Now, why exactly do we need the LSAT?
(Reuters) – Jane is applying to schools of law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, business and architecture. If she applies to medical school before trade school and the dental application is fourth, when does Jane pass all the required entrance exams?
Answer: All she has to do is take the LSAT. The accreditors of other professions do not impose standardized admission tests for higher education, according at the American Bar Association.
Should the law follow? I don’t mean abolish the LSAT altogether (and its tortured logic games), but rather allow individual law schools to decide whether or not to require the exam as part of their admissions process?
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That’s the proposal currently pending before the ABA’s Council on Legal Education, and it has sparked a flood of comments from passionate advocates and opponents of the LSAT.
As it stands, the ABA 503 standard requires JD program applicants to submit the results of a “valid and reliable admissions test” — usually the LSAT, but dozens of schools now also accept the GRE.
Many of those who urge the ABA to keep the test requirement in place argue that the LSAT is the best predictor of academic success in the first year of law school. And given the cost of a legal education – according to US News – average private law school tuition in the 2021-2022 academic year was $53,000, while in-state public school tuition was about $30,000 – it doesn’t benefit anyone to miss out, without JD and struggling with debt.
Like the Law School Admission Council of comments According to the ABA, making the test optional “will effectively deprive many law school applicants of the single most important piece of information they need to make the resource-intensive decision to enroll in law school.” : their chances of success”.
So…law schools are doing applicants who bombard the LSAT a favor by rejecting them, saving them future heartache?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many commentators who have struggled with the LSAT don’t see it that way.
For example, a man said his “ADHD and generalized anxiety disorder caused me to score below the LSAT standard” even though he has a 3.9 GPA and is confident he could do well in college by right.
Others point to the cost of preparing for individualized exams, which can easily exceed $4,000.
“I don’t come from money, so I was at a huge disadvantage by not being able to enroll in a prep course or have a private tutor,” one contestant said. wrote. “Instead, I’ve had to rely on cheap prep books that are ineffective for most students.”
Another who identified as an African American woman said she was “not convinced that I can score high enough to be seriously considered in the majority of schools”, adding that “I just want to get in the door”.
Indeed, proponents of making the LSAT optional hope it will lead to greater diversity in the legal profession. According comments submitted by the AccessLex Institute, citing “historically disadvantaged racial and socioeconomic populations,” the average LSAT score for black applicants was 142. For white and Asian applicants, it is 153, with Hispanic applicants scoring a average of 146.
Yet making the exam optional is unlikely to be a panacea for diversity. As AccessLex notes, emerging research on minority student enrollment at undergraduate institutions that no longer require the SAT or ACT has found mixed results and “limited evidence of diversity gains.” .
To me, this points to the biggest hurdle to removing the LSAT. What are you replacing it with?
The absence of test scores would mean “greater confidence in the subjective assessment of admissions (which can be easily influenced by bias)”, according to a 20 page commentary signed by more than 50 law school deans and directors of admissions.
It would also mean a greater reliance on undergraduate grade point average — which admissions officials say could be inflated at private colleges, favoring wealthy applicants. Likewise, the perceived prestige of the undergraduate school would be greater, again favoring wealthy applicants.
Valid points, yes, although you also think that admissions officers might consider these variables when evaluating applications.
Despite some disparaging comments (a affirmed that making the LSAT optional would result in a “parade of horribles for legal education and students”), the proposal ultimately seems modest to me. Most law schools would likely continue to use the LSAT in admissions decisions. The world would continue as we know it.
But why not also give some creative legal educators the opportunity to look beyond the LSAT?
It’s not like without the test, admissions would happen willy-nilly. Each law school will still have to adhere to the ABA rule limit enrollment to students “who appear capable of satisfactorily completing their legal education program and being called to the bar”.
What we do know is that the current system is not working well for a significant subset of applicants, who remain stubbornly underrepresented in the legal profession.
As Clinical Legal Education Association Put theif we “want a more diverse profession that can better meet the needs of contemporary clients – we cannot keep doing the same thing and expecting different results”.
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