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Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Harvard Law School to Begin Accepting GRE
The Law School Admissions Test has long been a requirement for all applicants to ABA-accredited law schools in the United States. High LSAT scores are the golden ticket for law school hopefuls. So when the University of Arizona School of Law announced last May that they would accept both the LSAT and the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) for its 2016-2017 applicants, legal pundits quickly began sparring.
Why? The short, editorialized answer is this: the LSAT is a more rigorous test, and lawyers traffic in prestige. The LSAT applies only for law school admission; the GRE for virtually all other graduate programs.
Far more people take the GRE-somewhere from five to eight times more. The GRE is offered on-line, on a rolling basis throughout the year. The LSAT is a written, in-person exam, presented just four times a year.
Both exams appear to be effective predictors of academic performance, but that isn't the primary reason that the University of Arizona and now Harvard are opening their doors to GRE takers. These institutions want to increase the diversity of their applicant pool.
Diversity is a loaded word in academia, but in practice, casting a wider net will allow law schools to consider more international students, and those from a broader range of academic disciplines. If the change sticks, it may loosen the stranglehold of the LSAT as a metric, and could open up the field of law to competent students who might not otherwise have considered law school.
No word yet on whether Harvard's move has people clucking, or whether this is a foreshadowing of a longer-term shift in law school admissions. Still, a space worth watching.
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