GRE vs. LSAT: Which Test Should You Choose?

Choosing the right test for law school admissions is crucial. The LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) are the primary standardized tests accepted by law schools. But how do you decide which one to take? Let’s dive into the details of both exams to understand what law schools really want and how you can make an informed choice.

Understanding the LSAT

The LSAT has long been the gold standard for law school admissions. Created by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), it measures skills deemed essential for success in law school. The LSAT was introduced in 1948 to provide a standardized way to assess applicants’ readiness for law school. Its primary purpose is to evaluate critical reading, logical reasoning, and analytical thinking skills.

The LSAT consists of five 35-minute sections: one Reading Comprehension, one Analytical Reasoning (logic games), two Logical Reasoning sections, and an unscored experimental section. Additionally, there is a 35-minute writing sample at the end, which is not scored but sent to law schools.

Scores range from 120 to 180, with 170+ considered excellent. The score is determined by the number of correct answers, with no penalty for guessing.

Understanding the GRE

The GRE, administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), is a more general graduate admissions test that has gained acceptance by many law schools. The GRE was introduced in 1936 and is widely used for admissions to various graduate programs. Its purpose is to assess verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills.

The GRE includes three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Each section is divided into two subsections, with a total test time of approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Scores for Verbal and Quantitative sections range from 130 to 170, and the Analytical Writing section is scored from 0 to 6.

Comparing the LSAT and GRE: Is the GRE Easier Than the LSAT?

The question of whether the GRE is easier than the LSAT doesn’t have a straightforward answer, as it largely depends on the individual test-taker’s strengths and weaknesses.

Content and Structure Differences

The LSAT is specifically designed to test skills necessary for law school, such as logical reasoning, analytical reasoning (often referred to as “logic games”), and reading comprehension. It requires a high level of critical thinking and the ability to understand and analyze complex texts and arguments.

The GRE, on the other hand, is a more general test used for a wide range of graduate programs. It includes sections on verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. The quantitative section, which involves math, is a significant difference that can be a deciding factor for some students.

Test-Taker Strengths

For someone who excels in math and has strong verbal skills, the GRE might feel easier because it aligns more closely with their abilities. Conversely, someone with a strong background in logical reasoning and critical reading might find the LSAT more manageable.

Preparation and Practice

Both tests require substantial preparation, but the types of study and practice differ. The LSAT demands practice in logical and analytical reasoning, often involving unique question types not seen in other standardized tests. The GRE, while broader in scope, requires proficiency in math and verbal skills, which might be more familiar to many students.

Scoring and Flexibility

The scoring systems are different, with the LSAT scoring between 120 and 180, and the GRE combining scores from 260 to 340 for verbal and quantitative sections. The GRE’s flexibility in test dates and availability might also make it more appealing to some applicants.

Ultimately, whether the GRE is easier than the LSAT depends on the individual. It’s important to assess your own strengths and consider which test plays to those strengths. Reviewing practice questions for both tests can help determine which one feels more intuitive and less challenging for you.

Why Some Law Schools Accept the GRE

The landscape of law school admissions is changing, with more schools now accepting the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT. This trend is driven by various factors that aim to attract a wider range of applicants.

By accepting the GRE, these schools open their doors to individuals with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This diversification not only enriches the student body but also brings different perspectives into the field of law. The GRE, being a more generalized test, appeals to those who may have initially considered other graduate programs but are now contemplating a legal education.

The GRE provides flexibility for students who might be considering multiple graduate programs, thereby reducing the need to take multiple standardized tests. This flexibility is particularly appealing to those who are still undecided about their exact career path. 

By accepting the GRE, law schools can promote diversity and inclusion by opening doors to candidates from varied academic and professional backgrounds. This move helps in attracting students who might not have otherwise considered law school. For instance, candidates with strong quantitative skills or those from underrepresented communities might find the GRE more accessible. This broader acceptance helps create a more diverse and inclusive environment within law schools, which is beneficial for the legal profession as a whole.

Pros and Cons of Taking the LSAT

Choosing between the LSAT and the GRE involves weighing the pros and cons of each test. Let’s explore the specific advantages and disadvantages of taking the LSAT.

Advantages

  • Tailored to Skills Needed for Law School: The LSAT is designed specifically to assess skills that are crucial for success in law school, such as logical reasoning, analytical thinking, and reading comprehension.
  • Well-Established and Widely Accepted: The LSAT has been the standard for law school admissions for decades, and it is accepted by nearly all ABA-accredited law schools.
  • Focuses on Critical Thinking and Logical Reasoning: The test places a strong emphasis on evaluating critical thinking and logical reasoning abilities, which are essential for law students.

Disadvantages

  • Limited to Law School Applications: The LSAT is primarily geared towards law school admissions, making it less versatile for applicants considering other graduate programs.
  • Can Be Challenging and Stressful: The unique format and specific focus of the LSAT can be daunting and require intensive preparation.
  • Requires Intensive Preparation: Success on the LSAT often demands significant time and effort in preparation, which can be a drawback for busy applicants.

Pros and Cons of Taking the GRE

The GRE is another option for law school applicants, but it comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here’s a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of taking the GRE.

Advantages

  • Accepted by Many Graduate Programs: The GRE is versatile and accepted by numerous graduate programs, not just law schools, making it a good choice for applicants exploring various options.
  • Broader Skill Assessment: It assesses a wide range of skills, including verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing, which can appeal to a broader audience.
  • Offers More Flexible Test Dates and Locations: The GRE is offered more frequently and in more locations than the LSAT, providing greater convenience for test-takers.

Disadvantages

  • May Not Test Specific Skills Required for Law School: While the GRE covers a broad range of skills, it might not test the specific logical reasoning and analytical abilities required for success in law school as effectively as the LSAT.
  • Some Law Schools May Still Prefer the LSAT: Despite the growing acceptance of the GRE, some law schools still have a preference for the LSAT.
  • Requires Preparation in Both Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning: Preparing for the GRE involves brushing up on both verbal and quantitative skills, which can be challenging for some applicants.

Future Trends in Law School Admissions Tests

Predictions suggest that more law schools will continue to accept the GRE, broadening the applicant pool even further. There’s also speculation about the development of new standardized tests tailored specifically to law school admissions, which could emerge to better assess the diverse skills needed in legal education.

Evolving educational trends and diversity efforts are likely to shape the future of law school admissions. This might include integrating more holistic approaches to assessing candidates, considering factors beyond standardized test scores. Additionally, there could be an increased emphasis on experiential learning and practical skills in the admissions process.

Conclusion

Choosing between the LSAT and GRE depends on various factors, including your personal strengths, career goals, and the specific requirements of your target law schools. Both tests have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to make an informed decision based on your unique circumstances. Consider your strengths, the flexibility you need, and the preferences of your target schools to make the best choice for your future in law.