During the pandemic, many universities made the decision to stop requiring the SAT/ACT or any standardized test for admissions. It was determined to be too preferential for students of white and upper class backgrounds, and we are in an era with good alternatives. At the same time some of the test administering organizations have started to get a little anxious.
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) suffers from many of the same problems that the SAT and ACT do. Unlike the MCAT, which tests mostly specific knowledge in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Psychology, the LSAT attempts to quantify the applicants’ less quantifiable skills in sections that are based around logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and logic games. This has led to similar sorts of criticisms around the lack of socioeconomic diversity, especially as it relates to the logic games section.
For years the American Bar Association (ABA) has required that law schools which it accredits use the LSAT as an entrance exam, but as of November 2021, they opened it up to include the GRE as well.
Last Friday, the Strategic Review Committee within the ABA made a recommendation to remove the requirement, and sent the new policy for a vote by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, which will occur on November 18th.
This change would not stop law schools from using the LSAT if they wished to, but would allow them to remove standardized testing requirements if they wanted. The policy would read as follows:
“A law school may use admission tests as part of sound admission practices and policies. The law school shall identify in its admission policies any tests it accepts.”
This is not a universally popular proposal. It should come as no surprise that the LSAC is eyeing the possibility with trepidation, and that they claim that their test actually increases diversity. On the LSAT FAQ they claim that “The LSAT provides a way for every student to demonstrate their skills, regardless of what undergraduate institution they attended or other forms of privilege.”
Many schools have a similar opinion. BYU just advised applicants to take the test to “put themselves in the best light”. In addition, an extensive comment with signatories from a wide range of universities seemed concerned about the impact that removing the test would have. Although it is unclear how this will impact universities who choose to continue to require the test.
It seems that, as Akil Bello of FairTest says “There is definitely a group of people who believe that, as long as you numerically quantify things, it’s objective and fair.”
Update: As of 11/18 the ABA has voted to end the requirement starting with the class that joins in Fall 2025.
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