Law.com, Can the GRE Cure What Ails Law Schools?:
As more law schools accept a new admissions test from aspiring law students, debate about their motives and whether they’ll meet their goals of diversifying the applicant pool has swirled behind the scenes.
Law deans hope to recruit a new type of law student by accepting applications that use Graduate Record Examination scores, rather than the traditional Law School Admission Test. Law schools, eyeing the extremely large group of GRE test takers, have seen a potential to improve not only the gender, racial and ethnic mix of law students, but also broader metrics such as socioeconomic status, educational backgrounds and professional experience. Particularly, law schools, which have seen the number of applicants decline and LSAT scores fall, want students who have studied or had careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a cohort that statistically has been shown to perform well in legal education.
Meanwhile, critics of the GRE cast doubts about whether the test is capable of increasing diversity along racial and ethnic lines, and question whether schools are trying to fill seats while gaming the law school ranking system.
Because the trend of law schools accepting the GRE is new, the idea that it can diversify the pool of law students is just a promise—there’s no hard data to show it will come true. However, extensive information about the people who take the GRE is available, including their undergraduate majors and their racial, ethnic and gender attributes.
An analysis of the data provides a window into why law school deans are pinning their hopes on the GRE to boost diversity and the sheer number of applicants, at a time when the total number of people applying to American Bar Association-accredited law schools has plunged by about 61 percent in the last decade, according to the Law School Admission Council’s comparable data. ...
The lack of STEM diversity among current law school applicants taking the LSAT is profound, and the available data backs up law schools’ hopes that using the GRE can help them recruit more of those students.
STEM majors would do very well in law school, according to an analysis published this year by Pepperdine University School of Law professor Robert Anderson. He found that STEM students on average score 160 or higher on the LSAT.
That’s promising information considering that, overall, [applicants with] LSAT scores of more than 160 have dropped  percent since 2010, according to research by Pepperdine’s dean, Paul Caron. Meanwhile, the average score on the Multistate Bar Exam in February hit the lowest point since the exam was first administered in 1972.
But STEM students don’t seem much interested in law school, if judging by the dismal percentages who actually apply. The Law School Admission Council’s data for 2016-17 shows that most law school applicants had undergraduate majors in three main categories. Of the 66,700 total applicants, 47 percent studied in the social sciences and helping professions category, including such majors as political science, psychology and criminal justice. The second-most-popular category, comprising 23 percent of applicants, was arts and humanities, which includes the majors of English, philosophy and communications. Looking at STEM majors, only 4 percent, or 2,900, of the applicants studied natural sciences, which includes such things as biology, environmental sciences and mathematics. Only 1 percent—fewer than 1,000—studied engineering and 0.5 percent studied computer science. ...
Kellye Testy, president and CEO of the Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, said in an email that the best way to boost diversity is for a school to use the LSAT, but not rely too heavily on LSAT scores.
“There are already far more students of color applying to law school with the LSAT than schools are admitting,” Testy said. “This may be due to the influence of U.S. News and schools actually giving outsized weight to LSAT and GPA in an effort to manage those rankings.” ...
One concern about the GRE is how it will affect the all-important law school rankings on U.S. News & World Report.
Testy has said in the past that law schools using the GRE are hoping to manipulate their rankings, because they can accept GRE students but avoid the requirement to report those new students’ LSAT scores to U.S. News.
However, U.S. News has already reacted to law schools accepting the GRE. The publication’s current law school rankings, released in March, were the first to consider both LSAT and GRE scores.
“U.S. News will continue to factor both scores into the rankings in the future. Our methodology is designed to ensure that if a school admits and enrolls students with GREs, those scores, plus the LSAT scores, are both counted in the law school rankings,” according to a statement by Robert Morse, chief data strategist.
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)