Kent Syverud (Chancellor and President, Syracuse; former Dean, Vanderilt and Washington University):
I know many of you are being pitched from the Educational Testing Service about the Graduate Record Examination. I worked as a law school dean for sixteen years and was involved with LSAC for much of that time. I am acutely aware of the stress law deans are now under in connection with admissions, including the stress from central administrations of universities.
I write just to make three points as you consider the GRE and LSAT.
First, I have great confidence in LSAC’s new president, Kellye Testy, as someone who is heart and soul driven by the desire to serve the unique needs of law schools in this challenging environment. She is willing to talk with deans not to talk you out of any use of the GRE, but to help you make sure that if you do feel compelled to use the GRE that it is used in a way that is not ultimately going to hurt you and all of legal education in the process. I know she is determined to help each school and to broaden the pipeline of applicants into law schools. She was a leader is this effort as a law dean, and she is bringing that attitude to the Law School Admission Council.
Second, LSAC came into existence, I believe, in part because of the challenges of getting large testing organizations, driven by undergraduate admissions and Ph.D. programs, to pay sustained attention to the unique needs of law schools. Over many years, LSAC developed products and services for law schools that met these needs, and that remain the envy of many professional disciplines. These products and services were helpful to the autonomy of law schools, including during periodic efforts to centralize many activities.
Finally, I fear it is unlikely that LSAC will be able to continue to provide many of the services and support that are currently free to all schools – including data, software, and professional development services – if a significant number of schools deemphasize the LSAT. At least when I was a dean, the annual cost of those services and support to schools was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and would have been challenging for me to replace out of my budget.
I encourage you to discuss these issues with Kellye Testy directly before making any decisions.
Daniel B. Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern):
Like everyone else on this list, I am grateful for the wise input and perspective of Kent, who has served legal education with consummate skill and integrity for so many years and higher education for every longer.
Yet, I find this email somewhat inapt to the evolving discussions and actions by many law schools, including those who have resolved to accept the GRE, those who are actively considering this, and others who are content to wait and see.
- The choice to consider the GRE does not evince an intention to “deemphasize” the LSAT. This is true only in the very narrow sense that permission to consider an alternative test disrupts what is otherwise a monopoly. Now there is another pathway (assuming, to be sure, permission by the ABA). Where the LSAT had a monopoly, there were no other choices by the students or by the law school. Each law school will make its individualized choice about best to consider GRE or LSAT scores (or, who knows, perhaps an alternative test altogether)
- This trend is no more the product of ETS lobbying than the decision by schools to keep just to the LSAT is the product of LSAC lobbying. Both ETS and LSAC are serving the cause of improving testing and the admissions process through the development of further information, transparently and rigorously. The trope that ETS is the villain and LSAC the hero, one implication, hopefully unintended by Kent, is not helpful;
- No one more than me values the extraordinary leadership of Kellye Testy and her great work in LSAC to provide services and support. As an organization supported in so many ways by law schools and the collective of deans, I think we can trust that these commitments will continue. To be sure, LSAC may well need to reevaluate their business model if the revenue from the LSAT suffers – and who among us have not had to make our own reassessments in our law schools in this new normal? But I hope the import of Kent’s note is not this: If too many law schools embrace the GRE as an alternative test, we are going to see LSAC support wither away. I have certainly never heard that argument made by Kellye and surfacing this in a way that could be read as ominous is, again, not very helpful.
