Law school’s admissions may soon accept GRE

The DePaul University College of Law only accepts one standardized test to get in, the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). “It is a rite of passage,” said DePaul law student Stephanie Musser.

The LSAT is the traditional test for getting into law school, but some schools are starting to accept an alternative.  They now accept the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or the LSAT.  Out of the 204 American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools in the United States, 18 accept the GRE.

The LSAT “requires the same amount of discipline that school does,” said DePaul law student Stephen Krist. “Just basically starting from scratch and learning something very foreign to you and applying it, the process is very similar but the material may not be” to what students learn in law school.

Columbia, Georgetown, and Harvard law schools are all accepting the GRE for fall 2018 admissions. Chicago, Chicago-Kent College of Law, John Marshall Law School and Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law all accept the GRE.

The University of Chicago also allows students to apply using the GRE or the Graduate Management Admission Test if the student is applying for a dual degree program.  A study by Kaplan Test Prep found that 25 percent of law schools are planning on accepting the GRE in the future. 

If so many schools in Chicago are doing it, and many around the United States are planning to do it, why isn’t DePaul?  Turns out there are obstacles.  The ABA requires that any alternative to the LSAT be “valid and reliable,” and it has yet to weigh in on whether the GRE is acceptable. 

Educational Testing Service (ETS), which runs GRE, has done its own nationwide study suggesting that the GRE is a valid alternative. 

“One thing I would say, looking back on it is that (the LSAT) is not indicative of how you will do in law school,” said DePaul law student Sufjan Qadir.  “I don’t know if the GRE is better or worse.” 

If the DePaul College of Law wanted to accept the GRE, they would have to do their own validity study, according to Amanda Noascono, the Assistant Dean and Director of Law Admissions.  Otherwise, DePaul risks not being in compliance with the ABA. 

There are advantages to the GRE over the LSAT, one of which is accessibility While there are only five dates to take the LSAT in 2018, the GRE is offered electronically seven days a week, year round. And the GRE is offered more internationally than the LSAT.

Taking the LSAT “requires a lot of planning, like the planning that goes through the admission process,” said Qadir.  “If you don’t know ahead of time, 6-7 months, then I could see how it would be an inconvenience.” 

By accepting the GRE, Harvard “can diversify our community in terms of academic background, country of origin, and financial circumstances,” said the dean at the time, Martha Minow, in a statement to the New York Times. 

Other schools that have accepted the GRE have made similar points.  They say that accepting the GRE makes law school more open to foreign students, and it provides an avenue for students who are considering law school or other graduate school options who can’t afford to take both tests. 

Another advantage to taking the GRE test electronically is that immediately upon finishing the test, students can view their unofficial score on all of the sections except the essay portion.

“I like the idea of knowing exactly how you did, because then during the application process you can know, should I start applying or not,” said Musser.  “If you know you kind of bombed the test, you will not go through the effort of paying to apply for school.”