Law Schools

Northwestern's law school says it will accept the GRE as an entrance test

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Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law/

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law will accept the Graduate Record Examination or the Law School Admissions Test for admissions starting in the fall of 2018 for admissions the following fall, the school announced on Monday.

“We have a nagging sense that there are quite a number of science-trained folks who take the GRE, not necessarily because they have a laser focus on going into graduate school in the sciences, though many will, but because they are equivocating a bit about their next educational phase,” law school dean Daniel Rodriguez told (sub. req.). “Maybe they would be interested in joint degrees, or want to consider options across a range of professional schools. No one is stopping them from taking the LSAT, but that’s a barrier to entry in some ways.”

The standard regarding entrance tests for ABA-accredited law schools is under consideration by the Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The proposed revision to Standard 503 calls for the council to establish a process that determines reliability and validity of other tests besides the LSAT. That’s a change from the current version, which directs law schools using alternate admissions tests to demonstrate that the exams are valid and reliable.

The Council sought comments on the matter, and a public hearing was held July 13. Among the comments submitted, one statement (PDF) signed by Rodriguez and other law school deans questioned why accredited law schools needed entrance exams as a condition of enrollment.

The University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law and Harvard Law School, recently announced they will take the GRE as an entrance exam, and Northwestern’s decision is not surprising. In May Rodriguez said that the school was considering the idea, and a spokesperson for the Educational Testing Service, which designs and administers the GRE, said that it was conducting a national study about the test’s validity with Northwestern and other law schools.

“In accordance with the American Bar Association (ABA) Standards for Legal Education, the study assessed whether the GRE is a valid predictor of first-year academic performance at Northwestern Law. Results showed that the GRE is in fact a strong predictor of first-year performance at Northwestern,” Rodriguez wrote in Monday’s statement.

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