Harvard Law Drops LSAT Requirement, Takes GRE for Law School Admission

Harvard Law LSAT requirement GRE
UPDATE: Harvard Law Accepting the GRE: Will Students Stop Taking the LSAT?


Lots of LSAT news lately:

1. The Khan Academy is coming out with an LSAT prep product next year.

2. Harvard Law will start to accept the GRE as an alternative.

The silver lining on Harvard Law taking the GRE:

I'm not happy about the Harvard/GRE change overall, but I suppose the silver lining for me is the schadenfreude of seeing LSAC (the people who make the LSAT) get some serious competition from the GRE.

LSAC has been slow to computerize the LSAT and, as a result, still only offers it 4 times a year!

So, if something goes wrong with one test administration, students have to wait several months.

This has hurt an ENORMOUS percentage of students over the years.

Additionally the policies on test postponement/withdrawal/cancellation (and associated fees) have been harsh - students who can't really afford all the fees still have to shell out money to the LSAC monopoly as they postpone in their test dates, prepare for retakes, etc.

So, mayyyybeeee LSAC will loosen up a bit and become more consumer-friendly as a result. Could they increase the speed of computerizing the LSAT, be more flexible on test changes, etc.? We'll see.

Harvard's (flawed) argument for accepting GRE scores for law school admission:

LSAC is the bureaucracy we all love to hate, but their massive army of nerds does manage to consistently produce a great test year after year.

I'm very surprised to hear the claim that the GRE is an equally valid predictor of 1L grades as the LSAT - I think the LSAT is a much better test overall, and especially so for law school admission purposes.

Maybe I'm biased - after all, I do love the LSAT and am kinda obsessed with it - but no other test comes even close to the LSAT's sophistication.

AND, if one does, I'd begrudgingly admit it's the GMAT with its Critical Reasoning and Data Sufficiency questions.

I've often thought the GRE is a lazy test: re-using SAT-style content for all different grad school programs? Srsly?

Most of it has little relevance to legal reasoning. Could the GRE really apply THAT well to what's needed for such a large variety of graduate-level programs?

*** We're now living in a world where someone can get a JD/MBA from Harvard Law without taking either the LSAT or the GMAT - two of the best graduate school admission tests out there! ***

For Harvard, I think this is mainly an effort to get more high-achieving students, given the decline in 170+ applicants. It may spread across T14, then ripple down to the others. The biggest negative consequences would be for the students at the lower end of the spectrum who won't be able to pass the bar.

Harvard talked about "increasing access to legal education." I think this is code for "let's keep low-end law schools in business by allowing 'access' to customers who shouldn't be going at all."

So...."access to legal education" = "access to law school debt"

At the same time, higher-end schools will have more access to smart students in the arms race for a leg up the rankings, and potentially allow them to increase their class sizes, bar passage rates, and tuition $$$ as well.

More reasons why the "access to legal education" argument doesn't work:

There's more free LSAT content out there than ever before - the rate at which it's added has increased significantly over the past few years as companies offer free content to attract students to their paid offerings. Khan Academy for LSAT will be yet another addition, but it would've had a much bigger impact if it came out 5-10 years ago.

It's always nice to have another option, but it's much less "necessary" than ever before. Free LSAT prep is widely available. An Internet-savvy student could fully prepare without spending a dime.

What will the future bring?

I'll be curious to see what happens with the GRE and law school admissions over the next few years, but I don't think anyone applying this cycle (or anyone working in the LSAT industry) has to worry too much about it for now.

It's easy to imagine the worst case scenario (massive drop in LSAT test-takers), but let's wait and see if other top schools actually start allowing the option as well.

Bottom line:

Could it simply be that even top law schools just don't care that much about which test they accept (assuming some minimal standard of quality)?

Do they just want the testing process to be as smooth as possible for consumers (errr...students) in order to increase:

* size of applicant pool
* selectivity
* yield
* US News rankings
* class size / tuition $$$

Sadly, I think "yes."

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