Grade Point Average

Numbers Count

If you want to go to law school, you must pay special attention to your GPA right from outset.

Getting into law school is primarily a question of numbers. Applicants to law schools are selected upon their GPA and LSAT score before anything else is considered. The applicants’ experience -- academic and others, recommendations and personal statements are considered second, to select among students within the same range of numbers.

It is important that students get accustomed with the criteria that law school use to evaluate applicants. Law schools do not set minima in the GPA and LSAT scores, although they do provide statistics that can help students evaluate where they stand. Below are some guidelines.

Score/GPA

School Option

LSAT over 90%
GPA over 3.7

National law schools:
Ex: Yale

LSAT over 80%
GPA over 3.5

Strong regional law schools:
Ex. U of Washington

LSAT over 70%
GPA over 3.25

Reasonably competitive state law schools:
Ex: U. of Montana

LSAT over 70%
GPA over 3.25

Less competitive law schools:
Ex: Lewis and Clark

Notes:

  • A minority student from Montana might get in with slightly lower LSAT/GPA numbers. This is especially important for top schools (candidates with high scores).

  • Being an in-state student increases your chances to get into the University of Montana : roughly, they admit 1 out of 3 in-state candidates and one of 4 out-of-state candidates.

GPA Strategies

As the table above shows, getting into law school requires a high GPA. It is crucial that Prelaw students pay special attention to their GPA right from the beginning of their studies. Do not take so many classes that you cannot manage to do well. Pay attention to drop dates, and make sure to drop classes in which you are not sure to do well. Note that a grade of “pass” might be converted to a “C” when your GPA is calculated by the LSAC. Also, if you retake a class, you should still expect the grade you obtain the first time you took the class to count when your GPA is calculated by the LSAC. It is not unusual that your GPA when calculated by the LSAC be lower than when calculated by UM.

If you apply during your senior year, your last semester grades will not be taken into account. If your performance consistently increased during your college years, you may want to wait until the end of the Fall semester to submit your transcripts to the law schools you are applying to.

If one’s GPA is too low, one may consider taking a few years off in order to broaden her experience and increase her chances of getting into the law school of her choice. Letters of recommendation explaining that the GPA does not reflect her true abilities may also help.