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GRE Vs. LSAT: Which One to Take for Law School

November 30, 2023


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 11/30/23

If you’re interested in getting into law school but don’t know whether to take the GRE or LSAT, read on to find out more!

student filling out exam

It’s an exciting time to be an aspiring lawyer! The law school admissions procedure is drastically changing for the better after years of stagnation.

In 2017, soon after the University of Arizona’s College of Law successfully experimented with accepting the GRE instead of the LSAT, more schools began opening up to the idea of accepting GRE scores.

Currently, over 80 law schools offer students the choice between submitting GRE or LSAT scores in an attempt to make law school more accessible and increase the applicant pool.  

Since this change is relatively new and unfamiliar, you might be wondering which test you should take to maximize your chances of getting into your dream law school. This guide will highlight the major differences between the GRE and LSAT to help you choose the perfect test!

Key Differences

If you’re deciding whether to take the GRE or LSAT, keep in mind that there are major differences between the tests. To keep it simple, the key differences can be easily summarized as follows:


Now that you have a general idea of the differences between the GRE and LSAT, let’s look at them in more detail.

Acceptance Differences

As we stated earlier, the decision to accept the GRE in lieu of the LSAT was made very recently. Accordingly, only some law schools accept the GRE, while others have decided to stick to tradition.

The GRE, Graduate Record Exam, is a general standardized test that has traditionally been used by graduate schools such as business schools. The LSAT, Law School Admission Test, was created specifically for law school and is not used by any other grad school.

So, while every law school will accept the LSAT, not every law school will accept the GRE. But don’t let this discourage you! Over 80 schools already accept the GRE, and this number is only going to climb in the coming years.

Amongst these 80 are some of the most prestigious schools in the nation, such as Harvard, Yale, and Duke. This means you can still get into a top-ranking law school without writing the LSAT, a prospect that would’ve been met with laughs and confusion only a few years ago!

To see if your desired law school accepts the GRE, you can check this comprehensive list of law schools that accept the GRE

Content Differences

The most important difference between the GRE and LSAT is the content. Depending on your skills and abilities, you’ll likely be better suited for one over the other.

GRE Content

The GRE contains the following sections:

  • Analytical Writing: tests your ability to articulate and support complex ideas and requires essay writing.
  • Verbal Reasoning: tests your ability to comprehend and complete text and often uses tough vocabulary that isn’t commonly used.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: tests your ability to analyze and interpret data and use mathematical models of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.

LSAT Content

Unlike the GRE, the LSAT consists of only multiple-choice questions for each section of the test except for the written essay. Here’s a breakdown of each section of the LSAT:

  • Reading Comprehension: tests your ability to compare, analyze, synthesize, and apply readings.
  • Analytical Reasoning: tests your ability to consider a group of facts or rules and problem-solve. These are also called logic games which are unrelated to law and are trickier than standard test questions. Please note that after August 2024, this section will be removed from the LSAT.
  • Logical Reasoning: tests your ability to examine and evaluate arguments.  
  • Writing Sample: an unscored essay to test your persuasive writing skills.

Based on these differences in the GRE and LSAT for law school, you should assess your own skills and weaknesses to know which test would work better for you.

For instance, if you haven’t seen a math equation since your junior year of high school, you’ll likely find the quantitative reasoning section of the GRE quite difficult and will need to dedicate a good amount of study time to it. 

Similarly, if you’ve tried a few logic games and can’t seem to wrap your head around how to solve them, the GRE might be the better option.

Question Sequence Differences

Aside from the content of the questions being different, the way the questions are administered is also different.

For the GRE, students’ accuracy in answering questions at the beginning of the test influences the difficulty of the questions given to them at the end of the test. For instance, if you do well on the first set of math questions, the next set will be more difficult.

This can be a blessing and a curse for students. If you’re doing particularly poorly in one set of questions, you can redeem yourself through the next set, as the questions will be easier. However, these frequent changes in difficulty also make this test harder to study for, can mess with students’ psyche, and can create more stress.

On the other hand, the LSAT’s questions are pre-determined before test takers even begin the exam and don’t change depending on their performance.

Again, this can be seen as both a blessing and a curse depending on how well you do on the first few sections. If you feel you’re doing well, you’ll feel confident moving forward. But, if you do poorly, you may feel more anxious and unprepared for the next sets.

Test Flexibility

The GRE offers more flexibility for students than the LSAT. Students are able to take the GRE whenever they want, while the LSAT is only offered a few times a year on specific dates and times.

Students may also take the GRE as many times as they’d like in their lifetime but can only take it up to five times a year. They must also wait at least 21 days between each test.

Alternatively, the LSAT can only be taken three times a year and seven times in a lifetime.

While the majority of students don’t need to take the LSAT all seven times to get their desired score, you may feel more comfortable with a test that offers unlimited tries.

student completing exam on computer

Report Score Differences

While students can opt to report their best GRE scores to law schools, the only LSAT score they can choose not to reveal is their first one. After this, the results of individuals with multiple scores will be averaged together.

Depending on how high or low your score on your LSAT, this can either help you reach your school’s requirements or push you further away from them.

What Do You Need for Law School: GRE or LSAT?

LSAT vs. GRE for admission to law school is a common dilemma. To figure out the right path for you, consider these factors. 

To start, the LSAT is specifically for law school applicants and is accepted by all U.S. law schools. It's crucial for admissions, but you can retake it if needed. However, it has set test dates and can be tough to prepare for.

On the other hand, the GRE is accepted by some law schools and many other graduate programs. You can choose which GRE scores to send, giving you some flexibility. It has test dates year-round and can be easier to study for independently. However, some law schools may not weigh GRE scores as heavily.

