Choose GRE or LSAT?

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Chloe111

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Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby Chloe111 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:28 pm

Hi folks,

I'm in my senior year and trying to figure out whether I should take GRE or LSAT. I have done diagnostic tests for both and started reading some prep resources as well. I find that I may be better at GRE (thanks to the quantitative reasoning part).

According to the official sites of law schools that accept GRE scores, they are not biased towards either GRE or LSAT, but I still come up with following concerns (or maybe I'm overthinking):

1. GRE was accepted to attract students with more diverse backgrounds (especially STEM) and students who want to do dual degrees; however, I'm from a pure humanities background and have no intention to pursue a second degree, is it wired if I do NOT choose LSAT? Will a humanities background with GRE scores ONLY make me disadvantaged during the application process?

2. So far, law schools haven't disclosed any data about GRE scores (e.g. median, 75the percentile), so it seems that I cannot evaluate my chances for certain law schools even if I get my GRE scores.

An additional choice might be doing both simultaneously, but I'm not sure whether I can handle this. I feel like it would be better if I can stick to one.

Thanks for any advice!

QContinuum

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby QContinuum » Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:03 pm

First, absolutely do not take both. If you take both, law schools will more or less disregard your GRE score(s) and focus solely on your highest LSAT score. They will treat you effectively the same as an LSAT-only candidate. There is no advantage to taking both the GRE and the LSAT.

Second, you're right that as far as data goes, there's no public data on how law schools treat GRE scores. I would not consider ETS' GRE to LSAT "converter" dispositive, as there's no public evidence that schools actually use that calculator.

Finally, some/many law schools still accept only the LSAT. Being a GRE-only candidate will limit your options. In contrast, every law school accepts the LSAT.

Overall, unless you have a strong reason to believe that you are much more suited to the GRE than the LSAT, I'd strongly recommend taking the LSAT alone.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby totesTheGoat » Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:35 pm

Chloe111 wrote: GRE was accepted to attract students with more diverse backgrounds (especially STEM) and students who want to do dual degrees


I'm really skeptical about this being the reasoning because 1) the LSAT isn't what's keeping STEM candidates out of law school admissions, it's the fact that a 3.4 in mechanical engineering is treated almost no different than a 3.4 in psychology; and 2) dual degrees including a JD are so rare as to not even be worth mentioning. It would make more sense for schools to accept the GMAT, because the most common dual degree is a JD/MBA.

however, I'm from a pure humanities background and have no intention to pursue a second degree, is it wired if I do NOT choose LSAT? Will a humanities background with GRE scores ONLY make me disadvantaged during the application process?


Why do you want to take the GRE instead of the LSAT? Do you want to get a PhD or MA in your field? That's really the only reason to take the GRE.

If you want to go to law school, take the LSAT. Maybe it makes sense to apply with a GRE if you already have an awesome score in your back pocket, but that doesn't sound like your situation.

QContinuum

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby QContinuum » Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:40 pm

totesTheGoat wrote:I'm really skeptical about this being the reasoning because 1) the LSAT isn't what's keeping STEM candidates out of law school admissions, it's the fact that a 3.4 in mechanical engineering is treated almost no different than a 3.4 in psychology; and 2) dual degrees including a JD are so rare as to not even be worth mentioning. It would make more sense for schools to accept the GMAT, because the most common dual degree is a JD/MBA.

To be fair, I think the "let's attract more STEM candidates!" rationale is the exact public rationale given by just about every law school that's decided to start accepting the GRE.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby totesTheGoat » Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:41 pm

That's really, really stupid.

Wubbles

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby Wubbles » Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:06 pm

I don't think law schools pay scholarships for high GRE scores yet, so I think this is an easy choice.

QContinuum

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby QContinuum » Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:11 pm

Wubbles wrote:I don't think law schools pay scholarships for high GRE scores yet, so I think this is an easy choice.

Are you sure? I don't think we can tell from the public data. They might, or they might not.

In any case I certainly agree that there is zero reason at this point for OP to choose the GRE over the LSAT. OP should take the LSAT to maximize her options (as well as the predictability of her application cycle).

HoJu

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby HoJu » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:57 pm

Take the LSAT. Law schools have only recently started to even consider accepting the GRE, so GRE students are still probably seen as wild cards. Also, it would be a lot harder to accurately gauge your admissions chances for most schools without an LSAT.

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CardozoLaw09

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:05 pm

Only skimmed thread and read OP, so I may be just repeating what was said above.