So, with great respect and appreciation for Kent’s input into this important debate, I hope that law deans will continue to make their own assessments about testing and applicant screening. The steady growth in the number of so-called GRE schools is neither a bandwagon nor a conspiracy; rather, it is an experiment, congruent with the call for greater innovation in how we assess and educate our students.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- Is Wake Forest Law School's Offer To Pay Students To Take The GRE A U.S. News Rankings Ploy? (Jan. 30, 2016)
- Christine Hurt (BYU), Could The GRE Replace The LSAT? (Feb. 6, 2016)
- Arizona Is First Law School To Admit Students Based On GRE Instead Of LSAT (Feb. 11, 2016)
- WSJ: Law Schools Replace LSAT With GRE To Goose Enrollment (Feb. 23, 2016)
- The First Two Law Schools to Drop the LSAT Could Be Just the Beginning (Feb. 25, 2016)
- The Empire Strikes Back: LSAC Threatens To Expel University Of Arizona Over Use Of GRE In Law School Admissions (May 1, 2016)
- 148 Deans Demand LSAC Rescind Threat To Expel University Of Arizona Over Use Of GRE In Law School Admissions (May 5, 2016)
- The Antitrust Implications Of LSAC's Threatened Expulsion Of University Of Arizona Over Use Of GRE In Law School Admissions (May 8, 2016)
- LSAC Backs Down (For Now) On Threat To Expel University Of Arizona For Use Of GRE In Law School Admissions (May 9, 2016)
- Poll: Majority Of Law Schools Are Not Racing To Follow Arizona In Replacing LSAT With GRE (June 6, 2016)
- Taylor: The GRE Is No Law School Diversity Tool (June 16, 2016)
- University Of Arizona Is 'Preying On Low-Information Prospective Law Students' (June 21, 2016)
- Rick Bales (Dean, Ohio Northern),75% Of Law School Deans Support Arizona's Use Of GRE As Substitute For LSAT, Not Its Use Of 'Misleading Employment Stats' (June 23, 2016)
- The Empire Strikes Back, Part II: LSAC Stops Certifying Matriculant Admissions Data In Response To Law Schools' Use Of GRE (Aug. 4, 2016)
- LSAC Rescinds Threat (For One Year) To Stop Certifying Matriculant Admissions Data In Response To Law Schools' Use Of GRE (Sept. 25, 2016)
- Proposed ABA Accreditation Rule Sets Process To Determine Validity Of GRE, Other LSAT Alternatives In Law School Admissions (Feb. 15, 2017)
- Khan Academy Offers Free LSAT Prep; Is Free Bar Exam Prep Next? (Mar. 3, 2017)
- Harvard Is Second Law School To Admit 1Ls Based On GRE Rather Than LSAT (Mar. 9, 2017)
- NY Times, Will Dropping The LSAT Requirement Create More Miserable Lawyers? (Mar. 19, 2017)
- Bill Henderson (Indiana), U.S. News Eliminates The Rankings Advantage Of The GRE, But Harvard Has Started A 'Quant' Arms Race For Diverse Students Who Will Thrive In A Transformed, Tech-Driven, Disrupted Legal Profession (Apr. 11, 2017)
- LSAC Moves Toward Digital LSAT (Ten Years After MCAT), Says It Was Not Due To Growing Use Of GRE In Law School Admissions (Apr. 20, 2017)
- Harvard Law School, The GRE, And Moneyball (Apr. 26, 2017)
- Facing Competition From GRE, LSAC Allows Applicants To Take LSAT An Unlimited Number Of Times (May 20, 2017)
- Chicago Law Schools Consider Accepting GRE As Test Alternative To LSAT (May 31, 2017)
- Northwestern Is Third Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions, Finds It Is Just As Accurate As LSAT In Predicting 1L Grades (Aug. 7, 2017)
- Georgetown Is Fourth Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions, Finds It Is Just As Accurate As LSAT In Predicting 1L Grades; LSAC Disagrees, Says 'The Rest Of The Top 14 Will Go Like Lemmings Off The Cliff' (Aug. 8, 2017)
- The GRE Is Shaking Up Law School Admissions (Aug. 9, 2017)
- More On Using The GRE In Law School Admissions (Aug. 11, 2017)
- Do We Really Want To Make It Easier To Go To Law School? (Aug. 17, 2017)
- 25% Of Law Schools Plan To Accept The GRE (Sept. 19, 2017)
- Washington University Is Sixth Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions (Oct. 4, 2017)
- Columbia Is Seventh Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions (Oct. 17, 2017)
- Arizona Deans: It's Time To Rethink The Law School Entrance Exam Monopoly (Oct. 26, 2017)
- ETS Releases Study Establishing Validity Of GRE In Predicting Law School Success, Using Data On 1L Grades From 21 Law Schools (Nov. 1, 2017)
- Texas A&M Is Ninth Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions (Nov. 16, 2017)
- Wake Forest Is Tenth Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions (Nov. 16, 2017)
- BYU Is Eleventh Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions (Nov. 21, 2017)
- Can The GRE Cure What Ails Law Schools? (Nov. 30, 2017)
- WSJ: Law Schools Say: Please Come, No LSAT Required (Dec. 6, 2017)