Harvard Law to allow applicants to take GRE; reconsiders LSAT

Students who apply to Harvard Law can soon use results from the GRE instead of the LSAT.

Students who apply to Harvard Law can soon use results from the GRE instead of the LSAT.  (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File)

Harvard Law School will allow applicants to take the Graduate Record Examination test as part of a pilot program that could potentially challenge the Law School Admissions Test’s longstanding, national dominance over law-school admissions.

The law school announced Wednesday that applicants seeking to join its entering class of fall 2018 could take either the GRE or the LSAT. Administration officials said they would decide later whether to make the LSAT permanently optional.

Harvard said the move is intended to expand and diversify its applicant pool, making it a more attractive option for international students and those also pursuing graduate degrees outside of law.

The LSAT is taken on paper and given four times a year. The GRE, which is run by the nonprofit Educational Testing Service and used by most graduate schools, is computerized, can be taken year-round, and is offered in more than 150 countries.

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Harvard officials approved the change after quietly completing an anonymized, statistical study that the school says determined the GRE to be “an equally valid predictor” of first-year grades.

It is the second major accredited law school to reconsider the LSAT as legal education’s testing gatekeeper. University of Arizona College of Law last year introduced a similar policy after conducting its own study, which drew similar conclusions about the GRE’s reliability as a predictor of academic performance.

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