Yeah, The LSAT Still Gives You An Edge In Law School Admissions
I’ve been writing about the slippage of the GRE in the law school admissions game for years. It used to be the sole providence of the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), but over the past six years, more and more law schools have decided that applicants can take either the LSAT or the GRE. Then in November, the American Bar Association (ABA), which is the accrediting body for law schools, stepped in. They announced that accepting the GRE instead of the LSAT in admissions decisions was consistent with accreditation standard 503 mandates that law schools require admissions tests and that the test used be “valid and reliable”. The move was seen as an opening of the floodgates – both in terms of law schools changing their admissions criteria and for prospective law students wanting to take a test in addition to the LSAT.
Given the law school admissions tumult, Kaplan just completed a law school blitz survey asking about the ABA’s decision to greenlight the GRE. And the results indicate a persistent advantage for the LSAT.
Of the respondents, 25 law schools currently accept both the LSAT and GRE and of this group, 13 said applicants who submit LSAT scores have an admission advantage on those who submit GRE scores. The remaining schools said they viewed both tests the same; none said the GRE gives you an advantage.
Kaplan also got some great quotes from admissions officers that really give us a window into the admissions process. The following are from admissions officers who currently accept both the GRE and LSAT:
As one admissions officer told us, “People with an LSAT score will likely have to wait less time to receive an admissions decision. This is because the people who assess the admissions application have more confidence in the validity, reliability, and minimization of standardized test biases that come with the LSAT.While another told us, “The advantage of the LSAT is that it is established, universally accepted, and unique to law school. The large amount of data and history gives it predictive value.Individually there may be an advantage for someone who can perform better on the GRE, but in terms of competing in a pool it is still relatively unknown in law schools.
And this admissions officer — at a school that accepts the GRE — isn’t impressed with the test:
“The GRE doesn’t trust me to put my professional reputation on the line. (I still have bills to pay….) The main reason we include the GRE as an option is because the faculty at this institution didn’t want to” falling behind” on law school. Well, how do we know where these other law schools go? How do we know that this direction is the direction we need or want to take? »
And while the eventual acceptance of the GRE virtually everywhere is inevitable, there is still a lot of skepticism about the test:
“In my own experience, the GRE is a glorified SAT that tells us nothing about a potential student’s ability to be an effective law student. The LSAT isn’t perfect, but it’s a much better diagnostic tool.
And this admissions officer believes that taking the LSAT shows a commitment to the law school process:
“At this time, we believe that the applicants most interested in attending law school will take or will have taken the LSAT. Given the focus on the cost of law school, graduate debt, and volatility in employment outcomes, we believe it is prudent to admit students who have prepared for law school over time.Additionally, there is data that affirms that the GRE has the same bias as other standardized tests, so it remains to be seen whether it will result in a significant increase in the number of diverse test takers overall.
So what does an admissions advantage really look like? One admissions officer said it could come down to the wait time:
“Individuals with an LSAT score will likely have to wait less time to receive an admissions decision. standardized tests that accompany the LSAT.
While another highlighted the scholarships available to different applicants:
“We don’t offer solid scholarships to GRE applicants only.”
Jeff Thomas, executive director of Kaplan’s legal programs, had this to say about the survey results:
“What Kaplan’s survey shows is that while there is some movement to accept the GRE among law schools, there still isn’t full acceptance. Of the schools we spoke with that accept results from both exams, half say that applicants who submit LSAT scores have the advantage over GRE applicants. In fact, no law school we spoke with gives the advantage to GRE applicants. Some admissions officers have noted that the LSAT is created specifically for law school admissions so they believe it more, while the GRE, as the name suggests, is much more of a general exam. Schools also treat LSAT students more favorably, giving faster admissions decisions to LSAT applicants and scholarships exclusively to LSAT applicants. Our research suggests that it will take at least several more years before law schools fully prepare for the GRE.
So just because you can only take the GRE to get into law school doesn’t mean it’s the best decision — at least not yet.
Kathryn Rubino is an editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL’s tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).