Some of you LSAT prep students out there may be fretting over recent news of proposed changes that may affect the law school admissions process, namely the LSAT requirement. The changes would allow a certain percentage of a law school’s class—up to 10%—to be admitted without ever having taken an LSAT.
Two groups of students can qualify to apply without an LSAT score:
- Undergraduates seeking admissions to their alma mater’s law school
- Students applying to a joint degree program, e.g. JD-MBA
Once one falls into one of these groups, they must also make sure that they can check off the following:
- Have scored in the 85th percentile on a standardized college or graduate admissions test, e.g. SAT, GRE, or GMAT
- Have at least a 3.5 UGPA or be in the top 10% of their undergraduate class
Now, at this point, if the applicant has checked off all of the above, then they can take their chances and apply to law school without taking the LSAT. Great, right? No. Not really.
If these proposals go through, nothing is really going to change. If you scored in the 85th percentile of a standardized college or graduate admissions test and have at least a 3.5 UGPA or are in the top 10% of your class, then the only way you can apply to law school without taking the LSAT is if you are applying to your alma mater’s law school or if you are applying to a joint degree program.
Now, let’s look at the first instance—you will be putting all your eggs in one basket: your alma mater. It’s really not a great idea to apply to just one school. What if you don’t get in? You’ll end up having to take the LSAT anyway and probably will have to wait an extra year to go to law school.
It does not behoove most schools to take many students without LSAT degrees. An applicant without an LSAT score poses more of a risk than one with an LSAT score. Reputable law schools have years of data and experience based on UGPA and LSAT scores to predict how well an applicant will fare in law school. Those without LSAT scores must have very strong applications to prove that they are not a liability to the school’s current stats. This means you will be applying to only one school in a very competitive process. Does that sound wise? Moreover, you will be foregoing the opportunity to use other law school acceptances as leverage for more scholarship money, not to mention merit-based scholarships you will be losing out on without having a high LSAT score.
Some think taking the “one school” route will help show the law school that the applicant is determined to go to their specific institution. However, Early Decision students have this exact benefit, while also being more competitive than those who are not applying with an LSAT score.
Now, those who are applying for joint degrees have a slightly stronger case in not taking the LSAT. But, the downfall of less leverage to get more scholarship money is still an issue—not to mention the same risk of placing all their law school eggs into one basket.
Thus, if the ABA’s proposed changes do pass, there’s no reason to get nervous. Just keep going ahead with your LSAT prep as you have been. The benefits of applying with an LSAT score outweigh the benefit of applying without.
So keep calm and LSAT prep on!