No more LSAT?
A committee of the American Bar Association recommended late last month that law schools abolish the requirement of a “true and reliable admission test” as part of the admissions process.
His memo added, however, “law schools certainly remain free to require a test if they wish.”
This recommendation was made on April 25 by the Strategic Review Committee four years after another group, the Board of the Legal Education and Admissions Section of the ABA, approved similar changes to its standards of rules and admission. The council consists of 21 people, including lawyers, professors, administrators and others.
“Admissions policy issues have troubled the board for several years,” said Bill Adams, ABA’s chief director of accreditation and legal education, in a statement.
Leaders said they were less concerned about students’ entrance exams than how students entered law school – whether they stayed in school and how quickly they passed the bar exam after graduation.
But the decision to adopt the standard is not final.
The committee’s recommendation will be discussed at a council meeting later this month, Mr Adams said. In case of approval, the council will also decide whether to send the proposal for public discussion.
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The House of Delegates, which sets policy for the association, will have the opportunity to consider the recommendation, Mr Adams said.
“Any final decision is up to the council,” he said. If the board eventually approves the recommendation, the earliest changes could affect students for those who will be enrolling in the fall of 2023.
The committee recommended changing the language of admission standards to say that law schools “can” review the results of entrance exams. Law schools may also consider “undergraduate and grade point average, extracurricular activities, work experience, success in other graduate or professional programs, relevant demonstrated skills, and obstacles overcome”.
The committee’s recommendation follows the trend in some elite colleges and universitieswho have abandoned standardized testing requirements amid criticism that more affluent students have benefits such as the ability to afford preparatory training. Last May, University of California system executives voted in favor eliminate requirements for test scores Forever, and Harvard will remain optional at least until the fall of 2026, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.
The traditional test for entering law school is administered by the Admissions Board of the Law School, a non-profit organization that partially oversees the law school application process. In a statement Friday, the organization said it hoped “the ABA will consider these issues very carefully.”
It adds: “We believe that LSAT will continue to be a vital tool for schools and entrants for many years to come.”
The council called the test “the most accurate predictor of law school success and a powerful tool for diversity if used properly as a factor in the overall admissions process.”
Some deans of law faculties in recent years have questioned the use of the traditional exam to enter law school, viewing the standardized exam as an obstacle to reaching new groups of potential entrants who could become law students. In 2016, James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona began accepting applicants who took only the more general GRE entrance examination instead of LSAT.
The law school admissions board warned the university that it could exclude the Arizona school from its network. But other deans of law faculties championed the university’s decision.
Two years later the ABA board proposed to change the standards make test results an optional part of the admission process.
At a meeting of the House of Delegates, the April note said, there was “significant and organized resistance to the amendments” and the proposed changes to the standards were withdrawn.
The board then asked for feedback “from stakeholders regarding the requirement of entrance tests in the standards” and held a roundtable to discuss the standards, the note said.
The Strategic Review Committee then reviewed the standards, the note said.
Proposed changes will be discussed on May 20 at a public council meeting in Chicago.