How LSAC Calculates Your GPA

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!

256 Responses

  1. Ashley says:

    I have a question. If I transferred from a community college to a four year university, will my grades in community college count in the LSAC GPA?


  2. Hey Ashley,

    All classes taken at a college level before that first degree is granted will count. During the application process, you’ll have to have that community college send a transcript to LSAC, and they will use it in their calculations.

    If you’re worried about the effect that will have on your GPA and admission chances, I would suggest writing an explanatory essay about the situation. Highlight an upward trend in your grades since that time (hopefully one exists) and ask the schools to consider your time at the four year college as more indicative of your academic potential.

    Good luck!

  3. Dan says:

    You forgot pass/fail classes. As an education undergrad I had to do a semester of student teaching. A 12 hour course where you spend your entire semester being a teacher. Because the course was pass/fail it didn’t count toward my GPA so half of my senior year was wasted.

    • That’s correct – a pass/fail class will only count towards your GPA if you fail. Did you think you’d get credit for an ‘A’ if you passed? That doesn’t seem fair – I took a class Pass/Fail and didn’t show up for the final because I had already passed (though I discussed it with my teacher first – she was cool with not having to grade my final). My ~C would count the same as your A.

      And I would like to think that teaching was its own reward ;-)

  4. John says:


    I have 2 degrees, one BEE ’05 and i am finishing up a BA’11. My first degree GPA wasn’t too good (2.5), but my second GPA is going to be around 3.3. How is my LSAC GPA is going to calculated? Because most my Liberal Arts courses for my second degree was taken from my first.

  5. Dan,

    Sorry for the omission! Indeed, pass/fail classes can only hurt you. A pass will result in no improvement in your GPA (as that could be a 71 or a 99); however, a fail is a fail, and it will be calculated as such.

  6. Sophia Pham says:

    How much weight is placed on your community college grades? Is it heavily emphasized as opposed to your university grades? I will admit I changed majors a lot during my jr. college days and took some classes that were hard like chemistry, calculus and physics, I definitely didn’t do too well on those classes. I never realized that your community college grades would be considered heavily, I knew that they would see the grades, but would not factor it into your university GPA

  7. Matt Shinners says:

    Hey John,

    Sorry for the long delay here – we had to call LSAC up to ask them about your situation!

    In short, they’ll look at your GPA from your first degree (BEE ’05). Probably not what you wanted to hear, but it’s time to start preparing some explanatory essays for that first time through. Additionally, your grades from the BA will be reported (just not factored into your GPA), so mention that. Also, call up schools in which you have an interest to see if they’d be willing to listen to your situation and how much weight they’d put into your new degree. It’ll be a tough sell, but now’s the time to start working on it.

    Sophia – the grades will be reported and factor into your overall GPA. They’ll be weighted as heavily as grades from your university, as they’re grades earned before your first Bachelor’s.

  8. Tahsin Hyder says:

    Hey there,

    I was reading older posts and this one caught my attention. Hopefully it’s not too late to get a response.

    I have two “w’s” in my undergraduate classes. They were both at a community college. The first one was a class that I was taking during highschool and the other one for a summer school class while attending the CC. The reason I dropped the first class while I was in highschool was because I got into UCSB and thought that was where I was going to go and dropped it (I know, dumb). And the second one, I got a pinched nerve and was out of class for a week, which is summer school is like a month. I know you said I should write an explanatory essay for more than one, but should I even draw attention to it at this point? I feel like they’d be more annoyed reading my explanation since this was all in the first year of college or before.

    Also, slightly off topic, but is there a place on the application to indicate how much you were working during college? And how much of that is taken into account regarding your gpa or overall application? I worked 25-30 hours a week all 4 years, does that help anywhere in my application?



  9. Matt Shinners says:

    Hey Tahsin,

    I would write exactly what you said on this board (gussied up a bit). No need to dwell on it, but when someone’s reviewing your transcript they’ll be thinking, “Huh, I wonder what these two Ws are all about.” They’ll probably think they’re harmless enough, but you might as well dispel any thoughts otherwise with a short, one paragraph explanation. It’s not you trying to explain them away, but rather to explain them, so that there are no lingering questions on your transcript. Yours shouldn’t be a full explanatory essay; rather, you should right a straight up explanation of what happened.

    As far as the working goes, you can definitely put it on your resume. Most applications will also have a place to work experience on the application itself. Unfortunately, most schools won’t consider that heavily to balance out a lower GPA. They’ll take someone with a higher GPA over someone with a lower GPA and 25-30 hrs/wk work during college most of the time. You could write a diversity essay about having to put yourself through college (assuming that’s why you were working so often), though!

    Good luck!

  10. Tahsin Hyder says:

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for the response! I think you’re right, I mean it doesn’t hurt to explain in case they’re wondering.

    One more question: In community college there are some classes that you take that don’t get factored into the gpa that transfers over with you when you enter a four year institution. For example, certain volunteer electives that give you 1-2 units or remedial math and english courses. How do law schools treat those courses that are not transferrable into your overall college gpa? And if they’re not factored into your gpa do they still see those classes on your transcript?



  11. Noah says:

    Hey Matt,

    I know this is really late in the game, but I found this post and found it to be very helpful.

    Do you know how LSAC treats grades from study abroad programs? I spent the Spring of my Junior year in France. I did well, but the grading system is entirely different (the French have no idea what A-F scale even is) and I’ve heard that these grades are often not important for grad school- it would be interesting if LSAC requires me to submit them however.

    I went through a program where I actually unenrolled for a semester from my University and re-enrolled upon reentry, so I did not receive letter grade credit.



  12. I’m not 100% sure in your case, since I’ve never dealt with a program that required un- and re-enrollment, but I don’t believe you’ll have to submit those transcripts. Usually, they end up rolled into the undergrad transcripts because they’re part of a program at the sponsoring school; if they’re not, then you only have to submit grades from an institution at which you spent more than an academic year. However, it seems as if you fall through a hole in that description.

    Did those grades end up on your UG transcript?

  13. stephanie says:


    i kind of had no idea that lsac recalculates gpas. if i went to a tough school with no grade inflation, how does that factor in, if at all?

    • The LSAC only recalculates your GPA to standardize it because of administrative differences – i.e. normalize A+s, transcripts from multiple colleges, etc… Going to a tough school with no grade inflation will, unfortunately, not be taken into account, and your GPA won’t change much for that reason.

  14. E. C. says:

    Hi Matt,

    Is there any recalculation regarding different majors (i.e. a Biochemistry major compared to an easier arts major)? or harder schools (UC vs. State vs. Ivy)?

    • Hey E.C.,

      None, whatsoever. It’s unfortunate, because a 3.4 Engineering major is significantly more impressive than a 3.8 PoliSci major. I feel your pain, being Biochem myself.

      Same goes for the different schools.

      All this boils down to a few things. First, it’s impossible to standardize across majors, schools, and grade inflation, so the schools really don’t even try. Second, US News and World Report don’t take those things into consideration, so neither do schools.

      If you’re tied with another candidate, a difficult major or notoriously difficult school will make the difference. However, it rarely comes down to that as a tie-breaker. Sorry for the bad news!

  15. She says:

    Hi Matt, I had a quick question. How exactly is LSAC going to calculate our GPA? I mean are we suppose to send them transcripts from our undergrad? I went to a CC first two years then transferred to a UC and I will be done in May. Not to mention I am still working on some classes right now for the extra boost to my GPA…So how exactly does the GPA portion really work? thanks for your time!

    • Hi She,

      You need to send them transcripts from any colleges at which you took classes. For you, that would be your CC and the UC that you currently attend. They’ll calculate your official LSAC GPA using those transcripts; it’s usually fairly close, but if there are some weird grades on your transcript, it could change.

      As far as working on classes now to boost your GPA, there are a few considerations. First, have you received your Bachelor’s degree yet? If you have, those classes won’t count towards your GPA – only classes completed before the receipt of your first degree.

      If not, then they will be included as long as you get an updated transcript to LSAC before you send your applications in. Otherwise, your current GPA will be reported to the schools. After you send in apps, you can update your GPA and have that sent to the schools if they’re still considering you (that’s actually a solid way to get off of a wait list), but if they’ve already rejected you, you won’t be able to reapply with that number.

      If the last year of school is going to make an appreciable difference in your GPA (and, in all honesty, it generally won’t), then you might want to consider waiting it out a year and applying next year with a complete transcript. You can also build up some work experience in the meantime, which is something law schools are increasingly favoring.

      Good luck!

  16. Elissa Polley says:

    Hi there-
    If I had a total of 225 Credits for my B.A. I am trying to figure out why LSAC only listed 170.9 semester hours. Any ideas?


  17. Mark says:

    Hi there,

    I just have a quick question. If I’m doing a 4 year degree, will all 4 years’ GPAs be included? If not, which years will they be looking at.


