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The ABA’s proposal to eliminate entrance testing requirements has overcome the next hurdle

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A quick dive:

  • The governing body of the American Bar Association voted yes highlight the offer repeal the mandate requiring accredited law schools to use standardized tests, such as the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, in admissions.
  • The change is intended to increase diversity in law schools by providing the option to make the entrance test optional or blind.
  • A vote to finalize the changes is scheduled for February. If approved, it would not go into effect until the fall of 2025.

Dive Insight:

The vote was the last step in the fight for optional admission to higher education institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a flood of colleges to temporarily drop their testing requirements, and many have since made the changes permanent. To date more than 1,830 colleges have chosen to make testing optional for autumn 2023.

According to William Adams, head of legal education and admissions to the bar, the ABA received about 120 public comments on the repeal of law school testing requirements. Comments both in support of and against entrance tests argued that they were on the side of diversity.

“It’s very rare that I come across a situation where advocates on completely opposite sides of an issue cite the same issue to support their arguments,” said Joseph West, chairman of the committee that voted Friday for the Legal Education Section Council. and admission to the bar.

Test-optional advocates often say standardized tests perpetuate racial disparities, citing research that finds the tests favor white test takers over those from underrepresented backgrounds.

But detractors say that without standardized testing, marginalized students are left with fewer options to demonstrate their acumen. They argue that other metrics, such as grade point averages, tell law schools little.

“Today’s GPAs are so inflated they’re worthless,” Kelly Testy, president and CEO of the Law School Admissions Council, said during a meeting Friday. “So all you’re left with is where you went to school, who you know, what you did?”

Officials from LSAC, which administers the LSAT, and the Educational Testing Service, which administers the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), opposed the proposal on Friday.

Both groups expressed concern that a competitive spiral could force law schools to drop exam requirements to remain attractive to students who also apply to elective law schools — even though the proposal being considered by the ABA would not require law schools to drop the entrance test requirements.

ABA Strategic Review Committee recommended earlier this month for the accreditor to waive its entrance testing requirements. The council approved its recommendation 15-1 Friday, adding an amendment to delay the effective date until fall 2025.

The ABA House of Delegates is scheduled to take a final vote on the matter in February.

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