mentally or just because they no longer have time to study. it doesnt seem like simply offering refunds and a make up test is enough to compensate, however not sure what else they could do. automatic 180s for everyone?! HAHA

      • Joshua, in essence, this unfortunate situation can occur again. Given our technological society and its risk of hackers, digital copies can easily be compromised. Though I do agree that a system must be in place to preserve the documents.

    • It is their fault as they are responsible for ensuring the tests reach them and are scored. They choose to use UPS and this is the consequence.

  5. Haaa ” automatic 180s or grandfather” the test takers in would be wonderful for them But there will be a huge protest- me included. Heck I would love to get an automatic 180 too. Awww, I really feel bad for those test takers.

  6. According to LSATblog, scores were also lost from University of Tampa’s LSAT exam sitting- back in Feb 2012. (Story popped up when I googled “lost lsac scores.”)

    Students who took there were apparently notified… (wait for it)… when they logged on to view their scores on LSAC’S site.

    LSAC’S response back then looks pretty darn familiar to the one they gave today:
    -Offered apology
    -Offered free retake for those affected
    -Blamed UPS
    (what’s that old adage:
    “Fool me once, shame on you.
    Fool me twice, shame on me.”)

    Having a back up plan is sort of important for an exam of this magnitude. I would say, even more so when the unthinkable has already happened in the very recent past. And with the VERY SAME DELIVERY COMPANY!

    At the end of the day, the blame lies squarely with LSAC and no one else. Unfortunately, it’s the test takers who will suffer the consequences. And LSAC will blame the big brown truck again.

    • No offense but what would you want LSAC to do? It is terrible that the answer sheets were lost in transit but this is a rare event. Maybe retaking the test would actually be helpful for some candidates. It sounds like this does not happen often. Packages get lost sometimes. It stinks but get the refund or retest. I’m sure that the law schools know this happened and would not penalize any candidate.

      • Given that this is a mistake that they have made in the past, I would suggest they scan the answer sheets in before they are shipped anywhere. This is unacceptable, it’s not that hard to ensure that you receive test materials back, especially when you know the delivery service you have used in the past has failed in the past. There MUST be a back up. This test is was too stressful and way too important, and they know that. It is the absolute #1 ranking item in your application. They are a monopoly in their field and obviously have not been “checked” in this area.

  7. I feel so bad for those affected by this. I remember waiting throughout last December to get my score. And then the e-mail comes that I am quite sure these poor people thought was their test results, only to be informed that the whole process must be repeated. I also wonder why the answers aren’t electronically entered.

    The only consolation I can offer is that there is a good chance you will be on break from law school this time next year with one semester down. I will pray for everyone to be able to study and do well, however they decide to proceed. If you can survive THIS, you can through ANYTHING law school can throw at you!

  8. I was one of the unlucky ones that took the December LSAT at UCSB. In my opinion this is completely unnacceptable in so many ways. It seems so ridiculous that considering the amount of security and guidelines we follow to conform to LSAC’s rules and regulations, something like this is even possible of happening. I understand that this isn’t a common occurrence, but for students like myself applying to schools for next fall, I will not be able to send in my apps for realistically at least an entire month later.

    The factor that upset me the most is it took LSAC three weeks to inform us of the situation. I’m assuming they sent us these generic e-mails (dear “test-taker”), during the same time period they were sending all of the other December takers their scores. Because it took them so long, I for one, had tried to purposefully block all things LSAT out of my mind for the past three weeks (I had a mind set that I would kill myself for this test, take it once, and do great and that would be that). I am unable to take the replacement test they offered us in two weeks because my family has planned a trip out of the country. This means I will have to take the February LSAT, and because of the damage that will do towards my rolling admissions applications, I am now going to wait another year to apply to law school.

    It also makes me extremely upset to think about the amount of not only time, but money my family and I have spent to take this test. Not to mention thousands of dollars on a prep course, but traveling to the test site, paying for the actual test, and booking a hotel room the night before the test has not been cheap to say the least.

    I am just extremely disheartened by the lack of consideration and empathy I was shown by the LSAC organization. When speaking to representatives all of yesterday over the phone it seemed as if they had little to no care that this huge thing was happening to their clients. It makes me question the organization and leadership of this group. I understand that there are few options from here on what can be done to compensate us for this unacceptable mistake, but I would think that there would be at least a little more consideration shown towards us, especially during the holidays.

    I hope that this serves as a lesson and some sort of security measure is instilled to make sure that this never happens again.

    • My daughter took it and I am devastated.

      I HAVE THE LA TIMES WORKING ON THIS PLEASE EMAIL ME YOUR FULL NAME AND ANYTHING THAT YOU WNAT TO COMMENT ON
      WHO HAVE YOU CONTACTED ON THE LSAC AND THEIR RESPONSE
      Tanya

  9. I was one of the unlucky ones. This is probably the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Knowing how important this test is, I’m sure fellow test takes understand the pain that us some 75 students are going through. What I don’t understand is why they don’t scan the test ahead of time to avoid things like this happening. I’d also like to know what LSAC is going to do about the day I took off from work, the hotel I had to pay for, and now for a second time. It’s a real pain in the you know what. I’m honestly disappointed that they could be so careless with the way they manage these tests. UPS really? And even so, you can look through all their warehouses which should have been done until they found my test. Now I’m going to be months behind on my application because of a careless mistake that could have been avoided by thousands of other alternative routes.

  10. My daughter was one of the unlucky ones as well.
    The LA Times wrote an article about it on Dev 25th front page.
    I hope you all are able to get into law school it is just such an irresponsible act.
    I hope they change their system and does not happen again.

  11. This is horrible! Taking the LSAT in December was an experience I don’t ever want to relive! I feel so bad for those test takers. Us in Florida have yet to receive our scores. Anxiously waiting.

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