The ABA has voted in favor of letting law schools accept Graduate Record Examination scores from applicants in place of Law School Admission Test LSAT) scores.
The Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar made the decision, without requiring approval from anone one else according to Bill Adams, ABA managing director of accreditation and legal education.
The ruling is a major victory for the Educational Testing Service, which operates the GRE and which has been fighting for the ABA’s recognition, especially since 2016
According to a news release, the topic falls under Standard 503, which requires that law schools use a “valid and reliable” admission test to assess applicants’ capabilities of completing law school. Before the council’s November decision, schools had to demonstrate that entrance exams other than the LSAT were valid and reliable, including the GRE.
“This was in closed session because it involved an ongoing conversation, including what advice we might want to provide about application of the standard that was not final by the time of the open session,” Adams told the ABA Journal.
Previously, at the 2018 ABA Annual Meeting, the council submitted a proposed resolution to the House of Delegates that called for cutting Standard 503 and adding more language to Standard 501, which requires law schools adhere to sound admission policies and practices.
Many of the country’s law schools supported the move, who had received criticism from a variety of groups including the Minority Network, a group of law school admissions professionals. The council withdrew the proposed revision shortly before the scheduled House of Delegates’ vote.
For the more recent revision, it could take a few admissions cycles to determine impact, according to Jeff Thomas, executive director of legal programs at test prep company Kaplan. In a statement via email, he estimated that few law school applicants submit GRE scores, perhaps because there’s a perception LSAT scores were preferred.
“Overall, we are glad the ABA has finally made a ruling on this issue, which will bring some much needed clarity to both law schools and prospective students—keeping prospective students in limbo was particularly unfortunate,” Thomas said.
The Educational Testing Service administers the GRE. Alberto Acereda, its associate vice president of global higher education, said in a statement via email the council’s decision demonstrates the GRE’s value in legal education.
“We look forward to continuing to bring innovation and transformation to legal education, working alongside law schools to enrich and diversify pools of future legal practitioners,” Acereda said.
The Law School Admission Council is responsible for the LSAT. A spokesperson told the ABA Journal in a statement the LSAC was not going to second-guess the council’s decision.