You don’t have to take the LSAT to get into law school anymore. But before you douse your LSAT books in gasoline and yourself in champagne (don’t get that one backwards), read on. There’s a big catch.
The University of Iowa and SUNY Buffalo both announced that they’re dropping the LSAT as a requirement for law school admission, but not for just anyone. Both universities will waive the LSAT requirement only for their own undergraduate students, and only for students who are near the top of their college class and can demonstrate strong performance on another standardized test, such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT.
I’d expect other law schools to make similar moves in the near future, so it’s worth considering what this means, even if you don’t go to one of those two schools. This all stems from a change in ABA policy last year, allowing law schools to admit up to 10% of their entering class without an LSAT score. Other schools that drop the LSAT would be similarly limited to their own undergraduates.
Set aside for a moment the fact that we’re an LSAT prep company. Let’s look at this move from the law schools’ perspective. They’re not doing this just to be nice. They’re doing it because they believe it’s in their interest. Why’s that? They believe that it will bring them students they’d otherwise miss out on. There are two ways this might happen.
First, the law schools might hope to attract students who would otherwise go elsewhere. Not having to take the LSAT might persuade those students to stay put, whereas they might get in to another (better) school if they take the LSAT. If you’re one of these students, that’s not a great deal for you. If you’re picking another law school, there’s probably a good reason – whether that’s better employment statistics or winters less reminiscent of the North Pole.
Second, the law schools might hope that their change in policy will encourage students to apply who wouldn’t otherwise have considered law school. If that’s you, let me spell it out for you…
THAT’S A HORRIBLE REASON TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL.
If you fear standardized tests, keep in mind that you’ll have to take another one after law school. It’s not a big deal, though; it only determines whether you’re legally allowed to practice law. Law school is worth it only if you know you want to be a lawyer.
As it stands now, applying to law school without an LSAT score is a bit like putting a picture of your cat on your Tinder profile and asking the first person who swipes right to marry you. Wouldn’t you want to know your options first?
If you’re an undergraduate at Iowa or SUNY Buffalo, and you know that you’d want to stay at your alma mater for law school regardless, then maybe, just maybe, it makes sense to skip the LSAT. But first make sure that you’re comfortable with those schools’ employment outcomes. Also, know that even if you stay put, taking and doing well on the LSAT might help you get more scholarship money that you’d miss out on otherwise.
For everyone else, keep in mind that you have to have good grades and standardized test scores to qualify for these offers. If you have those things, there’s a pretty good chance you can do well on the LSAT. If you do well on the LSAT, it’ll open up other, potentially better options. Sure, the idea of not having to take the LSAT is tempting, but in most cases it’s in your best interest to do so.