At Harvard Law School, one of the most prestigious law schools in the world, the LSAT will no longer be required for admission. Although the Law School Admissions Test is a prerequisite for acceptance to a majority of law schools in the United States, critics argue that it may place an undue burden on prospective students. Therefore, some schools, including Harvard, are replacing the LSAT with the standard Graduate Record Examination — which is a requirement for most graduate school programs.
Historically, prospective law school students were required to take the GRE and the LSAT. However, the burden of studying and paying for two similar exams was simply too much for students with limited resources and financial means.
As reported by Harvard Law Today, the decision was based, in part, on a 2016 Harvard Law School study — which concluded the GRE and LSAT are equally likely to predict “first-year academic performance in law school.”
By eliminating Harvard Law School’s LSAT requirement, the university hopes to encourage more students to apply for the three-year Juris Doctor program.
Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow said eliminating the LSAT requirement will help “eliminate barriers” that may deter “the most talented candidates for law and leadership” from applying.
As explained by the Law School Admission Council, the LSAT consists of six sections.
Five of the sections contain multiple-choice questions, which are designed to test the prospective student’s reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning skills. Prospective students are allowed 35 minutes per section and the multiple choice questions are graded.
The sixth section requires the prospective student to provide a writing sample. Applicants are allowed 35 minutes to complete the writing sample. However, it is not graded. Instead, the sample is sent to the student’s chosen law school(s) for consideration.
Although waivers are available for those with an “extreme need,” the 2016-2017 fee for taking the LSAT is $180.
As explained by the Educational Testing Service, the GRE General Test was designed for “Prospective graduate and business school applicants from all around the world who are interested in pursuing a master’s, MBA, specialized master’s in business or doctoral degree.”
The GRE consists of three sections, which test a prospective student’s verbal reasoning, quantitive reasoning, and analytical writing skills. The entire GRE test is graded and the fee to take the exam is currently $205.
Although the LSAT and GRE are different, Harvard Law School is confident that “the statistical study showed that the GRE is an equally valid predictor of first-year grades,” and therefore the LSAT is not a necessity.
In addition to lifting Harvard Law School’s LSAT requirement, the university has made other changes to increase the number of applicants to the J.D. program.
The changes include allowing prospective students to attend their interviews via Skype, eliminating the non-refundable “seat deposit,” and launching a deferred-admissions program — which will allow students to gain work experience prior to attending law school.
— Charles Adkins (@MrLXC) March 9, 2017
According to reports, law school applications fell dramatically amid the financial recession — which began in 2008. Although the number of applicants increased by 5 percent in 2016 and 2017 application cycles, law schools are still actively working toward increasing admissions to the pre-recession rates.
— KaplanLSATPrep (@KaplanLSATPrep) March 9, 2017
However, Jessica L. Soban, Harvard Law School’s Associate Dean of Admissions, said the decision to eliminate the LSAT requirement “is about much more than application volume in any one year. This is about ensuring that top candidates from many disciplines and many geographic locations continue to consider Harvard Law school.”
As reported by The Crimson, Harvard Law School’s LSAT requirement will be lifted before the fall, 2017, semester.
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