GRE vs. LSAT: Which Test to Take for Law School Admissions

Close-Up Of Statue (law balance)

Alexander Kirch / Getty Images  

For decades, law school applicants had no choice but to take the LSAT for law school admissions. Then, in 2016, the University of Arizona announced that it would permit law school applicants to submit the GRE instead of the LSAT. Harvard Law School followed suit, and today, 47 U.S. law schools accept the GRE.

These law schools believe that by accepting both LSAT and GRE scores, they will attract a larger and more diverse applicant pool. Since many students have already taken the GRE, the GRE option will make law school admissions more affordable and accessible to prospective students. 

If you're applying to law school, think carefully about your testing options before signing up for either the LSAT or the GRE. It's important to understand the differences between the two tests, as well as the pros and cons of both options in the law school admissions process.

LSAT vs. GRE

How different are these two exams? One of the most significant differences is accessibility. The GRE can be taken nearly every day of the year, while the LSAT is administered seven times per year. In addition, the GRE's content will likely feel familiar for students who took the SAT or ACT, whereas the LSAT's logical reasoning and logic games (analytical reasoning) sections are unlike other standardized tests. Here are the most important facts to know:

LSAT vs. GRE
  LSAT GRE
Content and Structure 2 35-minute Logical Reasoning sections 
1 35-minute Reading Comprehension section
1 35-minute Analytical Reasoning section 
1 35-minute unscored experimental section
1 35-minute writing section (completed independently after test day)
1 60-minute Analytical Writing section
2 30-minute Verbal Reasoning sections 
2 35-minute Quantitative Reasoning sections 
1 30- or 35-minute unscored Verbal or Quantitative section (computer-based test only)
When It's Offered 7 times per year Year-round, almost every day of the year 
Testing Time  3 hours and 35 minutes, with one 15 minute break 3 hours and 45 minutes, including an optional 10-minute break
Scoring

Total score ranges from 120 to 180 in 1-point increments. 

The Quantitative and Verbal sections are scored separately. Both range from 130-170 in 1-point increments.
Cost and Fees $180 for the test; to send score reports, $185 flat fee and $35 per school  $205 for the test; to send score reports, $27 per school 
Score Validity 5 years 5 years 

How to Decide Which Test to Take

Not sure whether to take the LSAT or the GRE? Here are some factors to consider.

Admissions Chances

Available data is limited, so the jury is still out on whether taking the GRE helps or hurts your admissions chances. In general, the law schools that do accept both tests agree that the GRE and the LSAT are equally good predictors of your ability to succeed in law school, so you should feel confident applying with either exam. The GRE is still a much less common choice for law school applicants, and students who take the GRE should be sure to demonstrate their commitment to law school in their application.

Cost and Accessibility

The GRE is offered much more frequently than the LSAT, and it costs slightly less. If you've taken the GRE already for a different program, you can send those scores to law schools without having to take another exam (as long as your GRE score is still valid).

Flexibility

If you're interested in applying to law school as well as other graduate programs, the GRE is in some ways a more flexible option. You can send it to all the different types of programs you're considering, and you only have to pay (and prep) for one exam. On the other hand, taking the GRE limits the pool of law schools that will accept your application, and you must make sure that you are happy with those law school options.

Rules Against Score Substitutions

Keep in mind that you cannot substitute the GRE for the LSAT. If you've already taken the LSAT and weren't pleased with your score, you can't submit a GRE score in its place. Every law school that accepts both exams explicitly states that if you have taken the LSAT (and your score is still valid), you must report the score. So, if you've already taken the LSAT, and you aren't applying to any other types of graduate program, then there is no reason to take the GRE.

Law Schools That Accept the GRE

  • American University Washington College of Law
  • Boston University School of Law
  • Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School
  • Brooklyn Law School
  • California Western School of Law
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Columbia Law School
  • Cornell Law School
  • Florida International University College of Law
  • Florida State University College of Law
  • George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School
  • Georgetown University Law Center
  • Harvard Law School
  • John Marshall Law School
  • Massachusetts School of Law at Andover
  • New York University School of Law
  • Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  • Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law
  • Pennsylvania State University — Penn State Law
  • Pepperdine School of Law
  • Seattle University School of Law
  • Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
  • St. John's University School of Law
  • Suffolk University Law School
  • Texas A&M University School of Law
  • University at Buffalo School of Law
  • University of Akron Law School
  • University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
  • University of California, Davis, School of Law
  • University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
  • University of Chicago Law School
  • University of Dayton School of Law
  • University of Hawai'i at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law
  • University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law
  • University of New Hampshire School of Law
  • University of Notre Dame Law School
  • University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • University of Southern California, Gould School of Law
  • University of South Carolina School of Law
  • University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • University of Virginia School of Law
  • Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Washington University School of Law
  • Yale Law School
  • Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law