Legal Education

ABA Legal Ed council asked again to remove requirement for entrance exams

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A suggestion to eliminate the accreditation standard requiring entrance exams for law school admissions has been made to the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

An April 25 memo from the council’s strategic review committee calls for cutting most of the language in Standard 503, which requires law schools to use an admissions test, and adding a sentence that schools “may use” admissions tests. New suggested wording also states that schools must identify tests accepted in admissions policies.

Law schools were required to use the LSAT for admissions. But in 2016, the University of Arizona College of Law announced plans to try the Graduate Record Examination, as well. In 2018, an Educational Testing Service report, which found that the GRE accurately predicted first-year students’ grades, was submitted to the ABA.

Also in 2018, the council attempted to remove the admissions test requirement. The proposal was withdrawn by the council shortly before a vote from the ABA House of Delegates because of “considerable and organized opposition,” according to the April 25 memo. Under ABA procedure, the House of Delegates can send proposed standard revisions back to the council twice for review. But the council has final say on all matters related to law school accreditation.

In 2021, the council released an independent assessment of the ETS study. Prepared by the University of Iowa’s Center for Advanced Studies in Measurement and Assessment, it found that if “certain plausible assumptions” were made, it was possible the GRE and the LSAT might be able to be used “defensibly and interchangeably” in law school admissions.

After the release, the council voted in a closed-session meeting in favor of allowing law schools to accept the GRE in admissions in addition to the LSAT.

Test-optional admissions policies could work against “minoritized individuals” regarding law school, according to a statement from the Law School Admission Council, which is responsible for the LSAT.

“We believe the LSAT will continue to be a vital tool for schools and applicants for years to come, as it is the most accurate predictor of law school success and a powerful tool for diversity when used properly as one factor in a holistic admission process,” the statement read.

Likewise, Alberto Acereda, the associate vice president of global higher education for the ETS, said the company believes in the value of its GRE in graduate admissions, including in legal education.

“In the law admissions space, the GRE has done critical work in helping to diversify and provide access for students to legal education, regardless of their background, global location or undergraduate institution,” he wrote in a statement.

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