Starting this fall Harvard Law School will allow applicants to submit their scores from either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This is a significant departure from the last 70 years, where LSATs have been considered a rite of passage.
Even though the LSAT provides a “neutral” way to measure students from diverse schools and programs, it’s continued use must be questioned.
Many of the critiques that apply to the SAT apply to the LSAT. The SAT has been “called out of touch, instructionally irrelevant, and a contributor to the diversity gaps on college campuses because the test benefits wealthier students who can afford heaps of preparation.”
The same applies to the LSAT. The LSAT has nothing to do with what is taught in law school, features questions that favour students of certain socio-economic backgrounds, and caters to Americans over Canadians. LSAT questions are centred on American history, politics, and legal cases. Meaning that often times students with a specific background have an easier time comprehending the questions.
This is problematic. If a test is supposed to be a “neutral” way to measure applicants from diverse backgrounds, then it should not matter what you studied in school, how rich you are, or where you live.
Moreover, the test is irrelevant to legal practice. There has never been a time when I thought or heard someone say: “the only thing I need to solve this problem is to use my LSAT taking skills”.
So what’s the solution?
Eradicating the LSAT without a substitute isn’t the right way to go. Some programs are notoriously more difficult than others or are graded on a different scale. For example, getting a 100% in a political science class is rare. But getting a 100% in a science course is possible and common. So simply relying on grades as a metric is insufficient.
Perhaps the solution is in-person interviews?
(Views expressed in this blog are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization.)