Law test gains support

June 10, 2005

King's College London, Glasgow and Manchester Metropolitan universities are to join the list of institutions that set an admissions test for those hoping to study law, writes Olga Wojtas.

From this autumn, all law degree applicants to the three institutions must sit the National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT), which is aimed at identifying the best candidates regardless of their qualifications.

The LNAT was pioneered last year by Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, East Anglia, Nottingham and Oxford Universities and University College London. It aims to improve selection by assessing comprehension, analysis, logic and judgement.

The test's supporters say it allows objective assessment of applicants from different social and educational backgrounds.

Detractors fear that it could have a deterrent effect, particularly as the cost of taking the LNAT will rise to £30 for home and European Union applicants, and to £50 for overseas applicants. The LNAT consortium insists that the fee will not undermine access because it will underwrite the cost for low-income candidates who apply for a bursary.

Last year, LNAT was mandatory only for UK applicants, and it was a written multiple-choice and essay test held on one day. This year, students can complete the two-hour test by computer at centres across the country and abroad, and they can sit it between September and mid-January.

Rodney Austin, law faculty admissions tutor at UCL, said test centres required two identity documents to admit candidates, who would be re-screened if they had to leave the room. "There is absolute security," he said.

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