Law school admissions test would be optional under ABA proposal

The law school admissions test may soon become a much less important part of the law school admissions process in the United States, if the American Bar Association is successful.

On Friday, an ABA group took another step to allow schools to decide whether or not to require the test for prospective students. The ABA Section Council of Legal Education and Admissions voted to submit the proposal for public comment.

Law schools are currently required to ensure applicants have passed a “valid and reliable” admissions test. The new proposal comes as more than 80 US law schools in recent years have allowed prospective students to take the more general Graduate Record exam instead of the LSAT.

Schools would be allowed to continue using the LSAT, GRE or another admissions test under the proposal.

Proponents of reform say the ABA’s proposal is long overdue.

The ABA’s standards should provide law schools with “substantial flexibility” in their admissions policies, with schools held accountable for student outcomes, said Aaron Taylor, executive director of the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence.

The ABA is the only professional school accrediting body that mandates the use of an admissions test, Taylor said in a written statement. “The committee’s recommendation brings the standards closer to the common practice of giving schools the latitude to determine how they select their students.”

The James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona began accepting applicants who had taken the GRE instead of the LSAT in 2016. The following year, Harvard, Georgetown, and Northwestern law schools added followed suit.

According to the Educational Testing Service, which administers the GRE, 83 US law schools now accept the test.

The Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT and plays a role in overseeing the law school application process, has previously urged caution about eliminating the test requirement.

“(W)e hope the ABA will consider these issues very carefully,” the group said. “We believe the LSAT will continue to be an essential tool for schools and applicants in the years to come, as it is the most accurate predictor of law school success and a powerful tool for diversity when used correctly as a factor in a holistic admissions process. ”

Proponents of reform have argued that the opposite is largely true – that mandatory use of the LSAT and other standardized tests has hampered diversity in the legal industry.

In 2018, the ABA withdrew a similar resolution shortly before its House of Delegates was due to vote on it at an annual meeting.

Comments are closed.