Harvard Law Joins UA Law in Accepting GRE Test Scores

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By Phil Raymond, Staff Writer

Remember the fun and excitement that accompanied taking the LSATs to get into law school? Now, students interested in applying to Harvard Law School can avoid the experience altogether, as the legal giant recently announced that it will now accept Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, as well as traditional LSAT scores. Despite not being the first law school to accept the GRE, Harvard Law School’s “clout” in terms of prestigious legal universities could start a national trend.[1] The American Bar Association is even discussing the possibility of revising its code to allow the GRE and other tests to become an additional admissions tool.[2]

“Martha Minow, Harvard Law’s dean, said her school wants to reach more prospective students from abroad,” writes Shahien Nasiripour for Bloomberg. “She also wants more students with science, technology, and engineering backgrounds, she added, because of society’s larger needs for those kinds of expertise.”[3] “All students benefit when we can diversify our community in terms of academic background, country of origin, and financial circumstances,” Minow said.[4] Additionally, Minow noted that it can be unaffordable for students to prepare for both tests.[5]

The GRE general test is available at more than 1,000 test centers in over 160 countries worldwide and is offered on a continuous basis throughout the year.[6] Generally, the GRE is accepted by thousands of graduate and business schools.[7] Prospective graduate and business school applicants interested in pursuing a master’s, MBA, or a specialized master’s in business or doctorate degree take the GRE.[8] Much like the LSAT, the GRE primarily tests analytical and reasoning skills, which, per the GRE official website, “closely reflect[s] the kind of thinking you’ll do in graduate or business school.”[9] So far, Harvard Law School’s new initiative appears plausibly within reason.

This change in law school application requirements, the school claims, results from a steady decline of LSAT takers over the past five years.[10] Harvard Law School itself saw a 14 percent decrease in applications.[11] The most noted reason for a decrease in law school applications is the shear cost alone. “A prospective law student applicant can expect to pay at least $845 for testing and applications, which doesn’t include other possible administrative fees, extra school fees, costs for traveling to interviews, or test prep materials/courses.”[12] Additionally, the LSAT is only offered a few times a year, while the GRE is offered every day — making it more accessible to a wider test-taking audience.

The change follows logically. Both the LSAT and GRE test for important skills needed for specialized higher learning. The LSAT itself, despite historically being the sole predictor of success in law school, does not specifically test on legal issues. Similarly, the GRE does not test solely on a specific graduate topic, such as business, psychology, or the lengthy list of other graduate school specializations. Rather, both tests gauge an applicant’s core analytical skills and reading and writing abilities, which are both crucial to success in graduate school and future employment. The only way that law schools can combat decreasing applications numbers is to open its doors, and accepting the GRE may be a step in the right direction.



[1] http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/harvard-law-school-dropping-lsat-could-lead-sweeping-changes-n731876. The University of Arizona started accepting the GRE last year.

[2] Id.

[3] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-10/here-s-why-it-just-got-easier-to-apply-to-harvard-law

[4] Id.

[5] http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/harvard_accepts_gre_entrance_exam

[6] https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/about

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-10/here-s-why-it-just-got-easier-to-apply-to-harvard-law

[11] Id.

[12] http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/harvard-law-school-dropping-lsat-could-lead-sweeping-changes-n731876

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