4. If either the ABA or the law schools continue to require a “valid and reliable admission test” what test or tests should be required? Should the LSAT be the only game in town?
The general requirement of a “valid and reliable admission test” is not a specific requirement to use the LSAT. (It is true that the ABA rules require a law school to demonstrate that another test is valid and reliable.) I predict that there will be competitors to the LSAT– and it is high time.
Competition in the testing industry
It is interesting to see that LSAT itself, has begun to compete in the testing market in India. Some law schools in India are now accepting a modified version of the LSAT as part of their admissions process.
Closer to home (and abroad), the GRE has started to compete with the GMAT to be used as a substitute for the GMAT in the MBA admissions process. In the 1990s the Graduate Management Admission Council decided that it would no longer work with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to develop and administer the GMAT. After a relationship of approximately 50 years, The Graduate Management Admission Council awarded the contract to Pearson Education. That decision cost ETS substantial revenue. My law school Trusts professor once made the point that:
“Equity follows the money.”
ETS needed to make up this lost revenue. When GMAT left ETS, ETS began
marketing the GRE (which is a very similar test) to the business sschools. Many applicants to MBA programs now consider whether to take the GMAT or GRE. Given the success that GRE has had in selling the test to the business schools, GRE is a likely and credible competitor to the LSAT. The “Revised GRE” will take effect on August 1, 2011 )resulting in a major improvement to the GRE and changing the focus of GRE preparation).
I suggest the following reasons:
- the ABA requires that law schools admit (in most cases) students with a Bachelors degree. Therefore, like a graduate degree, a J.D. requires completion of a bachelors degree. The GRE which stands for “Graduate Record Examination” is a test that is designed specifically for graduate school admissions. Why not use it for law
- The GRE is a much more modern test with greater flexibility in the
- The GRE tests many of the same skills and uses many of the same question types that LSAT either uses or has used.
A. Both the GRE and the LSAT require a writing sample. Writing is a very important skill for law students. The GRE writing test is much more sophisticated and yields a score.
B. Both the GRE and the LSAT have Reading Comprehension questions. In
addition to the basic format (which is on the LSAT), the Revised GRE will have a greater variety of reading tasks yielding a score based on a greater cross section of abilities.
C. The “Revised GRE” which takes effect on August 1, 2011 is “section adaptive”. This allows for the possibility of creating a test that is more suited to each individual applicant.
D. The scoring scales are similar. The LSAT is reported on a scale of 120 – 180. The Revised GRE is reported on a scale of 130 – 170.
E. The current LSAT (as you know) includes a significant component of Analytical Reasoning (LSAT Logic Games). Interestingly the GRE included this Analytical Reasoning question format for a long period of time. GRE could easily resurrect Analytical Reasoning as an Law School Admission Test specific module.
F. Both the GRE and LSAT are tests of reading and reasoning in context. The GRE tests a much broader cross section of skills. The obvious addition is the Quantitative Reasoning component. One of the GRE quantitative question types is called Quantitative Comparisons. (This question format was on the LSAT for the period leading up to June of 1982.) (The LSAT has taken many formats and had many question types over the years.) The second GRE quantitative comparison question format (Problem Solving) includes Graphs and Data Interpretation. This was also tested directly on the LSAT.
- GRE has recently introduced a Personal Potential Index. If this measures what it purports to measure it could give the law schools information about a broader set of skills and attributes (http://www.ets.org/ppi) It is described as:
“ … an innovative, web-based tool that allows evaluators to provide reliable applicant-specific information about six key attributes that graduate deans and faculty have identified as essential for graduate study: knowledge and creativity, resilience, communication skills, planning and organization, teamwork, and ethics and integrity”
(In 2009 Professor Sheldon Zedeck of Berkley completed a study that suggested that the LSAT is a test of only cognitive skills and did not test many qualities that were equally relevant to success as a lawyer. He developed a test that he argued is a better test than the LSAT.)
- GRE scores are more flexible. GRE test takers receive the following three scores: a GRE writing score, a GRE verbal score and a GRE quantitative score. Law schools would be able to use all of some of these scores. Those schools that thought the GRE quantitative score was not important (the only career open to those who can’t do math is law) could ignore that score.
- Many law schools have joint degree programs – J.D. and an M.A. Graduate programs often require the GRE. Why, given that both the GRE and the LSAT measure reading and reasoning, should applicants be required to take both tests. It is interesting that the Northwestern school of law, will allow applicants to the joint J.D./M.B.A. program to submit only a GMAT test score. This has apparently been approved by the ABA. At a minimum applicants to joint programs (which require the GRE) should be able to submit only the GRE.
Amazingly, there is an old Facebook group (doesn’t seem to be active anymore), which is called:
(One could use the existence of this group as an argument either way on whether the GRE would be a good substitute for the LSAT.)
“Is there anything about the LSAT that makes it sacrosanct?”
John Richardson – Admitted to the Bars of Ontario, New York and Massachusetts