Phi Beta Cons

Re: LSAT

I read that piece and scrolled through the study a bit, and there’s one issue I have that I don’t see addressed.

Basically, the researchers interviewed a bunch of people in the law profession, and put together a list of “effectiveness factors” that make a good lawyer. They studied a group of lawyers — the lawyers themselves, peers, and supervisors rated them on the effectiveness factors, and the lawyers submitted their LSAT and first-year law-school GPAs. The researchers developed tests that predicted the “effectiveness factors” better than the LSAT did. The LSAT, in fact, predicted few effectiveness factors, mainly the ones stemming from IQ/cognitive ability.

They call for more research, and they explicitly propose combining these tests with the LSAT rather than pitching the LSAT. The Inside Higher Ed piece is a little more gung-ho — it’s hard for them not to get excited about the fact that on these tests, there are few racial disparities.

I think the researchers make a convincing case for testing more skills than the LSAT alone can. But I believe they understate the importance of the LSAT, and that it needs to remain a major part of admissions: Because they only look at people who became lawyers under the current system, they run into the “restriction of range” problem addressed in The Bell Curve.

Basically, to get into law school today, you need to be really, really smart. Presuming you’re one of those elite few, other factors, like management and organization ability, will make the difference. In other words, people with super-duper-high LSAT scores aren’t systematically better lawyers than people with just super-high LSAT scores — but that doesn’t mean we should throw out the LSAT entirely, and let in people of average IQ but really good organizational skills.

On a side note, I don’t think many of the “non-cognitive” tests the researchers came up with would work when law-school admissions are actually on the line — in the experiment, subjects could answer all the questions honestly, because it didn’t matter. But if you’re being tested on “optimism,” how hard is it to say the glass is half full? In contrast, the great thing about a cognitive test is that if you get the question wrong, it means you didn’t know the answer. There’s no way to cheat without, well, cheating.

Most Popular

Elections

Biden Lies Again and Again

Joe Biden is a career liar and he lied some more in the debate, for instance when he dismissed the now well-supported New York Post story about Hunter Biden's business dealing as "a Russian plant." There is zero evidence for this. He offered this line: There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said ... Read More
Elections

Biden Lies Again and Again

Joe Biden is a career liar and he lied some more in the debate, for instance when he dismissed the now well-supported New York Post story about Hunter Biden's business dealing as "a Russian plant." There is zero evidence for this. He offered this line: There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said ... Read More
Elections

Biden Dusts Off Obama’s Most Famous Lie

"If you like your health care plan, you can keep it," was a promise President Barack Obama often made when selling the Affordable Care Act. It was one of the most significant political lies in recent history, leveled during one of our most contentious policy debates. If Americans knew they might lose their ... Read More
Elections

Biden Dusts Off Obama’s Most Famous Lie

"If you like your health care plan, you can keep it," was a promise President Barack Obama often made when selling the Affordable Care Act. It was one of the most significant political lies in recent history, leveled during one of our most contentious policy debates. If Americans knew they might lose their ... Read More
U.S.

FBI to Interview Hunter Biden Business Partner

The FBI has asked Tony Bobulinski, former business partner of Hunter Biden, to sit for an interview on Friday, Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) told reporters. Bobulinski was initially scheduled to give an interview on Friday to members of various Senate committees regarding his knowledge of business deals ... Read More
U.S.

FBI to Interview Hunter Biden Business Partner

The FBI has asked Tony Bobulinski, former business partner of Hunter Biden, to sit for an interview on Friday, Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) told reporters. Bobulinski was initially scheduled to give an interview on Friday to members of various Senate committees regarding his knowledge of business deals ... Read More
Elections

Biden Wants It Both Ways

This week felt like a month. On the menu today: After President Trump asked, “Would you close down the oil industry?” Biden responded, “I have a transition from the old industry, yes,” and now Biden’s campaign insists the candidate didn’t mean it. Biden also insisted that he “never said I oppose ... Read More
Elections

Biden Wants It Both Ways

This week felt like a month. On the menu today: After President Trump asked, “Would you close down the oil industry?” Biden responded, “I have a transition from the old industry, yes,” and now Biden’s campaign insists the candidate didn’t mean it. Biden also insisted that he “never said I oppose ... Read More