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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

I am more than my LSAT score

Law schools’ emphasis on the exam leaves me worried about my future

I’ve worked my ass off throughout my three and a half years as an undergrad.

Since my freshman year, I’ve pushed myself outside my comfort zone, learning about new interests and working on skills that helped my development over the years.

I’ve been involved in a pre-law organization since my sophomore year. I’m now the president. I joined various clubs like mock trial and Her Campus to work on my communication skills and use writing as an outlet.

My biggest accomplishment has been my recent promotion to a news editor at The Spectrum. I sometimes still can’t fathom that people saw my potential and wanted me to hold an important position.

I did it all with a GPA above 3.5.

You’d think that I’d be proud of my accomplishments and on a steady path as I apply to law school.

That’s not the case.

Unfortunately for me, law schools use a standardized test as one of their most important criteria for admissions.

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) isn’t like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which tests your mathematics and reading comprehension.

The LSAT is a type of exam that you have to learn to take.

The exam takes approximately three hours to complete and is composed of four sections: reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning and writing.

LSAT questions aren’t law-related. But according to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the organization that administers the LSAT, the skills assessed by the LSAT are essential to success in law school and legal practice.

The LSAT was created to “allow schools to identify highly qualified candidates who might otherwise be overlooked on the basis of undergraduate institution, GPA, lack of access to extracurricular activities or other factors,” according to the admission council.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The LSAT actually hinders highly qualified students from being admitted into their dream schools.

LSAT prep can be exorbitantly priced. Although there are resources available to cut down on prep costs, getting a good score definitely requires receiving some type of assistance — whether that be tutoring, prepbooks or another form of aid.

The LSAT also contains material and concepts that take hours to learn and practice. 

That gives some students an advantage. Many of us have to juggle college, work and their lives at home, making it difficult to dedicate more than 15 hours a week to study.

I did the best I could with preparation and even paid for a subscription that offered lessons before my last exam.

I attended workshops and took multiple practice exams.

But the thing is: I’m not confident in my test-taking abilities.

The test is rigorous and dense. At 75 questions, many students struggle to answer every question to the best of their ability in three hours. And unfortunately I, like many other students, don’t have any accommodations.  

I have to prioritize which questions to answer, and I can’t spend time working through the ones  I don’t know. 

The LSAT was created to make the law field more inclusive, but it still serves as a barrier for many.

This system serves neither students nor law schools. Hardworking, smart students can have their futures thrown off by a bad day or nerves, and law schools aren’t getting a complete picture of the students they’re choosing. 

Internships, let alone full-time jobs, don’t place a huge emphasis on a GPA.

So why should one test decide my professional future in law?

Kiana Hodge is a news editor and can be reached at kiana.hodge@ubspectrum.com

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