ABA recommends ending the LSAT requirement

The association's Strategic Review Committee recently published a memo rationalizing its recommendation.

The memo was released as universities are pivoting away from standardized testing requirements and traditional grading conventions.

The American Bar Association (ABA) may eliminate its LSAT requirement for law school applicants. 

In an Apr. 25 memo, the ABA’s Strategic Review Committee argues that “eliminating the requirement of a ‘valid and reliable’ admission test also eliminates some of the challenges inherent in determining which tests in fact valid [sic] and reliable for law school admissions.” 

Campus Reform spoke with Cornell Law professor and Legal Insurrection founder William Jacobson, who explained that the Strategic Review Committee’s recommendation represents an admissions trend exacerbated by COVID-19.

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“The pandemic easing has enabled colleges and universities to implement an identity agenda enabled by the relaxing of rules due to the pandemic, which now are becoming permanent,” Jacobson said. 

In November 2021, the ABA allowed laws schools “to accept the GRE in addition to the LSAT requirement for law school admissions,” according to the memo. 

“The ABA long has justified the LSAT and other standardized tests for admission to law school as a valuable tool in predicting success,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson was skeptical of the memo’s observation that the ABA is the “only accreditor among law, medical, dental, pharmacy, business, and architecture school accreditors that required an admission test in its Standards.” 

”Pointing out that unrelated professional schools don’t use standardized tests has nothing to do with law schools,” he added. 

The memo was released as universities are pivoting away from standardized testing requirements and traditional grading conventions. 

Currently, The University of California system is considering alternatives to the conventional letter grade system in the interest of solving “bias and inequities.” 

In March 2022, the California State University system ditched its SAT and ACT admissions test requirements, also citing “equity and fairness” as part of its deliberations.

Stanford University — a private California institution that is among the highest-ranked colleges in the world — extended its test-optional admissions process for the third year in a row.

We recognize the ongoing challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including limited access to admission testing worldwide, and as a result, we are extending this year’s test optional policy,” the school’s admissions site explains.

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When asked whether law schools will ditch their admissions test requirements in line with the ABA’s policy shift, Jacobson noted that schools face competing pressures.

“A lot will depend on how US News handles testing with regard to law school ranking,” Jacobson said in reference to the outlet’s highly cited rankings of American universities. 

“It’s the tail wagging the dog, but it’s reality, particularly for Top 100 and particularly Top 20 schools,” he added. “But now that the option is there, you will see a lot of pressure on schools to move away from standardized testing for racial equity.”

Campus Reform reached out to the ABA for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.