The Hill op-ed: It's Time to Rethink the Law School Entrance Exam Monopoly, by Marc Miller (Dean, Arizona) & Christopher Robertson (Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, Arizona):
Sometimes modest changes spark huge debates. That has been the case with the decision by some law schools, led by the University of Arizona, to accept the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) as an additional basis for law school admissions.
The openness to innovation at U.S. law schools has been spurred by the changing legal market and the dramatic downturn in applications for JD programs since 2010. But the addition of the GRE would have been a good idea at any time. For many decades, virtually every applicant to a U.S. JD program was required to take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT.
Law is the only field of graduate or professional study whose regulator requires the use of a standardized test. The American Bar Association accredits U.S. law schools, and its Section on Legal Education requires that “a law school shall require each applicant for admission as a first-year JD degree student to take a valid and reliable admission test to assist the school and the applicant in assessing the applicant’s capability of satisfactorily completing the school’s program of legal education.”
This standard doesn’t require use of the LSAT, but it does say that law schools using any other test must establish its rigor and value. That is exactly what the University of Arizona did, in partnership with Educational Testing Service (the nonprofit group that owns the GRE). It is what other law schools including Harvard, Northwestern, Georgetown and Columbia have done since.
The upsides include greater availability (the GRE is given all the time, pretty much everywhere; the LSAT was given in classroom settings four times a year, and has now moved to six), faster scoring, and assessment of additional types of knowledge, notably including quantitative reasoning. We were particularly interested to find that the quantitative section of the GRE had some of the strongest predictive power for success in law school, perhaps because legal reasoning is similarly rigorous and structured, notwithstanding its other humanistic aspects. ...
From the standpoint of law schools, the GRE radically diversifies and expands the pool of people who can be encouraged to consider law school. Around 100,000 people a year take the LSAT; around 700,000 a year take the GRE.
Many people take the GRE as juniors in college, when they are still shaping their future educational and professional plans. Law schools can now begin conversations with those diverse populations, including many STEAM students who might not have previously considered law.
Diversity is good. So is competition. ...
We hope the modest expansion to include the GRE as an option for admission to JD programs echoes and amplifies the larger and deeper debates about the legal profession, access to legal services, entry to practice, the provision of legal services through technology and increasingly by nonlawyers, and how expensive it is to become a lawyer.
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)