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Should You Take the LSAT or GRE for Your Law School Application?

Published October 20, 2020

It’s a common question among law school applicants: should I take the LSAT or GRE? This blog post covers some of the common distinctions of both and discusses how the best choice for you might depend on your own particular situation.

As more schools begin to accept the GRE in addition to the LSAT, you may wonder which test you should take. It doesn’t make sense to discuss them in terms of pros and cons, but rather what test suits your situation, skillset and how it can best support you in your law school application journey.

Here you’ll find a few of the main points you should consider when deciding whether the LSAT or the GRE is right for your law school application.

If you’re a graduate student you might already have a GRE score.

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Although many schools are reevaluating standardized test requirements, most students currently in graduate school typically have a GRE score that is valid for five years and can be reused. If you’re in one of these camps, then you can save yourself time and money by reusing the results, provided you are happy with your score. 

Research your school choices as not all of them accept the GRE.

Perhaps the main distinction is that the LSAT is accepted by all law schools, while (as of writing) almost 70 law schools accept the GRE. Even if you are taking the GRE, every prospective law student must create an LSAC.org Account and apply to law school(s) through LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS).

Your decision might be an easier one to make depending on how certain you are of your school choices.

The main differences between the tests.

Both the LSAT and the GRE test you on your critical thinking and ability to find flaws in arguments. Both require extensive preparation and the results from both are good for five years. But there are still some big differences:

  • The LSAT was created for law school applicants, while the GRE is a general intellectual test.
  • Only the LSAT includes analytical reasoning and logical reasoning sections.
  • Only the GRE includes questions concerning math and vocabulary.
  • The LSAT is offered a limited number of times a year, while the GRE is offered year-round.
  • The GRE is computer-adaptive, meaning the difficulty becomes personalized as you progress. The LSAT is not personalized.
  • You may take the GRE once every 21 days and up to five times per calendar year. You may take the LSAT three times in a single testing year, five times within the current and five past testing years and a total of seven times over a lifetime.
  • The LSAT is 3 hours and 35 minutes with one 15-minute break. The GRE is 3 hours and 45 minutes with an optional 10-minute break.
  • The LSAT costs $180 for the test and has a flat CAS subscription fee of $185 to send score reports, with an additional $35 per school. The GRE costs $205 for the test, with an additional $27 per school to send score reports.
  • The GRE lets you preview your score for free, while the LSAT includes a paid score preview option for first-time test takers that costs $45.

Getting your test results.

If you’re taking the GRE test, you can receive unofficial scores for the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections immediately after you finish, while your official results—including your analytical writing score—will be available in 10-15 days.

If you have an LSAC account with a registered email address, you should receive your LSAT score within three weeks. If they have to mail you your results it could take up to four weeks.

Which test does UB prefer?

We saved the easiest for last. UB does not prefer one test over the other. Both the LSAT and the GRE are regarded equally during admissions committee review.

Final thoughts

The LSAT and the GRE benefit applicants differently. Do your homework on both tests and make sure to practice, practice, practice. If math isn’t your strong suit, perhaps avoid the GRE. If you are particularly confident with your writing skills, perhaps go with the GRE since the writing is scored. With a little research after considering these points, you can maximize your application’s impact for the schools you’re most interested in.

Feel free to reach out to the Office of Admissions with any additional questions about the LSAT, GRE or the law school application process in general.

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Amber Melvin, Esq. '13, is Assistant Director of Admissions and a graduate of the UB School of Law.

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