GRE vs LSAT: Law School Test Title Fight!

GRE vs LSAT

Here's the newest addition to our standardized test comparisons: GRE vs LSAT (the generalist vs the verbal assassin). Why bother with GRE vs LSAT? The LSAT has nothing to do with the GRE! Or does it? Ivy league law schools now accept the GRE, along with the GMAT and the LSAT for law school admission.

Yep, it's a whole new world out there. And to add to this standardized test fever dream we've got: digital LSAT (LSAT administered on a computer). So now all the major players have ditched paper.

Should you take the GRE or the LSAT? For law school take the LSAT, if you are considering applying to a general masters program take the GRE, or if you are applying to a joint degree program take the: GRE. LSAC, creators of the LSAT, are very upfront about what they think about the GRE vs the LSAT:

GRE vs LSAT image from LSAC page

Agree, disagree? Comment with any thoughts or questions!

Summary

-GRE vs LSAT debate is heating up since Harvard Law School announced it would accept the GRE

-The LSAT is harder than the GRE

-LSAT has more of a verbal reasoning focus and has no quant section

-The GRE has both verbal and quant

-The GRE allows to you apply not only to Law school but a range of other masters programs. It is the default masters school test.

-For Law school the LSAT is your best option.

-For joint degree programs GRE may be the easiest option

GRE vs LSAT Comparison Chart

GRE vs LSATGRE | 80 q's | 2 Essays | 3 hours 10 minutesLSAT | 125 q's | 2 hours 55 minutes
What’s it for?GRE = the definitive test for admission to general masters programs but is now also gaining traction for Law School and Business School.LSAT = the definitive test for Law School admissions
# of test takers?559,254 (2016). Only a tiny % for Law.62,931 (2018). All for law school.
What does it test?Verbal and quantitative reasoning skills.Verbal and Analytical reasoning skills.
Cost$205 (USA)$190
# of times per year5 times per rolling 12 months. 21 day gap between test. Unlimited per lifetime.Unlimited retakes. However, the LSAT is only offered 9 times per year on fixed dates.
Quant40q/70 min (2 sections)

5 answer multiple choice
-select one choice
-select multiple choices

Numeric Entry
-Test taker inputs answer

Question Types
-Problem Solving
-Quantitative Comparison
LSAT has no math.
Verbal40q//60 minutes (2 sections)

5 answer multiple choice

Question Types
-Text Completion (vocab)
-Sentence Equivalence (vocab)
-Reading Comprehension + Critical Reasoning
2x Critical Reasoning (22-25 questions, 35min)
1x Reading Comprehension (22-25 questions 35min)
1x Experimental (22-25 questions, 35min. Could be any of the three)
Logic GamesNew GRE has no logic games (Old GRE had them)1x Logic Games (22-25 questions, 35min)
ScoringQuant: 130-170

Verbal: 130-170

Essay: 0-6

The GRE has no composite score.
An overall score determined by combing all subsections. 0-180.
Score ReportingLSAC Credential Assembly Services (CAS) charges a one time fee of $195 to report your LSAT scores to as many schools as you like.GRE score select allows you to report any or all GRE scores. No fees apply. However, Law Schools have requested that ALL GRE scores be submitted.
ReschedulingMust be done at least 4 days in advance. $50 fee.$125. Must be done two weeks out from your test give or take a day or two (LSAT has specific cut off dates that change with the test administration).
CancellingMust be done at least 4 days in advance. 50% refund ($102.50).Refund: $50 (out of $190). Must be done two weeks (give or take a day or two. LSAT has specific cut off dates that change with the test administration).
Which is harder?All things equal: the LSAT is more difficult than the GRE.
Easier to study for?There is comparatively little official GRE study material to practice on. The LSAT is the tougher test but it is the easier to test to study for. Why? Tons of official LSAT practice questions available.
Tell me which test to take!!!!!!-Take the GRE if you have a great academic profile and really special application that would make it so a school was looking for a way to admit you even with lower test scores. The GRE doesn't factor into law school rankings.

-And: are you applying to other masters programs besides Law School? You may need to take the GRE.
Want to gold plate your app with the reigning monarch of Law school admissions tests? Take the LSAT.

On LSAT's page they do a hard sell:

"It is advisable for students who want to maximize their chances for admission to take the LSAT."
GRE vs LSAT score for top Law SchoolsLSAT Range for Top 10 is 163 to 175. Corresponding GRE scores below.

