Law schools may no longer need to require applicants to provide standard exam scores, including the law school entrance exam, in accordance with a recommendation being considered by the American Bar Association.
ABA will check the proposal made by one of its committees, at a public meeting later this month, although it is still subject to several levels of approval.
The abolition of mandates for entrance exams represents a seismic shift in the long-standing procedures for entering law schools. Top rated schools weigh high LSAT score when checking applicants. Until Novemberit was the only entrance test that the ABA explicitly allowed to be used by its recognized law schools.
The ABA proposal is while a national campaign to remove barriers related to testing for underrepresented college entrants has embraced student admission. Proponents of waiving LSAT requirements say it could help diversify applicants’ pools.
However, destroying a culture of admission, largely focused on LSAT scores, can be challenging. In recent years, more than 100,000 candidates have passed the LSAT each year – and law schools would not have to drop the test under the proposal. The ABA also tried to end the standardized evaluation rules in 2018, but it receded amid fears that their removal would put vulnerable entrants at a disadvantage who could confirm their academic ability with an objective measure.
What does the ABA do?
ABA Strategic Review Committee recommended the organization – which accredits about 200 U.S. law schools – change its standard by requiring a “real and reliable” entrance exam.
LSAT was the de facto choice to meet this demand, although some colleges have experimented by allowing an exam for graduate students instead. The ABA in November Green allowed all of its law schools to use the GRE.
Standard 503, as it is known in the ABA rulebook, has long been under close scrutiny, attracting accusations that it hinders law school candidates who may not fit the traditional profile.
The study is published The New York University Law Review in 2020 found that politics in recent decades has evolved into a “significant barrier to entry with a variety of negative impacts on” students from racial minorities, women, low-income entrants, and people with disabilities.
Another study, who appeared in the International University of Florida’s legal review in 2019, said the average LSAT score for black students was 142, compared to 153 for white and Asian test participants. The maximum score is 180.
This was reported in the ABA committee in a public note that the departure from the mandate eliminates “some of the problems inherent in determining which tests are actually valid and reliable for admission to law school”. It is noted that ABA remains the only accreditor among law, medical, dental, pharmaceutical, business and architectural schools that still require entrance exams.
On May 20, one of the governing bodies of the ABA, the Advocacy Legal Education Section Council, is to decide whether to open the proposal for public discussion. The committee will then review these reviews and discuss whether to offer reviews, said in an email Bill Adams, managing director of the Accreditation and Legal Education Division of ABA. Another steering group, the ABA House of Delegates, will also consider the proposal, but the final decision remains with the council, Adams said.
The date of the final policy change is uncertain.
What do people say?
According to Bob Schaefer, CEO of FairTest, an organization that advocates minimal reliance on standardized exams, the move is very important for fairness and access.
This is because the ABA and the Admissions School, or LSAC, which runs the LSAT, “have been among the most resilient to changing testing policies of all drivers to higher education,” Schaefer said in an email.
Most colleges, around 1830, do not require prospective students to take SAT or ACT test results in the fall of 2022, according to FairTest. This is a much different situation with admissions than a few years ago, when only a few colleges were optional, but the practice was revised during the pandemic.
The LSAC, meanwhile, argued in an email that optional policies “can often work against minorities” in law schools. The organization said it hopes the ABA will consider these issues closely.
“We believe that LSAT will continue to be a vital tool for schools and entrants for many years to come, as it is the most accurate predictor of law school success and a powerful tool for diversity when properly used as a factor in holistic admissions,” he said. , the statement said.
However, what the ABA considers a reliable test remains a “somewhat elusive idea,” said Leo Martinez, chair of the legal education section for lawyers, and dean and honorary professor at the University of California, Hastings. College of Law.
Further use of LSAT is rooted in tradition, Martinez said, but there are “concerns that it is not yielding the best results.”
Martinez does not expect a broad contingent of law schools to abandon LSAT requirements, even if the ABA changes its policy. Law schools are licensed to weigh LSAT scores as they like on admission, but Martinez said he knows no one that would make scores a nominal factor.
The resilience of LSAT is obvious. For example, prior to ABA’s official approval in November, which allowed the use of GRE, about 70 law schools accepted GRE scores – but only a share of ABA law school in the fall of 2020, less than 1%, was accepted with GRE scores.
“It is possible that over the next few years this will shift significantly,” Martinez said. If law schools develop better out-of-test admissions processes, they can be replicated widely, Martinez said.
But Andrew Strauss, dean and professor of law at the University of Dayton, believes the changes will be significant.
Law schools relied on two main criteria as admission factors: GPA and LSAT undergraduate scores. Moreover, the latter is not required, will lead to some schools reinventing their processes, Strauss said.
He said schools could learn more about average scores, study preparatory courses more closely or conduct interviews more often.
“It creates a completely different climate around this,” Strauss said.