The American Bar Association could eliminate standardized admissions tests
A committee of the American Bar Association recommended late last month that law schools eliminate the requirement for a “valid and reliable admissions test” as part of their admissions process.
His memo added, however, “Law schools, of course, remain free to demand a test if they wish.”
The recommendation was made April 25 by the Strategic Review Committee, four years after another group, the ABA Legal Education and Bar Admissions Section Council, approved similar changes. to its standards of rules and admission. The council is made up of 21 people, including lawyers, professors, administrators and others.
“Issues regarding admissions policies have preoccupied the board for several years,” Bill Adams, ABA’s executive director of accreditation and legal education, said in a statement.
Bar association leaders said they are less concerned about how students perform on an entrance exam and more about how students are doing in law school — whether they stay enrolled and how many time they pass the bar exam after graduation.
But the decision to adopt the standard is not final.
The committee’s recommendation will be discussed at a board meeting later this month, Adams said. If approved, the board would also decide whether or not to send the proposal for public comment.
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The House of Delegates, which sets policy for the association, will have an opportunity to consider the recommendation, Adams said.
“Any final decision rests with the board,” he said. If the board ultimately approves the recommendation, the earliest changes that could affect students would be those enrolling in fall 2023.
The committee recommended that the wording of the admissions standards be changed to state that law schools “may” consider admissions test results. Law schools could also consider “undergraduate program and grade point average, extracurricular activities, work experience, performance in other graduate or professional programs, relevant skills demonstrated and obstacles overcome”.
The committee’s recommendation follows a trend at some elite colleges and universities, which have waived standardized test requirements amid criticism that wealthier students have advantages such as the ability to afford prep coaching. Last May, system leaders at the University of California voted to permanently eliminate test score requirements, and Harvard will remain optional on the test until at least fall 2026, according to the National Center for Fairness. and Open Testing.
The traditional law school admissions test is administered by the Law School Admission Council, a nonprofit entity that partially oversees the law school application process. The organization said in a statement on Friday that it hoped “the ABA will consider these matters very carefully.”
He added, “We believe the LSAT will continue to be a vital tool for schools and candidates for years to come.”
The board called the test “the most accurate predictor of success in law school and a powerful tool for diversity when used correctly as a factor in a holistic admissions process.”
Some law school deans have in recent years questioned the use of the traditional law school admissions test, viewing the standardized exam as a barrier to reaching new groups of potential applicants who might become law students. In 2016, the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona began accepting applicants who had only taken the more general GRE graduate admissions exam instead of the LSAT.
The Law School Admission Council has warned the university that it may kick the Arizona school out of its network. But other law school deans defended the university’s decision.
Two years later, the ABA board proposed changing the standards to make test scores an optional part of the admissions process.
There was “considerable and organized opposition to the amendments” at a meeting of the House of Delegates, according to the April memo, and the proposed changes to the standards were withdrawn.
Subsequently, the board solicited comments “from interested parties regarding the requirement for an admissions test in the standards,” and held a roundtable to discuss the standards, according to the memo.
The strategic review committee then reviewed the standards, the memo says.
The proposed changes will be discussed May 20 at the public board meeting in Chicago.