LSAT 163 Converted to GRE
GRE V152 Q170
GRE V152 Q169
GRE V153 Q168
GRE V153 Q167
GRE V154 Q166
GRE V155 Q165
GRE V155 Q164
GRE V156 Q163
GRE V157 Q162
GRE V157 Q161
GRE V158 Q160
GRE V158 Q159
GRE V159 Q158
GRE V160 Q157
GRE V160 Q156
GRE V161 Q155
GRE V162 Q154
GRE V62 Q153
GRE V163 Q152
GRE V163 Q151
GRE V164 Q150
GRE V165 Q149
GRE V165 Q148
GRE V166 Q147
GRE V167 Q146
GRE V167 Q145
GRE V168 Q144
GRE V168 Q143
GRE V169 Q142
GRE V170 Q141
GRE V170 Q140

LSAT 175 Converted to GRE (there is no 175 converted GRE so these represent 174)
GRE V166 Q170
GRE V167 Q169
GRE V167 Q168
GRE V168 Q167
GRE V169 Q166
GRE V169 Q165
GRE V170 Q164
GRE V170 Q163
For top 10 Law schools the LSAT range in 2016 was from 163 to 175.

Format

Now that the LSAT has moved into the modern age with a computer delivered exam, the LSAT and GRE have similar test structures. They're computer tests but behave as classic paper tests. You're not "locked in" after confirming an answer as you are on the GMAT. On the GRE and LSAT you can skip questions and go back to them. The GRE is slightly adaptive but not by question. So while you're working on a section there's no adaptivity. If you do well on an entire section then the next section will be tougher (vice versa if you don't do well on a section).

Starting in July 2019 the LSAT will be administered 9 times a year. That's it? Yep. If you have a bad day guess what? You have to wait about 5 weeks to retake. That's far better than the 3 months you used to have to wait pre-2017 (the LSAT was only given 4 times per year). The GRE, like the GMAT, is offered 365 days a year and can be retaken every two weeks an infinite number of times. Also, the GRE is by appointment so scheduling is much more flexible. The LSAT has 9 fixed days/times per year it will be offered. Overall, because of the stress associated with a somewhat rigid LSAT schedule, I'd say the LSAT format is more difficult. The GRE's flexibility makes studying easier.

Critical Reasoning

The LSAT critical reasoning blows the GRE CR out of the water. No contest. The LSAT is much tougher here. The questions are dense, the wrong answers are horribly tempting, and the timing pressure is unnerving.

Reading Comprehension

Again, it's a one punch knockout here for the LSAT. The LSAT reading comprehension can be absolutely bruising. Not that the GRE RC is a walk in the park but it seems like it compared to the LSAT. Like LSAT critical reasoning questions, LSAT RC q's can fog your brain and kill your score.

LSAT Games vs GRE Quant

We might have a draw here. If you're not a math person then you might find the GRE quant challenging. You need much more baseline knowledge to succeed on the GRE quant than the LSAT games. That said, the LSAT games logic can be quite challenging and in general the games require you to think more flexibly and creatively than the GRE quant which is a bit more content based.

Essay

The LSAT no longer has an essay. Well, actually, it does, BUT it's a take-home-essay. So you or someone you know can knock it out within a year of taking your exam. Pretty nice huh? It seems LSAC is trying to shed that old, dusty, archaic, we're running around in white whigs (in the UK), vibe. At some point it's going to be: score your own LSAT.

The essay's themselves are similar. GRE and LSAT essays do count for law school admission but less so than the rest of the score. And now that the LSAT essay is a homework assignment I can only assume it will be de-emphasized further. Do write some practice essays but essay prep should be secondary.

Scoring

Both the GRE and LSAT employ scaled scores and percentile scores. So you get a number that represents your absolute skill (scaled score) and then a percent representing how many people are above or below you (percentile score). The GRE sub-section scaled scoring is out of 170 which is confusingly similar to LSAT scoring which is out of 180. Why the GRE went its own way but also didn't really go its own way says a lot about the test itself. On the GRE there is no overall score. You only get subsection scoring. The LSAT is the opposite with no sub-section scoring (only an overall score).

GRE to LSAT Conversion

GRE to LSAT conversion is a mess. Why? The GRE has no overall score. The LSAT has no subsection scores. So it's very tough to compare GRE and LSAT scores. That said, ETS, makers of the LSAT have created a tool for LSAT conversion. Read the fine print and you find that conversion comes with a potential plus or minus 5 point error. That's a big swing. A 160 and a 170 are very different LSAT scores. That said, this conversion tool is what we've got and what admissions people are using to evaluate applicants for law school.

