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Oppose Resolution 300

The experts agree: there’s no compelling evidence that test-optional policies advance diversity. In fact, test-optional policies could actually undermine diversity in enrollment.

An illustration of a classroom full of diverse students taking a test

Press “pause” on the test-optional proposal to allow time for study & refinement.

While it might sound good in theory, the test-optional proposal has the potential to deprive both students and schools of critical information in the admission process, and could actually undermine our efforts to ensure access and diversity in legal education.

The vast majority of law school deans and admission professionals who provided input during the notice and comment period opposed the proposed test optional policy during the notice and comment period, with detailed analysis and suggested alternatives. 

Multiple studies have found that test-optional policies don’t advance diversity. There are important large-scale studies underway right now to assess the impact of test-optional admissions during the pandemic on schools, students, and enrollment diversity.

The proposed policy is not scheduled to take effect until the incoming class of 2026-2027, so we should use the time to study the issues and develop evidence-based policies. Let’s make sure we get this right by delaying consideration of Resolution 300 at least to the August meeting when we will have more evidence upon which to consider such a significant policy change.

An illustration of a building facade surrounded by old-growth trees in the classical architectural style well-represented amongst American law schools. Students and faculty mingle in front of the building.

This is the wrong approach and it is opposed by deans & admission professionals.

The vast majority of law school deans and admission professionals who participated in the notice and comment period opposed the test-optional proposal saying it would deprive students and schools of critical information in the admission process, and could actually undermine efforts to diversify legal education.

Students from a variety of genders and racial backgrounds walking through the lobby of an august-looking building, a law school.

Diversity is rising with the LSAT.

The incoming 2021 and 2022 classes are the most racially/ethnically diverse in history. The incoming 2022 class included almost 37% students of color, a nearly 2 percentage point increase over 2021, which was a record at the time. More than 98% of those matriculants used the LSAT. Schools know how to use the LSAT as part of their holistic admission process, to ensure students have the skills to succeed in law school and to expand access to students from all backgrounds.

An illustration of a middle-aged woman of color presenting a graph with a positive trend on a display screen in a conference room populated by her peers.

Reject this non-solution and use the time to get it right.

The proposed test-optional policy is not scheduled to take effect until the incoming class of 2026-2027, so let’s use the time to get it right rather than ram through a simplistic and symbolic policy that could have negative consequences.

Evidence & experts agree.

Diversity is increasing with the LSAT, and going test-optional could undermine our efforts to advance diversity.

Law school deans, admission professionals, and diversity experts have dug into the data, and have arrived at the same conclusion.

Explore these resources and you’ll see: Resolution 300 is not based on the evidence, is potentially counterproductive, and should be reassessed.


Report from 51 legal ed leaders associated with the Minority Network on how test-optional could negatively impact diversity


Letter from 60 law school deans opposing test-optional


LSAC: Incoming Class of 2022: A Major Advance in Diversity, More Work to Do


Letter from the Law School Admission Council opposing amendments to Standards 501 & 503


Reuters: Law student diversity hits new high as schools await affirmative action ruling


The LSAT and Diversity: How Test-Optional Could Undermine Diversity

Frequently Asked Questions

There are lots of good-faith questions being asked about amending Standards 501 & 503, and we can understand why. While these amendments appear well-meaning, the data reveals that they’re largely symbolic, and could stand in the way of more meaningful efforts to improve diversity at our law schools.

Many undergraduate schools have gone test-optional during the pandemic. Why shouldn’t law schools go test-optional too?

There are important differences between test-optional policies in college admission and law school admission. In college admission, high school GPA is the single best predictor of college success, and standardized tests add only 5-15% to the predictive validity of high school GPA. By contrast, in law school admission, the LSAT is the single best predictor of law school success – far better than undergraduate GPA. The LSAT improves the predictive validity of undergraduate GPA by nearly 60 percent.

One reason people have given for wanting to go test-optional is the score gap – not just for the LSAT, but for all standardized tests

Standardized tests are not the cause of the score gap, they are a measurement of the educational and socio-economic inequities that exist in our society. The LSAT is designed and tested to ensure it is free from any form of bias. It takes up to 3 years for a question to go through evaluation and field testing. Before any question is used as a scored item on the LSAT, it is field tested by thousands of actual test takers; if any form of bias is seen, the question is discarded and never used again. As a result, the predictive value of the LSAT is consistent across all racial, ethnic, and gender groups.

Properly used, the LSAT is an important tool for enhancing diversity. The LSAT is a standardized way for candidates from less prestigious schools or economically challenged backgrounds to demonstrate their skills. If you get rid of the LSAT, admission decisions will increasingly rely on other factors that are heavily based on wealth and privilege, such as the prestige of an applicant’s undergraduate institution, undergraduate GPA, letters of reference, extracurricular activities, essays, and other factors.

Research shows that if you go to a GPA-based admission approach, you will miss 8-27% of highly qualified candidates from minoritized communities.

Schools know how to use the LSAT as one factor in a holistic admission process. The LSAT provides critical information, but it is just one tool.

It’s important to note that the incoming fall 2021 law school class was the most diverse in history, with 35% students of color and 57% women – and 98% of them used the LSAT as part of their application.

Even beyond admissions, LSAT can play an important role in helping to identify incoming students who need academic support. The LSAT helps schools ensure that the students they admit have the skills – and the ongoing support — to ultimately succeed.

Some people say the ABA is the only accrediting entity that requires an admission test. If other professional accrediting agencies don’t require an admission test, why should the ABA?

Think of the differences between say medical school and law school. Candidates for medical school have generally taken a set of prescribed courses that are required for medical school – biology, chemistry, etc. Similarly, graduate schools in a given field have required undergraduate coursework in those fields. So there is a common set of courses that medical schools and other graduate schools can use as part of their admission decisions. Further, medical students are required to take and pass the Step 1 licensure exam after the first two years of medical school.

Law school is completely different. Candidates for law school do not have any required prerequisites. Indeed, candidates for law school can come from any undergraduate field of study – from social sciences to STEM to studio art and beyond. In the absence of a set of prerequisites that would help guide admissions, and given the extraordinary investment of time and money required for law school, it makes sense to have a standardized assessment as one part of a holistic admission process. Schools can and do choose to weight the LSAT, undergraduate GPA, and other factors differently, according to their admission policies.

What kind of comments did the ABA Council receive during the public Notice & Comment period?

The Council received 117 separate comments, which is an unusually large number compared to any recent Notice & Comment processes. On a superficial level, the comments were split pretty evenly, but when you dig a little deeper it’s clear that the vast majority of comments from deans, admission deans, and other members of the legal education were strongly opposed to the Council’s test-optional proposal. Several of the individual comments in opposition to the Council’s proposal were signed by very large numbers of legal education leaders, including:

  1. A comment in opposition signed by 60 law school deans, outlining their strong concerns about the lack of evidence supporting the Council’s proposal, the potential negative impact on diversity, and proposing an alternative approach that would provide more flexibility to law schools while allowing time to gather the necessary data to guide future changes.
  2. A comment signed by 51 law school deans, admission deans, and diversity leaders associated with the Minority Network, expressing strong opposition to the Council’s proposal.

By contrast, most (but not all) of the comments in favor of the Council’s proposal were comments submitted by individuals, often students or others with limited experience in legal education or admission.

Only a handful of deans or admission leaders expressed support for the Council’s proposal.

Oppose Resolution 300

There’s virtually no evidence that test-optional admissions increases diversity in enrollment, and it’s opposed by law school deans and admission professionals. Reject this proposal in its current form, and send it back for further study and refinement.

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