As ABA gathers more information on JD-Next, law schools still have to obtain variances to use test

Legal Education

As ABA gathers more information on JD-Next, law schools still have to obtain variances to use test

Standardized test with pencil, sharpener and eraser

Law schools that want to use the JD-Next exam in admissions will have to continue to seek a variance, the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar determined at its Feb. 22 meeting. (Image from Shutterstock.)

Law schools that want to use the JD-Next exam in admissions will have to continue to seek a variance, the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar determined at its Feb. 22 meeting.

The council wants to gather more data before deciding whether the test, a prelaw school exam administered by Aspen Publishing, is valid and reliable, as required by ABA accreditation standards.

Reuters and Law.com have coverage.

The council vote follows a consultant’s report that said JD-Next should only be used “as a lightly weighted addition” to acceptance decisions. More traditional measures of a student’s likely law school success, such as undergraduate grades or more established tests, should carry the weight of acceptance decisions, the report said.

“The JD-Next exam is a reliable and valid predictor of early law school grades but with multiple cautions and caveats that cannot be evaluated with the present data and may represent threats to its validity if used operationally for high-stakes decisions,” said the report by the ABA-commissioned consultant, Nathan Kuncel, an industrial organizational psychology professor at the University of Minnesota.

Fifty-one law schools have already received variances to use the test, according to Daniel Thies, vice-chair of the council, who spoke with Law.com.

The Law School Admission Council, which administers the Law School Admission Test, told Law.com in a statement that it supports “the council’s decision that the JD-Next exam should not be considered a valid and reliable test without far more evidence and resolution of the issues surrounding accommodations for people with disabilities.”

David Klieger, the program director for Aspen Publishing, said in a statement the council’s decision not to grant full approval is disappointing.

“We are incredibly proud of the JD-Next program and its results to date,” Klieger said in a statement published by Law.com. “We take pride in the fact that [many] institutions have already adopted the program, demonstrating their commitment to innovation and equity in the admissions process.”


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