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GRE Trend May Be Catching on at Law Schools
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GRE test

Summary: More law schools are beginning to consider GRE test scores instead of LSAT scores in an attempt to attract the top qualified students.

Just a year ago, law schools never would have dreamed of replacing the age old tradition of LSAT scores with the less prestigious GRE test scores. Enrollment at law schools has been suffering from an inability to attract qualified candidates. In order to get the best students to apply to law school programs, law schools have been taking whatever steps they can. One of those steps has been accepting different test scores. Law schools are slowing warming up to the idea of allowing GRE scores in addition to or completely in place of the coveted LSAT scores.

  
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Chicago-area law schools are the latest to consider allowing GRE scores. The University of Arizona College of Law started the trend last year of accepting GRE graduate school entry exam scores to the dismay of many other schools and the American Bar Association. However, even top law schools like Harvard see the value in accepting the alternative test.

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in Chicago announced their plan to study the relevance of the GRE to LSAT scores to see if it is appropriate in accepting it as a replacement score. Dean Daniel Rodriguez said, “This is a new world. Law schools are looking at much more sophisticated data. It’s just simply a matter of time, and probably a short amount of time, before the hegemony of the LSAT will destabilize and law schools will be looking at other criteria for admission.” He added, “The question is, Who wants to be the first movers?”

The GRE is taken by students hoping to attend any graduate schools whereas the LSAT is specific to law school. Opening things up to allow the GRE would allow more applicants that had not planned on attending law school to apply. The hope is a more diverse class of applicants, both academically and ethnically, will submit applicants. Students that take the GRE are often science or technology students, which are greatly needed in the legal industry.

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The legal education section of the American Bar Association is not quite on board with the change. Accredited law schools must first demonstrate that the test is a valid representation of predicting law school success like the LSAT does. Northwestern is starting the process of proving this.

The law school had enough students with both test scores to gather data, hiring an outside firm to use that data to put together a study. Educational Testing Service is also conducting a national study with data from a number of other law schools, including John Marshall Law School in Chicago. They hope to have the study completed by August.



Other law schools are waiting on the results and any changes the ABA makes before jumping on board. Dean Harold Krent of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law said, “Why undertake a somewhat primitive study on our own if a professional one is forthcoming?”

One big benefit to the GRE is that it is administered electronically multiple times each week making it more accessible than the LSAT, which is only administered four times a year at specific testing sites. The administrator of the LSAT, the Law School Admission Council, understands that this a problem and is working to change that. One thing they are already changing is removing the rule limiting the number of times a person can take the test in a two-year period. Spokeswoman Wendy Margolis explained, “Our board of trustees thought that the test limitation might be an unnecessary impediment to test takers. This new policy could change if LSAC observes abuse.”

Do you think the GRE is an acceptable test for law school applications? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about GRE news, read these articles:

Photo: petersons.com



 

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