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Progress: What the LSAT can teach us about the evaluation process

By on September 21, 2016

Progress is like baking: everyone likes the result but not many people are very good at making it themselves.

I just wrote the LSAT. I found the Law School Admission Council’s technique for continuous development to be an excellent recipe for progress that’s worth sharing: the LSAT includes a special, experimental section which is used to “test” the test.


Anyone who has written the LSAT within the past 25 years knows about the ‘experimental’ section. Instead of the minimum four sections required for your score, the Law School Admission Council includes a fifth section which all writers must complete. It consists of potential questions to be included in future LSAT sittings. The section does not count towards any marks, it functions as a test drive for possible questions. Test-takers don’t know which section is the experimental one, which ensures it is treated like a graded section and keeps the information gleaned from these results reliable.

This approach could be implemented in schools and workplaces to gain important information about a given technique or initiative before rolling it out full scale. The benefits to a classroom setting are immediately apparent. A teacher considering a novel test or question format in their course could try them out in a real test setting while not counting those questions towards their students’ mark. This allows teachers to be more free with their teaching and testing styles, trying new techniques or formats without the risk of negatively affecting their students’ marks.

The same practice could be implemented in a work setting. Although employees don’t usually take tests or get marked (thankfully) there are still many parallels, such as performance evaluations. Every workplace has their own format for such evaluations, but the evaluations themselves are rarely re-evaluated. And how is progress going to be made without changing things up? Think of the potential for growth that could result from implementing surveys before evaluations, changing the style of the conversation, or having the employee evaluate themselves first. The list could go on. At Learnography, we’re experimenting with a new evaluation practice called the FeedForward technique. (You can look for the results of that trial in a future blog post.)

The key takeaway for me is that progress requires change, and change comes with increased risks [click to tweet]. Adapting the LSAT’s experimental strategy allows both schools and businesses to evolve while maintaining low-risk, reliable results [click to tweet]. You can have your cake and eat it too! In fact, you can taste a bunch of different cakes and eat the best one.