TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Anderson: The GRE Movement in U.S. Law Schools

GRERobert Anderson (Pepperdine), The GRE Movement in U.S. Law Schools:

The latest reporting over at TaxProf indicates that the number of law schools accepting the GRE has grown to 34. The movement toward the GRE has been somewhat slow, in part because the ABA has dragged its feet in allowing wholesale use of the test under Standard 503. As it stands, the ABA position is that each law school needs to conduct its own study of the validity and reliability of the GRE before using the test for admission. 

That position doesn't make any sense.  The GRE's reliability is well established and is not specific to where it's used (law school versus other graduate school). The validity of the GRE for predicting law school performance is clear and has been demonstrated in every law school study publicly available to date. I have personally analyzed data related to the validity of the GRE for law school admission. There is overwhelming evidence that it is as good a predictor as the LSAT for law school performance.

This means that eventually substantially all law schools will eventually accept the GRE, either because the ABA will eventually act and revise standard 503 or because those schools will conduct individualized studies or go ahead without them. Indeed, any law schools that haven't started this process are already behind the curve. That will be a liability in future law student recruiting, as other schools will have an advantage as test takers begin realizing they have alternatives for admission to law school. ...

[I]f your law school is making this change, that is a good thing for the value of your degree.

Update: Derek Muller (Pepperdine), The Tiny Impact (So Far) of GRE Law School Admissions:

Just 168 law students entered without an LSAT score, those among around 38,000 at ABA-accredited law schools (excluding three law schools in Puerto Rico). That’s up from 81 last year. ... Arizona, the leader in this field, had 18 students enter in the Fall 2018 without LSAT scores. Georgetown and Harvard also each had 18. ...

Without more granular data from the ABA, it’s hard to know how much the GRE trend is affecting law school admissions. At a high level so far, however, the impact is tiny. While many schools have now announced they’ll accept the GRE, that’s translated into extraordinarily few matriculants, less than one half of one percent, even assuming every single non-LSAT admission is a GRE admission (which, they aren’t). At Arizona, such admissions are a good chunk of the incoming class—10% to 15% of the incoming class. At Harvard and Georgetown, 2% to 3% of the class.

But as more schools announce, and more students perhaps opt into it, we’ll see if these trends change in the years to come. And the impact of graduates who use the GRE on the bar exam surely a future matter to consider.

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I think the new pattern for students will increasingly become: BA -> MA -> JD

Posted by: Anon | Jan 10, 2019 1:53:55 PM