Bar Examinations and Bar Passage

Admission to Law School: New Measures

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



bar passage correlates, incoming indicators


Standardized tests have been increasingly controversial over recent years in high-stakes admission decisions. Their role in operationalizing definitions of merit and qualification is especially contested, but in law schools this challenge has become particularly intense. Law schools have relied on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and an INDEX (which includes grade point average [GPA]) since the 1940s. The LSAT measures analytic and logical reasoning and reading. Research has focused on the validity of the LSAT as a predictor of 1st-year GPA in law school, with almost no research on predicting lawyering effectiveness. This article examines the comparative potential between the LSAT versus noncognitive (e.g., personality, situational judgment, and biographical information) predictors of lawyering effectiveness. Theoretical links between 26 lawyering effectiveness factors and potential predictors are discussed and evaluated. Implications for broadening the criterion space, diversity in admissions, and the practice of law are discussed.