The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) first began being used to assess the reading comprehension, verbal reasoning, and logical reasoning proficiency for prospective law students back in 1948. Since 1991, the LSAT has been administered once a year in its current form and is commonly required as part of the admissions package for most GRE law schools in the USA, Canada, and Australia.
Since last year, the Harvard Law School and other top-rated law schools in the country began accepting the GRE for law school score as an alternative to the LSAT. The reason why more schools are joining in this new tendency is that the GRE exam is a more universal standardized test for students interested in applying to all kinds of graduate schools. It includes a math section and is also the test, which is considered a pretty reliable predictor of the first-year performance of law students.
Also, GRE scores for law school is becoming more common, and universities and colleges are opening up to accepting more students from different geographic, economic, and academic backgrounds by accepting GRE scores instead of LSAT scores only.
Many people planning on applying for law school are asking themselves if they should spend the time and resources to prep for the LSAT or for the GRE to have bigger chances of getting accepted in the university or college of their dreams.
Overall, a good GRE score for law school allows students to choose from a more comprehensive array of options for their graduate school than the LSAT. So, if you want to apply to different grad school programs and schools, it makes sense to focus on scoring a good score at the GRE rather than relying on the LSAT scores only. This is especially true if you are planning on applying in law schools without LSAT or GRE preferences.
GRE or LSAT – which law schools do accept GRE scores for applicants?
Harvard Law School
University of Arizona College of Law
Penn State University
Texas A&M School of Law
Cornell Law School
Columbia Law School
University of Pennsylvania Law School
Northwestern University School of Law
Brooklyn Law School
State University of New York University at Buffalo School of Law
Washington University School of Law
University of Southern California Law School
New York University Law
Florida State University College of Law
Florida International University
George Washington Law School
Pace University School of Law
Illinois Institute of Technology College of Law
John Marshall Law School
Brigham Young University Law School
The University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
University of Hawaii School of Law
Yeshiva University Cardozo School of Law
St. John’s University School of Law
Wake Forest School of Law
GRE versus LSAT – what are their advantages and disadvantages
LSAT is still a more preferred option for most law schools
While the number of law schools in the US that have started accepting GRE scores is growing, the remaining law schools approved by the American Bar Association that accept the LSAT only for their prospective students.
So, if your focus is on a specific law school that is not among the above mentioned schools which accept the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT, then you should prepare for and take the LSAT.
In case the college of your dreams is among the 23 that accepts Graduate Record of Examinations scores, you can choose to take the standardized test which you are more comfortable with and which you think will get you better scores.
The best way to determine which test to choose is to first ask the admissions office at the school where you will be applying whether they accept either score or prefer one over the other.
Then, if possible, you should take a practice test of each type to determine which one you perform better on, and which will be easier for you to prep for in order to reach your target score.
LSAT and GRE – the formats of the two exams
The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test is a standardized computer-based test that is offered throughout the year and serves for applying for most graduate programs and schools.
The LSAT is an online-based standardized test offered every one or two months of the year and is specifically designed for law school GRE scores applications.
LSAT GRE– the sections of the tests and scoring
The LSAT focuses on the students’ reading comprehension, writing, and reasoning skills and is administered in two parts.
The LSAT’s first part is now delivered in an online LSAT-Flex format and is proctored remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first part includes multiple-choice questions testing the test-takers’ analytical reading, reading comprehension, and logical reasoning.
The second part of the LSAT is the writing section. It, too, is administered and proctored online and is referred to as LSAT Writing. Test-takers can download and install the proctoring software for the test and take the LSAT Writing part up to 8 days before the multiple-choice section from their own internet-connected computers.
The score is made up of all correct answers, which is a raw score on the LSAT-Flex, so the more correct questions – the higher your raw score. There are no points deducted for wrong answers.
The raw score is converted to a scaled score of 120 to 180.
The LSAT Writing section includes writing an essay based on your choice of two provided arguments and defending your specific choice. This section tests the abilities of the students for argumentative writing, clarity, and language reasoning. This section is not scored, but a copy of your essay will be sent to the schools of your choice as part of your LSAT score.
