Say what? Beginning this fall, Harvard Law School will allow applicants to submit their scores from either the Graduate Record Examination or the Law School Admission Test.
School officials state removing the necessity of the LSAT score will prompt an expansion to access and could make it easier and less expensive for people to apply.
Harvard’s decision was announced Wednesday, just a day before the arm of the American Bar Association that accredits law schools considers changing its standards to allow tests other than the LSAT, as reported by the Washington Post.
The University of Arizona College of Law was the first college in the country to rely on GRE scores rather than LSAT scores. Accordingly, two more colleges followed suit. Now with a highly prestigious college like Harvard taking this same action, it’s only a matter of time for other colleges to make the same decision.
“This is a very big deal,” said Bill Henderson, a professor at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University at Bloomington, who has written progressively about legal education and rankings.
“This is a wise move. It makes them better off,” by allowing them to consider applicants in a more comprehensive way without worrying that their median LSAT score, and hence their ranking, will drop.
It means Harvard can look for leaders and academic brilliance and several other qualities, even if those don’t always align with exceptionally high LSAT scores.
“It loosens the vise grip of these numerical admissions criteria on the legal academy. … This is really exciting, good news,” Henderson continues.
“I can’t imagine other top law schools not following suit.”
As reported by the Washington Post, Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, thinks many law schools have already been considering this drastic change “because schools across the board have been struggling with applications — not only applications, but the quality of applicants.”
“Schools are trying to find new ways to find people. Will other schools follow? Probably,” McEntee said.
According to the Law School Admissions Council, a 1.5% decrease of applicants was pronounced compared to the year before.
Harvard, by contrast, had a 5 percent increase in applicant volume both last year and this year, said Jessica Soban, associate dean for admissions and strategic initiatives.
“Regardless of the number of applicants we have, this initiative is about making sure the most qualified candidates continue to consider us,” she stated.