An arm of the American Bar Association voted on Nov. 18 to end the longstanding requirement that prospective law students take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) – a standardized test which gauges one’s logical reasoning skills, rather than a strictly knowledge-based test such as the SAT, GRE, and MCAT.
The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar voted in an overwhelming majority to do away with the testing mandate, voting against the objections of nearly 60 law school deans who warned that the move could actually harm the goal of diversifying the legal profession.
If adopted, it would make standardized testing optional for a career that notoriously demands a lot of standardized knowledge, WSJ reports.
The LSAT has long been a target of diversity advocates who argue that the use of the test has limited minority enrollment in law schools because the test questions are allegedly biased in favor of white test takers. Detractors also object to the LSAT because affluent students often pay thousands of dollars to prepare for the test that is supposed to predict their first-year law school performance.
The ABA decision is best understood as an attempt to get ahead of a possible Supreme Court decision against the use of racial preferences in school admissions. By making the LSAT optional, schools will be able to admit the students they want without lowering the average LSAT score that is one measure of elite status. But the schools need the ABA to move first. -WSJ
As the Journal further notes, however, dropping the LSAT is likely to disproportionately harm students from less privileged backgrounds. According to the 60 law school deans – which include Berkeley and Loyola University – by removing the test, admissions will focus more on GPA and other factors that are even less objective.
According to the letter, the LSAT “index score can help identify students who are capable of performing at a satisfactory level, even though their grades alone and other indicia would not so indicate,” adding that this applies particularly to students from “less advantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups.”
“Getting rid of the LSAT will just make the application process more subjective,” said Campus Reform‘s Tahmineh Dehbozorgi in an appearance on “Fox & Friends Weekend.”
“For a lot of minorities, including myself, this is a way we can overcome a lot of barriers and biases that exist in the admission process,” she continued.
If the move goes forward, untested law students will arrive at law school less prepared for the rigors involved, and will have less experience studying for the ultimate test in a few years; the bar exam.
Maybe that’s next?
Reprinted with permission from Zero Hedge.