The LSAT is Dead? Long Live the LSAT?

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Panic! The LSAT is going away! Law schools will be able to ask for whatever tests they want to ask for, so maybe you’ll have to take the MCAT. Forget math. The MCAT has science. Science!

Don’t worry, the above isn’t happening. Here’s what did happen. The Legal Ed Council of the ABA proposed a policy change. As of now, law schools are required to require that applicants take the LSAT. A law school can allow applicants to substitute an alternative test, provided the school can make the case that the alternative test is reliable in assessing applicants. That’s the policy some law schools have used to allow the GRE.

What the Council proposed is getting rid of the test requirement entirely. Instead, the ABA would strengthen its accreditation policies to ask more of law schools in two areas: admissions requirements and student retention. So law schools would still have plenty of incentive not to admit under-qualified applicants. They’d just be judged differently.

This change isn’t final as of now, but it’s probably a good indication of what’s to come. The policy now goes to the ABA House of Delegates for review, but the Legal Ed Council (the one that proposed the change) has final say. So the policy may get refined, but there’s a good chance that something like this will happen.

What does this mean for law school applicants? Really, not much. This coming cycle, everything will be the same, except maybe a few additional schools will accept the GRE. The LSAT will still be the test to take if you want to go to law school.

In a few years, you might see more law schools accepting alternative tests. Maybe some law schools will even let you apply without taking a standardized test. I wouldn’t count on it, though. Law schools will still have to assess whether their applicants can succeed in law school. While the LSAT is an imperfect measure, law schools would have considerably less info without it.

Also consider that some law schools have plenty of applicants as is, and have no trouble filling their entering classes with the applicants they want. For these law schools, it only makes sense to relax admissions requirements if it’ll get them high-caliber students they’d otherwise miss out on.

Other law schools may be hoping for help filling their classes. Those law schools may relax the requirement for an admissions test in hope of attracting more applicants and hence more students. But if a law school isn’t filling its class, you might ask why. The job outcomes still aren’t great coming out of lower-tier law schools. If the number of graduates from those schools goes up, the job market will only get tougher for their graduates.

All in all, for quite some time, if you want to go to law school, the LSAT is going to be your ticket. If things change, they’ll probably change slowly.

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