Law Schools Say: Please Come, No LSAT Required

Sara Randazzo:

This year, you can get into a top law school without taking the LSAT.

Some of the nation’s law schools—including at Harvard University and Georgetown University—are letting applicants take the Graduate Record Examination instead of the Law School Admission Test. The schools say they are changing in part to attract students from a wider variety of backgrounds, particularly with science, engineering and math experience.

Both tests, of course, are tough, but the LSAT holds a particular place as a grueling rite of passage. The GRE relies more on knowledge that can be memorized, as college-entrance tests do, than the skills-based LSAT that test-prep instructors say is like learning how to play a sport or instrument.

The legal industry is notoriously slow to change. Some lawyers predict the broadening acceptance of the GRE, which is used for admission to a range of programs—from masters’ in engineering and Ph.D.s in philosophy to M.B.A.s—will lead to law students who aren’t committed. Others say schools are accepting the test to game closely followed law-school rankings that take average LSAT scores into consideration, or to keep tuition income flowing.