For as long as anyone can remember, the LSAT has had a virtual monopoly on the law school admissions testing process. No law school has even seriously considered accepting any other standardized test, much less a generalized one. That is, until the last few years when everything changed with one law school. In 2016, the University of Arizona Law School began accepting the GRE (Graduate Records Examinations), and it seems that they started a trend in the process. Now, more law schools accept the GRE, and the sky seems to be the only limit.
When will More Law Schools Accept the GRE?
The litmus test for law school testing has been one barrier to entry. It all stems from a phrase that the American Bar Association uses to describe accreditation procedures for law schools. Pursuant to ABA Standard 503, “A law school shall require each applicant for admission as a first-year JD degree student to take a valid and reliable admission test.” The University of Arizona Law School deemed the GRE both valid and reliable in regards to predicting success at their institution. By extension, if authentic, this should apply elsewhere as well, meaning that we will likely see more and more law schools accept the GRE with each passing year.
In fact, this is exactly what we see happening. Law schools all around the country are beginning to accept the GRE over the LSAT in their application processes for incoming prospective law students. According to The Economist, Harvard was the next one on the list of law schools to accept the GRE, and now there are 28 such institutions all over the U.S. Other notable law schools accept the GRE as well, including Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, Penn, USC, UCLA, and there are many others.
The widespread acceptance of the more general standardized test means that students in undergraduate programs can consider more than one career path for their future, all while studying for just one exam: the GRE. Before, the LSAT was a rather narrow test: only prospective law students had any need to take it, and no other institutions considered it in their admissions processes. The fact that more law schools accept the GRE likely means more possibilities for more people, and in more ways than the aforementioned career alternatives, although that is certainly an important consideration. Keep in mind that the GRE is offered for test takers almost every single day of the year, while the LSAT is only offered a handful of times throughout any given calendar year (typically just four — January, March, June, and July).
The Future of the LSAT and the GRE
What does all this mean for the future of the LSAT and law school admissions? Will more law schools accept the GRE? At this point, it is probably too soon to tell. It’s likely that the LSAT will remain the “valid and reliable” admissions test that it has been for many years to come.
It also seems probable that the GRE will continue to encroach further onto its territory, though. With smaller and lesser-known law schools also beginning to accept the GRE, it is quite possible that it is only a matter of time before more law schools accept the GRE than the LSAT. In this case, the GRE would eventually take the spotlight from the LSAT for good. Or at least until something better comes along to take its place, too.
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