There’s been big talk about doing away with the bar exam as of late: it is costly, a potential racial proxy, and is above all else a great annoyance — you mean to tell me I just spent 160k on a piece of paper and I still can’t use it?! And while it still appears to remain a bulwark in the profession, a different standardized test facing similar criticisms may have its days numbered: the LSAT.
Law schools would be given a green light to end admission test requirements, under a recommendation from a key committee of the American Bar Association that is scheduled for review in a public meeting this month.
The proposal still faces layers of scrutiny within the ABA and would not take effect until next year at the earliest. If approved, it could challenge the long-dominant role of the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, in the pathway to legal education.
Though pending, the mere spectre of this decision is not a universal godsend. LSAT and LSAT accessories are the bread and butter of some tutoring services. And while the LSAT is not a perfect test by any means, it does have its merits. Here is some of what Jeff Thomas, Kaplan’s Executive Director of Legal Programs, has to say in its defense:
[L]aw schools find standardized tests helpful in serving as a common yardstick to measure prospective students who come from colleges of varying competitiveness. An ‘A’ at a top ranked school, for example, is not the same as an ‘A’ at a lower ranked school. Undergrads at lower ranked colleges often look to the LSAT as a way to show admissions officers that they can perform just as well as any Ivy Leaguer, or even better.
This point is hard to deny considering the reality that is grade inflation on college campuses across the board — let alone the GPA differences that happen across college majors. Trust me, I’d take a 3.4 in Physics over a 4.2 in Business Management any day.
“The key takeaway is that major changes to admissions policies do not happen overnight. Applicants applying to law school this fall to begin in the Fall of 2023 should still consider the LSAT, a central component of their admissions strategy, as it’s the only test accepted at every ABA-accredited law school. Applicants applying to start in 2024 or beyond may have other viable admissions strategies. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out for schools first.
Speaking practically, keep working on those damned logic games for now. Concerning futurity, who knows what time will bring? An increased reliance on the ACT? A new standardized test to occupy the power vacuum? Based on the apparent trajectory of court rulings, we may do away with law school all together and just send prospective lawyers to seminary instead. We will keep you updated either way.
No LSAT? Legal Group Weighs Test-Optional Admissions For Law Schools [WaPo]
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at email@example.com and by tweet at @WritesForRent.
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