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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hurt:  Could The GRE Replace The LSAT?

GREFollowing up on last Saturday's post, Is Wake Forest Law School's Offer To Pay Students To Take The GRE A U.S. News Rankings Ploy?:  Christine Hurt (BYU), Could the GRE Compete with the LSAT? Or Replace the LSAT?:

I haven't talked to anyone at WF about this, but my intuition as a faculty member is that proving to the ABA that the GRE is as predictive as the LSAT has a lot of benefits (and not mere instrumental USNWR gaming).  What we have seen in admissions is that a lot of stellar undergraduates are choosing not to apply to law school (and not to take the LSAT).  These people must be doing something else instead, and chances are many of them are taking the GRE and going to a different graduate program.  If you could get that cohort to apply to law school easily, then you might be able to persuade them that law is still a great career path.  If they've already taken the GRE, then they can use that score and not worry about studying for the LSAT or plunking down $1k for a prep course.  In addition, recruiting folks already in graduate programs or who have completed graduate school to apply may be easier if they don't have to take a different test.  Even trying to recruit someone who has taken neither test to apply to law school would be easier if they could take the GRE.  The GRE is given on a rolling, year-wide basis around the world and even on your own computer.  I just looked online, and I could take the GRE as early as Monday (less than a week from now) a few miles from here or even sooner if I drove 30-45 minutes.  I would have my scores in 10-15 days.  The LSAT, however, is given four times a year (with alternate dates for Saturday Sabbath observers and Spanish speakers).  Test-takers must register a month in advance and wait a month following the test for their scores.  I find it strange that the LSAT schedule has not changed since I took it in 1989.

So, I think it would be great if applicants could use either the GRE or the LSAT to apply to law school.  Perhaps then the LSAT could change with the times and become more computer-friendly and flexible.  (The GMAT is also given year-round, and I could make an appointment to take it a week from Monday if I so chose.  The MCAT is not given year-round, but there are 18 test dates between April and September.)  Either way, having applicants submit GRE scores would not serve to let WF or any other law school game the system.  I'm sure if the ABA allowed law schools to use the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT, then USNWR would figure out how to rank GRE scores also.

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Posted by: Jojo | Feb 6, 2016 9:03:03 AM

As someone who has taken the LSAT, GRE and GMAT (and the California Bar, passing on the first attempt), i can tell you that the GRE is a complete joke of an exam. It pales in comparison to the LSAT in terms of rigor, time management and critical thinking. Everyone knows this, but i guess that's what the law schools want. Law schools are going to run this profession into the ground.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 6, 2016 12:58:48 PM