- The American Bar Association is attempting to pass a proposal that would allow law schools to adhere to a test-optional admission policy.
- Proponents of the proposal reportedly say that removing testing requirements would improve on-campus diversity, however a law student told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the reasoning is “problematic and prejudicial on its face.”
- “I like the idea of accepting tests other than the LSAT, but doing away with standardized testing altogether could result in a less-competent student body because admissions officers would only have GPAs, which aren’t standardized, and personal statements and letters of recommendation, which are highly subjective,” Terrance Kible, a Duquesne University law student who took and submitted the LSAT for admission, told the DCNF.
The American Bar Association (ABA) will try again to implement a proposal that allows law schools to ditch standardized testing, but law students are concerned that the proposal could lower objectivity in the admissions process, students told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The ABA House of Delegates will vote in August on a proposal to permit accredited law schools to accept students without a standardized test score after the measure was voted down earlier this month, Reuters reported. The proposal seeks to end standardized test requirements by 2025, but law students worry that permitting schools to drop the standardized test requirement would decrease objective factors being considered for admission and leave quality students behind. (RELATED: Dropping The LSAT Requirement For Law School Admission Could Hinder Racial Diversity Efforts, Experts Say)
“I don’t support removing standardized testing from the application process,” Terrance Kible, a Duquesne University law student who took and submitted his Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score for admission, told the DCNF. “I think some objective metric for evaluating applicants is needed, and that can only come from standardized testing as far as I can tell.”
The proposal would put standardized tests including the LSAT on the back burner as schools would be able to forgo these requirements without it impacting their accreditation status, according to Reuters. The ABA House of Delegates voted down the proposal on Feb. 6.
The House of Delegates can review changes to the ABA’s standards and concur, reject or make recommendations, but the final decision remains with the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar council, a source familiar with the process explained to the DCNF. The council could still enact the proposal even if the delegates vote it down a second time.
“They claim that their objective is to give law schools the flexibility in their decision making process,” Tahmineh Dehbozorgi, a George Washington University law student, told the DCNF. “The proponents of this proposal have repeatedly said that their reason behind the proposal is because they believe students of color perform less well on the LSAT, but this rhetoric is very problematic and prejudicial on its face because the proponents of this proposal to remove the LSAT are automatically assuming certain law student candidates are incapable of performing well on the LSAT.”
The proposals’ advocates allege that removing standardized testing would allow students from underrepresented communities to apply for law school because it would remove financial barriers to taking the exam, according to Reuters. Advocates also say removing standardized testing will help students with ADHD.
Dehbozorgi alleged that having an objective metric to gauge a candidate’s ability allows “many students to come from all different backgrounds to compete fairly, otherwise students will be only assessed based on their ethnic background, undergraduate GPA or the prestige of their undergraduate institution.”
University Of California Drops SAT And ACT Requirements, Claims Tests Are Discriminatory https://t.co/kd6ZudFvNS
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 22, 2020
Amy Wax, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania law school, said that the proposal is an effort to bolster “diversity” on campus.
“So dropping the LSAT enables law schools to achieve more ‘diversity’ (by admitting more blacks and Hispanics) while hiding the effect that will have on the measured skill level of the law student body,” Wax told the DCNF.
The average LSAT score for black applicants was 142 while Asian and white applicants averaged a 153, according to a 2019 study.
The LSAT is only one metric law schools use to weigh an applicant, but it is “the one objective metric because not every undergrad institution has the same academic rigor, so we can’t put everyone on the same scale,” Dehbozorgi told the DCNF.
“I like the idea of accepting tests other than the LSAT, but doing away with standardized testing altogether could result in a less-competent student body because admissions officers would only have GPAs, which aren’t standardized, and personal statements and letters of recommendation, which are highly subjective,” Kible told the DCNF.
Dehbozorgi is concerned that students who do not have work experience prior to applying to law school will be overshadowed without a standardized test requirement, she told the DCNF.
“If the ABA is really concerned about increasing diversity in the legal profession they can set out some programs for students in community colleges or underfunded public institutions that do not have the resources and the means to study for the LSAT,” she said. “LSAT does teach students how to critically think, logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and allows law school candidates to develop those skills while they’re studying for the LSAT.”
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