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Are Law Schools Pivoting to the GRE Instead of the LSAT?

Close up of hands of student doing test.
By Ashley Ravid on July 20, 2020 12:48 PM

With extra time at home while the pandemic continues, you may be thinking of using your free moments to prepare to apply to law school. But should you take the LSAT or the GRE? The answer depends on a few factors.

The LSAT is a Safer Bet

The LSAT is not a requirement at every single law school, but you might have difficulty finding a program that won't accept LSAT scores as part of your application. Additionally, the LSAT is the traditional entrance exam for law school, so admissions departments are likely accustomed to evaluating students with that test.

The GRE, however, has only become an acceptable test at some law schools in the past couple of years. This means that many admissions departments might not have a complete understanding of how law students admitted with the GRE fare in classes compared to students admitted with the LSAT.

What's more, the current American Bar Association standards state that accredited law schools can't admit an enrolling class in which more than 10% of students did not take the LSAT for admission. That means your chances of admission may suffer if you are a GRE applicant because there are less available seats in the class for non-LSAT-takers. That's not to say that the GRE might not be right for you, though!

LSAT Quick Facts

The LSAT is slightly shorter than the GRE and consists of a logic games/analytical reasoning section, two logical reasoning sections, a reading comprehension section, an unscored experimental section, and an unscored writing sample.

Why Might I Take the GRE Anyway?

More highly-regarded law schools — including Harvard and Columbia — are allowing applicants to submit GRE scores instead of the LSAT, showing that they believe the test has at least some promise in indicating a student's readiness and chance of success in law school. It also offers the opportunity to attend law school to a more diverse group of students.

One of the main reasons you may want to take the GRE is if you are planning to go to graduate school but have not yet decided which type. Because the GRE is also admissible for some MBA or other graduate program applications, you may want to take the GRE if you're still undecided between applying to law school and another type of graduate school.

GRE Quick Facts

The sections on the GRE are: a two-part analytical writing section, two verbal reasoning sections, two quantitative reasoning/math sections, and an unscored experimental section. Students may fare better on the GRE than the LSAT if they are more comfortable with math.

It's Up to You

Ultimately, the choice of which test to take for law school is up to you and varies widely depending on your individual needs. Regardless, both the GRE and the LSAT are an important part of the law school admissions process — but not the only part. An admissions counselor may be able to help you navigate this process, but that is not a necessity for you to successfully matriculate to law school. Good luck and happy testing!

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