“The flight from merit continues across America”

That’s what the WSJ called the ABA’s pending move to eliminate the LSAT.
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Buried in the T-Day news was this tidbit…

The American Bar Association (ABA) — which accredits law schools — is planning to end the requirement that prospective law students take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

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Background

For decades, law schools considered an applicant’s LSAT score along with the standard law school application information,  GPA, letters of recommendation and an applicant’s personal statement.

The LSAT is administered in a controlled testing environment (to minimize the likelihood of cheating) and scores test takers quantitatively (i.e. a numerical score).

Some (many? most?) top law schools, weight the LSAT score just as heavily (or even more heavily than) than an applicant’s GPA (thanks to grade inflation and incomparability across UG schools) … and recommendation letters (which are selectively prone to one-sided puffery).

There are four main LSAT sections :

  • Logical Reasoning (also known as Arguments)
  • Analytical Reasoning (also known as Logic Games)
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing Sample (also known as “The Essay”)

Pretty basic competencies for law students and most lawyering, right?

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Well, the LSAT has been in the crosshairs for the past few years.

Why?

The legal profession has long been criticized for a lack of women and people of color in its top ranks.

So, the debate centers on whether the tests help or hurt diversity in admissions.

On one hand, LSAT opponents argue that the test disadvantages certain minority groups, is a tenuous predictor of law school success and ignores “soft“ personal skills t(that many lawyers seem to lack).

”Law incorporates a range of skills, from logical thinking to business development and effective presentation that can’t all be predicted on a test.” WSJ

“Detractors also object to the LSAT because affluent students often pay thousands of dollars to prepare for the test that is supposed to predict their first-year law school performance.” WSJ

Proponents argue that eliminating the test would increasing the influence of subjectivity (vs. objectivity) in the review process by placing greater emphasis on often incomparable GPAs and slanted recommendations.

To quell the debate, the ABA is intending to make the LSAT “optional” rather than “recommended” or “required”.

In a quick survey of law schools done by Kaplan (a test prep company), about half said that they would opt to keep requiring the test … about half said the were undecided and only a couple said that they would ditch the LSAT.

In other words, the ABA is simply tossing the hot potato to the individual schools, in effect, letting the market decide..

It’ll be interesting to watch how this one sorts out…

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