Will admissions tests soon be optional for law school applications?

  • Admissions test scores may soon be optional components of law school applications.
    Admissions test scores may soon be optional components of law school applications.

    Will admissions tests soon be optional for law school applications?

    Obsessing over standardized admissions test scores has long been a right of passage for law school applicants. Now there’s a chance that submitting those scores will be an optional section of the application.

    At a meeting earlier this month, the American Bar Association accepted a proposal to eliminate the requirement of test scores as part of the admission process. However, bar association delegates plan to review the details of the proposal later in the summer before it’s finalized.

    In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about the proposal:

    Where did the idea come from?
    The Council’s Standards Review Committee recommended making admission tests optional in a public hearing in April, as a result of several years spent questioning the role and value of the examinations. Plus, there are debates over what constitutes as a “valid and reliable” test, especially with some law schools granted the opportunity to accept non-traditional test scores. In recent years, more than 20 law schools have also adopted Graduate Record Examinations test scores as an alternative to the Law School Admission Test.

    While the vote was close – with a 9-8 final for revisions of standards related to admissions tests – the council felt confident about moving forward with the proposal because it’s a notion that has been discussed at great length.

    What do the experts say?
    The LSAT has a gold standard reputation in the law school world, which leaves many experts to believe the test won’t disappear entirely. Barry Currier, managing director of ABA Accreditation and Legal Education, expects schools to continue relying on admission tests, even if the council enacts the proposal. Even more so, he predicts that most law schools will favor the LSAT.

    “The use of other tests, or the option of no test at all, are likely to be supplemental to, and not a replacement for, the LSAT in legal education generally,” he said.

    He further added that making admissions tests optional might inspire law schools to adopt innovative methods to attract potential law students, which may improve access to advanced learning and increase diversity within the profession.

    Kellye Testy, president and CEO of the Law School Admission Council, told the ABA Journal that she also expects schools to continue using the LSAT to fairly evaluate applicants.

    “While these changes shift the responsibility for fair admission practices from the ABA to law schools, we do not anticipate significant changes for the vast majority of law schools or their applicants,” she said.

    What’s happening in the meantime?
    We still have a few months to wait for a final decision, which means students looking to apply to law school in the near future should keep studying. If you’ve been avoiding the LSAT, you’re in luck. Law schools are continuing to accept alternative options, with Chicago law schools among the most recent to consider accepting the GRE. Here’s the official list of law schools that currently accept the GRE from Educational Testing Service. Among them are the highly esteemed Harvard Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law and Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Columbia, Wake Forest and Washington University join the list this fall.

    With all that said, your test-taking plans depend on your preferences and the law school you wish to attend. For now, it’s safe to assume that you’ll need to have some favorable test scores under your belt when applying. While they may become optional in the near future, you’ll have to keep an eye out for the law schools that implement the revision to the admissions process.

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