We don’t believe this is the tipping point, we’re certainly inching closer to it with every announcement of an additional school that will accept the GRE. This time, it was T14 member Berkeley Law that announced it would accept the GRE as well as the GMAT effective this application season. Unfortunately, Berkeley Law, formerly known as Boalt Hall, is only going to accept the GRE from some applicants.
In its announcement, Berkeley Law explained the three-year pilot program would accept the GRE or GMAT in lieu of the LSAT for applicants to concurrent and combined degree programs as well as those interested in pursuing specialized fields such as patent law, start-up law and energy law. These represent areas where Berkeley wishes to maintain its competitive advantage by attracting the most diverse applicant pool possible.
Berkeley did seem to hedge itself a bit with this policy decision. Kristin Theis-Alvarez, the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, clearly stated, “After careful examination, we determined that while the vast majority of applicants will (and should) take the LSAT [emphasis added], some applicants could reasonably be evaluated on the basis of alternative assessments.” Dean Erwin Chemerinsky added, “The three year pilot program will allow time for us to collect data from our experience at Berkeley Law. We will evaluate this program each year during the pilot and consider adjustments if needed. Allowing these students to apply with the GRE and GMAT will further our interdisciplinary mission and help us to continue to attract outstanding law students.”
To be clear, every school that accepts the GRE is moving us closer to the tipping point. However, we believe it is even more meaningful when it’s a top-tier law school that announces it will accept the GRE. For better or worse, these schools have more influence over admission trends. Quite simply, it’s just harder for their peers to ignore their policy changes.