Should Law Schools Be Test Optional?

The American Bar Association (ABA) building/ Wikimedia Commons

The American Bar Association (ABA) building/ Wikimedia Commons

The panel of the American Bar Association (ABA) voted 15-1 for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) to be optional. 

This vote resides heavily with the students of John Jay College. According to John Jay’s demographics, nearly a quarter of John Jay College graduates attend law school, over 30% are immigrant students, and 48% are first-generation. 

Upon receiving criticisms for lack of diversity within admissions, the ABA disclosed Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and Georgetown law schools will no longer be participating in those ranking systems. 

T-14 (Ivy League) law schools claim they aim to promote diversity among applicants in upcoming years, and approaching that goal is only possible without being bound to the constraints that accompany being ranked a “T-14” law school, such as participating in ranking systems. 

In order to register for the LSAT, a green card or government-issued ID is required. In the event, the ABA’s House of Delegates votes in favor of making the LSAT an optional component of law school applications, an influx of law school applications from students who are undocumented is suspected. This would progress the goal of incorporating representation into a profession that was unattainable for many.

Shanea Soumakis, a law & society major at John Jay, shared her thoughts on this ruling.

“The LSAT was basically created to gatekeep law school,” she said. “One test should not be required to determine whether or not you deserve to go to law school, the work you put in for the past 4 years should be enough,” said Soumakis.

Some students wonder if declaring the LSAT optional could be a poor long-term decision. 

Andrew Cerbone, also a law & society major at John Jay, expressed his views on the standardized test.

“I think it’s a useful litmus test for who has the capabilities for law school,” he said. “People may get in without having what it takes to be in law school, let alone a lawyer,” said Cerbone.

The LSAT was not structured to test knowledge on topics, it trains students to think in a logical and analytical manner. Not to mention, the LSAT is constantly being updated. As there is an ungraded variable component of the exam that is purely used by test makers to decipher the current formats’ efficacy.

Censures surrounding the fairness among admissions into Ivy League institutions are presumed to be what caused the influx of law schools to drop out of the U.S. ranking system. The Michigan Daily revealed the Ivy League has been prioritizing the applications of “legacy” (the descendants of alumni) applicants for decades. 

Some question if the Ivy League is attempting to cover up the truth behind admissions, or if they genuinely hope to diversify the field of law by allowing first-generation students, and/or immigrant students a fair chance at admission.

On Monday, February 6th, a second vote was administered. The ABA’s House of Delegates did not vote in favor of the resolution that would have made standardized testing optional for applicants. There will still be many votes administered, but for now, law school hopefuls should continue studying for the LSAT.

The August 2024 LSAT will be the last LSAT with the logic games section. After this test, the logic games section will be replaced with another logical reasoning section.