I would take the LSAT since there's not a lot of data out there with respect to the GRE and it's only a very recent implementation, so there's always the risk that your application, with a GRE, will naturally be viewed as less competitive than someone who applies with an LSAT score, regardless of whether your GRE score is a competitive one or not. If I'm a 0L, I'm definitely taking the LSAT and not the GRE, but obviously my choice could differ 4 or 5 years from now.

dvlthndr

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby dvlthndr » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:48 pm

A "good" LSAT score is much more predictable indicator of where you are going to get in, and it's rare that you will be able to outperform on the GRE and be unable to perform on the LSAT. If you are making the choice, just take the LSAT.

The excuse about attracting more STEM students or people with diverse backgrounds is probably bunk. It's mostly inflating the total number of applicants in general. The top schools schools get to report lower admission percentages and appear "selective," and schools further down the rankings get a wider pool of suckers to try squeezing tuition dollars.

The number of students admitted to top programs with only a GRE score is very small, and we don't have good statistics about the cutoffs/medians. However, a rough approximation is that schools will want you to have a GRE score with a percentile commensurate with their typical LSAT numbers (that is basically how the ETS "comparison tool" works).

For example, a school like Columbia has a median LSAT of 171, or the 98th percentile. Humanity majors should aim to hit around the 98th percentile for your verbal score (i.e., a 168) and on your analytical writing (i.e., a 5.5 out of 6), and do respectably in the math category (e.g., a 160+ to put you in the top third or so of test takers). Maybe if you hit a great score on the math you can do a little worse on the verbal (e.g., a 165/165 or 160/170 combination would probably put you in the right ballpark), but it's all a bit of a guess.

QContinuum

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby QContinuum » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:07 pm

dvlthndr wrote:The number of students admitted to top programs with only a GRE score is very small, and we don't have good statistics about the cutoffs/medians. However, a rough approximation is that schools will want you to have a GRE score with a percentile commensurate with their typical LSAT numbers (that is basically how the ETS "comparison tool" works).

For example, a school like Columbia has a median LSAT of 171, or the 98th percentile. Humanity majors should aim to hit around the 98th percentile for your verbal score (i.e., a 168) and on your analytical writing (i.e., a 5.5 out of 6), and do respectably in the math category (e.g., a 160+ to put you in the top third or so of test takers). Maybe if you hit a great score on the math you can do a little worse on the verbal (e.g., a 165/165 or 160/170 combination would probably put you in the right ballpark), but it's all a bit of a guess.

Is there any indication that law schools only/mostly care about the verbal & writing portions of the GRE score? I would be very leery about assuming that.

dvlthndr

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby dvlthndr » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:18 pm

I agree. I assume they also care about your math score, and didn't mean to suggest otherwise.

The ETS comparison tool puts a *slight* preference on verbal scores (e.g, they say a 170V/160M is like a 172, a 165V/165M is like a 171, and a 160V/170M is like a 169), but whether or not law schools treat it the same way is anybody's guess. The ETS doesn't publish the percentiles for "combined" scores -- but not everybody does exceptionally on both (e.g., fewer than 2% of people will hit the 98th percentile on every section individually). That said, high verbal scores are a little more rare, and it seems like ETS is just guesstimating based on the percentile of your "combined" score.

One quick point on why "math" might be important is that undergraduates in math, statistics, physics, and other "hard" science fields have usually outperformed on the LSAT compared to generic humanities majors (e.g., English, History, Philosophy, etc.)--and actually have some of the highest average LSAT scores. I'm sure that schools and testing services are acutely aware that these highly numerate people also do well on the LSAT (and, presumably, can do the kind of logical thinking required to succeed in law school).

My suggestion about the possible scores is because the OP stated that he was "pure humanities" in college. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's usually code for somebody that has made a point of cracking open as few math textbooks as possible during their college career.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Choose GRE or LSAT?

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:22 pm

I'm too lazy to look up the hard citation but I remember an adcomm saying in an interview that, when doing the validity tests for the GRE, they were surprised to find that the analytic section is in fact very probative of law-school performance.

If I had to, I'd wager the math score is about as important as the verbal score. ETS's calculator probably undercounts perfect math scores because those scores have a bump at the very end of the bell curve rather than neatly fitting a normal distribution: 170V is 99th percentile but 170Q is only 97th percentile (the SAT's math section does the same thing and I'm sure that the logic-games section of the LSAT does too). It's a statistical thing rather than a subjective judgment about the relative value of analytical skills.



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