For the past four weeks the students in Lisa Carotenuto’s class have delved deep into the ins and outs of the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, taking practice exams and picking apart the nuances of the test's notorious logic games.
Many people planning on taking the exam opt for these sorts of prep courses in the hopes of improving their LSAT score, a very significant factor in the law school admissions process.
"It’s a very daunting test," said Ashley Moran, attending her last prep class before the exam. "I kind of feel ready for it, but this week is going to be the determining factor."
Daunting is a common adjective for the exam.
But at the University of Arizona College of Law, students now have an alternative to the LSAT.
Starting Wednesday, applicants can take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) instead of the LSAT, making it the first law school in the country to do so.
Dean Marc Miller said the move will open law school admissions up to many people who may never considered the legal profession before. In recent years, about 100,000 people have taken the LSAT, compared to more than half a million that take the GRE, said Miller.
"How many of them will be interested in law, I don’t know," he said. "But we have now opened a door where we can talk to them, and they can talk to us."
The goal, he said, is to make the College of Law more diverse, both in terms of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds and intellectual interests.
"If we’ve got the GRE takers in that mix that by definition creates a more diverse group and therefore we can produce a more diverse class in the end."
This isn’t the first time the UA College of Law has blazed trails.
Applications to law schools across the country, including the UA, started to drop about five years ago. Seeing that decline, in 2013, the school cut tuition for residents and non-residents alike.
"We were the first in the country to in real terms and nominal terms lower tuition," said Miller.
The effect of that move?
"As other schools continued to have declines in applications, we either held or went up."
Many schools around the country have followed suit, including Texas A&M, Brooklyn Law School and the University of Iowa.
So will other law schools again follow the UA lead and begin accepting the GRE in their admissions process?
Dean Miller said he thinks so.
"I know at least one other law school has already called and said 'can I get in line?" My guess is that will be a dozen by the end of the week."
Does this mean that the hard work that Lisa Carotenuto’s LSAT prep class students have put in is for not?
No, the UA College of Law still accepts LSAT scores.