Breaking down admissions barriers
By McKenzie Ward
I took the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) last week, for the second time after taking it previously in September 2022.
The LSAT is a standardized test administered by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) and consists of four sections: logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, reading comprehension, and then an experimental section that could be any of the three other categories.
Individuals looking to apply to law schools that are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) must take the LSAT in order to apply to those schools.
In recent months, the ABA has introduced a proposal that would allow accredited law schools to be test optional.
Many have argued the LSAT requirement should be dropped because it can be seen as a roadblock for those seeking to apply to law school due to the cost of the test prep and the actual test.
Each time that I took the LSAT, it was $215. Most LSAT tutors are approximately $200 an hour - if not more. LSAT prep courses are a minimum of $99 for access to all of the previous LSAT exams through the LSAC, and then these courses will charge their own monthly fee, typically a minimum of $69.
I could barely afford to take the LSAT, and I had to use free resources like Khan Academy and second-hand books to self-study for the exam.
The LSAC does provide opportunities for fee waivers, which would eliminate the cost of at minimum one LSAT exam along with other cost-waived LSAC services. However, the eligibility requirements may prove to be a hindrance for some. While I applied for a fee waiver through the LSAC, my application was denied because I am under the age of 24, and my income was based on my parents’.
While I do agree that the LSAT is a roadblock for many students, including myself, as a result of its cost, I disagree with it being eliminated from the requirements for law school admissions.
The LSAT is an essential part of the law school admissions process because it can be used as a common measuring stick to compare applicants to one another. While each applicant has a GPA, some applicants went to schools where students can receive A-pluses for a final grade. When transcripts that have A-pluses on them are recalculated by the LSAC, these GPAs can sometimes go over the 4.0 scale, which provides these students an advantage over students at universities or colleges that do not award A-pluses.
The bigger problem with the LSAT and, truly, law school admissions, in general, is the cost.
The LSAT costs $215 to take, and that is before spending money on tutors or prep courses.
Applicants also have to pay $195 for the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which “simplifies” the admissions process because this is where one’s letters of recommendation, transcripts, and any other document needed to apply to law school are stored before sending them out to the individual law schools.
CAS is essentially the Common App for law school admissions.
However, before sending your applications, you must pay $45 per school to the LSAC and possibly pay the law school’s application fee, which could range from $50 to $85, depending on the school.
By the time I am finished applying to 12 schools, I will have spent a minimum of $1,200 - without even a guarantee I will be admitted.
So, while I understand that standardized testing is difficult and time-consuming, in the case of law school, it is the one piece of my application that could be easily compared to others if we make the process cheaper.
By eliminating some of the costs associated with applying to law school, doors will open for those who may be discouraged otherwise.
No one’s dreams should ever be crushed because of the cost of reaching them.