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AUTHOR Wightman, Linda F.
TITLE Analysis of LSAT Performance and Patterns of Application forMale and Female Law School Applicants. LSAC Research ReportSeries.
INSTITUTION Law School Admission Council, Newtown, PA.REPORT NO LSAC-RR-94-02PUB DATE 1994-12-00
PUB TYPE Numerical/Quantitative Data (110) Reports Research (143)EDRS PRICE EDRS Price MF01/PC03 Plus Postage.DESCRIPTORS *College Applicants; College Entrance Examinations; Grade
Point average; Higher Education; *Law Schools; *SexDifferences; *Test Results; Undergraduate Students
IDENTIFIERS *Law School Admission Test
This study investigated differences in performance on the LawSchool Admission Test (LSAT) and subsequent applications and admissiondecisions separately for men and women. Data were drawn from the 1990-1991law school applicant pool, a total of 83,336 applicants, who generated417,103 applications at 178 law schools. The undergraduate grade pointaverage data presented in this study are consistent with hundreds of studiesthat report that women earn higher grades than men at both the high schooland undergraduate levels. Data do not support a need for concern that femaletest takers are differentially selecting themselves out of the applicantpool. Nor do data support concerns about negative social consequencesresulting from women's slightly lower LSAT scores. An appendix showsundergraduate majors of the sample. (Contains 11 figures, 26 tables, and 16references.) (SLD)
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Analysis of LSAT Performance andPatterns of Application for Male andFemale Law School Applicants
Linda F. Wightman
Law School Admission CouncilResearch Report 94-02December 1994
BEST COPY AVAILABLE
A Publication of the Law School Admission Council
The Law School Admission Council is a nonprofit corporation whosemembers are United States and Canadian law schools that provideservices to the legal education community.
LSAT and the Law Services logo are registered by the Law SchoolAdmission Council, Inc. Law School Forum is a service mark of theLaw School Admission Council, Inc. The Official LSAT Prep Test;LSAT: The Official Triple Prep; LSAT: The Official Triple Prep Plus;and The Whole Law School Package are trademarks of Law SchoolAdmission Council, Inc.
Copyright 1995 by Law School Admission Council, Inc.
All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced or transmitted,in whole or in part. by any means, electronic or mechanical, includingphotocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrievalsystem, without permission of the publisher. For information, write:Communications, Law School Admission Council, Box 40, 661 PennStreet, Newtown, PA 18940-0040.
This study is published and distributed by the Law School AdmissionCouncil (LSAC). The opinions and conclusions contained in thisreport are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect theposition or policy of the Law School Admission Council.
LIST OF TABLES ii
LIST OF FIGURES iv
METHODS 6Description of the Sample 6Test Performance Data 7Law School Application Data 9Law School Admission Data 9
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 12Test Performance Data 12Law School Application Data 32Law School Admission Data 47
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS 54
Table 1 Standardized Mean Score Difference Between Men and Women in SelectedAdmission Testing Programs 4
Table 2 LSAT Score Distribution by Gender for 1989-90 and 1990-91 Test Takers 13
Table 3 LSAT Score Distribution by Gender for 1990-91 Law School Applicants 16
Table 4 Mean LSAT Scores and Score Differences for Men and Women Applicants atSelected Percentile Ranks 18
Table 5 Distribution of 1990-91 Law School Applicants on SelectedDemographic Variables 19
Table 6 LSAT Means and Standard Deviations for 1990-91 Applicants byAge Group and Gender 22
Table 7 UGPA Means and Standard Deviations for 1990-91 Applicants byAge Group and Gender 23
Table 8 LSAT Means and Standard Deviations for 1990-91 Applicants byEthnic Group and Gender 25
Table 9 UGPA Means and Standard Deviations for 1990-91 Law SchoolApplicants by Ethnic Group and Gender 26
Table 10 LSAT Means and Standard Deviations for 1990-91 Law School Applicantsby Undergraduate Major and Gender 28
