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LSAT Unplugged + Law School Admissions Podcast

May 6, 2022

What Does The ABA Allowing Law Schools To Go Test-Optional REALLY Mean?

An ABA committee has recommended allowing law schools to stop requiring standardized tests like the LSAT and GRE for admission.

Check the last page containing the ABA committee's proposed revision to Standard 503):

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On the ABA committee proposal to stop requiring standardized tests for law school admissions:

The proposed revision must be still approved by the ABA.

It would then be up to individual schools whether they require the LSAT (or another exam) or not.
Equivalent accrediting bodies for med school and business school don't require them to use standardized tests for admission, but many require tests such as the MCAT/GMAT/GRE.
So it's unclear whether many law schools would stop requiring the LSAT even if they could.

(My guess is that it'd be mostly lower-ranked schools who typically have a harder time getting applicants.)

The impact of removing a standardized test requirement is somewhat mixed. At first glance, it may 
seem to level the playing field.

But whether it actually does, or to what extent, is not entirely clear.

On the one hand, removing that barrier allows people who wouldn't do well on the LSAT a better shot at getting into law school. A 2-hour multiple-choice exam is obviously very different from what you'll do in the legal profession.

On the other, people with resources will likely spend that test prep money on developing their resumes and polishing their applications. A LOT of money gets spent in the admission consulting world for undergraduate admissions. The amount devoted to law school admissions consulting would likely grow substantially.

Additionally, GPA would carry much more weight than it currently does. Those who took easy majors with lots of grade inflation would have a significant advantage over those who struggled in college. The latter group might include those who worked through college, those with family obligations, and those who had personal matters/emergencies that took their focus away from school, leading to lower grades than they otherwise might have gotten.

Most schools will likely take a wait-and-see approach -- they're risk-averse (especially when it comes to jeopardizing their US News rankings) and will look to see the results for first-movers. (The schools that drop requirements first, if/when the ABA approves the committee's recommendation.)

Bottom-line: none of this is directly relevant to anyone applying now or in the near future. Bureaucracies typically move slowly, and I expect that no schools are likely to change their admission policies for anyone applying to law school this fall, even if they could.
So if you're applying to law school this fall - keep studying! :)


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