Free Market

Standardized Testing, Another Licensing Barrier

In 2025, prospective law students may no longer have to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) to be granted admission to their dream school. 

Recently, the American Bar Association (ABA), the group responsible for accrediting law schools, voted to remove its long-standing requirement that law schools utilize the LSAT or other tests like the GRE in the admissions process. However, individual law schools will still maintain the ability to require or make decisions based on the LSAT. 

This move represents a larger reflection of the country’s growing distaste for standardized testing in the higher education process and a continuation of a trend in undergraduate universities that is illustrated by more than 80 percent of US bachelor-degree-granting institutions not requiring students to submit either ACT or SAT standardized exam scores.

Standardized tests have long been a tool that reinforces societal biases. In fact, numerous studies have found that students with more resources perform better on standardized tests like the LSAT than less well-off students. This is largely due to affluence increasing a student’s access to test preparation, tutoring, and retaking the exam. 

It is hard to ignore the impact finances have on test performance. These exams often have little free information available, and the free information that is accessible is often not of the highest quality. High-quality test preparation costs can be quite out of reach for many.  

I, myself, have taken the LSAT and can attest to how expensive obtaining a high score can be. In fact, I estimate that the whole preparation and test-taking process cost me close to $2,000. 

Such outcomes make it apparent that standardized testing in the higher education process can unfortunately be more of a predictor of economic standing than it is of a student’s capabilities. 

Changes like removing the requirement of an LSAT score can largely be expected to increase student diversity at law schools as minority groups and groups with fewer financial resources will no longer be judged on their standardized test performance. Instead, these students can be more holistically judged as unique applicants.

Without such reliance on standardized testing, higher education institutions may be more willing to take a chance and admit a diligent student who simply just doesn’t perform well on a timed exam but who excels elsewhere.