Additional LSAT Advice for Disabled Students
The LSAC, and the LSAT test it administers, must meet the
requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you
are a disabled test-taker, you should insist upon all of your legal
rights under the ADA and other applicable legislation.
In the opinion of this author, the LSAC has not proven itself
especially friendly to disabled test-takers. As you may know, it has
been the subject of private lawsuits over accommodations for the
disabled. It was also sued by the U.S. Justice Department, which
argued that its policies on accommodations were discriminatory and
violated the ADA. (This case was settled, largely in the LSAC’s
favor.) The LSAC vigorously defends its policies, insisting that
they are necessary to ensure the fairness of the LSAT examination.
Accommodations that you may wish to request include: a scribe, a
reader, a sign language interpreter, additional time to review the
scribe’s work, additional time to complete the writing portion of
the exam, additional time to take the multiple choice portion of the
exam, a quiet room, a room with special features (different
lighting, etc.), testing on multiple days, and the like. NOTE: This
is not an exhaustive list, and everyone is different, so insist on
any and all accommodations that you feel you need to take the exam
on a level playing field with non-disabled test-takers.
If you are a disabled test-taker, please read and consider the
- Insist on your accommodations. You are legally entitled to
them. The LSAT is perhaps the most important component of the
law school admissions process. You should think carefully before
taking the exam under non-accommodated conditions; do not hamper
your chances for a good score.
- Submit your LSAT registration documents, including your
request for accommodations, WELL IN ADVANCE of the deadlines. As
soon as possible is not soon enough. The LSAC will take time to
review your request for accommodations, and if you receive an
unfavorable decision, you will have to appeal it. I advised a
disabled student who had to appeal not once, but numerous times.
The entire process of obtaining adequate accommodations took him
nearly five months.
- Be prepared to document your disability with CURRENT
information. The LSAC will NOT tell you what documents you need
to submit to make your case for accommodations. (This fact
causes a great deal of anxiety and frustration for disabled
applicants.) Instead, you send in your documentation and LSAC
tells you if it’s adequate. The guidelines for documentation can
be found on its web site at www.lsac.org.
You will find that the LSAC is not very specific about the type
of medical records and affidavits required to establish your
disability and need for accommodations.
- In general, however, you need to demonstrate at least that
you (a) have a disability; that has been (b) recently documented
by an appropriate medical doctor/equivalent; and that your
disability is (c) linked directly to the accommodation you seek.
Some students who have had their disabilities for years do not
have current information describing it. Often, high schools and
colleges make accommodations simply on the basis of a student’s
claim of disability; most probably do not require extensive
THE LSAC IS JUST THE OPPOSITE: IT REQUIRES YOU TO ESTABLISH YOUR
DISABILITY, AND ITS LINK TO THE ACCOMMODATIONS YOU SEEK. Its
standards are much tougher than your college’s or university’s.
It will NOT be sufficient for you to tell LSAC that you already
receive the same accommodations at your undergraduate
institution. LSAC does not really care about the accommodations
granted by other institutions. It is more concerned with medical
documentation of your condition and how your condition affects
your test-taking ability. The hard part is not establishing the
disability—most students can do that through medical records.
Rather, the hard part is establishing WHY your disability
entitles you to the accommodations you seek.
- The toughest accommodation to get, it seems, is extra time.
Undergraduate institutions routinely allow extra time on timed
examinations, but at least in my experience, it is like pulling
teeth to obtain extra time from the LSAC. Indeed, many of the
lawsuits filed against LSAC have concerned its denial of extra
time to mentally and physically disabled test-takers. If you are
denied extra time, consider retaining a lawyer to “run
interference” for you. Some disability law centers and legal aid
organizations will represent you for free. Check with your
school, too, to see if it provides any student legal aid.
My disabled student had a very difficult time obtaining extra
time on his LSAT examination. Specifically, he had to establish
that his disability was not simply physical. My student had to
be specially tested to establish that the nature of his
disability was both physical and cognitive. When he was able to
submit the results of this testing, he finally received the
extra time accommodation. However, he paid for this testing
himself, and he used a lawyer.