Harvard Law School to Accept GRE Scores

March 13, 2017, by

Harvard Law School to Accept GRE Scores

In early March, Harvard Law School announced that beginning in the fall of 2017, applicants will be allowed to submit GRE scores instead of, or in addition to, LSAT scores. This marks a significant change as the LSAT has been the only accepted test for law school admissions for decades.

This development arises from a study completed earlier this year comparing the first-year grades of Harvard Law School students who had submitted both GRE and LSAT scores. The school concluded that the GRE was shown to be as strong a predictor of first-year grades as the LSAT.  Dean Martha Minow stated that she hopes this change will decrease barriers to admission.  Here are a few ways this change may affect you as a potential applicant to Harvard Law or other law schools:

As Harvard accepts GRE scores, more law schools will almost certainly follow suit.

Harvard is the second law school to make this shift in admissions, after the University of Arizona in 2016.  When the University of Arizona made this shift, the Law School Admissions Counsel (LSAC), which administers the LSAT, threatened to expel the school from the LSAC network.  Law deans from across the country quickly rallied behind Arizona, and the LSAC backed down. In fact, only 12 students were admitted to Arizona with a GRE score last year. Having a top-ranked law school like Harvard also move to permit the GRE in place of the LSAT will make it much more likely that other law schools follow, perhaps even in time for the upcoming fall 2017 admissions season.

Prospective applicants will be able to take whichever test is better for them.

With an option other than the LSAT, prospective applicants can choose the test that suits them better.  Though a very well designed test, the LSAT highlights academic skills different from those tested by the GRE.  Prior to starting test preparation, prospective applicants should consider taking a baseline LSAT and GRE to see if one test looks like it would be a significantly better choice.

GRE test-takers can now apply to more types of degree programs simultaneously.

Prior to this change, prospective applicants considering law school alongside other graduate school options, including joint-degree programs, needed to take both the LSAT and the GRE. This substantially increased the time and cost for preparation and fees for registration.  Harvard applicants can now use their GRE score to apply to most graduate programs and joint degrees.  If more law schools follow suit, graduate applicants will be able to focus on one test instead of two.

College students interested in graduate school will be able to prepare sooner by taking the GRE.

Many college students know they want to attend graduate school, but do not plan to attend immediately after college and are not yet ready to commit to one field of study. However, students often see a benefit in preparing for a graduate school admissions test while still in the academic mode and on a college schedule. Preparing for a test while working full time can be more challenging. Business schools already accept the GRE, so if more law schools join Harvard, college students can feel confident preparing for and taking the GRE at the end of college as long as they plan to apply within the next five years.

Those with the ability to seek professional test prep services may benefit.

Harvard’s new policy will allow some applicants to decrease the burden of preparing for two tests. It will also allow those with the time and resources the opportunity to maximize their score on each test before deciding which to submit.  After this change spreads to more schools, and for applicants who currently have their sights set on Harvard, prospective applicants could thoroughly prepare for both the LSAT and the GRE to increase their chance of attaining a competitive score.

At Marks Education, we rarely recommend that a student prepare in depth for multiple admissions tests because of the significant commitment of time and energy involved.

Ryan Blodgett is a test prep tutor at Marks Education, helping students prepare for graduate tests, including the LSAT. Nisha Sardella leads Marks Education’s graduate and professional school admission counseling.

Contact Marks Education for more information and to discuss your best options for test selection and preparation.

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