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Citing a cost savings to law school applicants, Harvard Law School announced that it will accept the Graduate Record Exam or the Law School Admission Test for students who apply beginning with the fall of 2017. Dean Martha Minow, in a prepared statement, said the move is designed to eliminate barriers for the most talented candidates for law and leadership. She said the pilot program will reduce the cost barrier of taking two admissions tests.
"For many students, preparing for and taking both the GRE and the LSAT is unaffordable," she said. "All students benefit when we can diversify our community in terms of academic background, country of origin, and financial circumstances."
Minow, who is retiring as dean at the end of the school year, has been credited with recruiting a diverse student body to the law school during her eight-year tenure. She said the law needs students with diverse backgrounds, including those with science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds.
"For these students, international students, multidisciplinary scholars, and joint-degree students, the GRE is a familiar and accessible test, and using it is a great way to reach candidates not only for law school, but for tackling the issues and opportunities society will be facing," she said.
The announcement comes as the American Bar Association gets ready to consider making the LSAT the only admissions test to be used by ABA-accredited law schools -- unless the ABA determines that another test is valid and reliable.
Following ABA accreditation standards, the ABA Journal reported, Harvard submitted a study that compared the GRE and LSAT scores of Harvard law students who took both tests. The study found that the GRE is equally valid to the LSAT for predicting first-year students' grades.
Harvard is the second law school to accept the GRE instead of the LSAT. The University of Arizona was the first, rocking the establishment last year when it dropped the LSAT requirement.
The Law School Admissions Council, the non-profit organization that administers the LSAT, threatened to drop Arizona from its membership. But nearly 150 law schools reportedly sided with Arizona, and Harvard followed through with its announcement to accept the GRE.
Kaplan Test Prep, commenting on a 2016 survey, said most law schools have no plans to adopt the GRE in lieu of the LSAT. Jeff Thomas, executive director of Kaplan prelaw programs, says students should continue taking the LSAT unless they are applying only to Harvard or Arizona.
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