Most people interested in law school are at least a bit familiar with the idea of "accommodation" given to those with disabilities in academic and employment situations. Accommodations in situations like test taking can be requested per the Americans with Disabilities Act, which just celebrated its twentieth year. What many may not be aware of is that, at least regarding those taking the LSAT, accommodation comes with a price tag: when sitting for the LSAT, any ADA accommodations given are followed up by a practice called flagging.
Flagging, according to an article in Momentum Magazine (Fall 2009), allows the Law School Admissions Council (the organization responsible for administering the LSAT) to notify a law school that the person applying has requested an accommodation. The LSAC will then inform the school(s) that "accommodation was given and that [the] score should be interpreted 'with great sensitivity and flexibility.'" This has the practical effect of allowing the schools admissions department to discover that an applicant has a disability.
Many suits have been filed against the LSAC to just to be allowed to seek ADA accommodations. Further, some suits have been filed to address the practice of flagging in particular against both the LSAC and against the board of medical examiners who oversee the MCAT, the medical school admissions test, for this practice.
According to Momentum, the outcomes of these cases have been inconsistent. However, in a 2001 case, Breimhorst v. ETS the practice of flagging was challenged and ended for those taking the SAT's and later, the ACT's.
At this time, it appears the practice of flagging will remain. In 2003, the LSAC reviewed and re-affirmed the practice saying, "The Board strongly affirmed the current practice of "flagging" given its concern for the integrity of the test and the LSAC's psychometric research finding that scores earned with additional time are not comparable to standard scores."
Despite the continued practice of flagging, if you need accommodation for the LSAT, document your disability and pursue the accommodation.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act - Overview (FindLaw)
- Reasonable Accommodations for People With Disabilities: The ADA (FindLaw)
- The Flagging Test Scores of Individuals with Disabilities Who are Granted the Accommodation of Extended Time (Blue Ribbon Panel on Flagging Report, DRALegal.org)
- The Fable of the Timed and Flagged LSAT: Do Law School Admissions Committees Want the Tortoise or the Hare? (abstract, Social Science Research Network)