    • Yep, all 4 years. Or at least up to the point where you submit your transcript – many students apply during their senior year, before all grades are out. You’ll have to keep LSAC/the schools updated throughout the process, though.

      • Alan says:

        Hello, Matt,

        I graduated with a GPA of 2.86 from a 4 year school. But I had a 4.0 from a community college before that (1 semester total). Will my cumulative GPA be considered a 2.86, or the combined average from both colleges?

  18. Rachel says:

    Hi, appreciate the article. Sorry if you guys already addressed this, but I had a quick question regarding JC grades– if I took a few JC classes while enrolled in a university, so will those count towards the LSAC GPA?
    That is, I took those classes after I transferred into a UC, while I was a student at the UC, but before graduation. So as long as it is before obtaining my BA, those will still count?
    Thank you!

  19. Anaid says:

    What about double majors? you stressed out that only grades from our first bachelor’s degree count towards the calculation, but if someone is working on a double major what grades count in LSAC’s calculation?

    • That reference was for people who graduate and then return to school to get a second degree. If you’ve got 2 majors that grant different degrees, but they’re awarded at the same time, the grades will count.

      • Lisa Wilson says:

        Hi Matt: I understand that CC grades are included in my gpa, but what about ap courses that I received college credit for? Also, I am a double major at a UC and will be done with my first degree 3rd year and will conclude my second degree next year. Is only my first degree considered since, technically, I could have graduated with my first degree ahead of my four year schedule?

        • Greg Nix says:

          Hey Lisa,
          Credit for AP courses depends on how your undergraduate institution credits them. If you have a grade on your college transcript for the AP course (say they converted your 4 on the exam to a B), that grade will be included. If it’s just listed as a credited course, it will be listed under Uncoverted Credits.

          Only grades from before your FIRST undergraduate degree count towards your LSAC GPA. So if you graduated and received a diploma for your first degree, then classes from your final year won’t count. If you simply continued your enrollment and were awarded two degrees simultaneously at graduation, all four years will count.

          Hope that helps!

  20. Rich says:

    Hi, thanks for the content. Where you say that we ask a community college to send transcripts to the LSAC, is that optional or mandatory? If I got a poor grade in a course taken at a community college, do I have to submit that transcript? (And this is before obtaining my first Bachelor’s)

  21. JMisraje says:

    Hi! I haven’t seen anyone ask about post-bac grades…how does LSAC factor in graduate school transcripts, if they do at all. If not, how are post-bac grades used?


    • Your graduate school transcripts won’t factor into the GPA as calculated by LSAC. You’ll still have to submit them, and they’ll be forwarded on to the schools. However, by most accounts, they’re a solid soft factor and don’t carry nearly as much weight as your undergrad grades.

  22. Katelyn says:

    Like other hopefuls posting, I attended other schools before my degree-granting institution. I graduated HS several years ahead and took courses at two different state schools as I pursued other interests outside of school. I then got my AA from a community college before transferring to an Ivy to finish my BA. At all of the schools before the Ivy, my gpa ranged from 3.9 – 4.0 and my undergrad gpa from the Ivy is about a 3.5. My question is how will this come together? Will the Ivy have a significant amount of weight relative to the other schools? Will the “trend” more or less for my gpa be considered downward or will they take into account the differing level of difficulty of the schools I’ve attended?

    I am planning on taking the LSAT Dec. 3rd; my scores at times seem all over the place (from a 163-175) but I think that’s just anxiety as this is my first (and hopefully final) time taking the test. Any advice for dealing with that?

    Thank you so much!

    • Hey Katelyn,

      They’ll use the number of credit hours taken to receive each GPA to calculate the relative weights of the transcripts. So if you took as many classes to get the AA as you did to get the Bachelor’s, they’ll weigh them equally.

      As far as the trend goes, trends don’t matter a whole lot unless there’s a specific reason for it that you discuss in a GPA addendum. In your case, you went from a CC to an Ivy League school, which is presumably more difficult. That in and of itself explains the ‘downward’ trend. In all honesty, I wouldn’t worry about it as a trend. Your GPA will get averaged out, and the schools will look at the overall number, not really any particular year. If you want to include a brief addendum to explain your undergraduate career, you certainly can, but it is in no way required.

      As far as the scores being all over the place, that’s completely normal. When you take a test at the bottom range, just make sure to review it to figure out what went wrong. Then, don’t let that happen again.

      Good luck Katelyn!

  23. Gavin Jolly says:


    I am in a top integrated MPA+BBA program and technically my degrees are awarded concurrently. In some semesters I was taking graduate and undergrad classes at the same time. How will this factor into my LSAC GPA calculation? Also, I know similiar programs at other schools actually give you a BA after it is earned then get the Masters after the student takes the remaining hours.



    • Hey Gavin,

      I’m not 100% sure how your school arranges it. However, if you’re getting your degrees concurrently (completely concurrently), I believe that your overall GPA at the time you graduate will be considered. Do you have different transcripts for the two programs, or is everything lumped together?

      • Hassan says:

        I am in the same boat as Gavin, except I am in a MPH and BS program that works concurrently. However, my transcripts are seen as two separate degrees (the MPH is counted like a dual degree.) Will it only count the BS transcript grades? I’m extremely confused about this and haven’t stumbled upon an answer yet,

        • Matt Shinners says:

          If one is denoted as a Master’s degree, and is a separate transcript, then I think it would be split. However, I’m not 100% sure about this, so I would call LSAC up and ask them.

  24. Alex says:

    I was wondering how my LSDAS GPA will be affected from 2 D+’s that I received 2nd semester sophomore year before transferring to a new school. Without these 2 grades my GPA was around a 3.1. Upon transferring, none of my grades from the previous school were placed on my official transcript. I currently have a 3.3 at my new school. From what I’ve read, the LSAC will look at grades from both schools when calculating my GPA, but does the fact that I have, since then, done better at a school of higher difficulty help my cause? Also, would my lowered GPA from these two grades be overlooked if I offered a reasonable explanation?

    • Hey Alex,

      You will be required to send transcripts from all colleges attended, and all grades earned will factor into your GPA. That means those Ds are going to count. The upward trend is going to be something that you should call attention to in an explanatory essay; however, I wouldn’t count on any miracles. Your GPA is still your GPA – the upward trend will mitigate it slightly, but you won’t be viewed as someone with a completely different, and higher, GPA.

      As far as the two D+s, it depends on your ‘reasonable’ explanation. Generally, schools look at a death in the family or an illness as the only reasonable explanations for a bad semester. There are some exceptions to this, but it’s hard to say without knowing the specifics. If you want to ask about it in a private communication, shoot an e-mail to and put ‘Forward to Shinners’ in the subject.

  25. BearAlumni says:


    I am echoing a question that was looked over as I have scoured the net in search of an answer to this question.

    “In community college there are some classes that you take that don’t get factored into the gpa that transfers over with you when you enter a four year institution. For example, certain volunteer electives that give you 1-2 units or remedial math and english courses. How do law schools treat those courses that are not transferrable into your overall college gpa? And if they’re not factored into your gpa do they still see those classes on your transcript?





    • Remedial classes will not factor into your GPA, assuming that the transcript indicates the classes are of a remedial nature. The other grades will most likely be factored in, unless they’re denoted in a weird way on the transcript.

  26. Emilya says:

    It seems that things that are not considered transferable (like remedial classes) will not be counted; how do I make sure that this happens? Or is it out of my hands, and pray to gods that my JC transcript will notify the fact that it’s a remedial class that didn’t count anywhere (Like trigonometry, algebra 2)?

    (I went to JC for two years; didn’t do that well on the remedial classes, got one D+ in math, retook it got an A, I realize that the D will be counted anyway; without the A+’s and the one D+ my JC GPA is 3.7ish and UCLA gpa is 3.7.)

    …I’ll go talk to the transcript people at my JC tomorrow!

  27. Emilya says:

    Thank you Matt :-)

  28. Emilya says:

    Im kind of a bit distraught because I’m extremely confused

    I was a honors student for 4 years, got mostly A’s ( a few B’s), I s tarted community college in high school, so my degree report: is 3.76 and my cumulative gpa is 3.55, and that low can only be so if they counted stuff that’s definetly remedial; I quite excelled in non-remedial(eg:not math) classes.

    (I did jC–> transferred to UCLA –> graduated UCLA cum laude in June. It was right at 3.694 on the mark or something)

    seeing a 3.55 just kind of in a nutshell sucks balls, considering everything else points out I was quite strong (honor socities, cum laude), and feels like a slap in the face to me all the hard work I put in.

    should I call LSAC? call JC? Just mourn my target schools and be sad I’m put in the pie of a 3.55 cumulative gpa people when clearly I’m not? :/

    I had a quite strong upwards trend early on, but will they count it?! My ersonal statement actually journeys what was happening behidn the scenes and challenges I was facing to point out my uniqueness, etc..but still. GAHHH I FEEL SO FRUSTARATED

    • Hey Emily,

      It can definitely feel frustrating to see all of that hard work reduced to a single number that’s much lower than you were expecting. The first thing I’d do is call LSAC to make sure that they were counting those grades from remedial classes. If that’s the case, the next step is to call up the CC and talk to them about getting those classes marked as remedial on a new transcript and have that sent to LSAC. Then, ask LSAC to recalculate your GPA based on the new transcript. It’s going to be a lot of work, and it’s going to take a lot of time, especially around the holidays. It’s also not guaranteed to work, but if they really were remedial classes (and treated as such by your CC), then you can hopefully get it changed.

