LSAT Versus the GRE: Harvard Fucks It Up For Everyone

HEY! Did you hear the big fuckin’ news? Harvard Law decided it was no longer going to require the LSAT to be considered for admission! Oh happy fucking day for all those poor little shits about to register for the administration of the LSAT that’s going to take place in about three months! No longer will they be required to actually register and sit for a graduate school admission exam that can only be applied to one particular type of school. No, from on high in Cambridge it has been declared that the GRE will from henceforth be an acceptable standard by which to measure applicants for entry into the legal profession.

Of course, you know, this is only at fucking Harvard Law where, let’s just accept facts, most of you shitstains who have decided to practice law have not been and will not be accepted to study. If your end goal in life is to be a lawyer with a Harvard degree, I hoped you made that decision while you were in kindergarten and then proceeded to engage in every extracurricular activity you could find from then until now. That, or be a URM. Those are about the only two options you’re going to have.

Every other law school out there, however, is still going to require your ass sit for the LSAT with the rest of us mouthbreathers and struggle your way through, praying for a score that doesn’t make you take and re-take it until you’re acceptable to something other than the Infinilaw House of Pancakes and Law (Opening in Charlotte in 2018).  Well, I mean, there or the University of Arizona, which also accepts the GRE, but let’s just be completely honest: who the fuck actually wants to go live in Arizona?

And you know what? I think that maintaining the LSAT as a requirement for admission to law school is a good fucking thing, no matter what the ABA and Harvard may say.

What the Fuck is the Difference?

First, you know that you can Google this shit, right? I mean, I’m not your sole source of information on all things legal, or at least I hope to Christ I’m not.

Anyhow, the LSAT is the Law School Admission Test. It’s a standardized test that for about the past 70 or so years has been the accepted standard for admission to law school. You know, like med schools require you to sit for the MCAT. Much like the MCAT tests potential doctors about their knowledge of basic areas that are sort of essential to the study and practice of medicine, like fucking anatomy, the LSAT tests potential law students on subjects that are part-and-parcel to the practice and study of law, like Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Analytical Reasoning. That last one is what we call the famous “logic games” section of the LSAT. There’s also an ungraded “writing portion” that asks you to pick and defend a side of some mundane-as-hell question that gets sent to law schools along with your LSAT score, presumably so the school can verify that although you are attempting to become a lawyer you are not, in fact, brain dead.

The GRE is the Graduate Record Examination, another standardized test administered for general applicants to graduate programs. Instead of having four sections, the GRE tests on six sections: two math sections, two verbal sections that test you on your vocabulary, reading comprehension, and logical reasoning skills, and two scored written essays, one where you discuss a “task” and another where you critique an argument.

There are a few other differences as well. The LSAT is graded on a 180 point scale and is entirely handwritten, though to be fair most of it is multiple choice. The GRE is scored by section, with the verbal and quantitative (math) sections having individual maxes of 170, for a total combined score of 340.  It’s also administered via computer. The LSAT is held on certain days throughout the year in designated examination spots, much like the bar exam, while the GRE can be taken just about any day of the fucking week at your local testing center. The LSAT is good for only one education track, law school, while the GRE is good for several.

Here’s an easy way to think about scoring differences: If the GRE is the SAT, the LSAT is the ACT. One overall score for the whole test, like the ACT, applies to the LSAT, while the GRE releases scores based on section, because really, why does a History graduate student need a high math score?

So, What’s Harvard Proposing?

Basically, Harvard Law is saying that they’ll take GRE scores in lieu of LSAT scores for incoming students starting in the Fall of 2017. This isn’t really something new, considering the ABA is talking about loosening restrictions to allow the same damn thing at every other law school, so long as the GRE score of applicants is in the top 85% of takers for the country. Harvard’s reasoning for doing this is, in part, to “alleviate the burden” faced by students who may not have decided to go to law school completely, and will end up taking both the LSAT and the GRE.

I’m sure it has nothing to do with the shrinking pool of applicants at law schools and the fact that if they accept GRE scores, law schools can poach off some of those people who have decided a doctorate in Anthropology isn’t really the course they want their life to lead. Generally, more people take the GRE than the LSAT. Accepting the GRE expands the pool of potential lambs that can be brought to the slaughter.

This Doesn’t Sound Too Bad, Man.

First, fuck you. This isn’t a question and answer session.

Second, yeah, there’re a lot of statements out there that say the GRE is a good indicator or success in the first year of law school. That’s great. Whoop dee fucking doo. Now, let me ask you a question: is the purpose of law school to teach an academic program ripe for intellectual discussion and study, or is it to begin training the future fucking lawyers of the country? I ask because the first year of law school, while being the most intensive, is also the one that’s the most fucking academic in how it’s taught. The next two years, after you’ve had the basic concepts of how to study and write legally pounded into your brain, take the mush that was once a human back before 1L and molds it into a goddamn lawyer.