Pick the LSAT if you've already taken it, your preferred law schools require it, or you're only applying to law schools. Go for the GRE if you're uncertain about law school, your top-choice law school accepts it, or you find the LSAT challenging or time-consuming to prepare for. 

So, if you’re wondering whether to opt for the GRE or LSAT, your choice should match your goals. It should also align with the specific law schools you're considering and your strengths and weaknesses. Also, keep in mind that you can use a conversion tool to compare scores so you make an informed choice.

Which Test is Harder?

Comparing the difficulty of the LSAT and GRE is no easy feat. While there are mixed opinions on which test is harder, the answer to which is harder ultimately depends on you! Depending on your skills and comfort, you can decide which test is best for you.

Begin by taking sample tests of both and seeing which one you score higher on. While the GRE may seem easier because certain answer types can be memorized, it also involves critical thinking, essay writing, and mathematical analysis, which require a high degree of skill and knowledge.

On the other hand, the LSAT doesn’t require any specific knowledge but involves logic games that are notorious for being difficult to solve.

Both tests have their pros and cons, so their difficulty depends entirely on your capabilities!

student taking challenging exam on computer

Which to Consider: GRE vs. LSAT?

When it comes to choosing between the GRE and LSAT, your decision should revolve around your career aspirations. 

The GRE holds broad acceptance across various graduate programs, making it a flexible choice for fields like business, healthcare, and many others. It evaluates your skills in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing, providing a comprehensive assessment of your academic aptitude.

On the other hand, the LSAT serves a specific purpose—law school admissions. If you're aiming for a legal career and plan to attend law school, the LSAT is a mandatory requirement. It focuses on assessing skills crucial for success in legal studies, including logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and analytical reasoning.

To make the right choice, carefully consider your long-term career goals and the specific admission requirements of your desired graduate or professional programs. 

Keep in mind that the GRE offers greater versatility, opening doors to a wide range of fields, while the LSAT is indispensable for those pursuing law. Additionally, think about practical factors like test format and scheduling.

In summary, your decision should align with your career path. The GRE provides flexibility, whereas the LSAT is a prerequisite for law school. It's essential to evaluate your goals and exam preferences to make the most suitable choice for your academic journey.

Top Universities that Accept GRE General Test vs. Subject Test

The following universities below don’t require the LSAT for admission. Instead, they require the GRE General Test, the GRE Subject Test, or either one. 

When deciding between the GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Test, it's essential to check what tests universities accept. Take a look at these universities that accept the GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Test. Keep in mind that many schools accept both tests.  

Universities Accepting the GRE General Test Universities Accepting the GRE Subject Test
Albany Law School Boston College Law School
Stanford Law School Brigham Young University J Reuben Clark Law School
Harvard Law School Cornell University Law School
New York Law School Fordham University Law School
California Western School of Law Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Columbia Law School Mercer University School of Law
Duke University School of Law New England Law Boston
Penn State Law Northeastern University School of Law
University of Chicago Law School Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law Southwestern Law School
Wake Forest Law Suffolk University Law School

Ultimately, the choice between the GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test should reflect your academic and career goals, as well as the specific requirements of the universities and programs you're interested in. It's all about making the best decision to support your future success.

Harvard Law School

List of Universities that Require LSAT

Take a look at these universities that require the LSAT as part of their admission requirements.

To wrap it up, these universities mandate the LSAT as a fundamental part of their admissions criteria, highlighting its essential role in the application process.

female student walking on college campus


For any remaining questions you might have, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the GRE and LSAT.

1. Should I Take Both the GRE and LSAT?

No, you shouldn’t take both. Once you take the LSAT, your score is automatically put on record.

While schools don’t have a preference over which test you take, if they receive both scores, they will weigh the LSAT more heavily simply because they have more data on LSAT scores determining competitiveness.

2. Can I Apply to Law School With a GRE?

It depends on which law school you’d like to apply to. While many schools accept the GRE, not all of them do.

3. What GRE Should I Aim For?

Since the GRE is relatively new in the law sphere, most schools don’t have statistics on required GRE scores yet.

Instead, they recommend you compare GRE scores to LSAT scores based on percentiles. So, if your GRE score is in the 80th percentile, consider it to be roughly equivalent to an LSAT score in the 80th percentile. The creators of the GRE created a conversion tool to make this process easier.

4. Why Do Schools Accept the GRE Now?

The main reasons schools have begun accepting the GRE are to give applicants more flexibility and broaden the applicant pool. Law schools hope doing so will encourage more diverse students to apply, assuming they were otherwise deterred from law school because of the LSAT.

5. How Do I Decide Which Test to Take?

The best way to decide which test to take is to go over practice questions to see which test you score higher on. Law schools are only concerned with your final score, so you’ll want to choose the test you can score the highest on.

6. Which Test is Easier LSAT Or GRE?

The ease or difficulty of the LSAT and GRE varies from person to person. The LSAT focuses on complex logic and reasoning, making it challenging for some. The GRE, covering a broader skill set, maybe more accessible to others. It ultimately depends on individual strengths and familiarity with the test content and format.

Final Thoughts

While it’s hard to separate the LSAT from law school, the recent development of law schools accepting GRE scores offers more accessibility and opportunity for you!

Now that you know the key differences between the GRE and LSAT, you should be able to make a more informed decision on which test to take! Remember to choose the test that best reflects your skills so that you can maximize your chances of getting into your dream law school!  

Once you’ve chosen which test to take, ensure you acquire the right tools to get the perfect score. Regardless of which test you choose, Juris’ experts can provide the resources, support, and expertise to help you succeed!

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