1. Should law schools be required to use a “valid and reliable admissions test”?
In attempting to answer this question, it makes sense to consider:
- any stated rationale from the ABA for why a test should be required;
- whether the law schools use the test in a manner that is consistent
with that stated (or any other relevant) rationale;
- whether that rationale is justifiable
The Admission Test Requirement – The Stated Rationale
The ABA requires that a law school use a “valid and reliable admission test”. It does not require that the law school consider the scores and doesn’t prescribe how the scores should be used. S 503 is evidence that, from the perspective of the ABA, that the purpose of requiring a “valid and reliable admissions test” is to:
“… assist the school and the applicant in assessing the applicant’s capability of satisfactorily completing the school’s educational program”
Given this rationale, then the school should use the LSAT to: determine whether an applicant’s LSAT score indicates sufficient ability to complete law school. If an average LSAT score of 151, indicates that the applicant has sufficient capability to complete law school, then no school should require an LSAT higher than 151. Yet, it is common knowledge that:
“As goes your LSAT score, so go your chances of law admission!”
Is the law schools’ use of the LSAT consistent with the ABA Rationale?
The higher the LSAT score, the greater your chances of admission. Assuming a minimum LSAT score, why should higher be better? There is a difference between determining capability to finish law school and using an LSAT score as evidence that one applicant is more capable than another. To put it simply:
The law schools may be misusing LSAT scores!
Is the rationale for requiring LSAT scores a reason to require law schools to use LSAT scores?
It is in the interest of both law school applicants and the law schools that law students be capable of finishing law school. That may be a good argument for the law schools to voluntarily use a “valid and reliable admissions test”. It is not a good argument to require that law schools use the test.
Let’s try some “LSAT Parallel Reasoning”:
Although it may be a good idea for drivers to wear seat belts, it doesn’t necessarily follow that drivers should be required to wear seat belts.
Since it is not in the interest of law schools to admit students who will fail, there is no reason for the ABA to require that schools use a test as part of the admissions process.
Use of the LSAT is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for ensuring that
law schools admit students who will pass. Furthermore, the ABA requirement that law schools use the LSAT is based on the assumption that law schools may not act in their self interest. Law schools always act in their self interest!
This bring us to: