UH Law will accept the GRE, more schools will follow

  • University of Hawai’I at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law

Will the GRE trump the LSAT? Very doubtful. But that has not prevented some law schools from turning their eyes toward accepting the graduate school entrance exam.

Just last week, the University of Hawai’I at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law announced that it would accept the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT on a one-year trial basis. The decision was made after a validation study of the GRE demonstrated that GRE scores were a better predictor of first-year law school grades than undergraduate grade point averages, according to a press release.

Richardson Law Dean Melody K. MacKenzie said the pilot program is an important step in expanding legal education to a wider range of candidates who may be applying to graduate school as well.

“We are confident that there are graduate students and faculty and staff members on our campus who would succeed in law school, but may not have the time to prepare for another expensive entrance exam,” said acting dean Melody K. MacKenzie. “We recognize that potential law school applicants may also be considering other nonlegal graduate and professional programs that require or recommend the GRE General Test. We’d like to make it easier for them to see themselves at Richardson in this coming year.”

According to a Kaplan Test Prep survey released on Monday, Sept. 18, even more law schools are planning to accept the GRE in coming years.

 


25% of law schools plan to begin accepting the GRE.


 

Out of the 128 law schools that were surveyed, 25 percent indicated that they planned to begin accepting the GRE during their admissions process. Just last year, only 14 percent of schools surveyed were open to the idea.

So what changed?

For starters, some of the nation’s top law schools are now accepting GRE scores in admissions. Following in Harvard Law School’s footsteps, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center said they would begin accepting the GRE as an alternative entrance exam in the coming years.

“I’m thinking that it’s going to become the norm,” one survey respondent wrote. “It’s one of those situations where you’re going to be left behind.”

Another respondent was very candid about their motivations to adopt the GRE, stating that their law school planned 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 was also reported as a reason for considering the GRE. “The GRE is offered every day of year and prospective students don’t have to register so far in advance,” a third respondent wrote. “And there are more test centers.”

 


"There’s still much uncertainty since one ruling from the American Bar Association could put an end to the practice."

- Jeff Thomas


 

Even as momentum for the GRE picks up, the American Bar Association could put an end to the practice. The organization’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will discuss the establishment of a uniform process to determine the reliability and validity of entrance exams other than the LSAT. If passed, law schools would not longer have the ability to decide for themselves which entrance exams they accept. 

“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,” Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs at Kaplan Test Prep, said in a press release. 

Just 45 percent of respondents told Kaplan Test Prep that they had no plans to accept GRE scores in admissions. Many reported that they were not convinced that the GRE is as good as predicting first-year grades as the LSAT. Respondents also said that they would not accept the GRE until the ABA has made a decision on the revised standards that determine the validity and reliability of law school entrance exams.

Thirty percent of law schools responding to the survey said they are still not sure how they will treat the GRE in the future – the same percentage as in 2016.

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