      Let me know how it goes!

  29. Emilya says:

    Update: I went to community college, called LSAC, and I was in for a nasty surprise: non-transferable does not equal to non-remedial. In fact, classes that were non-transferable to a UC, were transferable to a CSU system, because CSU has a lower bar. So the classes i took, that didn’t count for UCLA, counted indeed for a cumulative GPA.

    things Im really pissed at: 1. I WAS 16. IT WAS HIGH SCHOOL. IM BEING PUNISHED FOR IT. UNFAIR.
    2. o.O someone at community colllege should warn these poor college kids who slack off that even if a UC system will not count it, it may haunt them down the line.
    3. Even W option to me I think is iffy–LSAC is fine with it, but the UC system I remember looks at a W with penalty

    1. Even before this, my personal statement is about personal growth and overcoming adversities–I definitely have a very strong upward trend, how do I highlight it?
    2. They won’t even look at the whole file–will they? It shows Im caume laude and was on the honor roll- do i highlight it in a way? on the resume?

    Go two more weeks until LSAT results and retake Feb if necessary….oh boy.

    • Hey Emily,

      It can seem unfair to those who are in your situation, but it’s the world we’re living in, so ya gotta roll with the punches.

      As far as highlighting your upward trend in your personal statement, I wouldn’t do that specifically. You can reference it if it is related to overcoming adversities (like if you’re talking about the situation that led you to transfer to UCLA), but I wouldn’t go into detail.

      Instead, I’d write an explanatory essay to address your GPA. In it, you’d address the reasons for your low GPA (why you didn’t do well when you were in CC), and then point out that your career at UCLA shows a strong student who graduated cum laude and was on the honor roll. Don’t make excuses – just highlight the reasons for the low grades and what changed between then and UCLA. For instance, don’t say anything akin to, “Someone should have warned me that if I slacked off in CC, it would come back to haunt me.” That’s an excuse – the law schools expect you to either do well in CC, or to own up to the slacking off. Own up to it, convince them that you’ve grown (your explanatory essay here should reinforce the theme of your personal statement), and ask them to look specifically at your UCLA transcript.

      Will they disregard your CC grades? Nope. They’re a part of your GPA, and they will still use your cumulative GPA to make a decision. However, they’ll view it with an asterisk, and if it’s between you and other students with similar numbers and no upward trend, you’ll be ahead of the game. It will also give you a chance to show off more of your writing and your personal narrative, both of which add to your admission package.

  30. Emilya says:

    By the way, Matt, I accept what happened; I understand. I just ranted… Thank you for all the wonderful help!

    I <3 BP.

    • Didn’t want to accuse you of anything! I thought you were just ranting, and we’re more than willing to listen to rants (I mean, have you sat in on one of our classes? ;-) ). Just wanted to point that out for future users who stumble across the site.

      Keep us updated on your progress!

  31. Soulrebel57 says:

    Hi, I have a quick question, how does lsat calculate CLEP exams, I have 27 of them that counted towards my degree. Secondly, do you have to send a separate transcript of CLEP exams scores to Lsac? Thanks!

    • The CLEP scores should be converted just like any other score.

      You do have to send in a separate transcript, including a transcript if you took them through a CC or other university than the one from which you received your degree. That might mean a weird, blank transcript, but it’s one of the hoops.

  32. John says:

    I’m taking a break from hitting refresh on my e-mail waiting for my december score to ask a quick question. How, if at all, does LSAC consider advanced placement credit earned in high school and counted toward a BA? The credits appear on my college transcript, but without letter grades.


    • If they’re on your transcript but without letter grades, they won’t be included in your LSAC GPA calculation. They will, however, show up on the ‘Unconverted Credits’ section of your report, so the schools will at least know you took them. They won’t care.

  33. EDinATX says:

    I just stumbled on this post, and it’s great! Thanks Matt. I have one question, though. I went to Brown where they only give A/B/C or no credit (no pluses, minuses, Ds, or Fs.) You can also take an unlimited number of classes pass/fail. As a result of this wacky grading system, the university doesn’t calculate GPAs or class rank. Reading your post, it seems that Brown’s system could both help and hurt my GPA as calculated by LSAC. Do you think I need to include any of this information in an addendum to my law school applications? I know there is controversy over whether or not Brown’s system leads to grade inflation, but I also didn’t have the opportunity to earn an A+ in any of the courses I took and the 8 classes I took pass/fail (some of which were mandatory pass/fail) don’t count at all.

    • Hey ED,

      I would not include that information in an addendum.

      First off, any decent admissions office will know about Brown’s grading system and deal with your GPA accordingly.

      Second, most people didn’t have a chance to earn A+s – very few schools offer them.

      Third, I can’t help but imagine it would come across as whiny – “If I didn’t go to Brown, my GPA might have been higher!” You’re expected to do as well as possible, no matter what the circumstances.

      Finally, the schools might see your GPA as one with an asterisk, but they’ll still treat it as your GPA.

      For the Pass/Fail classes, I might include a note that many were mandatory. It’s certainly not necessary, but if you feel better explaining it, you can write up a 2-3 sentence explanation, just stating that several of those Pass/Fail classes were mandatory P/F.

  34. Chris says:

    Hi i am currently taking two overlapping classes at UCSB, one is a history class, and the other is and ED class for transfer students, and i have too chose one or the other. They are both worth 4 upper division units. I was just curious, when applying to law school, would the history class be weighted heavier then the ED class? Thanks a lot for your help.

    • If they’re both worth the same amount of credits, and one isn’t going to be denoted as remedial on your transcript, then they’ll both factor into your GPA the same. The schools will most likely not spend too much time scrutinizing your entire transcript – the overall GPA is more to their interest.

  35. Chris says:

    Wow thank you very much for your quick response time i really appreciate it, you were very helpful.

  36. Andrea says:

    Hello! This was a very informative article. I’m not shooting for law school quite yet, but I’m just curious.

    I did a year of CC for my senior year in high school. Then, I transferred into a state school. I applied to the pharmacy school within the institution (but it’s considered a separate college – not part of my undergrad) and was accepted, but I only attended for one semester and then was dismissed due to poor grades (like, completely dismal due to varying reasons but I’ll spare the details at the risk of sounding whiny).

    I went back to undergrad to at least finish my BS in chemistry and still have two more years to go. I’m thinking of what to do after I finish… so, would law school be completely out of the equation?

    • It’s not completely out of the equation, but those grades will definitely hurt you during the entire process. Although I’m not 100% sure how those Pharma School classes will count, because you say they are not part of your undergrad. If they’re actually marked as classes that are applied towards a Master’s, you might luck out and they won’t count. However, I think that LSAC will end up counting them.

      I would definitely recommend calling LSAC up and asking about those grades. It’ll make a big difference whether they’re counted or not, so you might as well find out now!

  37. Roman says:


    Enjoyed the article. I took some classes at the local community college while I was in high school (11th and 12th grade) as part of a duel credit program and didn’t do so well in my senior year. Would LSAC count those when calculating my GPA for law schools? I also took some community college credit hours during my undergrad and did real well. I’m assuming those would count in addition to my university hours. But for the classes I took as a high schooler would LSAC count those and how much weight/consideration would they or a law school put into those classes?

    Appreciate the help!

    • Hey Roman,

      Those CC classes during high school will definitely count. Make sure to submit those transcripts with the rest when you send everything in to LSAC.

      As far as how much they’ll count, they’ll factor into your GPA as much as any other credit – hopefully, they’ll be drowned out a bit by your higher grades, but they will come back a bit to bite you. Sorry for the bad news.


  38. John Hanley says:

    I am a little dismayed by all the focus on the raw GPA number. To be honest (in the real world at least – obviously it matters a great deal to law schools), a GPA number alone (putting aside degree and college) really doesn’t mean that much. If the raw number of the GPA were really that important, it would behove anyone to go to the least competitive community college in their area and take courses in relatively non-demanding degree program. Then transfer them to another non-competitive 4 year university. I’ve been in CC classes. Under those circumstances, the competition is so weak that getting all A’s really isn’t that big a deal. If a high GPA is that important, pretty much anyone putting in some effort can get close to 4.0 (again, provided you go to a real easy school and take real easy courses)

    My point is that all this work that LSAC does in recalculating GPA’s in kindof silly. For example, earning a Communications bachelor’s at a local CC or 4-year is so incalculably less impressive than say earning a Chemistry degree at a top-50 uni with a 3.0 GPA that anyone comparing these 2 students can’t even put them in the same ballpark. Many CC’s don’t even require SAT’s and have to accept anyone. Someone looking at a transcript from some tiny, unknown school has no info about the quality of teachers, courses, student population, so that you almost can’t treat that 4.0 gpa seriously (at least when comparing to the chem major)

    The person going to the top 50 uni’s not only had to achieve vastly more while in college against much much harder competition, but they also had to work so much more in high school and accomplish so much more in preparation for college – SAT’s etc.

