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Thursday, August 20, 2015
ABA Reverses Decision on LSAT Exemption
It's been just over a year since the primary governing body of America's accredited law schools decided to dispense with the ubiquitous LSAT requirement. The standardized test has long been a staple of law school admission. Exceptional LSAT scores can help tip the scales for students with on-the-fence grades. A poor performance can be the kiss of death.
Like most standardized tests in higher education, the LSAT was designed as a leveler of the playing field. With law students coming from a wide variety of undergraduate backgrounds, the test was a helpful weeding tool.
Last year, the American Bar Association (ABA), surprised many when it introduced an exemption option for the LSAT. Up to ten percent of a school's annual admittees could include students that had not taken the LSAT.
The premise may have been simple, but the execution was not.
As in other areas of tertiary education, the LSAT had become a litmus test of privilege. The hope was that, by eliminating the requirement-at least in part-law schools could cast a wider net. Diversity was the buzzword, but it was more nuanced than that. Law schools would be opening their doors to qualified candidates who may have excelled in areas other than standardized test taking. Shutting the doors on poorer LSAT performers may have also been screening out valuable talent.
The ABA has said little about the reversal. It was not a referendum on diversity as much as a salve for a confusing rule. Or so they say. It is a curt reversal, and some law schools are disappointed that the ABA changed course without allowing the initial dust to settle.
For now, at least, the LSAT remains one of the greatest obstacles to law school admission. Which, it seems, is precisely how the ABA wants it.
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