To get admitted to law school, you must compile your undergraduate transcripts, get letters of recommendation, write a personal statement, and of course, prep for and take the LSAT (or, as of 2021, the GRE). This tried-and-true process that the American Bar Association (ABA) has required of law schools for decades remains intact after a 2023 ABA vote that rejected law schools becoming test-optional.
2023 NEWS: ABA VOTES TO UPHOLD LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS TEST REQUIREMENT, REJECTING THEY BECOME TEST-OPTIONAL
The ABA rejecting the proposed rule change that would have allowed for law schools to adopt test-optional admissions policies means that the admissions process remains unchanged. Law schools must continue to require their applicants to take a standardized test and submit a strong score as part of their overall application.
According to Kaplan’s 2022 law school admissions officers survey, of the 82 law schools we spoke with, half said they plan to keep the standardized testing requirement in place for their own school, even if the ABA had eliminated the requirement. Only a handful said they would drop the requirement. Ultimately, Kaplan’s admissions experts believe that most law schools would still have kept a testing requirement in place. The reality is that regardless of what the ABA may ultimately decide down the line, major changes to admissions policies do not happen overnight.
Why does the ABA determine law school admission requirements?
The ABA determines the rules that law schools must follow to ensure quality legal education is provided. The ABA also determines curriculum and credit hour requirements, and ultimately what law schools need to do to ensure their students can handle the challenges of law school. The ABA’s rules ensure law schools can’t accept and take money from students who won’t be successful in law school or pass the Bar Exam.
Until recently, law schools were required by the ABA to use an admissions test as part of the application process, and specifically, it had to be the LSAT. If a school wanted to use a test other than the LSAT, they had to conduct their own validity study to prove that another test was just as good as the LSAT. As of 2021, the ABA allows law schools to accept other admissions tests, including the GRE. And as of 2023, 100+ law schools accept the GRE.
Should I Still Take the LSAT to get admitted to law school?
If you’re applying to law school, all law schools you apply to will continue to require you to submit an admissions test score. And while many law schools have begun accepting other standardized tests like the GRE, you should probably still take the LSAT.
The LSAT was specifically created for law schools to evaluate the critical thinking skills law students need, but other standardized tests may accomplish that as well. Though until we see mass adoption of the GRE (or some other test) as an alternative to the LSAT, you’ll probably have to take the LSAT to apply to at least one, and likely many, of your target schools. Since all law schools will see that score, prep sufficiently for LSAT, leaving no doubt to law school admission committees that you are a must-have.
Remember, prior to applying, law schools don’t require you to take any particular courses (like medical schools do), or have any specific work experience (like business schools do) or even have a particular major (like graduate schools do). An admissions test holds all applicants to one standard regardless of their background, giving law schools confidence that you’ll be able to handle the rigors associated with going for your JD.
Why Law schools Still Put a lot of Weight on your Test Score
Because students apply from such varied backgrounds, from all over the country and all over the world, an admissions test score is the “common measuring stick” by which law schools can objectively compare everybody. This is actually great news for you, as it always has been. This allows you to be noticed by schools that might not be familiar with your college, your major, or just “you” in general.
Take Harvard Law School’s class of 2020 as an example. They received over 5,700 applications and made 900 offers. Selecting the < 20% who get offers is not easy. Having a test score at or above the median test scores for past students at the school will help get you noticed and get you in. Law schools will want that piece of information on you. For the record, the LSAT is also one of the most important factors in determining highly-coveted scholarships.
[ RELATED READING: How important are LSAT scores and GPAs for Law School admission? ]