    The whole Law school thing is doubly ridiculus because there are NO specific required courses. There are many accreditided colleges out there that offer some pretty lame degrees. Medical school, however, is very different. At least with med school, there are a group of specific college level courses that everyone must take – Organic Chem, etc. These have a set ciriculum that you can at lease be guaranteed will be taught.

    Adcoms have to do some type of hard adjustment to GPAs when they come in to account for the vast differences in school quality.

  39. Jorge Anaya says:


    So from what I’ve heard, if I am currently attending MIT and my GPA is not stellar, is it fair to say that I can take summer courses at my community college for the next two summers and raise my GPA?

    Thank you!

  40. Jenn says:


    In regards to post-bac programs, I took a few classes and then dropped out of the program. This was already after my 1st degree ( my B.A.), in which those grades were submitted to LSAC. Do I still have to report the grades from the post-bac? Even though it wont be considered when they calculate my LSAC GPA?

  41. Moe says:


    If I took continuing education credits at a CC would that factor into my LSAC gpa? The university I am going to now did not accept/transfer the continuing education credits even though I got A’s-B’s in them so would that be the same case?

    Thanks for the help

  42. Cheryl says:

    I have several course withdrawals (W’s) on my undergraduate transcript. They were non-punitive and on my transcript it clearly states that W grades are assigned no value. However, on my transcript, it lists hours attempted for these grades, so doesnt that mean that even though these were non-punitive that they will be counted as F’s because the transcript lists hours attempted? anyone else been in this same situation? how did LSDAS handle yours? please help me. I cant get the answers I need

    • If they are clearly designated as just Ws and not as a punitive W, you should be fine. I’d double check after sending the transcript into LSAC, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  43. SNS says:

    This post was very informative! One point of clarification…

    You mentioned earlier that Pass/Fail (which I am assuming is the same as CR/NC) only count against you in LSAC when it is a fail. I attend a top-ranked liberal arts school with NO grade inflation and have two NC’s on my transcript (in a language and in Stat which I am retaking). I have all A’s and B+’s otherwise. How badly will this hurt me? I am guessing very badly if they include those. My non -LSAC GPA is 3.61-3.7. If I were to explain that both were from sickness, would that help?

    Thanks in advance!

    • If those NCs are punitive (i.e. indicative of you not passing the class), then they will count against your GPA as failing grades. That can hurt quite a bit, depending on how many credits they were and your total credit load. If they were both from sickness, I would talk with the school to see if you can get them changed to a non-punitive grade.

      As far as the law schools go, you can certainly explain that in an addendum. It will help a bit, but not nearly as much as you would hope. Your GPA will still be your GPA, and that will count more than a GPA with an asterisk.

      So, in short, talk with your school to see if you can work around them.

  44. Jessica says:

    Hi, I have a question that I don’t think was addressed.I am graduating from UCLA. I see on the LSAC website that the grade of incomplete is not calculated in your LSAC gpa if it is nonpunitive. How do I know if this grade is nonpunitive? How does LSAC determine that? I received an incomplete in a math course (not needed for any requirements), and had already fulfilled all of the graduation requirements for UCLA, and thus was not able to remove the incomplete from my transcript. How will this affect me? Thank you so much!

    • Hi Jessica,

      Short answer is that LSAC has a policy in place for your school that will determine whether that Incomplete is punitive or non-punitive.

      Without knowing the details, I can’t give you a full answer. However, I can tell you that the best way to figure it out is to contact LSAC and your school. UCLA is huge and sends a ton of grads to law school – I guarantee you this has come up before. Give UCLA a call to ask them if they consider the grade punitive or non-punitive, and call up LSAC with that information.

      Just to alleviate some worries, many schools will denote a punitive Incomplete as an Incomplete/Fail. If you have no reason to believe that the grade was issued for punitive reasons, I wouldn’t worry too much. Like I said, just call them up to get a clear answer!

  45. Michelle says:

    Hi Matt,

    I’ll be applying to law school in the fall and this whole LSAC GPA vs. undergraduate GPA is kind of bumming me out (as it is for many I see). So when law schools publish their reports about median GPA of the incoming class, is that the LSAC GPA or the undergraduate GPA? I’m just wondering so I can have a better picture when figuring out what law schools to apply to.

    Also, not sure if this was addressed already, but will law schools look at your undergraduate GPA AT ALL or will they only look at your LSAC GPA? Like many people, my undergraduate GPA is higher (by one point so I’m not sure if I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here) than the LSAC GPA.

    It just kind of stinks because now my chances of getting into certain schools don’t seem as good because of the discrepancy between my undergraduate GPA and my LSAC GPA.


    • Every GPA number that you see reported from law schools/LSAC/USN&WR is the LSAC GPA, as that’s what they go by. It’s the standard they use so that everyone’s GPA is calculated using the same methods.

      Schools will not look at your undergraduate GPA at all. They will go solely off of the LSAC number. If you want them to look at your undergraduate GPA, you’ll have to write an addendum to explain away the grades that you don’t want them to see. Two things with that:

      1) Don’t write one unless you have a good excuse. “I was in the hospital with polio” and “There was a death in my immediate family” will explain a bad set of grades; “I was passed out for most of my first semester” or “I didn’t know class was important when I was young and immature” won’t do a good job of explaining lower grades. Also, classes you took in high school at a college isn’t something you should write an addendum about, as you should have taken them seriously.

      2) Even with the addendum, they’ll still use your LSAC GPA to figure out where you fall on their academic index (the number they calculate based on your GPA and LSAT). The addendum will be a soft factor, akin to being secretary of a school club, more than something that will affect your numbers, or your likelihood of admission based on your numbers.

      If you mean that you’re undergrad GPA is, say, a 3.4 and your LSAC is a 3.3 by one point, then it won’t be a huge factor. If that takes you from above the median to below, then it’ll come into play a little bit. If, however, you mean a 3.4 to a 2.4, that is a huge deal and will definitely affect your chances of admission.

      Sorry for the bad news, but that’s how admissions works! Good luck, and post any follow-up questions here!

  46. debbie says:

    Hi Matt,

    Will two internships I took for credit, that showed up as two letter grades on my official UG transcript, count towards my LSAC GPA? What about an undergarduate thesis that also showed up as two letter grades on my official UG transcript?


  47. Joe says:

    Hey Matt,

    What if you are taking a break from completing a bachelor’s degree and are taking classes at a community college? Would all the classes dated before the certification/awarding of the BA degree count?

    Thanks for your help,

    • Hey Joe,

      Yes, they will. There’s no starting point, and there’s no hiatus status. There’s just a finish line – the date of your first Bachelor’s degree.

      Prior to that date, ANY and EVERY collegiate level class (with very, very few exceptions) will count towards your LSAC GPA.

      So if you’re taking some time off and enrolling in a few CC classes to keep yourself sharp/learn about a subject you’re interested in, make sure you do well in the class.


  48. TJ says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you for all our kind answers. I read through all the posts, but still have a question. What about courses that one takes at Extension? Currently, I am taking a college counseling certificate course at UCLA Extension. I have not finished my undergraduate degree, so will that count towards the LSAC GPA?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hey TJ,

      I’m not 100% sure of this answer, so I would recommend calling LSAC and asking them. However, I do believe they will count.

      Either way, your best bet is to aim for an A, but check with LSAC to be safe.


  49. James says:

    Thanks for the great article!
    2 questions:
    A) I’m graduating at a big college but took math at a different local college so that I could fit it into my schedule. The local college grades on a letter basis but when the class transfers to my actual school it is counted as pass/fail. How will this effect me since it’s not technically a pass/fail class, but the school I’m graduating from counts it like one?

    B) My school does not currently increase gpa for A+s, but it does reduce GPA for A-s. Will A-s be weighted the same as As for the lsac?


    • A) This is an edge case. However, you’ll most likely have to submit a transcript from the different, local college, and they’ll most likely count it as a letter grade.

      B) Your school’s policy doesn’t matter – the LSAC’s does. Whatever grade appears on your transcript that’s sent to them will be treated as that grade.

      So those A+s that your school doesn’t count as 4.33? The LSAC will, as long as they’re listed as A+s on your transcript. Those A-s that your school treats as 3.67 will be counted the same by LSAC. Hopefully, you’ve got a few +s stored up!

