Kaplan Test Prep Survey: A Majority of Pre-Law Students Want Law Schools to Require a Standardized Admissions Test

A new Kaplan Test Prep survey finds strong support for standardized testing to be part of the law school admissions process.

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New York, NY (August 2, 2018) — As the American Bar Association prepares to announce if it will lift the rule mandating all accredited law schools require applicants to submit a score from a standardized test like the LSAT® or GRE®, pre-law students are rendering their own verdict. According to a Kaplan Test Prep survey, 58 percent of aspiring lawyers say the ABA should keep the standardized testing requirement in place, 36 percent want it lifted, and 6 percent are not sure.*

One student who favored keeping the requirement shared, “The LSAT puts all students on a level playing field. GPAs vary tremendously based on school and major so the LSAT is a good way to score all students,” while another said, “The LSAT is an important indicator of how students perform under pressure and timed. It also is a good equalizer.” An opponent of the requirement said, “I don’t think standardized tests are really measuring a student’s ability to excel at a law school. It’s just measuring how good you are at taking standardized tests.”

The origin of the ABA’s pending decision came two and a half years ago, when, during the tail end of an unprecedented application drought affecting law schools nationwide, the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law announced that it would begin allowing applicants to submit GRE scores in lieu of LSAT scores for admissions. Since that February 2016 move, more than 20 other law schools across the country (including many of the top-ranked programs like Harvard, Columbia, and UCLA) adopted this policy too, in an effort to expand and diversify their applicant pool. Most recently, Cornell and UPenn not only began to accept the GRE, but also the GMAT®, which has long been the admissions test used by business schools.

The decision, expected to be announced within the next week at the 2018 Chicago ABA Annual Meeting, may go one of two ways:

  1. The ABA House of Delegates could concur with the decision the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar made in May to drop the requirement, thus leaving it up to the individual law schools to decide if they want to require a test or not, or;
  2. The ABA House of Delegates could refer the decision back to the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar for further consideration, at which point the latter group would reconvene, taking the full House of Delegates’ recommendations into account, but not obligated to act on them. After further discussion between the two bodies, their original ruling could still go into effect, lifting the requirement.

“Most pre-law students and their future selves — law school students — are fair, but fiercely competitive, so the fact that a strong majority wants a standardized admissions test as a screening element makes sense based on everything we know about them,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “It’s important to note that even if the recommendation to lift the testing requirement is approved and implemented, it’s doubtful that law schools will decide en masse to do so. In fact, we expect many will stick with their own admissions test requirement, be it the LSAT, GRE, or GMAT, as admitting students unlikely to complete their legal education (as measured by high dropout rates and/or low bar passage rates) would risk the school losing its accreditation. In that sense, standardized tests act like a safeguard against bad admissions practices that can have long-term ramifications for both law schools and their students. Additionally, recent Kaplan research shows that pre-law students would submit an LSAT score anyway to gain a competitive advantage over those who do not.”

To schedule an interview about Kaplan’s survey results, please contact Mike Tague at michael.tague@kaplan.com or 212-974-2785.

*Based on the results of a Kaplan Test Prep survey conducted by email in July 2018 of 127 pre-law students who took a Kaplan LSAT preparation course.

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About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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