GRE vs. LSAT: 5 Things to Consider
August 7, 2017
You might have heard the news this week that two big law schools—Northwestern and Georgetown—have decided to allow you to submit either the LSAT or the GRE as part of your law school application to their schools, joining Harvard and University of Arizona who have previously done so. So that means you can cross “prep for and take the LSAT” off your law school application to-do list, right? Not so fast. Here’s a couple of things you need to keep it mind:
1. You’ll probably still need to take the LSAT
Unless you are applying to only Northwestern, Georgetown, Harvard and/or University of Arizona, you’ll need to submit an LSAT score to other schools. Most students apply to many schools in particular geographic regions. So, if you wanted to also apply to University of Chicago in Illinois, George Washington University in DC, Boston University in Massachusetts or Arizona State in Arizona (or any of the other 190+ schools), as of now, you still have to take the LSAT.
2. You cannot withhold your LSAT score
If you take the GRE and the LSAT, and rock the GRE but bomb the LSAT, law schools will see your LSAT score. You can’t only send the score you want to the schools you want. Because law schools will still require you to send your Credential Assembly Service report, compiled by the Law School Admission Council—the organization that writes and administers the LSAT—you will not be able to withhold your LSAT score.
3. Law schools that accept the GRE will not be able to ignore your LSAT score
Law schools will be required to submit the LSAT and GRE scores of every student it admits to the American Bar Association. And those scores are weighted heavily in the annual law school rankings. Since law schools will be held accountable to your LSAT score—even if submitted alongside a GRE score—so will you. Certainly a great GRE score could mitigate against a weaker LSAT score, but it will not be overlooked entirely.
4. We don’t (yet) know what a “good” GRE score is for law school admissions
Because this is so new, law schools do not know what scores will be competitive for their schools. It’s likely that the percentile rule will apply, meaning, if a school’s median LSAT score is a 90th percentile score (a 164, scored on a 120-180 scale), a competitive GRE score may likely be a 90th percentile score (a 162, scored on a 130-170 scale), but that may very well change—and quickly.
5. The ABA might tell law schools they have to use the LSAT
The American Bar Association makes all the rules law schools must follow. Currently, law schools can determine for themselves if they want to take the GRE too, if they jump through a few hoops. The ABA is considering a rule change that would close that loophole for schools, and make them the sole arbiter of what standardized test(s) law schools must/can use.