Starting with the class of 2023, Yale Law School is joining a couple dozen other law schools, including Harvard, Penn, Georgetown and NYU, in offering applicants the opportunity to take the GRE instead of the LSAT as an entrance requirement. The question, logically enough, is whether that change in entrance exam will make any difference in the makeup of the class.
Peter Salovey, Yale University’s current President, was the Yale psychology researcher back in the ’90s who, while still formulating his theory of emotional intelligence, studied mood, including whether mood affects deductive or inductive reasoning abilities. To that end, in his surveys of participants, he used questions from the LSAT as examples requiring deductive reasoning. He concluded that a depressed mood produced significantly better performance in deductive reasoning (which starts from a general premise and analyzes whether specific instances are included within that premise), while an elevated mood produced better performance in inductive reasoning (which arrives at a general premise from specific instances). One logical fallout of that study, therefore, is that those who do well on the LSAT, while making them more likely to be accepted into law school, are also more likely to be feeling somewhat “down,” and more susceptible to depression or other evidences of poor mood regulation.
The GRE, in contrast to the LSAT, uses more instances of inductive than deductive reasoning in its questions. Therefore, those with more elevated moods may well do better on that exam than they would on the LSAT. As a added dividend, they also may be less likely to suffer from the scourge of depression that has been documented by, among other studies, the 2016 ABA-Hazelden study, which found over 28% of surveyed lawyers suffering from clinical depression, a whopping six times the national average, and almost half relating instances of depression over their career.
Let’s hope that the GRE helps put lawyers as a group on a more stable and uplifting emotional platform.