At a time when the law is more important than ever, the Georgetown University Law Center is now accepting the GRE graduate school entry exam — in addition to the law school aptitude test as a part of its application process, joining the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, Harvard Law School and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in expanding the ways law school applicants are evaluated. As was confirmed by our own correlation study, the GRE is an equal, if not better, predictor of law school performance compared to the LSAT and will hopefully allow us to cultivate a more diverse class.

In 2014, an all-time high of 2,149,455 people applied to graduate programs in the United States, according to the Council of Graduate Schools. Meanwhile, the number of applicants to law schools steadily declined to an all-time low: In 2017, 355,227 law school applications were submitted, down from 604,300 in 2010. GULC believes that many of those graduate school applicants would make excellent lawyers, and accepting the GRE in our admission process will facilitate that process.

The GRE is more easily administered and readily available than the LSAT. Accepting the GRE opens the doors to people who may be interested in pursuing a law degree but do not want to make the substantial time and financial investments in a test that is only useful for law admissions.

Even more important, expanding the number of reliable entrance exams might also dislodge excessive reliance on test scores as a reason for admission. GULC has always focused on more than an applicant’s test scores: We always look for new ways to deepen our understanding of applicants. For example, over the last few years, we have substantially grown our interview program and have increasingly made it an important part of the admissions process.

Having multiple tests to consider enhances our ability to make meaningful admission choices. Adding the GRE may also help reduce the LSAT’s detrimental impact on racial and ethnic diversity. By expanding testing opportunities and continuing to personalize the admission process, we hope to create even more diversity in our classes.

The Law School Admission Council, the body that administers the LSAT, has also taken positive steps over the last 15 years to reduce reliance on the LSAT as an admissions tool. In 1996, the LSAC published a set of “Cautionary Policies Concerning LSAT Scores and Related Services.”

The Cautionary Policies are ostensibly addressed to law school admissions offices, and their expressed objective is “to promote wise and equitable treatment of all applicants through [the] proper use” of the LSAT. Yet the introduction to the Cautionary Policies warns that, while the LSAT is nominally objective, it does “not measure, nor [is it] intended to measure, all the elements important to success at individual institutions.”

However, there is reason to believe that the GRE may test a broader range of skills important to success as a lawyer. In July 2009, the GRE began testing the Personal Potential Index, a noncognitive component of the GRE. The index, which some see as a way to “quantify nonacademic success,” rates an applicant’s knowledge, creativity, communication skills, capacity for teamwork, resilience, planning and organizational skills, as well as ethics and integrity. In this way, the GRE is able to test important elements of success that the LSAT may fail to identify.

Given these benefits, Georgetown is pleased to offer students the choice to provide an LSAT or GRE score — or both — as a part of their application. As GULC Dean of Admissions Andrew Cornblatt noted when announcing this change, “we believe that it is well past time that the legal profession open wide the doors to an even more diverse population that better reflects American society as a whole. We think that allowing the use of the GRE will help us to accomplish that goal.”

GULC is proud to be a leader among law schools, as we continue to reflect and adapt our educational approach to a dynamic legal profession.

Jane Aiken is the vice dean and associate dean for academic affairs at Georgetown University Law Center.

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One Comment

  1. The LSAT is riddled with problems, but this is a naked attempt to artificially lower admissions rates in the face of GULCs falling ranking and sub-par job placement rates. GULC should publish the rates of people who apply with the GRE whom they actually admit, otherwise these are empty words. And it should pursue initiatives that actually help its students secure employment.

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