The "Buried Lede"
In American journalism, there is an expression—"to bury the lede"—which means that in a news story the most essential information is not presented at the beginning of the article. For prospective law students interested in the GRE, today's Daily Iowan student newspaper article, "UI College of Law won't be changing its Admissions Policies", is an example of this very phenomenon.
First let's consider the top news in this article: the University of Iowa College of Law has decided to adopt a "wait-and-see" approach to the GRE. This strategy is by far the norm for the time being. However, while most law schools wait, announcements of prominent law schools' accepting the GRE for admission have become increasingly common, so now it has become newsworthy when a law school decides to maintain its current admission policies. Expect more similar articles to follow; law school admissions departments can also expect the "GRE Question" to reoccur with increasing frequency as GRE adoption continues to gather steam. In all likelihood (if GRE adoption by business schools is any indication), law schools' changing GRE policies will likely become so commonplace that such shifts will no longer draw any attention. As recently as a year ago, there was only one top business school that did not accept the GRE as well as the GMAT, the Indian School of Business, and now the ISB has come around; the GRE went from 0% acceptance in business schools in 2010 to 100% acceptance in 2017.
What might interest prospective law students is the information contained in the second half of the article. Read below for further details.
Declining LSAT Numbers & Student Preference
As the Daily Iowan notes, "[i]n 2010, approximately 170,000 students took the LSAT; in 2016-17, that number was a little under 110,000." This reduced pool of applicants means that law schools are under pressure to attract top applicants to their programs, even (or especially) top tier law schools may feel it is time to cast a wider net. In our post last week in response to news of Wash U's GRE adoption, we observed:
Some of the most in-demand fields in law involve information technology, patents, and other technical skills held by students who may not even be considering law school. To attract these students to law school instead of graduate or business school, law schools are wise to consider accepting a test that many of these students are taking anyways, since the GRE is already universally accepted for business school admissions as well as grad school admissions.
With fewer LSATs administered and thinning applicant pools, accepting the GRE is a straightforward outreach strategy that can present law school as a viable alternative to a broader spectrum of students.
Further, consider a quote in the Daily Iowan article from a UI law student, asked about her thoughts on the GRE for law school:
Second-year UI law-school student Cara Donels said she would have taken the GRE if UI had accepted it.
“I was a biology major, so the GRE would have been applicable to more fields, so I would have had more options,” she said. “Instead, I just took the LSAT.”
While Donals' views are of course anecdotal, she is certainly not alone. Even in my experience as a teacher, I now encounter at least one student in nearly every GRE class I teach who is taking the GRE primarily for law school. A year ago, I had never had such a student.
Thus, the GRE for law school is no longer just a matter of a contingency or alternative option for GRE students primarily interested in business or grad school. Even at its current penetration in law school admissions, the GRE has come into its own.
The Usual Caveats, Qualified
At present, the de facto advice remains the same: stick with the LSAT if you are exclusively interested in law school. This conservative advice will likely remain the same for at least a year or two. Eventually, however, given that the GRE continues its expansion into law schools, the advice will change. Just as a student applying to business school is now advised to choose between the GRE and GMAT based on his or her personal strengths and preferences, it is a safe bet that advice for law school applicants will follow suit.
If you have questions about the LSAT or the GRE, we encourage students to take advantage of our free LSAT and GRE forums to ask questions and receive prompt expert responses. PowerScore is also proud to offer a free, online GRE seminar on October 18, this time focusing on Math Essentials. Register now to attend!