How LSAC Calculates Your GPA
Not only is math hard, but it’s against you! A lot of you are, thankfully, not aware of this; some of you, however, have battled to raise a GPA plagued by a semester of low grades. As time marches on, it becomes more and more difficult to get that GPA to jump up another .3 as your number of grades increases and each semester becomes just a drop in your GPA bucket.
And then, you submit your transcript to LSAC.
You see your hard work erased as they recalculate their GPA with some arcane formula that only they (and anyone who reads the policy on their website) knows!
I imagine the GPA recalculators at LSAC to be a cabal of failed philosophy majors, chanting as they calculate on abacuses (looking it up, apparently there’s a linguistic war over whether abacuses or abaci is correct – we have too much free time). Or, alternately, the Death Eaters from Harry Potter.
Seriously, though, everyone frets about their LSAC GPA calculation, but very few of you have anything to worry about. Most people will see, at most, a negligible change in their GPA, and it won’t affect them. However, last week I promised a rundown for those of you who do have to worry, so here it is.
First, the good. If you have A+s on your transcript, LSAC takes that into account. They will credit them as 4.33s; great for those who attend a school with A+s, sour grapes for those of us who didn’t. Some schools, though, will report an A+ on a report card but store it as an A on the official transcript; you might want to check this out if it will affect you.
Now, onto the bad.
Every grade you received before your first Bachelor’s degree will count towards your GPA. If you took a bunch of JC classes in high school or right after and, instead of showing up, just smoked pot in your mother’s basement, I hope it was some damn good weed. Those grades are going to factor into your overall GPA. The CC classes you took in preparation for law school to raise the abysmal GPA earned during your undergrad (or even that Master’s program that you rocked)? Those won’t count.
Does your school have an academic forgiveness program? If so, and you took advantage of it, you might be in for a bumpy ride. Most schools will list both grades on your transcript but only use the retake for your GPA; LSAC will recalculate your GPA with both. For those of you who retook many classes after a rocky start at college, this is going to be the biggie. You can see a significant swing in your GPA because of this. Not all is lost, however; some schools will only have the higher grade on the transcript, and, as such, that will be the only grade used by LSAC. And, for those of you who aren’t so lucky, there’s always an explanatory essay, which will be covered in a later article (next week, most likely).
Finally, Ws. Withdrawals are a tricky beast; however, most of the time they won’t count towards your LSAC GPA. The only time that LSAC considers a W is if it was issues in a punitive manner (the image of a dean punishing someone with a W makes me laugh, honestly, but it’s serious business). Even if that W is a non-punitive reflection of failure, the LSAC won’t calculate it. All of the Ws will, however, appear on your transcript sent to law schools, so if you have more than one, I would write an explanatory essay for it (and even one might call for it).
I hope this took some of the mystery out of the system; as I said, most of you don’t have to worry. However, anyone who fits the bill for one of the subsets here should brace themselves for that number’s release.
(NoWhammyNoWhammyNoWhammyNoWhammySTOP!) Good luck!