Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Law Schools’ Apprehension to Allow Applicants to Use GRE® for Admissions Drops

NEW YORK--()--Kaplan Test Prep’s 2017 law school admissions officers survey shows more law schools warming up to the idea of allowing applicants to submit GRE scores instead of LSAT® scores*. According to the responses of 128 law schools across the United States, 25 percent say it’s an admissions policy they plan to implement, up from just 14 percent in Kaplan’s 2016 survey; 45 percent say they have no plans to do so, a drop from 56 percent who ruled it out in last year’s survey; and 30 percent are not sure, the same as in 2016.

“The ABA hasn't fully weighed in on it yet and we don't want to have a new enrollment method only to not have it available down the road.”

The survey release comes on the heels of announced plans by Harvard Law School and Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law to join University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in giving prospective students more options for how to get in. Opening up the application pool to GRE takers also gives law schools more prospective students to choose from during what continues to be a time of historically low application volume. But this change also come at a time when the American Bar Association, which governs the nation’s 200+ law schools, is deliberating on what to do about the issue: allow law schools to continue accepting the GRE or at least temporarily put a halt to it.

Law schools who plan to begin accepting the GRE offered a range of reasons, often expressing concerns that if they don’t they will be at a student recruitment disadvantage:

  • “I'm thinking that it's going to become the norm. It's one of those situations where you're going to be left behind.”
  • “We plan to do it in part because Harvard is doing it. When they do things, people tend to fall in line, thinking it's right.”
  • “Accessibility. The GRE is offered every day of year and prospective students don't have to register so far in advance. And there are more test centers.”
  • “We have a range of applicants, many of whom are interested in non-traditional careers that would be better served by having them take the GRE.”

Among the shrinking plurality of law schools who say they plan to remain LSAT-only, admissions officers largely said they were not sold on the idea that the GRE is as predictive as the LSAT is in determining first year success in law school. They also said that until the ABA rules on the issue, that their policy will remain unchanged:

  • “We'd have to do some significant research that the GRE is an effective test for measuring law school performance. Given our size, we probably wouldn't have the number of students who have taken the GRE to do that sort of study here.”
  • “Many people here don't hold the same opinion about the validity of the GRE. We would also like to know the ABA's disposition. Validity studies cost money and with law schools strapped for cash, that's not easy.”
  • “The ABA hasn't fully weighed in on it yet and we don't want to have a new enrollment method only to not have it available down the road.”
  • “We're waiting to see the outcomes of Harvard and Arizona—not only how the students have done while in school, but also bar passage rate.”

“Our survey finds the clearest sign yet that there is a shift toward greater GRE acceptance among law schools, but there’s still much uncertainty since one ruling from the American Bar Association could put an end to the practice,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “However and importantly, there are numerous caveats for applicants who plan to seek the GRE route to get into law school. Firstly, most applicants will still have to take the LSAT as only three law schools accept the GRE this year. And even if you rock the GRE, but bomb the LSAT, law schools will see your LSAT score. You can’t only send the score you want to the schools you want. You will not be able to withhold your LSAT score. That means that while a high GRE score could mitigate against a weaker LSAT score, it will not be overlooked entirely. Plan on taking the LSAT.”

For a one-minute video on Kaplan’s survey results, visit here.

To schedule an interview about Kaplan’s survey results, please contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212.453.7538.

*Based on the results of a Kaplan Test Prep survey conducted by phone in April-May 2017 of 128 law schools, including 18 of the top 30, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are endorsed by nor affiliated with Kaplan or this survey.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC)

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Release Summary

Kaplan’s 2017 law school admissions officers survey finds law schools increasingly receptive to the idea of allowing applicants to submit GRE scores.

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