Harvard Law School recently announced they will allow students to submit the Graduate Record Examination in place of the Law School Admission Test, but some Penn Law School students don't think Penn should do the same.
Harvard’s decision to allow applicants to choose to submit either the GRE or the LSAT is part of a "pilot program" based on a study that tracked whether GRE scores were indicative of future law school performance, according to a statement from Harvard. The American Bar Association is also considering changing which standardized tests law schools can require.
But Penn Law isn't currently planning to make any changes to its requirements, and students don't necessarily agree that Harvard made the right choice.
“I certainly think what is tested on the LSAT is certainly more applicable to law school than the GRE is," said Vishal Patel, who is pursuing a graduate degree from the Wharton School and Penn Law through Penn's joint MBA/JD program, which requires both the GRE and LSAT.
Patel described the GRE as a standardized test more similar to high school-level exams like the SAT Reasoning Test and ACT, while he felt the LSAT was a different kind of test altogether.
"The LSAT was an interesting test. It was pretty straightforward: if you prepared for it, you could do well,” he said.
Even though Patel had already taken the GRE for a previous graduate degree, he said he still would have taken the LSAT even if Penn Law hadn't required it.
The GRE is an examination for general graduate studies, and is composed of a verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytic writing section. The LSAT is the quintessential law school examination, composed of four sections: a reading comprehension section, an analytical reading section and two logical reading sections.
“Penn Law is committed to recruiting and admitting the highest caliber students,” Penn Law Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid Renee Post wrote in an emailed statement. “We are monitoring research studies on the reliability of tests other than the LSAT for law school admissions, as well as other related developments. At present, there is no change in our admissions policy.”
Peter Fishkind, a third-year Penn Law student and president of the Penn Law Council of Student Representatives, said he didn't think Penn Law should allow students to submit the GRE because Penn's smaller size gives it less freedom to experiment with a pilot program like Harvard's.
“It’s a smaller school, so if they would actually try to get a sample it would be a significant portion of the class,” he said.
Maura Douglas, a second-year Penn Law student, agreed with Fishkind’s opinion that Penn should not change its admissions requirements.
“I think having an alternative, equally rigorous exam with the same range of scores isn’t really going to broaden anything," she said. "I think there are alternative ways to adjust your application process."
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