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A Law School Reverses Its Policy on Accepting the GRE

The law school admission process was shaken up this cycle with news that a slew of law schools would be accepting applicants taking the GRE, rather than just the LSAT. Well, some recent news out of George Washington Law School should give any law school applicant assurance that, between the two exams, the LSAT is still very much here to stay.

Back in 2016, the University of Arizona was the first school to announce that it would be accepting the GRE for law school admissions, followed by Harvard in 2017, and at least 15 other law schools which have since adopted policies to allow at least some applicants to apply with a GRE score.

And what makes the GRE so different from the LSAT? As the test used for most graduate programs in the U.S., the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) includes a quantitative section (or the way some of us liberal arts majors think of the GRE –it has math on it). On the upside, students taking the GRE can take it by computer all throughout the year–a system that LSAT takers can only dream of right now. Given the decline in law school applications leading up to this year, some speculated that accepting the GRE was one way that law schools would be using to boost their applicant pools, or to simply diversify the types of applicants they had to evaluate.

But now it’s being reported that George Washington Law School, which announced in December that it would accept the GRE for this application cycle, had rejected some applications — you guessed it — because the applicants took the GRE rather than the LSAT. George Washington apparently changed its policy on accepting the GRE mid-application cycle, with some students who applied to George Washington with GRE scores now left in a difficult position. They could be considering a shorter list of schools accepting their GRE scores, or changing their grad school plans altogether. And for those planning to apply to law school in six months’ time, this news makes the option of applying with only a GRE score all the more uncertain.

George Washington has said that only ten applicants were affected by their reversal on the GRE, which may also provide some indication of how many law school applicants were taking this route. GW has informed applicants that they can apply with GRE scores in the next admission cycle. This is because the school now says that it must conduct a “school specific site survey” for the GRE, in order to fulfill ABA requirements for alternative admission tests. In other words, the GRE is likely to be an option again at George Washington during next year’s admission cycle, but this flip-flop in policies happened out of an abundance of caution from the school.

The bottom line is that this news is one more reason for law school applicants to be especially careful about their own applications and every element of those applications that they submit. Maybe the GRE is getting closer to becoming a regular feature of law school applications, but right now, there are still some questions. It’s like anything from the newest phone or computer or car–it may be the norm for some people someday, but there could be risks to choosing an option that’s still in its early stages.