Your GPA (as calculated by LSAC) will play a key role in law school admissions. Admissions officers will use your LSAC GPA to assess your motivation, commitment, and academic readiness for law school (for more on the importance of law school numbers, click here).
However, you might be surprised to hear that the GPA that appears on your school transcript is not necessarily the GPA that LSAC will report to law schools, nor is it the GPA that will be considered for admissions indexes. Unfortunately, LSAC’s official transcript summarization policies don’t tend to work in students’ favors, but they do their purpose of standardizing GPAs from various grading systems that schools use.
What grades does LSAC include in the calculation?
LSAC considers all of the following grades when recalculating your LSAC GPA:
• Any failing grade for which credit was attempted but not earned, even if your school considers the grade nonpunitive. This includes but is not limited to No Credit, No Credit/Fail, Not Passing, Incomplete/Fail, Withdraw/Fail, and Unsatisfactory. LSAC will calculate the failing grade as a 0 on a 4.0 scale.
• Grades for repeated courses, when both the grades and the attempted course credits appear on your transcript
• Advanced Placement (AP) or College Level Examination Programs (CLEP) courses, if your school shows both course credits and grades for these courses
• Any college-level class for which you attempted credit and received a grade, prior to receiving your first undergraduate degree. Transfer credits and any college-level credits that you took in high school are included.
What grades does LSAC exclude from the calculation?
LSAC does not count the following grades toward your GPA:
• Withdraw, Withdraw/Pass grades (as long as your school considers the grade non-punitive)
• Incomplete grades (as long as your school considers the grade non-punitive)
• Remedial course grades (the transcript must clearly state the courses are remedial)
• Grades received after you earned your first undergraduate degree
• Grades for which no credit was received
• Passing grades from any grading system in which a conversion rule cannot be determined (for example, Pass/Fail, Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, Credit/No Credit, Honors/Pass/Fail, High Pass/Pass/Fail, and course performance described only as narratives or descriptions).
• Original course grades for repeated courses, if the transcript is not specify both the grade and the number of credits assigned
• Grade symbols with multiple meanings from the same school, when the registrar cannot confirm whether you attempted course credit (for example, the symbol “NC” could mean both “No Credit Attempted” and “No Credit Awarded” at the same school)
• “No credit” grades that don’t reflect failure and show no attempt at credit.
Tips to keep in mind
• Some students attend grad school or take supplemental courses after earning their bachelor’s degrees in an attempt to put distance between their college records and law school applications. While this strategy can be smart to show maturity and commitment to school over time, it will not help you “pad” your GPA. LSAC’s policy is to only consider grades earned toward your first bachelor’s degree.
• If you are not sure whether your school considers a failing grade punitive or non-punitive, ask! Your school’s registrar should be able to help you interpret your transcript so you have an accurate estimate of your LSAC GPA.
• Send your full academic record for college-level courses attempted prior to earning your first undergraduate degree. Yes, we know it might not seem fair for law schools to consider grades you earned while still in high school, especially if those grades are mediocre compared to your current performance. But keeping things from LSAC is very likely to delay your applications.
• If you are still in a position to improve your GPA, our video below has more helpful tips: