Legal Education

Any LSAT alternatives must be validated through new process, according to proposed rule revision

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There’s still no official green light for ABA-accredited law schools to rely on entrance exams other than the Law School Admissions Test, but a recently proposed standards revision suggests how a validation process for LSAT alternatives should be developed.

Under the proposed revision (PDF) to Standard 503, the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar would establish a process to determine the reliability and validity of other tests. 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 proposed revision was approved by the section’s Standards Review Committee, which met Feb. 10 and Feb. 11 in Atlanta. The council is expected to vote on the proposed revision in March, when it meets in Santa Monica, California.

Also, the proposed revision calls for law schools to publish information about which entrance tests were used in the admissions process.

Recently, the University of Arizona School of Law experimented with applicants submitting the GRE graduate school entrance exam scores instead of LSAT results. A study commissioned by the school that was performed by the organization that designs and administers the GRE argues that both tests accurately predict first-year law students’ grades. The Legal Education Council is expected to evaluate the study at some point.

In August the Law School Admission Council—which administers the LSAT and also certifies LSAT scores and undergraduate GPA data submitted by law schools for ABA accreditation—announced that it may suspend the certification service if alternate tests were allowed under the accreditation standards, because that could lead to more confusion for students and law schools.

However, the LSAC told the ABA Journal Tuesday that it’s in favor of the current proposed revision.

“The revised standard is an important improvement to the former Standard 503,” a spokesperson wrote in an email. “Ultimately, there will be a method approved by the ABA Council for determining the validity and reliability of standardized tests, other than the LSAT, that a law school may wish to use in the admission process.”

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