There has been another major development in the saga of the Law School Admission Test versus the Graduate Record Exam, as two more major law schools have announced their intention to allow applicants to submit GRE scores in place of LSAT scores.
Last year the University of Arizona Law School Rogers College of Law became the first law school in the nation to announce it would accept GRE scores in place of LSAT scores. The issue took on even greater import in March when Harvard Law School announced its intention to accept the GRE, as well. In May, the Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, attempted to address some of Harvard’s stated concerns when it announced that there will be more test dates and that beginning in September, law school applicants will be allowed to retake the test as many times as they want.
But the floodgates appear to have opened, and now Northwestern University and Georgetown University have simultaneously announced that applicants may submit GRE scores for admission to their respective law schools in the fall of 2018.
NO MORE WAITING AT GEORGETOWN, NORTHWESTERN
When Arizona announced its intention to accept GRE scores, it faced a rebuke by the LSAC. But around 150 law school deans from around the U.S., including Harvard’s Martha Minow, wrote in defense of the move, resulting in the LSAC deferring to the American Bar Association. Current ABA standards allow schools to accept the GRE.
In a recent poll, a majority of schools expressed a desire to have the ABA decisively weigh in on the matter. The ABA’s annual meeting is this week in New York, and its Council on Legal Education will consider policy changes that could result in the sanctioned acceptance of the GRE — or the opposite case, where the LSAT is enshrined as mandatory. But Georgetown, the nation’s largest law school with more than 9,000 annual applications, and Northwestern were done waiting.
“While the LSAT remains an important admissions tool, we also believe that it is well past time that the legal profession open wide the doors to an even more diverse population that better reflects American society as a whole,” Georgetown Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt said in a news release. “We think that allowing the use of the GRE will help us to accomplish that goal.”
Added Daniel Rodriguez, dean and Harold Washington professor at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law: “We are firmly committed to meeting the evolving needs of the profession, and this means constantly evaluating the law school experience. This includes our curriculum, where we have established relevant new programs, concentrations and courses, our student support infrastructure, including financial aid, and also student admissions and recruitment.”
FORGET THE LSAT? NOT SO FAST …
In an opinion piece published August 7, Kaplan Test Prep’s Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs, wrote that law school applicants shouldn’t write off the LSAT just yet.
“Unless you are applying to only Northwestern, Georgetown, Harvard, and/or University of Arizona,” Thomas wrote, “you’ll need to submit an LSAT score to other schools. Most students apply to many schools in particular geographic regions. So, if you wanted to also apply to the University of Chicago in Illinois, George Washington University in D.C., Boston University in Massachusetts, or Arizona State in Arizona (or any of the other 190+ schools), as of now, you still have to take the LSAT.”
Moreover, he wrote, schools and applicants know what a good LSAT score is; the parameters for a qualifying GRE score are not yet set.
“Because this is so new, law schools do not know what scores will be competitive for their schools. It’s likely that the percentile rule will apply, meaning if a school’s median LSAT score is a 90th percentile score (a 164, scored on a 120-180 scale), a competitive GRE score may likely be a 90th percentile score (a 162, scored on a 130-170 scale),” Thomas wrote. “But that may very well change — and quickly.”