American Bar Association panel makes LSAT optional for law school admittance

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FILE – Students walk through Sproul Plaza on the University of California, Berkeley campus on March 29, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif. The University of California, Berkeley’s law school on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, joined the law programs at Harvard and Yale in pulling out of U.S. News & World Report rankings over concerns that the rating system punishes efforts to attract students from a broad range of backgrounds. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File) Eric Risberg/AP

American Bar Association panel makes LSAT optional for law school admittance

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A panel of the American Bar Association voted Friday to make the Law School Admissions Test optional, a win for critics who said the standardized test hampered diversity efforts.

The panel’s decision comes amid debate on whether the exam harms or helps with diversity in law schools. Nearly 60 law school deans in September signed a letter that claimed getting rid of the requirement would actually hurt the goal of diversifying law schools by leaning harder on individual GPAs or other factors that could be tinged with bias.

“We believe that removal of the testing requirement could actually increase the very disparities proponents seek to reduce by increasing the influence of bias in the review process,” Kristen Theis-Alvarez, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, said in the letter.

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The Southern University Law Center, a historically black university in Louisiana, will still use the LSAT to analyze candidates, according to the university’s chancellor, John Pierre, who said he agreed with the panel. However, schools should make their own decisions, Pierre added.

“There have been concerns for a number of years that it might not be a factor in determining success,” Pierre told the Wall Street Journal of the test. “Everyone has to look at their own history.”

Under current ABA standards, law schools are required to use a “valid and reliable test” when it comes to admissions, and for years the association’s only test administered was the LSAT. However, last year the ABA approved using the GRE as an alternative.

Although the panel has already voted to make the test optional, the change will not go into effect until 2025 to give law schools a chance to adjust, the panel said.

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The LSAT is used to predict how well students would do in law school, but it does not predict how successful they would be in the profession.

The Washington Examiner has reached out to the ABA for comment.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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