Columbia Law School will join six other law schools, including Harvard and Georgetown University, in accepting the Graduate Record Exam for admission as an alternative to the LSAT.
Columbia announced Tuesday that it will accept the GRE scores from applicants to its three-year J.D. program beginning on a trial basis in fall 2018.
Harvard Law School in March became the second law school that said it would accept the GRE for admission. Last year, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law was the first American Bar Association-accredited school to announce it would accept the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT.
A recent Kaplan Test Prep survey showed 25 percent of the 128 admissions officials who responded said they intended to allow both the GRE and LSAT in the near future. Earlier this month, the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis said it would begin accepting the GRE or the LSAT from applicants for seats next fall. Law schools at Northwestern University and the University of Hawaii also have embraced the alternative test. The University of California at Los Angeles School of Law allows graduate students on the UCLA campus to apply with their GRE scores.
Columbia, in its announcement, said the GRE will allow a broader pool of candidates to apply to the school. Taking the GRE, the school said, could be particularly attractive to those whose academic or professional pursuits have not aligned with the study of law. The GRE is used for admission to most advanced degree programs outside of business, law and medicine.
“The world has become increasingly interconnected and it is part of our mission to prepare students to address the challenges brought on by change,” Columbia Dean Gillian Lester said. “To that end, we are devoted more than ever to assembling classes that comprise the broadest possible array of talents, skills, interests, experiences and backgrounds.”
To comply with American Bar Association standards, the law school conducted a study that used a data privacy technique to evaluate the GRE performance of current and past Columbia Law School students. The study concluded the GRE is comparable to the LSAT in predicting success in the first year of law school at Columbia.
The law school also said accepting the GRE would reduce costs for applicants who otherwise would have to prepare and sit for an additional test. The reduced costs, in turn, would aid the law school in keeping Columbia more accessible for qualified students regardless of socioeconomic status.
The law school said it will continue to use a holistic admissions policy in which applicants will be reviewed based on factors that include academic record, writing caliber, recommendations and individual characteristics.