Why Law School Admission Test Must Go

Most of us are familiar with the ongoing debate over whether to keep or reduce the ACT and SAT in undergraduate admissions. Now, a similar dispute may surface regarding what to do with the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).

As student body president at UCLA at the start of the pandemic, I joined forces with my fellow presidents at Yale, Stanford, and USC to call for an end to the ACT and SAT as as a component of undergraduate admissions.

Now, as a law student and president of graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania, I write with a strange sense of deja vu as the American Bar Association (ABA) seriously considers ending the LSAT test requirement as a component of admission.

For many students currently enrolled in law school, we knew this news may only be a matter of time, as the LSAT is afflicted with many of the same shortcomings as its undergraduate test counterparts. The ABA primarily refers to the questionable reliability of the LSAT in predicting proficiency as a reason for recommending the test be scrapped.

But there are darker reasons why the LSAT must go.

Across the country, many undergraduates from high-income backgrounds are able to pay thousands of dollars for elite LSAT prep classes, receive personalized tutoring, and pay over $200 for s enroll in the LSAT and improve their score.

Similar to the ACT and SAT, the LSAT puts disadvantaged students behind their more affluent peers in the race for admission to elite law schools with rigorous LSAT admission averages. This, coupled with the ongoing attack on affirmative action in higher education, means that the thousands of low-income and disadvantaged students who apply to law school each year will never have a fair chance at admission in an already extremely daunting and expensive process.

The LSAT isn’t the only part of the law school admissions process where wealth plays a role. From the ability to dedicate time to undergraduate extracurricular involvement to the resource disparity that contributes to student performance in the classroom, nearly every component of the admissions process works against students who don’t. don’t have the time, resources, money or access. to compete with their more advantaged peers. These drawbacks have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has contributed to fierce debates among students and administrators over fair grading policies. While the law school admissions process is littered with these same disparities, the LSAT is a timely target for initiating broader change in the way law schools admit students.

The Supreme Court building.
Robert Alexandre/Getty Images

Universities have already responded to widespread calls to abolish testing by replacing or completely eliminating standardized testing as a component of undergraduate admissions, and there’s no reason to believe law schools won’t. not necessarily so. More importantly, as almost any law student or test prep agency will tell someone unfamiliar with the exam, the LSAT is “learnable,” which means that as long as you have the resources to continue studying, you can eventually master the test. . While this ability to learn the test is good news for many students seeking to attend prestigious law schools, it also means that students unable to participate in classes, tutoring, and retakes are left even further behind in the law school. admission cycle.

Students who have gone through the rigorous law school admissions process and the stress of preparing for and taking the LSAT should be proud of their hard work and dedication in attempting to gain access to a legal education. Because of this experience, however, those who have gone through the process are most responsible for exploring ways in which we can improve admissions so that they are truly accessible to all.

More needs to be done to explore how the LSAT is easily manipulated by the wealth and resources of those seeking admission to America’s most prestigious law schools. But as long as the LSAT remains a primary factor in law school admissions, disadvantaged students will be outmatched by those with the resources, time, and money to boost their scores.

Ending the LSAT will take more than just an ABA recommendation, but recreating the way we admit students into institutions that seek to promote justice is a worthwhile fight.

Robert Blake Watson is a Juris Doctor and dual master’s student in education policy at the University of Pennsylvania, and serves as president of the school’s Assembly of Graduate and Professional Students (GAPSA).

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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