Taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) has long been a rite of passage among aspiring law school students in the U.S. However, it’s not always a requirement. Some law schools allow applicants to submit Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores in lieu of LSAT scores.
Do you plan on applying to law school? You may be wondering if you can get into law school without the LSAT or GRE in 2023 if so.
Keep reading to learn more. The following overview explains how LSAT and GRE requirements for law school applicants may be changing. It also addresses why taking the LSAT may be smart even if it stops technically being mandatory.
Can You Get Into Law School Without the LSAT or GRE in 2023?
As of this writing, if a law school is accredited by the bar association in the U.S., anyone applying to said law school must submit scores from an admissions test the bar association considers to be “valid and reasonable.” That may change in the near future.
The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is the arm of the American Bar Association (ABA) responsible for accrediting law schools. Last year, the agency recommended eliminating the requirement that prospective law school students submit standardised test scores with their applications.
In February 2023, the ABA’s House of Delegates, which handles policymaking for the ABA, voted to reject the council’s proposal. The council has decided to continue pushing the proposal despite this rejection.
If they were to eliminate this requirement, individual law schools would have the power to decide whether to require applicants to submit LSAT or GRE scores. Law schools would thus have greater flexibility when deciding how to evaluate applicants.
Current LSAT and GRE Requirements for Law School Applicants in 2023
As of now, the ABA has not officially eliminated the LSAT or GRE requirements. Anyone applying to an accredited U.S. law school in 2023 should thus take at least one of the exams. Research the application requirements of the schools to which you plan on applying for more information.
It’s also important to remember that the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar only has the potential authority to give accredited law schools the freedom to make their own decisions regarding whether applicants must submit LSAT or GRE scores.
Even if the ABA technically eliminates this requirement, individual law schools may still enforce it. Consider this when deciding whether to take these exams.
Accepting Applications to Law School Without the LSAT or GRE in 2023: Arguments for Eliminating the Requirement
There’s no consensus among ABA members regarding whether eliminating the LSAT and GRE requirement is a good idea. Those who believe dropping the requirement is the right move often cite a lack of diversity among law school students as a primary reason for making the change.
Statistically, law schools accept Black applicants at lower rates than white applicants. Aaron N. Taylor, executive director of the Center for Legal Education Excellence at AccessLex, has conducted research indicating that prioritising LSAT scores in admissions decisions contributes to this disparity.
Allowing law schools to consider applicants who haven’t taken the LSAT could give admissions teams more freedom to account for other factors when deciding whether an applicant is a good fit.
Additionally, accredited business and medical schools in the U.S. don’t have to require applicants to submit standardised test scores. Some feel such a requirement for law schools is out-of-date.
Arguments for Requiring the LSAT or GRE for Law School
Not all ABA members believe it’s a smart decision to let law schools accept applicants who haven’t submitted LSAT or GRE scores. Paulette Brown, an ABA delegate who previously served as the ABA’s first Black president, has stated she’s not sure that eliminating the standardised test score requirement will promote greater diversity.
Brown has explained that allowing law schools to exercise greater creativity when deciding whether to accept certain applicants could backfire. Specifically, Brown has said “When you talk about flexibility, that means subjectivity. And when you introduce subjectivity into any process, it provides too much opportunity for mischief.”
Others have echoed similar sentiments. For instance, Danielle R. Holley, dean of Howard University’s law school, has pointed out that law schools that don’t require applicants to submit LSAT scores may place greater weight on factors such as letters of recommendation. This could result in bias against less privileged applicants.
Should You Apply to Law School Without the LSAT or GRE in 2023?
It may be possible in the future to apply to an accredited law school without taking the LSAT or the GRE. Currently, depending on which law schools you plan on applying to, you may at least be able to apply with GRE scores in place of LSAT scores.
That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wise to skip taking the LSAT. By taking the exam, you’ll likely give yourself more freedom to apply to a wider range of potential schools.
If you apply to schools that don’t require LSAT scores, a weak score likely won’t hurt your odds of being accepted. You can simply decide not to include your score with your application if a law school doesn’t require it.
If you do decide to take the LSAT, prepare thoroughly by studying and taking practice exams. You may also consider taking an LSAT prep course. Doing so may significantly improve your odds of attending your law school of choice.
Someday, prospective law school students may have greater freedom to decide whether they wish to take the LSAT. Right now, taking the test is likely in your best interests.