Is Taking the LSAT Mandatory?

Education
an lsat exam sheet with bubbles filled in

The LSAT is pretty expensive, and you may wonder if it’s absolutely necessary. The answer isn’t a straight yes or no answer.

The Old Standard

The LSAT is a rite of passage for legal professionals. Law schools use it as a way to gauge the ability of applicants. Since the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) administers the test, the LSAT includes questions that test logic and reasoning to determine a student’s aptitude. Critics, however, have long complained that the test does not accurately predict student outcomes.

A New Way

In 2016, the University of Arizona College of Law became the first law school in the country to allow applicants to submit their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score rather than their LSAT. The following year, Harvard Law School followed suit in dropping its LSAT requirement.

Why the sudden change of heart? Applications to law schools are near historical lows. To try and spur continued interest in law school, the American Bar Association relaxed their LSAT requirements in 2014. Since then, a law school’s entering class can contain up to 10% of students who have not taken the exam.

Moreover, when students are thinking about postgraduate education, they also consider law school. Since many students already take the GRE for grad school applications, why not kill two birds with one stone and accept the GRE for law school? Additionally, the GRE is offered upwards of 15 times a month throughout the entire year. The LSAT, on the other hand, is only administered around 8 times per year.

Doing away with the expensive test also makes admission more affordable for applicants. Currently, the LSAT will set you back $180 per sitting of the exam. Beyond that, many schools also require applicants use the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service which costs an additional $185. This service pools application information such as test scores and letters of recommendation for institutions so that applicants only upload the credentials a single time.

Where Does This Leave You?

Taking the LSAT is a wise move and may increase your chances of being admitted to your favorite law school. It’s best to check with the institutions to which you are applying on whether or not they require test scores. You can call the admissions office and ask if the LSAT is mandatory, but most schools still consider LSAT scores as a determining factor.

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