  50. Bella says:

    These posts are bringing me way down. I graduated with my BS 28 years ago – with a horrid absolutely horrid gpa. The same institution had mercy on me and eventually admitted me into a masters program where I graduated 18 years ago with near 4.0. Then 10 years ago I went back yet again (different school) and earned a certificate (I was the only one in the program who earned all A’s) in paralegal studies. I’ve been working in the law field these past ten years. I’m expecting to do well on the LSAT and will have recommendations from practicing attorneys who are encouraging me to go to law school.

    I’m only applying to the public law schools in my state.

    What advice can you give me?

    • Hey Bella,

      First off, don’t be down! You have a lot going for you, in spite of the ‘horrid absolutely horrid’ undergraduate GPA.

      1) You have time on your side. Most people who try to distance themselves from a poor performance in undergrad have 2-3 years; maybe 5. You have 28 years. That’s a long, long time away from that GPA.

      While they’ll still strongly consider it when looking at your application, you have a stronger argument than almost everyone else that your UG GPA no longer represents your abilities.

      2) Because of the time, and because of your more-recent academic successes (Master’s and certificate program), you’re a prime candidate for a GPA addendum. While I wouldn’t focus on your undergrad (unless you have a better reason than ‘I was a stupid kid back then’), point out that you have acquired a lot of work experience since then, which has matured you. This maturation is reflected in your Master’s and certificate GPAs.

      3) You will trounce every other application in work experience. Since that’s a huge factor in legal hiring, and law schools like their students to get hired, you’ve got a leg up in that regard.

      4) Most law schools would rather have a student with a high LSAT and low GPA than vice versa. It sounds like that’s going to describe you.

      5) Look up the GPA/LSAT 25/75 %s for the schools to which you’re applying. You will probably be below the 25% for GPA. Aim to be above the 75% for LSAT. Once you fall below that 25%, the numbers work out in a way that it doesn’t matter too much how below that number you are. If you get above the 75% for the LSAT, many schools will strongly consider taking you to boost their stats in that regard. Also, their one question would be if you can handle the work (low GPA/high LSAT suggests smart but lazy). You have the leg up on other low GPA/high LSAT applicants because you’ve addressed that with your subsequent academic and professional work.

      • Bella says:

        Matt you made my day!

        I suppose it will help that I have a guaranteed position with a small firm upon graduation.

        Ok – back to those sample tests.

  51. Ben says:

    Hello, I read on the LSAC website that the original grade for a repeated course when the transcript does not show both the grade and the units for the original attempt will be excluded from GPA conversion. So if my transcript shows a repeated course original grade, but has the units in parentheses and not included in the total attempted for that semester/total, would this original grade be excluded?

    Thanks, Ben

    • If the grade appears on your transcript, either straight up, in parentheses, with a cross-through, or in a different color ink, it will be included in the calculation.

      The only time it isn’t included in the calculation is when your undergrad transcript completely erases the original course from your transcript after you take it.

      From the sounds of it, your grade will be included.

  52. Robert says:


    I am currently a junior in college and I am wondering if this class will be counted or factored into my lsac gpa. During my senior year of high school I took a class for a college credit called SUPA Sociology (Syracuse University Project Advance). I earned a 97 in the class at my high school and the class is on my college transcript for credit, but not a grade (much like AP classes). My question, however, is that: Since Syracuse issued me a transcript, will it be counted is the final lsac?


  53. Poi says:

    How about Independent Study classes, where you do self-study with a professor of your choice? I filled my senior year schedule with those because they’re easier to 4.0 on. Do law schools count these as A’s too or do they know it’s easier than seminars and count it as pass/fail?

  54. Jacque says:

    Hi Matt,
    Do you know how law schools look at those who graduate with honors and/or honors within their department?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Law schools certainly like to see that you excelled in your studies/within your department. You should highlight this on your resume.

      However, it won’t substantially change how they view your GPA. That number will still be that number, even if there’s an ‘H’ next to it.

  55. Jonathan says:

    Hey Matt,

    I’m an electrical engineering major who is considering law school for potential post BS schooling.

    1) Do they take into account your degree when looking at GPA? My overall GPA is ~3.3 (looking to raise it up more in this last year) and my engineering GPA specifically is a 3.5 (didn’t take classes seriously until I started taking only engineering classes). A lot of people are in the 3.8 region when they apply but are in an academically easier major- would law school take this into consideration when evaluating me and my credentials?

    2) I also have higher-GPA semesters the semesters I take a heavier course load (I need a big course load to feel enough of a challenge to stay on top of things, otherwise I get complacent, lol) and my heaviest loads have been the last few semesters with only my engineering classes (taking 6 classes a semester). Would they take this into consideration?

    3) I have engineering internships- 2 from last summer and this summer. Does that help or is it irrelevant since it has nothing to do with law?

    4) Would it be appropriate to message law-school admission advisors from schools asking question such as these and asking what they think and consider when evaluating potential candidates?

    I’m just trying to get a feel for what kind of mountain I have to climb to get myself in position to be accepted to a tier 1 school. From everything I’ve read, it is worthless with how saturated the market is with law degrees right now to really go anywhere but a top tier school unless you have an in or are at the top of your class.


    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Jonathan,

      1) Will they take it into consideration? Yes. Will it make a huge difference? Not really.

      It sucks, because engineering is notoriously difficult. But it’s the way the game is played.

      Don’t despair, though – there’s a huge upside to it. While that GPA might not make you as attractive to law schools, that major will make you very employable. So even though you might get rejected at some top schools because of a ‘low’ GPA, you’ll get great job offers regardless.

      2) If you have a generally upward trend, they’ll take that into consideration. But if you want them to cross-reference your GPA with the different semesters, course loads, and difficulty of the courses, that’s probably asking a bit much.

      3) They’re definitely relevant – law schools like people who didn’t plan out their whole life to get ready for law school. A variety of experience is something that they very much look for. However, neither of them will be game changers in the application process. They will help significantly in the job search, however.

      4) It would be absolutely appropriate, but recognize that they’re probably going to give you vague/optimistic answers because they want you to apply. But it can’t hurt to ask, and the schools definitely appreciate you showing an interest in them.

      As far as the market is concerned, engineering students tend to buck that trend. Being able to practice patent law and sit for the patent bar is a huge asset in the legal hiring world, assuming you want to do patent work. At this point, just focus on killing the LSAT.

  56. Aleana says:


    The community college I attended does not count + or – but the university I transferred to does– how does this effect my GPA?? Do they simply take both numbers and put them together for an average? Or do they consider that my GPA is lowered because of the fact that there were no pluses added to grades in community college?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Aleana,

      You send transcripts in for every school you received a grade during your undergraduate studies. The LSAC then uses those to calculate a number. They don’t do it ‘dumb’ though – they won’t double-count classes.

      Does your university transcript include those CC grades? I’m pretty sure they’ll go with the CC report, but I’d need to know more details to be sure.

  57. Jordan says:


    I have 3 majors, and my school calculates my GPA for each individual major as well as my cumulative GPA.

    My cumulative GPA is 3.31, while my major GPAs vary from 3.6-3.7.

    Will my cumulative GPA still be the one that shows up? Is there anything I can do to give more weight to the classes for my majors?


    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Jordan,

      They’ll calculate all of your classes/majors into the cumulative GPA, and that’s the one that they’ll report to law schools.

      You can’t get the LSAC to weight your major GPAs more, but you can write an explanatory essay pointing this out. However, you’ll have to have a good reason why your major GPA is higher than you cumulative GPA, and, “I’m more interested in those classes” isn’t a good one.

  58. Jordan says:

    Also, how much will it hurt me if I have 4 W’s on my transcript?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      At 4 Ws, I’d probably write an explanatory essay. Did you have good reasons for them, or were they just because you weren’t doing well in a class and didn’t want the grade?

  59. Andrew Lawson says:

    Hi Matt,

    I am curious how LSAC calculates GPA for repeated courses. While enrolled in a state university school, I was ill-advised and retook several courses I made B’s in (Neither a smart use of my time or money, I know). I transferred schools and am doing great at my current school, Columbia University.

    How will the repeated classes be calculated into my LSAC G.P.A., and how will they affect my application? Will law schools pay less attention to those grades considering my recent success at Columbia?



    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Andrew,

      Assuming that both grades appear on your transcript (even if one of them is crossed out, or has an asterisk next to it), LSAC will use both grades to calculate your final GPA.

      If you have an upward trend since transferring to Columbia, that’s definitely something to highlight, and something that law schools will consider. However, your cumulative GPA will still be your cumulative GPA – an upward trend is more of a good soft factor, like being president of a club.

  60. Jared says:

    My community college grades were on the quarter system and my university grades were on the semester. Is there a different way to calculate quarter grades as opposed to semester?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Jared,

      Nope – unless the classes were for a different number of credits because of the different format. Otherwise, they’ll still use the GPA*# credits for each class, and then divide by the total.

