How did you score?

Scoring is not restricted to a Law School Admission Test. Nor is it confined to the lascivious proceedings of an adventurous adolescent. Indeed between either pole – the lofty or the risible – there is little that does not somehow involve a score. Every child is acquainted with “marks” in public school – whether in the classroom or on the playing field. While university entrance exams may be avoided, what matters are your high school grades (barring an unrelated athletic scholarship).

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a half-day standardized test administered seven times each year at designated testing centers throughout the world. The Law School Admission Council(LSAC) administers the LSAT for prospective law school candidates. It is designed to assess reading comprehension as well as logical and verbal reasoning proficiency. The test is an integral part of the law school admission process in the United States, Canada (common law programs only), the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a growing number of other countries.

The test had existed in some form since 1948, when it was created to give law schools a standardized way to assess applicants in addition to their GPA.The current form of the exam has been used since 1991. The exam has six total sections that include four scored multiple choice sections, an unscored experimental section, and an unscored writing section. Raw scores are converted to a scaled score with a high of 180, a low of 120, and a median score around 150. When an applicant applies to a law school all scores from the past five years are reported and either the highest score or an average of the scores is used.

The unrepentant insinuation of scoring continues long after high school, university or graduate school. It is built into the system so to speak.  Young graduate students for example are certain to calculate their achievement by a method of scoring which likely involves serious comparative features – perhaps salary, distinction or celebrity. It is less certain that the perimeter of scoring embraces personal analysis. The preservation of intellectual purity by the avoidance of personal contamination is nonetheless an archaic reservation at least in the broader context of private success. Though many – including myself – have never fully escaped the measure of success, it is perhaps sadly true that in the end no one cares. I at least had the courtesy to elevate even my erstwhile impecuniousness to the mark of dignity by proclaiming that I had an active line of credit with every chartered bank in Canada! While I am reluctant to promote the value of unbridled debt, I confess that it afforded me more than it cost -perhaps a small compliment to the penalty of encumbrance.

The grit in the plan is that scoring is like any other activity; namely, repetition becomes a habit. The absence of scoring isn’t that it diminishes ambition or achievement. I hold instead  to the philosophy that a quality performance is native not imposed. The threat is that by definition scoring is in most instances an external assessment. A little touted collateral of old age is that aside from Nature teaching us how to die, we eventually succeed to a devil-be-damned attitude. This legitimizes the most singular attitudes. It removes the complication of habit – though pointedly without a necessary alteration of behaviour.

It is commonly advanced that seniors are curmudgeonly which is to say bad tempered and negative. I can’t deny the possibility. I do however prefer to characterize the aging venture as a distillation – a refinement dare I say.  The process is intolerant of delay and diversion. What it lacks in patience it gathers in intensity. I have the further privilege to isolate and distinguish those ambitions which inspire me or whet my appetite. I have accommodated my former inadequacy by selecting only my favourite persuasions. This token moderation was hastened by our concurrent abandonment of many of the treasures from the past.  This accelerates the purification process by the simple act of reduction – curiously reflecting our personal evolution.  Yet it similarly removes contamination.