Harvard Law School announced Wednesday that it will allow applicants to submit the Graduate Record Examination in place of the Law School Admissions Tests traditionally used to evaluate candidates for admissions.
Starting this fall, applicants for a three-year law degree may submit scores from either examination, the school said in a press release.
Jessica Soban, the law school’s associate dean for admissions and strategic initiatives, said the shift reflects changes in who attends the Ivy League institution.
Increasingly, Harvard Law students come from abroad, have work experience or a graduate degree, or bring highly desirable training in science and technology related fields, she said.
Many have already taken the GRE or plan to take it for application to other programs.
“Putting them through another standardized test is sort of an artificial obstacle,” Soban said by telephone Wednesday night.
Some prospective students are working long hours in other fields and have little time to prepare for another test. And the GRE is offered much more frequently and in many more locations than the LSAT, she said.
“The initiative itself is consistent with things that we have done in recent years. . . to continue to attract the top talent to the law school,” she said, such as interviewing applicants through video conferencing.
So far, Soban said, she has heard no objections to the change.
Earlier this year, Harvard Law completed a study of GRE and LSAT scores of current and former students who took both exams. The study found that the “ . . . GRE is an equally valid predictor of first-year grades,” the press release stated.
Soban said school administrators had also reviewed the policy change both with law professors and with faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and found wide support.
“We’re in the fortunate spot of being at the center of a very large research university,” she said.” We had the opportunity to really think about this at a lot of different angles internally before we came out with the final decision.”
The American Bar Association is also considering changing its rules on which tests law schools may use for admissions, according to the law school.Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.