  61. Jared says:

    Also, will certain classes not be counted towards my GPA with the LSAC? For example, I went to a private religious university, will the religion courses count? Also, what about physical education classes?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Jared,

      Any class that you took at a college/university before you received your first Bachelor’s degree (so from your birth until your first graduation) will be counted. Whether they be PE, religious, or any other type of class, that grade will factor in.

  62. A. Shah says:

    Hi Mitt,

    I have an incomplete in an independent study course because I am still completing my thesis. This grade should be non-punitive. Is this something I need to address in my addenda?

    Thank you

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey A.,

      I would attach a very short (1-2 sentence) addendum explaining the I. You might also want to call up LSAC to make sure it’s kosher.

  63. Patrick says:

    The school that I go to doesn’t give letter grades. On the transcript they place a GPA next to each individual class. Do you know if a 4.0 would be considered an A or an A+?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Patrick,

      The LSAC has info on that for each school, so you should call them up and ask.

      That being said, I’m pretty sure they’re just going to use the individual numbers for each class to calculate your GPA. It seems unlikely to me that they’d change the number back to a letter and then make it a number again.

  64. Patrick says:

    Thank you for answering my previous question. At my previous school I have two grades of N on my transcript for non-attendance. They don’t count towards my GPA. Do you know if these would be calculated as W’s or F’s.

    • Matt Shinners says:

      If ‘N’ is considered punitive by the school, they’ll count as Fs; otherwise, they’ll be Ws.

      LSAC will have that information for the school, so I’d give them a call!

  65. Chris Garcia says:

    Hey Matt I had a ?, I was going to wait to send in my applications after the fall semester so I can reap the benefits of a 4.0 semester. I had alot of catching up to do after a 4 year hiatus from school due to bad grades, since I’ve been back I have received all A’s, my question is should I wait? Should I see what the LSAC calculator says first? I do not want to sit out a year I’ve already taken a 4 year break when I was running a restaurant. Thank you for your time.

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Chris,

      You should do the math and see how much that extra semester of As will boost your GPA. Generally, after 3+ years of school, a single semester won’t do much to change your GPA. Having a small bump in your GPA usually doesn’t balance out against waiting until later in the seasons to apply.

      However, this math changes if your GPA post-fall semester is higher than a median that it would otherwise be below (or any quartile). Figure out where you sit before and after these grades; if the ‘after’ bumps you above a quartile for a target school, then it’s worth the wait.

      It’s also not an all-or-nothing deal. You can send out apps where this isn’t the case now, and send out the other ones (where fall grades will make a difference) after they come out.

      Either way, update your transcript ASAP after the grades come out. If a school’s on the fence, that update can push you over the top.

      And congrats on springing back from a bad start! I know for a fact that there are people on admissions boards for whom that upward trend matters.

  66. Debora says:

    A year prior to receiving my BA from UCLA I took a class, during the summer, at a community college. Although UCLA considered the class toward my major, they didn’t calculate the grade, an A, into my UC GPA.

    You’d mentioned that any classes taken prior to receiving my first BA would be calculated into my LSAC GPA, so I’m assuming LSAC would calculate the A into my GPA. Right?


  67. Kimberly says:

    Hello Matt!
    I’m a former blueprint student and I found your article when I was freaking out that lsac demands every single transcript from every institution I attended. I took some community college classes during the summer that I never used for any high school or college credits. According to lsac my GPA from Berkeley would have been a 3.94. Now my GPA is a 3.91 and I was aiming for one of the top five schools. I’m very impressed that you went to Harvard and in your opinion is my best chance now scoring a high score on the lsat as well as gain some work experience in order to be considered to one of the top five schools? I mean Harvard’s 75th percentile is a 3.97 and I don’t even make that cut so does that mean I’m about average to them? I kind of regret graduating a year early from Berkeley when I could have stayed and possibly raised my gpa above 4.0 but maybe not since Berkeley was fucking hard. I screwed up my freshmen year. Well anyways thanks Matt! I will def read your other articles about personal statements. :)

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Kimberly,

      Harvard’s 75th is just that – their 75th. 75% of their students have GPAs below a 3.97, so you’re in good company there. Seriously, I don’t think anyone can claim to have ‘screwed up’ freshman year and still manage to graduate with a 3.91. You’re solid, and that GPA more than qualifies you for Harvard.

      So now it’s a matter of getting the LSAT score. You’ve got your GPA where it needs to be for a T5 school, so make sure you don’t waste it on a low LSAT!

      • Kimberly Phan says:

        Thank you Matt! Yes I think I was a little confused about the 75th percentile. And yes I will review and study for the lsat. I have been postponing it since it kinda feels that I only have one shot at this–with some schools averaging and whatnot. But yes thank you again Matt! :D I feel a lot better about the process.

  68. brandon says:

    I have a 2.39 gpa from art school 11 years ago. Im currently finishing up a second degree in economics with foreign language minors and a high 3.9 gpa and scored a 172 on the lsat. How much did my immaturity 11 years ago hurt my chances for one of the top law schools?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Brandon,

      Did you graduate from art school 11 years ago? If so, your current degree GPA won’t count for the purposes of law school admission, unfortunately.

      However, you have a great LSAT score. The GPA is going to seriously weigh you down, but the LSAT score is more important, and you have a solid one. So you need to focus on convincing the schools that the LSAT is more indicative of your abilities than your GPA. Luckily, you have the more-recent GPA to do that.

      Your application is going to be unpredictable. Most schools will, unfortunately, see that GPA and be turned off. However, the LSAT will attract some attention, and ‘splitters’ are admitted to great schools every year. They just have to cast a much wider net!

  69. brandon says:

    Thanks. (Un)fortunately I did graduate, so I understand how they consider anything else beyond that degree graduate work and not as important. Makes no sense at all. I’m pretty sure I could even get a slightly higher score on the lsat if I retook it. Is it worth it? In the end, with that lousy gpa from 2001, is it conceivable a top-14 or 20 school would consider me or am I just wasting application fees?

  70. Marcus says:

    Hey Matt,

    I attended a trade school for welding while I was still getting my B.A. Do I got to report my grades from the trade School? They don’t transfer to my B.A in any way and all I got from them was a certification for the type of welding test I took.


  71. Scott says:

    So I have a question. I already received my Bach degree, but I am considering retaking classes to replace the C’s I got. My undergrad will then list the class with an “R” for removed or retake. I’ve already submitted all of my transcripts to LSAC. Will they edit my CAS report to remove the C’s? Also will they count the A’s I intend to get in the new classes (since they will be received after I got my first Bach degree?)? Thank You

  72. Daniele says:

    Hey Matt! Your posts are really helpuful!
    I am an Italian student.
    I have a Bachelor Degree from my country and I have also a second Bachelor Degree achieved in the U.S. (I transferred some credits from my Italian degree).
    My questions are:
    -Can I avoid to say that I have a previous Italian Bachelor Degree?
    -Do I need to send my transcripts to the Credential Assembly Service?
    -my GPA will be calucalated only considering my second Bachelor Degree?

  73. alex says:

    This is a really useful article! While I know its a little weird to post on something so old, I’m really interested in this. It sounds like this bizarre way of recalculating GPAs might actually work in my favor – I had a great freshman year before transferring to a different university, which did not factor into the GPA this second university granted me. The same is true of the semester I spent abroad – the university from which I graduated did not use those grades to calculate my GPA. Will law schools take that foreign semester into account? Again, this could only be good, but I’d love to have some idea beforehand!

  74. Amanda A. says:

    Hello Matt –

    I just wanted to say thank you for posting this article. Its been informative as I am now getting into the law school process. Definitely feeling worried now as I found out ALL undergraduate grades would be considered into the LSAC GPA. The thing is the school I am currently in now completing my Bachelors only took 37 of the 61 credits that were towards my Associates Degree. Shouldn’t the ones only be relevant to my current bachelors degree be counted? I know you say ALL undergrad grades get configured.


  75. Megan says:

    If I had a mediocre GPA leaving my community college then transferred to a state school, took a break there and retook all of the classes I got C’s in at CC would those new grades be put into account on my LSAC gpa?

  76. Sean says:

    I have and F from my first semester of my first year which will be marked on my transcript. It is being excluded from CGPA calculation however and therefore is a No Credit course.

    Will this still be calculated by LSAC simply because I attempted the course and it appears on the transcript, even though it is not factored into my official academic performance?


  77. Sam says:

    Hey Matt,

    I called lsac about my transcripts not being released due to a balance with bursar. Lsac says they will tell my schools, but not calculate my grades. The grades were terrible and I’m glad to hear that, but will this affect me in any other way?

