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ABA may drop LSAT requirement

Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley Posts: 106,160Founder Senior Member
edited November 2011 in LSAT Prep
From Inside Higher Ed:
An American Bar Association panel reviewing law school accreditation rules is leaning toward recommending an end to a requirement that law schools use the Law School Admissions Test.

If the panel follows through on its current inclinations -- and the ABA approves the changes -- law schools could gain flexibility they now lack to make the LSAT optional or drop the test. Whether they would do so remains to be seen, but many undergraduate colleges have made the SAT and ACT optional in recent years and generally have found that such shifts attract more applicants and a more diverse applicant pool without leading to any loss in academic performance.
News: ABA May Drop LSAT Requirement - Inside Higher Ed
Post edited by Roger_Dooley on
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Replies to: ABA may drop LSAT requirement

  • EngineerjwEngineerjw Posts: 1,136Registered User Senior Member
    Very interesting!
  • BigGBigG Posts: 3,885Registered User Senior Member
    Next step, drop the Bar exam.

    Then eliminate the MCAT and medical boards.

    Waive the EIT and PE exams!

    No need for those actuarial exams. Make the insurance companies pay big bucks to mathematical illiterates.

    And those CPA exams just discriminate against those who aren't good at accounting...

    All to pander to the little dears who don't test well.

    Tell me this, if your freedom is on the line, your child has a hot appendix, or you are driving across a bridge, who do you want to do or have done the actual work?
  • SaintSaensSaintSaens Posts: 1,150Registered User Senior Member
    Could some one with insight in the law admissions process answer this?: If law school admissions is considerably numbers based, would any law schools drop an LSAT requirement?
  • taxguytaxguy Posts: 6,541Registered User Senior Member
    Every lawyer that I know feels that the LSAT is a very crappy admission test and probably the worst among the big standarized tests. Why?

    Lots of reasons;however, the main reason, other than the type of questions, is that it is a VERY strictly timed test. The test is designed so that most people don't finish! How absurd is that? Law school tests give you plenty of time. There is more than enough time for case briefing and outlining;thus, why give a standardized test that tests mostly speed. It is very odd.

    Moreover, the questions are also wierd such as logic games that have little to do with law school performance. In fact, most lawyers know a number of outlyers from the test who either did very well on the LSAT but didn't do well in law school or did relatively badly on the LSAt but did very well in law school.

    In fact, I saw some statistics from several law schools that showed over 40% of those given merit scholarships lose them. Merit scholarships are solely based on LSAT scores.

    Yes, there probably is a slight corelation between LSAT scores and law school performance,but the operative word is "slight."

    This is why the American Bar committee that has reviewed the LSAT feels that it isn't that "it isn't that reliable a predictor for admission."
  • schriztoschrizto Posts: 4,099Registered User Senior Member
    Even if this were to come into effect, only the no-name (read: swindling) law schools would seriously go test optional. The article talks about how this stems from Massachusetts School of Law refusing to require the LSAT in order to become accredited by the ABA. Are you kidding? The last thing we need is for ABA accreditation to be even laxer than it already is by not requiring a school to have its applicants submit the LSAT. There's already an oversaturated number of ABA accredited law schools of which most aren't worth their tuition to attend.

    It's not about whether the LSAT is an accurate predictor of law school performance. It's more about the fact that dropping the LSAT requirement will probably turn out more lawyers that we don't need.
  • darksaber91darksaber91 Posts: 109- Junior Member
    @taxguy:

    Though I am not usually one to defend standardized testing, some of your comments and evidence strike me as flawed.
    First of all, you take issue with the strict time limit. In fact, being very efficient and effective with time is vital to success in LS. LS students are given a significant amount of time to brief cases (basically the whole semester) and to complete tests (multiple hours), however, time is always at a premium because of the immense amount of content they need to digest. An average LS student is expected to read hundreds of pages of text per week and process it in a manner that is useful for the (usually) singular test at the end of the semester. Just as an example, Indiana LS claims that "As a general rule, students study about three hours for every hour of class. Thus, part-time students attending class for two hours each evening can count on approximately six hours of study time for each evening's class." (Frequently Asked Questions)

    This type of study requirement is representative of LSs around America. A heavy reading load and other study requirements are normal in LS. Being able to work very quickly and use study time effectively is vital to being successful.
    Furthermore, working very quickly and efficiently is important for students who, for the most part, are working toward a career that (currently) works off of the billable hour system. Employers utilizing this system would likely prize workers with very good time management skills.

    Also, I would like to see your evidence that "The test is designed so that most people don't finish." Even if it were designed so that most people don't finish, this may be a good thing as it weeds out those who can't work quickly and efficiently while leaving those who can to go to the T14.

