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What Are the Biggest Differences Between the GRE and LSAT?
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Summary: To fully understand the debate about the acceptance of the GRE by law schools, one must understand how the exam differs from the LSAT.

With so much debate around the Law School Admission Test versus the Graduate Record Exam, its time to really discuss the differences and similarities between the two exams. The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law first introduced the GRE into the legal scene in 2016 when they said they accept the exam in place of the traditionally required LSAT. Since then over 20 law schools, even the top ones like Harvard Law, have announced they will also accept GRE scores instead of LSAT scores on admission applications.


Since the addition of the GRE is fairly new to the legal education sector, many may not fully understand the differences between the tests or the similarities. U.S. News provides a thorough explanation of the exams 10 main differences.

  1. The GRE is not accepted by all law schools.

IvyWise graduate school admissions counselor Erin Skelly said, “The number of law schools accepting the GRE is still quite small, so the LSAT is still the best bet when it comes to choosing a test that is universally acceptable among law schools.”

  1. The LSAT is administered by paper while the GRE is usually done on a computer.

The LSAT is always a paper test. The GRE is most often done on a computer, which for some may be more appealing. Others that prefer a paper test will enjoy the LSAT. The Princeton Review test prep tutor manager Will Haynes explained, “As a paper and pencil test, the LSAT gives students the ability to write on the test booklet, cross out answers, and draw.”

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  1. The LSAT is not personalized but the computer-GRE version is.

When someone takes the computer-adaptive GRE test, the way they answer questions in the beginning will affect how hard the questions get by the end of the exam. Haynes says, “This means the difficulty of a section can change depending on how you did on the previous section. For example, if you do really well on the first math section, the next math section will have harder questions. If you don’t do so well on the first section, the second section can seem easier. This can really change a student’s approach or strategy and can mess with their psyche, not to mention there are random, unknown experimental sections that don’t count.”

  1. The GRE has math and vocabulary questions.

Students taking the LSAT will not have to deal with math questions or vocabulary so if math is not your thing, the LSAT may be a better option. Haynes further adds, “The Quantitative Comparison questions most often throw students for a loop. Students are given two quantities (that may contain variables, equations, shapes, numbers, etc.) and must decide if they are equal, if one is always bigger, or if there is no way to grow.”

  1. The LSAT has logic questions.

The LSAT has some tricky logic questions that some may want to avoid in order to get a high score. Haynes describes the questions like a complex puzzle book. “The Games section should remind you of something you’d see in a puzzle book you buy at the airport. It involves setting up some kind of situation, creating rules, and then asking questions regarding logical and hypothetical situations. This is typically where students struggle the most.”

  1. The GRE is offered more often throughout the year.

The LSAT is only offered six times per calendar year.

  1. You can take the LSAT as many times as you need but there are limits for the GRE.

GRE test takers can only take the test once every 21 days and up to five times a calendar year. The LSAT can now be taken as many times as needed.

  1. The LSAT score reports show all your test scores whereas you can select which scores you want included with the GRE.

GRE test takers are able to select which scores they want to show but those taking the LSAT again will have their previous score reported with their new score no matter what. The LSAC website states, “If you are considering retaking the test, keep in mind that law schools will have access to your complete test record, not just your highest score. Law schools are advised that your average score is probably the best estimate of your ability – especially if the tests were taken over a short period of time.”

  1. The GRE allows test takers to preview their score before deciding to report it.

This little factor can be very comforting to those that fear they might bomb the GRE. They will find out their score immediately and can decide right then to not report it to the schools of their choice.

  1. The GRE is more general.

The GRE is used for those entering graduate schools in a range of studies. The LSAT is specific to law school applicants. Haynes said, “The LSAT really stands out when it comes to the Arguments (Logical Reasoning) section and the dreaded Games (Analytical Reasoning) section. The arguments section contains a number of questions that test how arguments are put together, what assumptions are involved, and what strengthens/weakens an argument. This kind of logical thinking would actually be important when practicing law.”

Do you think the GRE is a fair determination of a student’s ability to succeed in law school? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about preparing for law school, read these articles:



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