Kaplan Test Prep surveyed 125 U.S. law schools on whether or not they plan to allow applicants to submit GRE scores instead of LSAT scores (following in the footsteps of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law who adopted this practice back in February).
Here are some highlights from the report:
• 56% of law schools have no plans to adopt this new policy.
• 14% plan on allowing GRE score submissions.
• 30% of law schools aren’t sure what they’ll do in this regard.
• 70% called the LSAT a “more appropriate test” for law school admissions.
• 53% felt that the American Bar Association shouldn’t mandate that law schools can only accept the LSAT.
• 80% of admissions officers say that law schools that accept the GRE might do so because they “want a more diverse pool of applicants and students.”
• Others say that schools may accept GRE scores because they are “concerned about filling seats because of dropping/stagnant application numbers.”
• 70% say that accepting GRE scores would allow schools to accept less qualified students without their low stats affecting their rankings, since U.S. News & World Report doesn’t yet factor GRE scores into their rankings.
“Right now, there doesn’t seem to be any great enthusiasm by law schools to adopt the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT, which isn’t too surprising considering that law schools tend to be judicious, wanting to see all evidence and research before making an important decision like this,” says Jeff Thomas, Kaplan Test Prep’s executive director of pre-law programs. “What’s particularly interesting is that nearly a third of law schools say they are unsure if they will accept the GRE, as opposed to simply being against it, which suggests that the pro-GRE movement has room to grow. We’ll be watching developments closely so that pre-law students have the most accurate and up-to-date information to make good decisions.”
I find it interesting that 70% feel that the LSAT is the “more appropriate test,” but 14% plan to allow GRE score submissions and 30% are unsure what they will do. That means many of those who feel the LSAT is the more valid test are still willing to consider the GRE. Furthermore 70% see benefits to accepting the GRE in the form of a more diverse class and the ability to accept less qualified students (or at least those with poorer test scores) without those scores affecting their U.S. News ranking.
Folks, there is disconnect in those numbers.
I asked Kaplan if they have numbers on GRE adoption by business schools when MBA programs started to accept the GRE in addition to the GMAT, a test geared specifically for graduate management education. Russell Schaffer of Kaplan responded that in 2009 Kaplan’s survey found only a quarter (24%) of business schools allowed students to submit a GRE score. Today 90% of U.S. business schools accept the GRE in addition to the GMAT.
I don’t believe the law school survey is inaccurate. I do believe there is a good chance given the decline in law school numbers and the role of the LSAT in the U.S. News law school ranking, that this survey is not the last word on GRE acceptance by law schools. People, including those who run law schools, can change their minds.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.