The LSAT exam, a test currently used to determine entry into law school, is being questioned by the American Bar Association as to whether it should remain a necessary graduate school requirement.
ABC News Reports:
For University of Texas senior Trevence Mitchell, preparing for the LSATs while working to pay his college tuition and balancing a full course load was a challenge.
I did average,” said Mitchell about his performance on the test. “I’ve always wanted to go to a top-tier school, so my score is well below what top-tier schools normally accept. I would have felt better applying if I would have been more confident in my score, but I did what I could do.”
Now, a Standards Review Committee from the American Bar Association may recommend an end to the LSAT requirement for law schools, and make it optional.
Currently, accredited law schools require a “valid and reliable” admissions test to “assist the school and the applicants in assessing the applicants’ capability.”
Traditionally, this test has been the Law School Accreditation School, or LSAT.
According to Donald Polden, committee chair and dean of Santa Clara Law, in Santa Clara, Calif., the LSAT has shown to be a reliable predictor of first-year performance for law school applicants, but “not how they will finish or what type of lawyer they will be,” Polden emphasized.
In light of changing college admission policies that make SATs or ACTs optional, Polden said the ABA is likewise evaluating the LSAT.
Waiver programs at several law schools at state universities already exempt these schools from the LSAT requirement for state residents who have graduated from their own universities.
“If the ABA can be giving waivers here and there, then [the LSAT] really isn’t a full requirement and why not just say it’s not a requirement?” said Yellen.
Dean Larry Sager, of the University of Texas Law School, where minority students make up 30 percent of the student body, said that getting rid of the LSAT requirement would allow schools more flexibility.
“The idea that the ABA should require accredited law schools to adopt a particular position about the LSAT strikes me as a mistake,” said Sager, who believes that law schools should instead be measured by the rigor of their degree standards.
Sager speculated that if the LSAT was optional, schools could avoid the test in certain situations where it might misrepresent applicants’ abilities. Case in point: foreign law graduates. “We’re living in a global era and law schools are going to be educating a global population,” Sager said. “The LSAT might or might not be a good measuring device for foreign law graduates who are coming to get the basic law degree in the United States.”
In interviews with ABC News, deans from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Santa Clara Law and University of Texas Law speculated that their own schools would continue to use the LSAT, even if the ABA drops the requirement.
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- Kara Leslie