And, if the purpose of a law school is to graduate students that are prepped and ready to at least demonstrate the bare competence required to practice law, like the motherfuckin’ ABA says it is, the GRE is not the way to do this. As both U.S. News and World Report and a study done by Texas Tech note, success on the LSAT is an indicator of success on the bar exam. You know, the exam that actually determines whether you get to be the type of asshole that appends the word “Esquire” after your name or not.

Why do you think that is? Well, I’ll tell you: what the LSAT tests, which is not legal knowledge, are the actual fucking skills that are important to the study and practice of law. It is not a test of general knowledge, but rather a test of capability. The GRE, on the other hand, is a test of generalized knowledge in a variety of fields that is intended to apply across a wide spectrum of graduate degrees, and correlates to how well a student can learn a subject. The problem arises with the fact that law schools don’t teach the law, rather they teach you the skills required to learn the law.

This, by the way, would be the difference between someone with a doctorate in biology and a fuckin’ medical doctor. One is an academic, the other is a learned professional in a specialized area with the skills to use the knowledge. You don’t want to accept people based on how they’ll perform academically in med school, you want to accept them based on whether or not it’s likely they’ll become good fucking doctors. The same applies for law school: academics don’t matter, the ability to practice law competently does. The LSAT tests those skills, the GRE doesn’t.

What About This Cost Shit?

Fuck you again. The LSAT is cheaper than the GRE. Shit, even if it wasn’t the LSAT costs $180. The GRE costs $205. If you can’t come up with $385 to take both over the course of the several months you’ll have to get ready to apply to graduate or law schools, then brother, I got some bad news for your ass about student loan debt ratios and law school tuition costs.

You Don’t Know Shit About the GRE.

Oh, I don’t? Well. Fuck, I guess you’re right because I’m a lawyer and a J.D., not one of those fancy MA or Ph.D. holders. Damn man, you got me dead to rights on this one…

…Wait, wait, what’s this over here?

HOLY SHIT! Is that my ABD designation? IT IS! If you don’t know what that means, go Google that shit. Yeah, that’s right assholes, before I went to law school I was a graduate student. Specifically, I was a student of antebellum American history, with a specific focus on political and social movements in the Ohio River valley and the Appalachian mountain ranges. That’s right, dickwads, I’m an unofficial socio-political historian as well as a goddamn lawyer. Suck my academic balls.

So I’ve taken both the GRE and the LSAT, and I crushed both of them. Alright, well, I did okay on both of them, okay enough to actually get accepted into a graduate program and then law school. So yeah, I can say this right now:

The GRE is a completely different creature than the LSAT. The GRE tests what you fucking know. The LSAT tests what you can know. There’s a big difference between the two of those things.

Why Do You Hate Graduate Students?

I don’t hate graduate students. I really don’t. Here’s what I hate:

I hate the commodity treatment that a J.D. has gotten in the recent past as law schools look to bump up their numbers by taking people who are less and less qualified to practice. You know bar passage rates went into a fucking freefall when schools started dropping their LSAT threshold, right? I mean, do you think the GRE will make this better, because I don’t.

We need stricter standards on admission to law schools and the practice of law, because accepting incompetent students and producing incompetent lawyers helps absolutely fucking nobody except the school administrators. In fact, it hurts people: it hurts the students who incur massive amounts of debt, and it hurts the public who hire these same incompetent lawyers to represent them. Accepting the GRE as a standard for admission simply because it will be “less expensive for students” and “is an indicator of academic success” is asinine, because law schools aren’t training academics, they’re training fucking lawyers…and if you don’t recognize the difference between the two, go spend some time with the local bar and get back to me.

Law schools are the first gatekeepers of the practice of law, and need to be fulfilling that role. Shit, before law schools, when attorneys were trained in the offices of other lawyers, the other lawyer would make sure they thought the person could practice. Why? Because that lawyer had to one day stand before the court and move his student for admission to the goddamn Bar. When we went to law schools, we streamlined this process, and the LSAT is supposed to help with that. We shouldn’t disregard the fuck out of it because Harvard Law wants to change the game, assholes.

I mean, should we get rid of the MCAT and just add a “general biology” section to the GRE? Would you be comfortable with that?

But It’s Harvard Law, so It’s Smart.

Look, Harvard Law is Harvard Law, and what works there isn’t going to work elsewhere. Harvard’s pumping out J.D.’s who are mostly academic in nature, guys that will take positions as professors, or clerkships that will put them in cozy positions where they’ll never actually have to practice law. Maybe this shit will work fine for Harvard. But Harvard is not the rest of the goddamn country. Your school is not fucking Harvard (unless it is, then, you know, thanks for reading). It’s likely a state school or some shit-tier school that produced a professor once, twenty years ago.

Them’s the facts. So, look, this went on too fucking long, and I got shit to do today, so I’m gonna wrap it up: The LSAT is a critical part of appropriately assessing the ability of a prospective law student to actually practice law, and the GRE is not. The GRE is a general test of academic ability and knowledge, while the LSAT is a test of capability to think in a certain manner. The GRE indicates law school academic success, the LSAT is an indicator of Bar Exam success. It may work for Harvard, it won’t work for anyone else.

So, if you’re just dying to fuck your life up by being a lawyer, take the fucking LSAT.

-BB