    I would like to see your sources for the "statistics from several law schools that showed over 40% of those given merit scholarships lose them."

    "most lawyers know a number of outlyers from the test who either did very well on the LSAT but didn't do well in law school or did relatively badly on the LSAt but did very well in law school."
    I doubt that you have evidence to substantiate such a claim about "most lawyers" and, furthermore, you concede that these people are outliers. By definition, these outliers are unrepresentative of the general population of LSAT test takers. In any case, the LSAT is not a perfect predictor of success, rather it is the best indicator we currently have (better than GPA, EC's, letter of recs, or just about anything else on the LS application).

    Finally, I don't know where your comment about "This is why the American Bar committee that has reviewed the LSAT feels that it isn't that 'it isn't that reliable a predictor for admission'" came from. In the article in question, the ABA did not cite the validity of the test as the dominant reason for considering eliminating the LSAT requirement. They instead touted the possibility of greater diversity in LS.
  • Serious101Serious101 Posts: 120User Awaiting Email Confirmation Junior Member
    All this defense of standardized tests and "grueling" study to weed out the "inferiors," and then people wander why America is losing its innovativeness in business, why it's losing it's problem-solving capabilities, why mass depression among youth is on the rise, why America cannot make any progress on its political and social problems of the day. As "education" becomes more linear, more "filtering" by rigority, more standardized by tests, so will the output. We will be a society with a collection of facts and formulas, and with the ability to quickly and precisely recite those facts and solve those formulas. However, even as our technology grows, our society will continue to collapse under its problems, as no one will have the ability to think creatively (about practical issues, not artistic), originally, and independently to identify the causes of our problems and devise effective solutions.

    Everyone claims today's rigorous "education" is there to provide a "better life" to the next generation and society as a whole. But as our youth are increasingly discouraged from growing as thoughtful, productive, and responsible human beings and encouraged more to "study, work, practice" with numerous academic and non-academic (extracurricular) activities, what kind of human spirit are they going to have left to truly enjoy anything later? If by a miracle they still had "spirit" left, when will this better life arrive? In their old age, when they no longer have a healthy body to enjoy life to its fullest? Will there even be anything left to enjoy in the first place, when all their collective lives have been dedicated to further advancing this drone-like society?
  • IvyPBearIvyPBear Posts: 917Registered User Member
    Dropping the LSAT, the only truly objective admissions criteria (more objective than the GPA), only makes it easier for trust fund babies to get into law schools. What are adcomms going to base admissions on? Work experiences? Great for children of law firm partners. ECs? Great for those who can afford to volunteer for a year in Africa. Leadership positions? Increases the pressure for making every member of a college club co-VPs.

    LSAT remains the best admissions component because it's the most fair, and it's the best predictor of 1L performance. And frankly, the LSAT, along with the SAT and the MCAT, is the best standardized test being produced today.
  • bigbirdflybigbirdfly Posts: 49Registered User Junior Member
    "The test is designed so that most people don't finish! How absurd is that?"

    Only then can the test separate the best from the rest. Ever wondered why math PhD programs look at GRE verbal? Precisely because GRE quantitative is so easy (too little time constraints) that getting a perfect 800 puts you at the 94th percentile.
  • zaprowsdowerzaprowsdower Posts: 213Registered User Junior Member
    taxguy wrote:
    The test is designed so that most people don't finish!

    No, it isn’t. If your lawyer friends didn’t finish, they’re in the extreme minority (unless they took the test decades ago; I have no idea what it was like then). Getting into a T14 school generally requires getting at least 85% of the questions right. Do you think those people aren’t finishing the test?
    Law school tests give you plenty of time.

    I suppose so, in the sense that there usually aren’t many actual questions, and the exam itself isn’t very long. But the bulk of an exam is usually a fact pattern or two, and your job is to spot as many issues as possible in the time allotted. The exams are almost invariably graded on a hard curve, so students will typically be typing furiously right up to the end in an attempt to spot more issues than their classmates.
    In fact, most lawyers know a number of outlyers from the test who either did very well on the LSAT but didn't do well in law school or did relatively badly on the LSAt but did very well in law school.

    If such people are outliers, wouldn’t that mean there’s generally a strong correlation between LSAT scores and law school grades?
    In fact, I saw some statistics from several law schools that showed over 40% of those given merit scholarships lose them. Merit scholarships are solely based on LSAT scores.

