Could the ABA Overhaul Admissions Testing?

The American Bar Association soon may be acting to change rules on law school admissions tests.

An ABA section council recently announced various accreditation standard recommendations, including doing away with the separate admissions test rule entirely, the ABA Journal reports.

In March, the council sought comment for a proposed revision to Standard 503, which calls for establishing a process that “determines the reliability and validity of other tests besides the LSAT.” According to the ABA Journal, the current version directs law schools using alternate admission tests to demonstrate that the exams are valid and reliable.

ABA EVALUATING THREE OPTIONS

Earlier this month, the Standards Review Committee met in Boston to recommend that the section council consider three options:

• Eliminate Standard 503 and revise Standard 501, which requires admitting competent candidates, so that it includes having a valid admission test as a factor for determining whether a law school is in compliance with the rule. Under this proposal, the requirement of having a valid and reliable admission test would be removed from the standards.

• Revise Standard 503 to require an admission test that assesses applicants’ capabilities, and require that law schools publish lists of accepted tests. Under that recommendation, there would be no requirement that the ABA determines whether the admission tests are valid and reliable.

• Keep the requirement that admission tests be valid and reliable, but remove “protection” that the March proposal granted to the LSAT.

LAW SCHOOLS DEMAND ANSWERS

“All three propositions are significantly different than the tentative proposition, which on its face is reflective,” says Marc Miller, dean of James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona, the first law school to accept the GRE as an admission test in February 2016. “I happen to like the direction it’s headed in.”

A number of law schools have announced plans to accept the GRE including Northwestern University, Harvard University and Georgetown University. Columbia Law is the newest school to embrace the GRE for fall 2018.

According to the ABA Journal, the Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, released a statement last Wednesday (Oct. 11) stressing the importance of the LSAT as a component of the admissions process.

“The LSAT is the only test designed specifically for legal education, the fairest mechanism to ensure a level playing field, and gives law schools a uniform method of assessing each applicant’s ability to thrive in their studies and in the profession,” said Kellye E. Testy, president and CEO of the organization, in the statement.

In a Kaplan Test Prep survey released this summer, 61% of 120 law schools polled said the ABA should rule whether law schools are permitted to allow applicants to submit GRE scores as an alternative to LSAT scores. Twenty-seven percent said it should not make such a ruling, and 13% were unsure.

The ABA section’s council will meet in November to consider recommendations.

Source: ABA Journal, Poets & Quants, Columbia Law School