Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

ETS Releases Study Establishing Validity Of GRE In Predicting Law School Success, Using Data On 1L Grades From 21 Law Schools

GRE ETSPress Release, The GRE General Test is a Valid Predictor of Law School Success:

As a result of new research, the GRE ® General Test is poised to help law schools expand access to legal education and ease the burden for students interested in multiple education opportunities who would otherwise be required to prepare and pay for two tests.

After a series of school-specific studies, Educational Testing Service (ETS) — working with 21 U.S. law schools — conducted a national validity study to determine how well GRE ® scores predict success in law schools. Written by David M. Klieger, Brent Bridgeman, Richard J. Tannenbaum, Frederick A. Cline and Margarita Olivera-Aguilar, "The Validity of GRE ® Scores for Predicting Academic Performance at U.S. Law Schools" indicates that the GRE General Test is a strong, generalizably valid predictor of first-year law school grades. Furthermore, results show that the test adds to the prediction even when undergraduate grade point average already is available to predict those grades. The study also reiterated the reliability of the GRE test that had been shown in prior research.

"We've empirically confirmed that the GRE test is a valid and reliable tool for informing law schools' admissions decisions," said David Payne, Vice President and COO of Global Education at ETS. "In addition, our research findings show that the GRE test satisfies the requirement of ABA Standard 503, which requires that law schools use a valid and reliable admissions test to assess their applicants."

The skills assessed through the GRE test fit closely with the legal skills and educational objectives of law schools. Moreover, the test can also open a critical pipeline of law students with STEM backgrounds to meet society's and the profession's needs. As Klieger et al. note, the "GRE test could help expand access to legal education beyond the traditional pre-law degree fields. There are potential law school applicants who have either completed or are considering many non-legal STEM and non-STEM graduate and professional programs that require or recommend the GRE test."

Interest in the GRE test among law schools has been growing since last year when the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law decided to accept GRE scores for admission.

"Our goal was to open additional pathways to the College of Law, making our student body more diverse on all measures, including intellectual interests," said Marc Miller, the Dean of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. "As the forces of technology and globalization transform the legal profession, lawyers will need to bring an increasingly wide range of perspectives to the law, perspectives reflected in the vast range of students who take the GRE every year. Moreover, students are often undecided about what they want to do at the end of their undergraduate degree, or may want to obtain dual degrees, and requiring them to invest the time and money to take two different tests seemed an unnecessary barrier. This is a win-win for students and law schools."

In addition to the University of Arizona, several other law schools have already publicly announced that they will be accepting GRE scores for admissions, including Harvard University, Columbia University, Georgetown University, Northwestern University, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Hawaii.

With the completion of this study, Payne expects that number to grow, particularly in light of strong relationships between the scores on the GRE test and performance in law school.

To request a pre-publication copy of "The Validity of GRE ® Scores for Predicting Academic Performance at U.S. Law Schools," please contact Jason Baran.

Inside Higher Ed, ETS Validity Study on GRE For Law School Admissions:

While leading law schools increasingly back the use of the GRE, Kellye Testy, president and CEO of the Law School Admission Council (which runs the LSAT), said ETS is making "false claims," although she did not specify any such claims. "ETS is creating a great deal of confusion and unfairness for both law schools and law school applicants," she said.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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The key question is bar passage: what are the variations (if any) among equivalent LSAT/GRE percentiles? If it can be established that GRE takers can pass bar exams, and the ABA gets serious about enforcing strong bar passage standards on law schools, then accepting the GRE is fine.

Regarding law grad employment, at this point, if there are enough clueless snowflakes on college campuses willing to incur big debt to enjoy poor job prospects, then so be it. Let them live and die by their choices, but no government bailout on the debt.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 1, 2017 10:13:33 AM

LSAC is just another organization that is completely dependent on a bloated law school structure, including tens of thousands more students than are necessary or ideal. ETS would be at least a bit more neutral with regard to the number of law school applicants because even if they conducted every law school admissions test it would still be a fairly small part of the overall revenue.

Posted by: JM | Nov 1, 2017 7:10:51 AM

Well done, LSAC! You’ve double talked your way to irrelevancy.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 1, 2017 5:02:30 AM