According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2017 law school admissions survey, more law schools are considering allowing applicants to submit GRE scores in place of LSAT scores. Of the 128 U.S. law schools responding to the survey, 25% said that they plan to implement the use of GRE scores as an admissions policy, up from 14% in 2016; 45% said they have no plans to do so, down from 56% in 2016; and 30% are not sure, unchanged from 2016.
The option of using GRE scores is positive for both the law schools and applicants. Schools will have a larger pool of prospective students to choose from, while students will have more options to get in. However, the governing body of the 200+ U.S. law schools, the American Bar Association (ABA), continues to deliberate whether to continue allowing GRE scores or at least temporarily to stop it.
Law schools offer many reasons to begin accepting GRE scores and often state that they’ll be at a student recruitment disadvantage if they don’t. Other rationales include:
• Believing that it will become the norm and not doing it will leave them behind.
• Planning to do it because “Harvard is doing it.”
• Knowing that the GRE is more accessible. It’s offered every day of the year, doesn’t require advance registration, and is available in numerous test centers.
• Recognizing that a school has a range of applicants, many of whom are interested in non-traditional careers. They are better off taking the GRE.
Although the number of schools who say that they will only accept the LSAT is declining, those admissions officers state that they don’t believe that the GRE is as predictive of first-year success as the LSAT. They also say that they won’t change their policy until the ABA makes its final ruling. Finally, they also state that they would have to do significant research to show that the GRE is an effective predictor. They’re waiting to see student performance and bar passage rates from Harvard and Arizona (the first schools to recognize GRE scores).
Although the survey shows growing acceptance of GRE scores among law school admissions professionals, Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep, suggests caution. “[T]here are numerous caveats for applicants who plan to seek the GRE route to get into law school. Firstly, most applicants will still have to take the LSAT as only three law schools accept the GRE this year. And even if you rock the GRE, but bomb the LSAT, law schools will see your LSAT score. You can’t only send the score you want – to the schools you want. You will not be able to withhold your LSAT score. That means that while a high GRE score could mitigate against a weaker LSAT score, it will not be overlooked entirely. Plan on taking the LSAT.”
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