  78. Stace says:

    I have a 2.9 GPA and I would really like to bring it up to a 3.7. However I am eligible to graduate from my current college (College A) and so any further classes that I take at college A are weighted. which means if I got all A’s for three more semesters it would at best bring me up to a 3.21 (according to my academic advisor). So the question that I have is :
    Would I be better off transferring and completing my degree at another university and maintain 3 semesters of a perfect 4.0 ?
    The goal (regardless of how long it takes) is to have the LSAC calculate all of my undergraduate work at a GPA no less than 3.7

  79. Tess says:

    Hi I have a question, our school has its unique system of grading and we only have A+ A B C G(which is fail). Would I still calculate the followings as 4.33 and so on?

  80. Luis says:

    Great article it’s really helpful to know the LSAC factors in. I was trying to anticipate what my GPA was going to be and this helped me do that. I also wanted to mention for the other readers that with this information an online GPA calculator I was able to that, the one I used was but there are others. Thanks again!

  81. Patrick says:

    I received an F in a remedial English class in 2004. The only way it is designated as remedial on the transcript is by the course number (English 091). On the back of the transcript it states that courses below 100 do not count towards graduation requirements. Would this course be excluded from my GPA?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Remedial courses should be excluded from GPA calculations. You’ll have to send in those transcripts, but the LSAC should not count them.

  82. Tina says:

    My school has different GPAs are all accounted for?
    We have an overall GPA/ Cumulative GPA / our major GPA

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Your school is using the same numbers to generate three different numbers. They’re all coming from the same grades; some of them are just excluding certain grades. The LSAC will also use the same numbers to generate their own GPA. But the LSAC doesn’t care about the GPAs your school calculated – they’ll calculated on their own just based on the grades on your transcripts. It should be pretty close to your overall GPA, however.

  83. Ruben says:

    I have a question in regards to Community College remedial courses that didn’t count towards transferring to a University. Do these effect your LSAC GPA at all?

  84. andrew berger says:

    Hey Matt,

    I graduated with my BA in 2007 with a low GPA (a 2.6) However I took a 30 credit American Bar Association Approved Paralegal program at a Community College and had a 3.5 GPA graduating in December of 2010. Will the LSAC look at both of them? Also I have been a paralegal for the past 3 years (I know that doesnt count for my GPA but I’m hoping it counts for something!!

    • Matt Shinners says:

      You’ll have to send the transcript in since you took the course at a community college, and the law schools will see it. However, it will not be factored into your overall LSAC GPA. They only count classes up until you receive your first bachelor’s degree, which you earned before you started the paralegal program.

      And that three years of work experience will definitely factor in to the hiring process!

  85. Alexandra says:

    Hi Matt,

    First of all. Thank you for posting this and responding to all of these questions. I have a slightly different question. Do law schools care whether the course is a 100 level rather than a 200 level? I am between classes right now. I can wait and take a 200 level or take an easier 100 level this semester. I’d also like to ask in general…will and do law schools take into consideration a more difficult course load?

    P.S. They are both philosophy classes. Does something like this matter?

    Thank you so much!

    • Matt Shinners says:

      They most likely won’t go over your transcript with a fine-enough-toothed comb to notice that you took a 100-level course instead of a 200-level course.

      As far as overall difficulty goes, unfortunately, it’s not nearly as important as most people would like to believe (at least, for those with a difficult courseload). For a couple reasons – First, it would be very hard to go through every single person’s transcript and assign it a difficulty rating; Second, how do you know how hard a course really is? Is that 300-level course in philosophy at Irvine harder or easier than the 200-level course in chemistry at UCLA? A few schools will make a point of doing an eval, but it won’t be a HUGE factor in the decision, and they’re in a small minority.

  86. Joshua says:

    Does LSAC or law school admission officers take into account graduate courses if I didn’t complete the program? I understand that LSAC only counts credits toward you first bachelors degree, so I would assume that means my graduate work doesn’t factor into my GPA. But can you tell me whether or not I must include my incomplete graduate work at all on my law school application?

  87. chabely says:

    Hi! I have a question regarding my gpa. My school doesn’t count A+’s, I have a 3.8 gpa, would that also be my lsac gpa since they don’t count +’s? Thanks.

    • Matt Shinners says:

      LSAC counts A+s, so if they’re on your transcript as A+s (and not a percentage over 100), then your LSAC GPA will actually go up when they factor them in!

  88. jenny says:

    I am an international student and as I understand it my grades will be transferred to “superior” “above average” etc. by LSAC.
    I took part in my uni’s study abroad program, where I did decently. The school was notorious for grade deflation though (as, I later found out, most European schools are) and I received Cs and Ds although I was second or third in the class.
    My home university does NOT factor them into my GPA, but the grades are still shown on my transcript. Will LSAC consider those grades while evaluating my transcript? Thanks.

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Honestly, I don’t know too much about the way LSAC looks at foreign transcripts, and it’s a bit of a black box. However, from what I know of how they deal with GPAs, I think that those grades most likely will factor into the LSAC’s determination as to whether you have a superior/above average/etc… transcript.

      • Claudia says:

        I got an “F” for a course during my dark years of school back in Europe… I transferred to the US where I finished at Univ of Denver in a year and a half with a 3.9 GPA. Is LSAC going to look at ALL credits from that old European transcript, or just the ones that DU transferred (courses with above “C” grade)? Thanks!

  89. will says:

    Hi Matt,

    If I took a couple cc classes for purely recreational purposes, both of which were online, during summer break, are those also calculated into the lsac gpa? They aren’t being credited towards my degree.

    Also, do law schools take into consideration major gpa’s versus overall gpa’s?


    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Will,

      Yep – you’ll have to send those transcripts in, and they should count towards your GPA.

      And nope, they’ll look at your overall GPA, not your major GPA.

  90. Kimn Chartier, R.Ph says:

    Just a quick question.. when applying to law schools, do the schools take into consideration your Bachelor’s degree concentration or area of study? ie a liberal arts major vs a Pharmacist?


    • Matt Shinners says:

      They’ll take it into consideration, but it’s not nearly as strong a factor as most think. Law schools expect you to excel in whatever area you decide to focus. And while engineering might be more difficult than communications, that change in difficulty doesn’t have a huge impact on your admissions prospects. A harder major will be a slightly positive factor overall, but it won’t change your GPA.

  91. Lexii says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for all your responses and help! Here’s my question: While I was in high school, I decided on my own that Criminal Justice interested me. On a whim, I took an Intro to CJ course. This interest developed and continued. Soon enough, I had acquired enough credits for an Associates Degree at this local university. (To be clear, none of these classes counted for my HS degree). I am now at a top liberal arts college. However, they only accepted 20 of the 65+ hours. When my GPA is recalculated by the LSAC, will they recalculate my GPA with all 65+ credit hours GPA along with the GPA at my college right now? Or, will they only take into consideration the 20 credit hours that were counted here at my current college?

    Thanks so much for all your help,

    You Da Bomb!

    • Matt Shinners says:

      They will take all of them into account – you’ll need to send both your current transcript, as well as a separate one from the courses you took while in high school.

      Hopefully that’s good news!

  92. I don't want to say it, as it is a unique name. says:

    Matt – Thank you so much for doing this; I have a handful of questions. lol

    1. When I was in HS I went to a special program for “gifted” kids which was at the closest College (a hybrid CC with about 2% of the kids enrolled in Bachelors programs, most earning either a transfer degree or a stand-alone AA).

    In that program there were a number of classes over a couple of years which I didn’t realize I hadn’t withdrawn from until much later. I had gone through the withdrawal policy through the HS, but I failed to do so through the College. So the College later (when I earned my AA there I was Phi Theta Kappa, doing well) granted me blanket amnesty, erasing the grades from my transcript and title. None of the UNIs I applied to for transfer calculated this as part of my GPA, but now LSAC will?

    2. After graduating HS I earned a vocational Associates of Applied Science degree. This, in our state, is considered to be a “College” degree, but a non-Academic. The state flagship of my undergrad didn’t count any of the credits as part of my transfer. I’m not sure if that’s because my AA gave me more than the 2 years they allow to transfer, or if that was because of some other reason.

    Will LSAC count my 3.9 GPA in this 2 year program? I got one non-A.

    3. While at my flagship state school I had an unfortunate event where I fell down a flight of stairs and was hospitalized. The U gave me a Hardship Withdrawal (HW) for the term and actually gave me back my tuition (even through the fall was during finals week), as the fall was on an icy and ill-lit section of campus.

    How will LSAC and law schools look at that? I feel like it could be explained away, other than if it’s reflected poorly in the numbers.

    4. Finally (for now), my major is a STEM major and the curves are often set 2.5-2.9 in my classes. As such, a 3.3 that I earned in one particular class was an epic achievement and another 3.7 was (according to the professor) the highest grade earned in the class in the 13 years he’s been teaching it. (YES, I will get a LOR from this professor lol) I understand that my (currently) approximately 3.4 aggregate GPA will be hurt by some of the CC stuff, so I was considering taking a couple extra ala carte classes through University of Phoenix to just get A’s.

    Would such a side plan work? Would it boost my score in LSAC? Would any respectable school just throw such an application out? I’m in a 5 year Bachelors program now and UoP tells me that they have classes that I could take one day a week online during my normal school’s various instructional breaks (I was thinking this Xmas).

