Tim Tai, Photography Editor

Law schools across the country may soon stop requiring the LSAT for admissions, pending a decision by the American Bar Association. 

The policy change, which would go into effect in the fall of 2025, would strike the requirement that law schools use the test to receive accreditation. Yale Law School has not indicated whether it would continue to require the LSAT in the absence of a mandate. 

An arm of the ABA voted to strike the mandate earlier this month, with the final decision going before the ABA House of Delegates in February.

“Requiring LSAT scores appeared to be a somewhat artificial requirement, not clearly linked to whether candidates for law school should be lawyers or will provide competent representation to their clients,” wrote Michael Downey, a member of the ABA Task Force for the Future of Legal Education.

The Law School press office declined to comment on the pending vote. Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken had previously cited concerns with the test and other numerical standards in her decision to withdraw Yale from the U.S. News and World Report’s ranking system. 

“Today, 20 percent of a law school’s overall ranking is median LSAT/GRE scores and GPAs,” Gerken wrote. “While academic scores are an important tool, they don’t always capture the full measure of an applicant. This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses.”

Yale Law School currently boasts the country’s highest median LSAT score in a three-way tie with Harvard and Columbia. 

Some Yale students voiced concerns about axing the requirement, claiming that the LSAT was one of the most meritocratic aspects of the admissions process. Others heralded the decision. 

For Olivia Campbell LAW ’23, the absence of an LSAT requirement would give greater weight to other factors that are even more prone to inequity. Free or cheap online resources for LSAT preparation are highly accessible to many students, she explained, while interview experience, resumes, internships and recommendation letters are often more difficult for low-income students to obtain. 

“I didn’t go to a fancy private high school, nor did I attend an Ivy League undergraduate institution. I didn’t have a law school application coach,” Campbell wrote to the News. “But I did score in the 99th percentile on the LSAT, all thanks to some free online courses and a couple of books I bought from Barnes and Noble.” 

In fact, she believes that her admission to YLS would have been “highly unlikely” without the help of a high LSAT score. 

Campbell and other students took to the Wall, a physical forum for student debate inside the Sterling Law Building, to voice disagreement with Gerken’s characterization of the LSAT.  

“I disagree with Dean Gerken’s statements suggesting that current admissions practices weigh the LSAT too heavily,” Campbell wrote in an email to the News. “It is probably true that compared to wealthy students, low-income students are disadvantaged in nearly every aspect of the admissions process. But the LSAT is one of the least-inequitable admissions factors.”

Jake McDonald LAW ’25 was similarly emphatic about the equalizing capacity of the LSAT. McDonald, who graduated from a state school, described the LSAT as “easily the most egalitarian” component of the admissions process. 

McDonald described the discrepancy between institutional support provided at private — and especially Ivy League — institutions as opposed to public state schools. When he approached career advisers at his university about law school, he said he knew the system was tailored for students targeting “different schools” than he was. 

“In a lot of ways, the LSAT was about providing an opportunity and an equal playing field.” McDonald said. “I knew, even though I maybe didn’t get the benefits that were conferred by some of the higher institutions, if I showed up on test day, and did what I needed to do that I could then really stack up against anybody else.”

Not all students agree on this point. Chisato Kimura LAW ’25, a recipient of this year’s Hurst Horizon scholarship, described standardized testing as “incredibly classist” in an email to the News.

“The LSAT especially requires people to master new skills and ways of thinking and that consumes time and money,” Kimura wrote. “A de-emphasis on the LSAT for law school admissions would hopefully mean that there are more holistic admissions decisions that would add greater weight to people’s lived experiences, their essays, and other components of their application.” 

Both Campbell and McDonald said that it would be a mistake for Yale Law School to stop requiring the LSAT. Campbell specifically highlighted US News’ use of median rather than mean LSAT scores in formulating its ranking, pointing out that this metric allows law school admissions committees to save 49 percent of its spots for students scoring below a desirable class median. 

McDonald described Yale Law School administration’s choice to exit the rankings as a trend of “wanting to go from objective to subjective” in law school admissions. By his estimation, this trend ultimately hurts the people it aims to protect. 

“I think that it’s a bad way to approach law school admissions, and I think it’s going to lead to harmful results when it comes to screwing non-elite people out of elite admissions,” McDonald said. “I think that’s my concern: that someone like me is going to slip through the cracks a lot more easily than in the previous system that was there.” 

According to a study conducted by the Law School Admissions Council, the LSAT is the best-predictor for academic success in law schools. Compared to undergraduate admissions, where high school GPA has been demonstrated to be more predictive of undergraduate success than the ACT or SAT, the LSAT has been established as a more accurate predictor of success than undergraduate GPA. 

Performance data, however, demonstrates significant score discrepancies across gender and racial lines. According to a report published by the Law School Admissions Council, female test takers consistently scored approximately two points lower on average compared to their male counterparts on the LSAT from 2011-2018. During the same period, white and Asian test takers scored averages around 152/153 as opposed to averages around 141 for Black and African American test takers and 145/146 for Latinx test takers. 

Downey, who works for the ABA, described the LSAT requirement as just one of many “unnecessary and dubious regulations” in the field of legal education. He pointed out the lack of remote or online alternatives to conventional legal education as well as the fact that American legal degrees can only be earned in post-graduate study as barriers, especially contrasted against European standards. 

Downey indicated that getting rid of the LSAT had the potential to increase diversity in the legal profession, where he described diversity as “severely lacking.” However, he also highlighted the importance of making sure that admitted students were well prepared to pass the bar exam. 

“It would be a further failure of the legal system if we allow law schools to remove the LSAT requirement to maintain (or increase) student enrollment, but then — after spending the time and financial resources of completing legal students — students struggle to pass the bar, obtain admission, and actually practice law,” Downey wrote. 

The LSAT was first administered in 1948. 

Ines Chomnalez writes for the University desk covering Yale Law School. She previously wrote for the Arts desk. Ines is a sophomore in Pierson College majoring in History and Cognitive Science.