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Northwestern to accept GRE for law school admission

Starting in fall 2018, Law School will allow applicants to submit either GRE or LSAT for admission

CHICAGO - Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law will allow all J.D. applicants starting in fall 2018 to submit either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) for admission the following year (fall 2019).

This decision was made after careful evaluation, including a study conducted in conjunction with the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the organization that administers the GRE. In accordance with American Bar Association (ABA) Standards for Legal Education, the study assessed whether the GRE is a valid predictor of first-year academic performance at Northwestern Law. Results showed that the GRE is, in fact, a strong predictor of first-year performance at Northwestern.

“At Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, we are firmly committed to meeting the evolving needs of the profession, and this means constantly evaluating the law school experience,” said Daniel Rodriguez, dean and Harold Washington Professor at Northwestern Law. “This includes our curriculum, where we have established relevant new programs, concentrations and courses, our student support infrastructure, including financial aid, and also student admissions and recruitment.”

Over the past year, the University of Arizona College of Law and Harvard Law have made similar announcements.

The GRE evaluates qualitative and quantitative skills comprehensively and is broadly accepted by thousands of graduate and professional degree programs, from biochemistry to philosophy.

“Gaining access to GRE test-takers, many of whom are engineers, scientists and mathematicians, could benefit Northwestern Law and the legal profession at large by diversifying the applicant pool,” Rodriguez said. “Additionally, the GRE is offered a number of times throughout the year and in locations worldwide, making it easily accessible for prospective students.”

The ABA Council is reviewing its standards in regard to mandatory standardized tests required for law school admissions. Waiting until the following academic year to implement this change will give this process an opportunity to unfold in a more deliberative way and, therefore, will ultimately provide more clear guidance about what is or is not permitted under the standards.

In the end, the Law School is optimistic that the ABA will allow law schools greater flexibility in the admissions process, to the benefit of students, schools and the profession alike. Pending the ABA’s decision, the Law School may accelerate its acceptance of the GRE to the upcoming admissions cycle.

Test scores will continue to be only one factor in the evaluation of law school candidates. The Law School will continue to consider a range of factors, including academic ability, work experience, public service, leadership, interviews, career goals, writing skills and letters of recommendation, when making admissions decisions. 

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