Harvard Law Drops LSAT Requirement

Harvard Law School will no longer require Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) test scores for admission, the university announced this week.

Starting in Fall 2017, applicants may submit the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or (LSAT) to be considered for admission to its three-year juris doctor, or J.D. program.

This pilot program “is part of a wider strategy at Harvard Law School to expand access to legal education for students in the United States and internationally.”

A Harvard Law study showed last year that the “GRE is a valid predictor of first-year academic performance in law school.”

“Harvard Law School is continually working to eliminate barriers as we search for the most talented candidates for law and leadership,” said HLS Dean Martha Minow.

“All students benefit when we can diversify our community in terms of academic background, country of origin, and financial circumstances. Also, given the promise of the revolutions in biology, computer science, and engineering, law needs students with science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds,” Minow said.

Harvard Law has expanded its reach internationally and demographically in other ways, as well, such as conducting interviews on Skype and offering deferred admissions to Harvard College juniors. The deferred admission is for juniors who commit to two years of work before law school.

The GRE is offered more times during the year, the university said, and taking one test less would be a cost savings for applicants. The LSAT is specific to law school and requires a great deal of study and preparation.

“The LSAT is designed to measure skills that are considered essential for success in law school,” according to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), a self-described nonprofit corporation that provides products and services to law schools and applicants worldwide.

The test measures “the reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight; the organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it; the ability to think critically; and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others,” according to LSAC’s website.

There are five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions on the test. Four sections are scored: reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and two logical reasoning sections. A fifth section is not.

Harvard Law is not the first university to set aside the LSATs for admission. The University of Arizona Rogers College of Law dropped the LSAT requirement last year.

“While the number of applicants to the Law School dropped significantly after the financial recession in 2008, the number of Law School hopefuls increased 5 percent in the 2016 application cycle and 5 percent again in the 2017 application cycle,” the Harvard Crimson reported.

Well-known Harvard Law School graduates include Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, numerous senators, including Ted Cruz, and, of course, Elle Woods.

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