Law \ Legal

Company Profiting Off LSAT Deeply Concerned About Prospect Of Not Forcing Everyone To Take The LSAT

No. 2 PencilThe American Bar Association is mulling a rule to drop the requirement that law schools must consider the LSAT in the admissions process. This change, if passed, wouldn’t eliminate the LSAT and most schools will likely continue to require applicants to submit standardized test scores — but in dropping the requirement, schools will be free to craft their own admissions policy. And, hopefully, dropping the requirement might end the stranglehold the LSAT has on the US News rankings — if it’s not a required component then it becomes apples to oranges to give it so much weight.

The public comment period for this decision is closing at the end of the month. Most of the comments weigh in favor of the proposed rule, but TestMasters has chimed in with a comment against the change which has absolutely nothing to do with their financial interest in keeping the existing regime. Nope, nothing at all.

Over the past several decades, the LSAT has been the most important factor in the law school admissions process — and for good reason. Studies have consistently shown that an applicant’s LSAT score is by far the single best predictor of first-year law school grades, outperforming the next-best predictor (undergraduate GPA) by more than 40 percent. No other admissions tool is specifically designed to ensure that law schools accept only those applicants who appear capable of satisfactorily completing a program of legal education and ultimately passing the bar.

Sure… and? The LSAT is a great exam and does a good job of screening applicants but no one is suggesting that it cease to exist. The rule proposes that schools have the option to not require the test. TestMasters should be making this case to law schools not asking the ABA to shove the LSAT down every school’s throat.

“A large portion of the GRE is devoted to math, and everyone knows that algebra and geometry aren’t relevant to the study of law,” says Rachel Sheffield, who serves as the Director of Academic Support at TestMasters and has been teaching both the LSAT and the GRE for nearly twenty years. “The ABA’s decision to permit law schools to rely on the GRE is baffling.”

Because as we all know the real key to being a lawyer is correctly ranking students by height if Polly is taller than Jimmy but shorter than Steven while Tommy is half the size of Jimmy but also likes his eggs scrambled and Polly is Bobby’s cousin or whatever.

The old joke that people go to law school because they failed math aside, math is genuinely a great predictor of analytic thinking. I remember when I started coaching debate one of the best pieces of advice I got was to recruit from advanced math classes because it’s a lot easier to teach policy to people who are good at abstract analytical reasoning than teach analytical reasoning to people who just like bickering about politics.

Also, why are they still fighting old battles in this comment? The GRE ship already sailed. Personally, I think the LSAT is a better admissions tool than the GRE… but not so significantly to warrant this constant bellyaching.

… Though former Northwestern dean Daniel Rodriguez noted that TestMasters makes 32 percent more profit from its LSAT prep than its GRE prep. But still, I’m sure that’s not influencing this laser-focused analysis.

The ABA is now advancing a proposal that would eliminate the standardized testing requirement altogether and effectively gut Standard 503. “Adopting the proposed changes to this standard would take us even further down the wrong path,” Sheffield says. “Law schools would then have the option to make admissions decisions based primarily on an applicant’s undergraduate GPA, which is a far less reliable metric than the LSAT and doesn’t allow for a true apples-to-apples comparison between candidates. A 3.7 in communications from one school doesn’t mean the same thing as a 3.7 in physics from another.”

That would be hard! And yet law school professionals will figure it out. Likely by continuing to use the LSAT actually.

Determining who gets into law school and who doesn’t is a serious matter. In TestMasters’ view, abandoning the LSAT — the best tool available for making objective and fully-informed admissions decisions — would keep many qualified candidates out of the legal profession…

How? Why would not having the LSAT — and, again, no one is getting rid of the test, only the requirement — keep people out of school? Is the theory that there are bunch of legal Good Will Huntings out there that graduated with a C- average getting 178s when someone directs them to their true calling? If you’re the kind of applicant who can get a 178, you’ll find a way in regardless of the admissions process.

… and would lead many other candidates to incur life-changing debt in pursuit of a career for which they are not yet prepared.

This is the most pressing concern, and yet one that the LSAT requirement has utterly failed to solve in the status quo. Ave Maria is over here charging over $40K/year to students with 148s and 2.84 GPAs. If the point of the LSAT is to help students realize when it’s not worth it, it’s not been working.

A law school that chooses to remain ignorant of its applicants’ skills isn’t making its admissions process fairer or more holistic; it’s simply increasing the likelihood that its first-year attrition rates will skyrocket and that its bar passage rates will plummet.

And that would be on the law school, but the rule is about the LSAT monopoly not admissions best practices. If this rule passes and a school sees high 1L attrition and bar passage rates plummet, it will adapt its process. Maybe we can get more people to evaluate schools based on what they offer prospective graduates than what their 1L study body looks like.

Honestly, this whole public comment struggles to pass the logical reasoning section of the LSAT. All of these arguments about the horrors of a world where law schools ignore the LSAT are completely misplaced unless there’s some indication that the ABA requirement is the only thing keeping the LSAT alive.

Empirically, we also know that allowing consideration of the GRE did not kill the LSAT or even significantly dent it. We also know from those who speak directly with law school admissions that these rule changes aren’t convincing schools to remove standardized testing from the mix and both schools and applicants still prefer the LSAT. There’s just no connection from removing this requirement and the complete end of the test.

But what’s legislation for if not to mandate market share?

TestMasters Weighs in on Why Making the LSAT Optional Makes No Sense [Newswire]

Earlier: If The ABA Eliminates The LSAT, What Will D-Bags Cite As Their Pick-Up Line?

HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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