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.

“The LSAT was basically created to gatekeep law school,” said Shanea Soumakis. “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.” 

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

“I think it’s a useful litmus test for who has the capabilities for law school. The price tag may be hard for some, but $215 is not terribly severe,” said Andrew Cerbone, a freshman at John Jay. “People may get in without having what it takes to be in law school, let alone a lawyer.” 

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 a number of votes administered, but for now, law school hopefuls should continue studying for the LSAT.


About the Writer:



Alexandra Cortese, is a freshman majoring in Law & Society and minoring in English Literature. Because of her longtime passion for legal studies, upon graduating John Jay, she plans to attend law school in New York City. Despite the multitude of clubs John Jay offers, Cortese believes only The John Jay Sentinel allows her to carry out her enjoyments, such as interdisciplinary research and writing. Her favorite book of all time is “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy, because of its theme of resilience, which applies heavily in both her personal and school life. Cortese looks forward to serving as an editor for The Sentinel!