Paul L. Caron

Thursday, December 1, 2022

More Commentary On The ABA's Push To Make The LSAT Optional In Law School Admissions

Yale Daily News, With LSAT in Limbo, Yale Law Students Divided on Test’s Merits:

Law schools across the country may soon stop requiring the LSAT for admissions, pending a decision by the American Bar Association.

The policy change, which would go into effect in the fall of 2025, would strike the requirement that law schools use the test to receive accreditation. Yale Law School has not indicated whether it would continue to require the LSAT in the absence of a mandate. ...

Yale Law School currently boasts the country’s highest median LSAT score in a three-way tie with Harvard and Columbia.

Some Yale students voiced concerns about axing the requirement, claiming that the LSAT was one of the most meritocratic aspects of the admissions process. Others heralded the decision.

For Olivia Campbell LAW ’23, the absence of an LSAT requirement would give greater weight to other factors that are even more prone to inequity. Free or cheap online resources for LSAT preparation are highly accessible to many students, she explained, while interview experience, resumes, internships and recommendation letters are often more difficult for low-income students to obtain.

“I didn’t go to a fancy private high school, nor did I attend an Ivy League undergraduate institution. I didn’t have a law school application coach,” Campbell wrote to the News. “But I did score in the 99th percentile on the LSAT, all thanks to some free online courses and a couple of books I bought from Barnes and Noble.” 

In fact, she believes that her admission to YLS would have been “highly unlikely” without the help of a high LSAT score. ...

Not all students agree on this point. Chisato Kimura LAW ’25, a recipient of this year’s Hurst Horizon scholarship, described standardized testing as “incredibly classist” in an email to the News.

The Daily Pennsylvanian, ABA Panel Votes to Drop LSAT Requirement for Law School Admissions:

Penn Carey Law spokesperson Meredith Rovine said that while their admissions practices would remain "unchanged for the upcoming year," since the ABA change would not go into effect until 2025, they may consider removing the requirement in the future. Law schools, even if the decision goes through, would still be still free to mandate tests on their own.

"In future years we will consider all options as well as any new legal constraints on our admissions discretion, and employ the admissions criteria best suited to achieve our institutional goals of excellence and inclusivity," she said.

Lauren Roble (Founder & Executive Director, William F. Buckley Jr. Program, Yale University), Yale Going Out Of Its Way to Hide From Accountability

The truth of Yale’s objection to the U.S. News rankings, however, comes several paragraphs into its expansive explanation. Ms. Gerken states that “20% of a law school’s overall ranking is median LSAT/GRE scores and GPAs” and argues that test scores “don’t always capture the full measure of an applicant.” While tests admittedly can’t provide a full picture of a potential Yale student, devaluing test scores as part of the application process makes the whole process unaccountable. Without some objective measure, applying undergraduates — whether privileged, underprivileged, White, minority, middle class or poor — can have little faith that being the best will actually get them into one of the nation’s top-tier educational institutions.

By hiding its admissions data from U.S. News, Yale Law is trying to have its cake and eat it too: Ride on its reputation as a top school while adopting admissions criteria that could put that status in doubt. If the average test score drops but no one can see it, is it really dropping?

Indeed, Yale’s peer assessment score, a measure of how administrators and tenured faculty at peer institutions perceive Yale, dropped in the most recent school rankings. After spending many years between 4.8 and 4.9 out of 5, “Yale’s peer assessment score dropped to 4.6” this year. While Yale Law retained its No. 1 slot for one last year, it seems Yale’s on-campus free speech controversies are having an impact.

The Daily Caller, Dropping The LSAT Requirement For Law School Admission Could Hinder Racial Diversity Efforts, Experts Say:

The accrediting council for the American Bar Association (ABA) voted to no longer require the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) for law school applications in an effort to increase racial diversity efforts, but experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the move could do the opposite. ...

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of University of California Berkeley School of Law, and Daniel Tokaji, a professor of law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, argued that dropping the requirement could hurt diversity because the LSAT helps students who do not have a high GPA or strong extra curricular activities. ...

The Law School Admissions Council told the DCNF that while they worry about racial diversity concerns, having a few years before the LSAT is dropped may give schools an opportunity to find other ways to keep merit in their admissions process., What Making Law Schools 'Test-Optional' Would Really Mean:

This week, we’re wading into the heated debate about whether law schools may become test-optional and what that actually means.

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