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Changes to law admissions test - issued on behalf of LNAT

1 February 2006

The National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) is to undergo significant changes this week. The test, which eight UK universities adopted last year, is designed to provide an assessment of a candidate's potential for law degree courses. Participating universities use the LNAT as part of their selection processes, alongside A-levels, GCSEs, the other information available from a candidate's application form and, where applicable, the candidate's performance at interview.

The LNAT is intended to improve the selection process and to make it fairer to all candidates, whatever their educational background, by:

· helping to identify applicants with the aptitude and skills necessary for success on law degree courses

· providing objective evaluations of candidates from a wide range of social and educational backgrounds by assessing essential general intellectual skills of comprehension, analysis, logic and judgment

· enabling more informed and equitable selection decisions to be made on candidates with the highest possible grades in public examinations

· enabling more informed and equitable selection decisions to be made on candidates who may have more modest grades for a range of reasons but who have the potential to succeed on law degree courses

· decreasing the overall burden of testing of candidates by substituting a uniform national test for the tests that the individual law schools would otherwise use

· enabling the fair selection of candidates with many different academic qualifications, from many different countries.

The changes are as follows:

· Three universities - Glasgow, King's College London and Manchester Metropolitan - will use the test in the 2005-06 admissions cycle, in addition to the eight universities (Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, East Anglia, Nottingham, Oxford and University College London [UCL]) that established the LNAT Consortium and which used the test in 2004-2005.

· The test will now be mandatory for all candidates, including overseas candidates and non-UK-based home candidates, for admission to undergraduate law programmes at these universities; formerly it was only mandatory for UK-based home candidates, although candidates not based in the UK were welcome to take the test if they had access to a test centre.

· All candidates will now do the test electronically at computer terminals, whereas the test was formerly completed manually in schools. In the UK, candidates will sit the LNAT in one of the operator's network of 150 high street test centres.

· Candidates will now be able to sit the test on any date and at any time that falls within the testing 'window', which opens on 1 September 2005 and closes at the end of the UCAS admissions cycle, whereas all tests were previously carried out on a set day. Individual tests will be created from a large bank of test questions which will be carefully calibrated to ensure optimum comparability of scores.

· The number of multiple-choice questions will increase from 24 to 30.

· The test fee will be £30 for tests taken in the UK and EU, and £50 for tests taken elsewhere; previously there was a flat fee for all candidates of £25. Bursaries will continue to be available.

Dr Phil Syrpis, Chair of the LNAT Consortium in 2005 and tutor for undergraduate admissions at the University of Bristol, welcomed the changes. He explained: "The fact that the testing window is so long will greatly increase the flexibility for candidates, who will be able to choose when and where to take the test. In addition, the onscreen delivery of the test allows for faster dissemination of LNAT scores and essays to participating universities, which will increase the efficiency of the admissions process."

Notes for editors

  1. For further information please contact Emma Grove at the UCL press office on +44 (0)20 7679 7678, mobile +44 (0)7967 087 909 (outside office hours 07917 271 364), or e-mail e.grove@adm.ucl.ac.uk .
  2. Full details of the changes, together with full information for candidates, schools and colleges, are available at www.lnat.ac.uk .
  3. 'Home candidates' refers to all students based in the UK and the EU.
  4. The UCAS admissions cycle runs from 1 st September to 30 th June. Candidates are strongly advised to register for the LNAT and submit their UCAS form by 15 th January. Applications received after this date are considered late, and universities do not guarantee to consider them.
  5. Pearson Assessment and Testing will continue in the capacity of test operator.
  6. The test paper contains two sections: a multiple choice section, which takes 80 minutes to fill in, and an essay section, which takes 40 minutes. The multiple choice section is centrally marked by the test operator, with the marks transmitted to the universities to which each candidate has applied. The essay section is not marked. Copies of the essays are sent unmarked to the universities to which each candidate has applied.
  7. A good LNAT score alone is not sufficient to secure admission to one of the participating universities. Conversely, a poor LNAT score does not necessarily lead to a rejection. Universities have used the test variously to eliminate otherwise well-qualified candidates, allow universities to make offers to candidates who would otherwise have been considered too much of a risk or to influence the level of offers made to candidates. Some universities have also accorded the test more weight than others. The weight given to the multiple choice and essay components has varied significantly, with some universities only using the essays in borderline cases, while others have used it as a springboard for discussion at interview.