Everyone knows that going to law school means studying for the dreaded LSAT test. You know, the one that Elle Woods famously aced (179!) to get into Harvard Law School (what, like it’s hard?) in “Legally Blonde”? Well now, that same Harvard Law has announced it will no longer require the LSAT as an admissions requirement.
Instead, Harvard will allow students to use a GRE score in place of an LSAT score in a pilot program for class of 2018 applicants. This change is a huge shift in law school admissions, especially for a university like Harvard, and comes as a part of a strategy to “expand access to legal education and to diminish the financial burden,” according to the school.
“Harvard Law School is continually working to eliminate barriers as we search for the most talented candidates for law and leadership,” Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow said. “For many students, preparing for and taking both the GRE and the LSAT is unaffordable. All students benefit when we can diversify our community in terms of academic background, country of origin, and financial circumstances.”
Harvard isn’t the only law school to ditch the LSAT in favor of the GRE. The University of Arizona School of Law was the first to offer students the choice to swap LSAT scores for GRE marks, and others (the State University of New York-Buffalo Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law) have followed.
As thoughtful as this might seem—the LSAT clocks in at a whopping $170, a prohibitive cost for many students—some are saying the decision is mostly to counter low student enrollments at law schools.
In 2014, first-year enrollment at law schools in America fell to about 38,000 students. This is the lowest enrollment in four decades—a decrease 28 percent since the number peaked in 2010. First-year enrollments are down approximately 20 percent since 2011 at both SUNY Buffalo and the University of Iowa.
But Harvard, one of the top names in the law school arena, hasn’t had the problem of declining admissions. The program that dropped the LSAT requirement genuinely seems to track with other changes at the prestigious university that intend to relieve some of the financial burden on prospective students.
If you knew you didn’t have to study (and pay) for the LSAT, would it change your mind about law school?