LSAT GRE Correlation

Does a GRE score correlate with an LSAT score?According to a study by ETS: "The correlation between the GRE scores and the LSAT score is quite high at .85". We answered a similar question in the GMAT vs GRE and GMAT vs LSAT comparisons from a test preparation perspective. At the upper end of the scale: yes. If you're annihilating the LSAT then it's not unlikely you'll do the same on the GRE and vice versa. The nuances are different. The LSAT is more verbal and logic. The GRE is more content and a mix of verbal and quant. Still, if you have great reasoning skills and generally do well on standardized tests you'll likely do well on the GRE and the LSAT. If you don't have an amazing track record with standardized tests then the official particulars of the test itself may matter more. In that case there won't be as much LSAT, GRE correlation as the details of each test start to matter more.

GRE vs LSAT Preparation

Here's where the LSAT is easier than the GRE: LSAT study materials are plentiful. There's an almost unlimited number of official practice questions to sharpen your reasoning skills to equal a fine Japanese chefs knife. GRE materials are scarce especially since the test has changed half a dozen times making older materials less helpful. If you are willing to commit your life to LSAT studying there's enough LSAT study material for a year of non-stop preparation. And, now that the LSAT has become the champion of test innovation, there's free Khan LSAT prep. Yes, you've read that correctly. LSAC and Khan have teamed up to do what Khan does best (well, not best, but he does it) provide free lesson videos.

No GRE Score Choice for Law School

The GRE offers score choice which allows you to select exactly which scores you'd like to send to schools. (sigh of relief). Not so fast! Harvard law school says "we want to see everything from the past five years". This is repeated about 5 times throughout their admissions FAQ. So, you can ping the GRE as many times as you like but beware that you are required to send all of those scores, duds and all, for consideration. And they claim that they do consider all of them. It's even recommended that if you believe one (or more) of the scores doesn't represent you in some that you provide an explanation.

How will they know if you don't submit all of your scores? Who knows. I don't think they can find out. But, if they do, don't expect to be admitted and they could report you to whatever governing body there is. I'd send them all of the scores and be done with it.

Something else to consider. If you've also taken the LSAT you must submit both your LSAT and your GRE scores. These guys are total control freaks. Makes sense that this is for law school. They want allllllll the evidence.

Is the GRE or LSAT better for Law school?

This is very similar to the GMAT vs GRE debate for business school and I think the answer is the same. The LSAT is the gold standard for law school. A top shelf LSAT score is the best thing for applying to law school in the same way that a stellar GMAT score is the best thing for an MBA. That said, there could a few reasons to go for the GRE over the LSAT:

  1. You just took an LSAT, panicked and failed, but need a better score for upcoming applications. The GRE may be your only option to polish up your application. Better a good GRE score than a crappy LSAT score.
  2. You're a quant whiz but not great at reading or critical reasoning. Why are you applying to law school?! Ok - moving on. In this case, it will likely be easier for you to get a much higher GRE score than LSAT score.
  3. You've been accused of a testing irregularity on the LSAT. GRE may be your only option.
  4. You're applying to other masters programs or a joint degree program. If you can get away with just taking one test then the GRE is a fantastic choice. Whereas there could be some bias towards LSAT for standard law school admission I doubt there is for the joint degree programs (part of the reason why GRE and GMAT have been brought into the law school fold).

What about the GMAT for Law school?

Here's our GMAT vs LSAT breakdown weighing the challenges presented by each test.

GRE vs LSAT Conclusion

With the GRE added to business schools and now the GRE and GMAT added to Law schools these are turbulent times in test prep. The motivations behind these decisions seem to point to money and power but the outcomes, I hope, will help give people options in what tests they can take for admissions and make the process easier.

For admission to law school I'd still recommend the LSAT. It's tough to believe that a GRE score will be given exactly the same consideration at this point. The LSAT is the standard so I would stick with it. Also, even though it it the more challenging tense there are tons of study materials and helpful LSAT books to get you closer to your ideal Law program.

If you're planning on a joint degree and both programs accept the GRE then go for the GRE without any regrets. I don't think a joint degree program would weigh one option as better than the other. Again, it seems that this is the big reason for the GRE (and GMAT) entering the law school market.

GRE vs LSAT FAQ

What GRE score do I need for law school?

That's unclear at this point. We don't have much information on the GRE scores of people admitted to law school.

Should I take the GRE or LSAT for law school?

Just for law school? The LSAT is the best choice but there are reasons why the GRE will be better for you.

Do I have to submit all of my GRE scores? What about GRE Score Choice?

GRE Score Choice is great. You can pick and choose what GRE scores you send to schools. However, some Law schools are requiring that you send all scores. So regardless of score choice, if you want to stay on the right side of things, you'll need to send all of your GRE scores.

What law schools accept the GRE?

Here's the list of law schools that accept the GRE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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