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Press release | Research

National Data: The GRE® General Test is a Valid Predictor of Law School Success

October 31, 2017

Princeton, N.J. (June 15, 2018) – As a result of new research, the GRE ® General Test is poised to help law schools expand access to legal education and ease the burden for students interested in multiple education opportunities who would otherwise be required to prepare and pay for two tests.

After a series of school-specific studies, Educational Testing Service (ETS) — working with 21 U.S. law schools — conducted a national validity study to determine how well GRE ® scores predict success in law schools. Written by David M. Klieger, Brent Bridgeman, Richard J. Tannenbaum, Frederick A. Cline and Margarita Olivera-Aguilar, “The Validity of GRE ® Scores for Predicting Academic Performance at U.S. Law Schools” indicates that the GRE General Test is a strong, generalizably valid predictor of first-year law school grades. Furthermore, results show that the test adds to the prediction even when undergraduate grade point average already is available to predict those grades. The study also reiterated the reliability of the GRE test that had been shown in prior research.

“We’ve empirically confirmed that the GRE test is a valid and reliable tool for informing law schools’ admissions decisions,” said David Payne, Vice President and COO of Global Education at ETS. “In addition, our research findings show that the GRE test satisfies the current requirement of ABA Standard 503, which requires that law schools use a valid and reliable admissions test to assess their applicants.”

Furthermore, the research results showed similar levels of validity and reliability for the GRE Test and the LSAT, providing strong support for the value of using GRE scores to inform admissions into law schools.

The skills assessed through the GRE test fit closely with the legal skills and educational objectives of law schools. Moreover, the test can also open a critical pipeline of law students with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) backgrounds to meet society’s and the profession’s needs. As Klieger et al. note, the “GRE test could help expand access to legal education beyond the traditional pre-law degree fields. There are potential law school applicants who have either completed or are considering many STEM and non-STEM graduate and professional programs that require or recommend the GRE test.”

Interest in the GRE test among law schools has been growing since last year when the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law decided to accept GRE scores for admission.

“Our goal was to open additional pathways to the College of Law, making our student body more diverse on all measures, including intellectual interests,” said Marc Miller, the Dean of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. “As the forces of technology and globalization transform the legal profession, lawyers will need to bring an increasingly wide range of perspectives to the law, perspectives reflected in the vast range of students who take the GRE every year. Moreover, students are often undecided about what they want to do at the end of their undergraduate degree, or may want to obtain dual degrees, and requiring them to invest the time and money to take two different tests seemed an unnecessary barrier. This is a win-win for students and law schools.”

In addition to the University of Arizona, several other law schools have already publicly announced that they will be accepting GRE scores for admissions, including Harvard University, Columbia University, Georgetown University, Northwestern University, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Hawaii.

With the completion of this study, Payne expects that number to grow, particularly in light of strong relationships between the scores on the GRE test and performance in law school.

“The Validity of GRE ® Scores for Predicting Academic Performance at U.S. Law Schools,” can be downloaded at https://doi.org/10.1002/ets2.12213.

For more information about the GRE General Test or to register to take a GRE test, please visit www.ets.org/gre.

About ETS

At ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and postsecondary education, and by conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded as a nonprofit in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC ® tests, the GRE ® tests and The Praxis Series ® assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide. www.ets.org

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