Table 11 UGPA Means and Standard Deviations for 1990-91 Law School Applicantsby Undergraduate Major and Gender 29
Table 12 Adjusted Mean LSAT Score Differences Between Men and WomenFrom Adding Selected Main Effect Demographic Variables to a MultipleRegression Model 31
Table 13 Contribution to Adjustment of LSAT Gender Differences byIndividual Variables 32
Table 14 Mean Difference in LSAT Score and UGPA Between Male andFemale Applicants to the Same U. S. Law Schools 33
Table 15 Distributions of 1990-91 LSAT Scores for Male and Female ApplicantsWithin Law Schools Grouped by Mean Scores of Accepted Applicants 39
Table 16 Value of Applicant's LSAT Minus School's Mean LSAT for AcceptedStudents by LSAT Score Group and Gender 40
Table 17 Mean of Applicant's LSAT Minus School's Mean LSAT for AcceptedStudents by Number of Applications, LSAT Score Group, and Gender 41
Table 18 Distributions of 1990-91 UGPAs for Male and Female Applicantsfor Law Schools Grouped by Mean UGPAs of Accepted Applicants 42
Table 19 Value of Applicant's UGPA Minus School's Mean UGPA for AcceptedStudents by UGPA Score Group and Gender 43
Table 20 Mean of Applicant's UGPA Minus School's Mean UGPA for AcceptedStudents by Number of Applications, UGPA Score Group, and Gender 44
Table 21 Correlation Between Number of Applications and LSAT Score by Gender 45
Table 22 1990-91 Male and Female Applicants Accepted by at Least One Law School 48
Table 23 Correlations of Admission Decisions with Predicted Admission,LSAT, and UGPA by Gender 49
Table 24 Predicted Versus Actual Admission Rates by Gender for the1990-91 Admission Year 50
Table 25 Predicted Versus Actual Admission Rates by Gender and Ethnicityfor the 1990-91 Admission Year 51
Table 26 Predicted Versus Actual Admission Rates for Female Applicantsby Ethnicity and School Control 1990-91 Admission Year 53
Figure la Distribution of LSAT Scores by Gender 1989-90 Test Takers 14
Figure lb Distribution of LSAT Scores by Gender 1990-91 Test Takers 14
Figure 2 Distribution of LSAT Score by Gender All 1990-91 Applicants 17
Figure 3 Cumulative Frequency Distribution of LSAT Scores for Male andFemale Applicants 17
Figure 4 Male-Female LSAT for Applicants by Within School MeanLSAT for Accepted 35
Figure 5 Male-Female UGPA for Applicants by Within School MeanLSAT for Accepted 36
Figure 6 Male-Female Mean LSAT for Applicants by Within School MeanUGPA for Accepted 37
Figure 7 Male-Female Mean UGPA for Applicants by Within School MeanUGPA for Accepted 37
Figure 8 Distribution of Number of Schools to Which Males and Females Apply 45
Figure 9 Ratio of Male and Female Applicants/Total Accepted by Mean LSATfor Accepted 47
Figure 10 Predicted and Actual Admission Rates by Gender and Ethnic Subgroup 52
Figure 11 Predicted and Actual Admission Rates for Women by Ethnicity andSchool Control 53
ANALYSIS OF LSAT PERFORMANCE AND PATTERNS OF APPLICATIONFOR MALE AND FEMALE LAW SCHOOL APPLICANTS
In recent years, virtually all higher education admission testing programs have reported small but
consistent differences favoring men's over women's scores on multiple-choice tests of verbal reasoning
ability. Unlike the more substantial differences in quantitative performance that have been reported for
many years, typically, differences in verbal scores tend to be neither large nor of apparent practical
significance. Nevertheless, the consistency of these differences both within and across different testing
programs demands that the phenomenon be understood to the extent possible. More importantly, little is
known about the impact of even slightly lower scores earned by women on their subsequent decisions
about applying to and attending college, graduate school, or professional school.
With regard to the latter point, the research literature supporting differential tendencies toward risk-taking
behaviors between men and women suggests that women's response to the lower admission test scores,
in terms of patterns of application, deserves special study. A series of studies about gender differences
in risk taking tended to find greater evidence of risk taking among boys than among girls (e.g., Kass,
1964; McManis & Bell, 1968; Slovic. 1966). More recently, Ben- Shakhar and Sinai (1991) considered
the theory of higher risk-taking tendency among males as an explanation for differential guessing behavior