Harvard Law School will no longer be requiring just the Law School Admissions Test as part of their application process, according to a recent article by The Washington Post, released on March 9. Instead, Harvard has made the decision to amend their application process and give their applicants a choice of either submitting their LSAT or Graduate Record Examinations scores. According to the same article, the reasoning behind the change is to allow for a broader and more diverse application pool. Harvard recognizes that there are many students who have interests in both graduate programs and law school, and therefore would be pressured to spend time, effort and money taking both the GREs and LSATs. Changing their admissions standards to accept either form of standardized test scores is an important step for an influential school like Harvard Law School because it moves toward making standardized tests a less important part of the application process. Also, it allows students to focus more on other skills and talents that could contribute to a diverse and excellent application.

I really appreciate that Harvard Law School is making the change to their application process. As someone who is seriously considering applying to law schools, I am familiar with the LSAT and all of the horror stories that follow it whenever it comes up in conversation, from both LSAT veterans and potential test-takers alike. If I decide to pursue law school, I will most likely be taking the LSATs next October. I am aware of their importance to my application, no matter how many times law schools assure me that they are not. Many schools that I have spoken to go on and on about how there are more important things than the standardized test scores to an application — and yes there are many components that make a good law school application, but it’s pretty well-known among students that your LSAT score really counts, and that the median acceptance scores on the website are decently accurate. In short, schools saying that LSAT scores aren’t that important, and then still requiring them, doesn’t really mean much. Harvard Law School is doing more than just saying something — they are actually doing something.
However, it’s important to realize that Harvard is not the first law school to make the change — the University of Arizona College of Law was the first school to do so last year. However, there is of course something to be said about Harvard, one of the top ranking law schools in the nation, making such a statement about standardized testing. I was skeptical of standardized testing since I took the SATs and SAT subject tests in high school. While I did well in all of them, I saw my peers who were just as smart, if not smarter than myself, sometimes struggle with the tests and perform poorly. I never felt like the tests were an accurate representation of anyone’s level of intelligence or knowledge. I understand that tests like the LSAT and the GRE are different, and are aimed at determining different things about the test taker than the SAT or the ACT. However, they are still a standardized way of measuring intelligence, something that I think is impossible.

While law schools like Arizona and Harvard are still requiring some forms of standardized testing, allowing for more options of which tests to take means that they are publicly acknowledging that not everyone’s brains function and process information in the same way. I do not believe that the situation will change overnight; I do believe that there will still be some biases toward students who submit LSATs over GREs, and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a bias. Hopefully with time, those biases will disappear as more students begin taking advantage of the alternate option. Since a school as prominent as Harvard is following schools like Arizona in making the change, more attention will hopefully be given to the issue. According to a recent survey given by Kaplan Test Prep last May, out of 125 law schools contacted, only 14 percent said that they would be changing their admissions to allow for the GRE as well as the LSAT, and 56 percent said that they would not. However, there was the 30 percent that remained on the fence about the issue. That unsurety shows that these law schools are at least thinking about the issue, and it is a good indicator that more law schools will potentially reconsider making certain standardized tests mandatory and will take the first step toward toppling our standardized test-taking society.

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Senior | Online Opinion Editor -- Philosophy / English Literature

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