The GRE standardized test includes six sections, including two verbal reasoning, two quantitative reasoning sections, and two analytical writing ones. The computer-based test is 3 hours and 45 minutes long.
The GRE is designed to assess the students’ ability to understand and synthesize written information, as well as to solve different mathematical questions and problems, and the ability to defend a specific argument in the writing section. The last section includes an analysis of an issue essay, and one analysis of an argument essay.
The GRE is an adaptive computer test, and each following section will be automatically adjusted in difficulty level based on your performance in the previous section. So, the better your performance – the more complicated your next questions will be.
The GRE is scored with the difficulty level of your questions in mind.
The GRE to LSAT conversion predictor
Since the two standardized tests’ scoring systems are very different, it is hard to perform an exact GRE LSAT conversion of the GRE vs LSAT for law school score or an LSAT-GRE conversion.
The ETS has developed a GRE to LSAT score comparison tool, which provides an LSAT score estimate based on your GRE verbal and quantitative reasoning scores. The admissions office at any law school without LSAT or GRE preferences may use this calculator as part of the admissions process, and for statistics use too.
You can use it to convert your GRE scores and receive a pretty accurate prediction of what you can expect on the LSAT too. This can help you decide on taking LSAT vs GRE law school tests, especially if the school admissions accept the GRE score as well as the LSAT score.
GRE vs. LSAT career opportunities
As mentioned previously, the GRE is a universal standardized adaptive test which can be used for applying for most graduate programs and schools, excluding the medical and most law schools.
So, if you are not 100% certain that you want to continue your higher education in law, then it is a better idea to take the GRE test.
GRE and LSAT score reporting
With the GRE, you can take and retake the test repeatedly and pick the score of your choice when applying to a specific school or program.
The LSAT scores will be accumulated, and all of your attempts will be reported to the school of your choice. Most schools will consider the average of all of your scores during the application process.
Keep in mind that many law schools will still want to receive your LSAT results even if you prefer to submit your GRE scores. So, if you have ever taken the LSAT, the chances are that the schools of your dreams will want to receive those scores no matter whether you wish to report them or not.
With the GRE, you get the option to cancel any score which you are not happy with.
The GRE versus LSAT – the types of questions asked
While both exams have writing sections that are pretty similar, there are some fundamental differences in the types of questions you will need to tackle each exam.
The LSAT contains logic-based questions for which the test-taker will need to point out the logical order of particular objects via the provided rules.
The GRE includes quite a lot of math, including algebra, geometry, arithmetic, and others, which is great news for people who are good at math and not so good for test-takers who have been struggling with mathematics at school and college or on their SAT. The LSAT is verbally based.
LSAT and GRE – how often can you retake them
You are allowed to retake the LSAT each time it is offered per year, so you can take the LSAT about six times every year. The GRE can be retaken only once every 21 days and you can take the GRE up to five times per year.
Then again, you can pick which GRE scores to cancel and which to present to the school’s admissions office, while all of your LSAT scores will be sent to the admissions.
GRE versus LSAT – which should you take?
If you are 100% certain that you want to go to law school, and the school of your choice only accepts LSAT, then you should take the LSAT. Check whether the law schools on your list are now accepting the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT.
In case you are not certain which school and discipline you want to study, then the GRE is the universal choice accepted by most graduate schools, sans the medical, and many of the law schools acknowledged by the American Bar Association.
In case your dream law school is among the programs which now accept the GRE score and the LSAT as well, then it is up to you to decide whether to take the GRE or the LSAT, depending on which exam will be easier for you and which one you are likely to score better at.
But remember that the LSAT score or GRE score is only one part of your application and that you will need to include strong credentials as part of your application to the school admissions, especially if you are applying for top-ranked programs and law schools.
You can get help from a professional college admissions consultancy company for tips on your application, essay, resume, interview, and others.
There are also some excellent LSAT and GRE test prep courses, books, and tools that you can use to ensure that you get a higher score on any of these tests and get you in one of the schools of your choice.