UA Law School Opens Admissions to GRE Test Takers

A December study showed performance on the GRE General Test to be a valid and reliable predictor of law school student success.
Feb. 10, 2016

The University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law will now accept either GRE General Test or Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, scores from all applicants.

A study conducted in December by Educational Testing Service, or ETS, demonstrated that, for students in Arizona Law’s J.D. program, performance on the GRE General Test is a valid and reliable predictor of students’ first-term law school grades, and so meets the American Bar Association’s Legal Education Standard for use in admissions to law school programs.

Arizona Law is the first law school to validate the GRE test for all applicants. The college submitted formal notification of the policy change to the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education on Tuesday.

"We believe the goals of excellence and diversity in legal education and in the profession will be better achieved if the LSAT is not the only standardized test used by law schools," said Marc Miller, dean of the James E. Rogers College of Law. "By using the GRE test, which is accepted by thousands of graduate and professional degree programs, from biochemistry to public policy to philosophy, we are able to consider qualified applicants from more diverse backgrounds."

The study compared the GRE and LSAT scores of current Arizona Law students and recent graduates with their law school grades. The results show that the GRE test, which assesses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing, is as good a predictor for law school success for Arizona Law students as the LSAT.

"The skills assessed by the GRE General Test fit closely with the skills and educational objectives of law schools," said David Payne, ETS vice president and chief operating officer of Global Education. "Furthermore, the GRE test could open more pathways to law schools, increasing diversity in all its forms, and making it easier for students to pursue joint degrees."

Arizona Law also invited the Wake Forest University School of Law and the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law to conduct GRE studies with ETS, and their results are expected later this year. ETS previously conducted similar analyses for business schools, many of which now accept either GRE or GMAT scores, including every school in the top 20 of the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

"The study that led the College of Law to realize that the GRE was a valid and reliable predictor of Arizona Law student performance is one in a line of innovations in legal education from Arizona the past few years, and speaks to the University of Arizona’s commitment to improving access to graduate education and to supporting diversity of thought and perspectives," said Andrew Comrie, the UA's provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, who previously served as dean of the Graduate College. "Now students from a wider spectrum of backgrounds, including those interested in any of the College of Law’s dual degree options, can pursue a legal education relying on a standardized test that is readily available and widely used by other graduate and professional programs."

In making admissions decisions, Arizona Law will continue to follow its policy of evaluating an applicant’s standardized test score, undergraduate GPA, record from other graduate studies, public service, life experience, demonstrated leadership, personal statement, recommendations and other factors.