Why the LSAT doesn't allow pens and mechanical pencils

Last month, I wrote a post entitled "LSAT test center restrictions are tighter than TSA passenger requirements." In it, I complained about the LSAC's seemingly arbitrary restriction against pens and mechanical pencils:  "If they don't work on the Scantron sheets, then I understand”¦ your answer won't count if you fill in the bubbles with a pen. But why are students prohibited from even bringing them to the test center?!"

A thoughtful reader, who would like to be known as "Russian George," provided the answer:

Just stumbled around your other great blog post about LSAT test center restrictions. Here is the practical reason why ink pens are prohibited:


I got one of those in China, and tested it on prep sheets. It makes fairly good photos from the text pages, so there is at least the concern of possible test material theft (which, combined with timezone difference between NYC and, lets say, Hawaii could even give someone a one hour advance notice).

More, as someone with an electric engineering degree I can see it should be fairly simple to buckle up such pen with wifi. A dropped in wifi router in a car with cell phone Internet connection, a bunch of people on the receiving end solving questions, and the way to pass back the answers (the pen has a pretty well conceived blinking light) - and you got the situation where the test integrity might be really questioned. This also goes with hats - it is quite easy to conceal the whole such system in a hat, passing the answers back with a knocking device (remember Lock Stock and two smoking barrels?)

At the same time, LSAC allows analog watches, and Chinese put the cameras there too. Look at that one:www.amazon.com/Popular--Best-Watch-Camera-World/dp/B009326P0K - has all that stuff inside. And it would be not only allowed into the testroom, but you can keep it on a table. Sure it is technically a digital watch, but it doesn't look so, and there's no way to find out unless one disassembles it.

Later, he added:

Everything is even simpler than that. Look at this: www.ebay.com/itm/4GB-1280x720P-HD-Digital-Video-Camera-Cam-Eyewear-Glasses-Camcorder-DVR-Black/121146196372 - after replacing the shitty lens with the nice polarized ones there is no way anyone would think anything fishy.

So the answer is basically: Dirty cheaters. Will the LSAC ban analog watches next? I wouldn't be surprised. What about eyeglasses? The only thing you can do is review the LSAC's day of test requirements. They change frequently, and it would be devastating to get caught off guard on the day of the test. Many thanks to Russian George for help with this post!