    This generally only happens at lower-tiered schools, where the minimum GPA required to maintain a scholarship can be very high, and where money is redistributed each year based on class rank (presumably in an effort to keep the top of the class from transferring to better schools). But couldn’t the problem just as easily be arbitrary grading by law professors? What would the scholarships be based on, if not LSAT scores?
  • wtidadwtidad Posts: 98Registered User Junior Member
    And that's ok! Let's be honest here. The LSAT is HIGHLY correlated with the SAT, which is highly correlated with standard IQ tests. The law schools want to know how smart you are; how "g-loaded" your brain is. I know, I know, somebody's going to pipe up about "different intelligences," emotional IQ, etc. etc. But when we want a lawyer, we want a smart one. Not one who had a 4.0 at a crappy college with lax grading standards; not one who happens to carry the DNA of one or another "disadvantaged" ethnic group - we want someone smart. Also, of course, we want someone who's diligent, empathetic, eloquent, etc. etc. But plain old high intelligence is one necessary sorting mechanism for admission to the practice of law, which starts with admission to law school. Law school with low average LSAT scores (read: dumber students) usually have lower bar admission rates than schools with higher LSAT scores. Why? Because the Bar Exam requires high intelligence, and the ability to absorb a lot of material in your 6-week BARBRI cram course, and the ability to focus intensely on hard stuff during a grueling 2-day exam. (Though strictly speaking, the Bar Exam is not nearly as much of an IQ test as the SAT adn LSAT - no abstract logic questions and the like). Dumber people do worse on the LSAT, and dumber people fail the bar exam more often. And dumber people make worse lawyers.
    Now I will merrily await the howls of the PC brigade.
  • schriztoschrizto Posts: 4,099Registered User Senior Member
    Serious101 wrote:
    All this defense of standardized tests and "grueling" study to weed out the "inferiors," and then people wander why America is losing its innovativeness in business, why it's losing it's problem-solving capabilities, why mass depression among youth is on the rise, why America cannot make any progress on its political and social problems of the day. As "education" becomes more linear, more "filtering" by rigority, more standardized by tests, so will the output. We will be a society with a collection of facts and formulas, and with the ability to quickly and precisely recite those facts and solve those formulas. However, even as our technology grows, our society will continue to collapse under its problems, as no one will have the ability to think creatively (about practical issues, not artistic), originally, and independently to identify the causes of our problems and devise effective solutions.

    Everyone claims today's rigorous "education" is there to provide a "better life" to the next generation and society as a whole. But as our youth are increasingly discouraged from growing as thoughtful, productive, and responsible human beings and encouraged more to "study, work, practice" with numerous academic and non-academic (extracurricular) activities, what kind of human spirit are they going to have left to truly enjoy anything later? If by a miracle they still had "spirit" left, when will this better life arrive? In their old age, when they no longer have a healthy body to enjoy life to its fullest? Will there even be anything left to enjoy in the first place, when all their collective lives have been dedicated to further advancing this drone-like society?

    It's a rather ridiculous notion to blame increasing depression rates in youth and lack of progress on social issues, among many of the other problems you listed, on standardized testing. Do you realize that in Asian countries, which are currently being recognized for their emerging innovativeness, standardized tests are even more emphasized than they are in the US?

    Based on my experience taking standardized tests, I honestly think that exams like the SAT test a kind of practical and creative problem solving skill you say is lacking in American society.
  • wtidadwtidad Posts: 98Registered User Junior Member
    I agree. The SAT and LSAT test mostly problem-solving skills, NOT memorized knowledge. The ACT does that. Which is why studying for the SAT or LSAT will yield some, but only marginal benefits for most people.
  • LSU8888LSU8888 Posts: 289Registered User Junior Member
    This is genius on behalf of whoever is pining for this. Most students who want to go to law school are woefully underqualified and have no idea about the reality. Now have some schools that don't even require the LSAT and people will literally beg to have these schools take their money.

    The only way I can understand this is if an alternative were given. If the law school required the GRE instead of the LSAT, that would be semi-reasonable. But if there is no testing requirement at all, that is ridiculous.

    At least half of the current law schools should be shut down immediately anyway.
  • BigGBigG Posts: 3,885Registered User Senior Member
    The current glut of lawyers in the US is an example of the failure of market forces to regulate supply and demand.

    For most lawyers the law degree is an extension of the illusion that any college degree will automatically convert a person of very ordinary abilities into a well connected high earner.

    But, and to a great extent, lawyers create their own demand by encouraging litigation.

    This is actually a scam. Lawyers file a lot of suits but then "settle" most of them for nuisance sums. Clients who deserve nothing get something while those who really do deserve "big bucks" get less.

    Note that "diploma mill" law schools aren't the only bad deals in education. From preacher schools that tout their very few percent of successful graduates to private technical schools that offer to teach diesel repair or network administration to people who have no aptitude for these fields, our society is full of "educational institutions" that take people's money and return little or nothing.
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