For thousands of applicants across the country, the just-released annual rankings by U.S. News & World Report of the country’s top graduate, business, law and medical schools will play a significant role in influencing where they apply and enroll. But should they?

A Kaplan Test Prep survey shows that for pre-law students, rankings can be a dealmaker or deal breaker. In the recent survey of 1,383 LSAT takers, students selected “school ranking” over any other listed factor (affordability/tuition; academic programming; availability of clinics/internships/extracurriculars; geographic location; job placement statistics) when asked, “Which is most important to you when picking a law school to apply to?” Additionally, 86% said that a law school’s place in the rankings is “very important” or “somewhat important” in deciding where to apply. But while pre-law students place a lot of trust in the rankings, law schools themselves don’t – according to a separate 2010 Kaplan survey of law school admissions officers, 80% said the rankings process is unfair, regardless of where their school stands. Among medical schools surveyed, about 60% said the rankings process is unfair, regardless of their school’s standing.

“The rankings play a role in helping to aggregate certain data points that help applicants get a snapshot of the schools, but even the rankings lists makers themselves say they are only one factor to take into consideration,” said Jeff Olson, vice president of research, Kaplan Test Prep. “Applicants should do their own research, which should also include speaking with current students and recent alumni and making campus visits. Then they should consider what’s most important to them personally and ultimately enroll in the program that best fits their individual needs and professional goals.”

In 2010, well over 1 million students and aspiring professionals took the GRE, GMAT, LSAT or MCAT as admissions prerequisites to get into graduate, business, law and medical schools, respectively.

To speak with a Kaplan Test Prep admissions expert on how prospective students can best use the rankings as part of the admissions process, please contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212.453.7538. Also be sure to visit Kaplan Test Prep’s virtual press center at http://press.kaptest.com and follow on Twitter: @KapTestNews.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep ( www.kaptest.com), a division of Kaplan, Inc., is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings and a complete array of books, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as English language and professional licensing exams. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO)

Copyright Business Wire 2010