    Thank you so much.

    • I don't want to say it, as it is a unique name. says:

      Oh, sorry, I wanted to clarify, I’m at a 3.18 in Major and above a 3.5 in everything else. But that’s because Liberal Arts and Humanities classes are so easy.

      • Matt Shinners says:

        1) If the school doesn’t include those grades in the transcript it send to LSAC, then they won’t be included in the calculation. If they’re on your transcript, they’ll be counted. It sounds like they were erased, which means they aren’t counted; if, by that, you meant they just weren’t counted, but the grades are listed, then they’ll count.

        2) Those courses should count towards the GPA calculation – definitely send that transcript in.

        3) If HW isn’t noted as punitive (and it sounds like it shouldn’t be), those won’t count. I’d get in touch with LSAC and clarify that before sending the transcript in.

        4) Unfortunately, the curve/difficulty of the course doesn’t matter too much to the schools (it’s too hard to track down curves for each and every class at each and every undergrad); you’re doing exactly the right thing by having the professor write you a LoR to put that in context, however!

        As far as taking side classes at a CC to earn “easy As”, that’s a plan that’s worked for many other students. Will a top school see it on your transcript? Probably. But the higher GPA will be much more important than the weight they put on your less rigorous classes. And the only schools that would really care about them (HYS) are already a bit out of reach because of your cumulative GPA.

        • I don't want to say it, as it is a unique name. says:

          Thanks Matt –

          How much will it help that I speak multiple languages? I imagine that it wouldn’t help me marginally with other Hispanic URMs, as they also speak Spanish, but I speak proficiently at multiple other languages; some of which are linguistically unrelated to Spanish.

          Thanks again!!

  93. zuhair S says:

    ok I’m in highschool currently will the grades only on my transcript count towards my gpa because in my school there’s 3 marking periods each semester and they say only the 3rd mp of each semester is on your transcript and there’s only 2 semesters so what happens to those 4 mps that didn’t go on my transcript

  94. Anonymous says:

    I studied biochemistry in undergrad, graduated with a 3.54, was part of a scholarship program then went to dental school. I realized it wasn’t the right career for me and withdrew the first term but I received 1 F which I obviously didn’t want to try and repeat. I also have a few Ws from courses in undergrad.

    I’m doing alright with my LSAT preparation and plan to score in the mid to upper 160s. My understanding from looking at the LSAC website is that grades from graduate/professional school aren’t factored in during the calculation of an index score which is primarily used for determining admissions. Is this the case?

    I plan to write about my decision to change careers in my PS and address the grades and Ws in the addendum.

    Thanks for your time

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Yep – while schools will receive those transcripts, they won’t be factored into the LSAC GPA, which is the GPA that really matters for admissions.

  95. Anonymous says:

    Hi Matt,

    I graduated summa cum laude from NYU with a 3.93 degree GPA as calculated by LSAC (3.96 by the school), I was a member of the university’s top honor society and was elected to phi beta kappa; my LSAT score is a 173, and I am considering retaking it as I think it can improve by several points.

    Here is the problem: when I was a senior in high school I took several courses through a local community college; I earned As in all of them except two. In one I earned a C and in the other a D. This was the first and last time I earned grades this low – at that time I overextended myself by taking too many APs and extra classes and these two courses were what I ended up dropping. I clearly got burned and learned my lesson: I never overextended myself again and my grades never dropped below As in my subsequent academic career.

    These two grades neveretheless seriously undermine my cumulative GPA, which dropped to a 3.74 as a result. In addition to my academic record, I have over four years of work experience in legal fields as well as other relevant positions and my academic references are very strong. I had hoped to apply to some of the top schools but a 3.74 seems to be too low for Harvard and some of the others, falling below their 25% while a 173 LSAT is only the median score – seemingly not enough to balance out the poor GPA.

    As this low cumulative GPA is the result of just two classes dating from my high school years, is there any merit to writing an addendum addressing the issue? I do not want to complain or whine – I recognize that the system is what it is – but I feel like my record is not accurately reflected by the number. On the other hand, if the number is so low that I will be rejected out-of-hand then I suppose there’s no point to even trying.

    Thank you for any and all advice.

    • Matt Shinners says:

      That’s a tough call. Like you say, you don’t want to come across as whining, but you also want to make it through the first pass.

      That said, the top schools will generally review all applications, no matter what the GPA/LSAT (well, there are some that wouldn’t receive that much of a review). So I wouldn’t worry too much about being dismissed out of hand.

      They’re also used to seeing people with a few bad grades from taking classes during high school, so it’s something of which they’re aware. I don’t think they’re specifically looking for it, but it is something they know to look for.

      The final issue is that the only way to make this a non-whiny essay is to limit it straight to the facts – but the very act of bringing it up creates a presumption that you think factoring those grades in is unfair.

      In the end, I’d probably write it if you don’t retake/get a higher score, and skip it if you do retake and get a 175+. In the former situation, it won’t hurt because you’re at or below both medians; in the latter, the LSAT will make up for it.

  96. Joel says:

    Hi Matt;

    First off, you are a gentleman and a scholar for helping so many of us bewildered and generally overwhelmed would-be lawyers – thank you!

    Like several others on the board my first two years of my Business undergrad were, shall we say, less than stellar in academic performance. Year 3 and (presently) year 4 reflect significantly more competitive grades; however because half my UGPA is already accounted for it has been a pretty monumental upward battle to raise my cumulative GPA.

    My question for you is this – I’m in my fourth year at an institution that allows me to take as many courses as I want, over and above the requirements needed for Business degree graduation. Given that all potential law schools are looking for is one consolidated UGPA number, rather than individual courses, could one theoretically continue to take undergrad courses that could serve to boost GPA, even though they are extraneous to the undergrad degree itself? (Hypothetically do another one or two semesters of soft, easy-credit A’s to boost UGPA before graduation?) Because the LSAC takes ongoing transcripts, could you potentially continue to take those kinds of courses and submit the results to their algorithm until the LSAC GPA reflects a more competitive score? It’s essentially gaming the system in your favour, but from a theoretical standpoint I don’t see why it won’t work, judging from your article.

    I was also wondering if you could comment on the wisdom of applying to a second or third tier law school (your “safe” choice, so to speak) and trying to apply as a transfer student to a more prestigious law school in such cases wherein UPGA score is not competitive?

    Thanks so much!


    • Matt Shinners says:

      1) It is absolutely something you can do, and something many people do every year. Summer classes, community college classes, super-senior years, super-duper senior years, etc…

      Is it gaming the system? Yes. Welcome to law school admissions! :)

      2) Don’t.

      First, there’s no guarantee you’ll be at the top of your class, which will be necessary to transfer up. While studying will earn you better grades, top grades are a bit capricious (law school grading can sometimes be a mystery). Additionally, there will be a ton of people who have the same idea; will study just as hard; and will want it just as badly.

      Second, even if you do manage to transfer, it probably won’t be to an appreciably better school. The people who transfer to Harvard come from Berkeley; Berkeley from UCLA; etc… It’s a move up towards slightly more prestige; it’s not a jump from a T3 to a top tier school.

  97. Tom says:

    Thanks so much for doing this Matt, this is awesome!

    You mentioned earlier that HYS actually do care about taking community college classes for “easy A’s.” For those who are aiming for these schools, how harmful is this? I found a bunch of classes at my local CC that sounded both fun and easy, but I don’t want to raise a red flag on my apps to HYS.

    • Matt Shinners says:

      It won’t be that big of a deal. If your GPA is 50% easy classes taken at a CC to obviously raise your GPA, then you might have an issue. If you have a few classes here and there, it won’t raise any red flags.

  98. Claudia says:

    I got an “F” for a course during my dark years of school back in Europe. I transferred to the US where I finished at Univ of Denver in a year and a half with a 3.9 GPA.

    Is LSAC going to look at ALL credits from that old European transcript, or just the ones that DU transferred (courses with above “C” grade)? If it counts ALL credits, it will be bad news for me :(

    I experienced a huge leap in grades when I came to the US – I loved the positive and enthusiastic style of teaching, the diversity of perspectives from students from all over the world, etc. I started to like learning when I came to the US.

    Should I explain all of this in an addendum?

    Thanks Matt!

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Unless I’m misunderstanding your situation, your GPA will probably be calculated with just the transferred grades. The grades from before starting in the US (the non-transferred ones) will most likely be evaluated on the foreign transcript metric (which is a qualitative analysis), and then your LSAC GPA will be based on your transcript from Denver.

  99. Dylan says:

    Thanks for answering this in advance.

    I was a little confused by part of your explanation. You said if you retake a class and they both appear on your transcript, that LSAC would calculate your GPA using both. Does this mean it treats them as two different classes or that it averages the grades? Like if I failed a 3 credit course and then retook it and got a C. Would 6 credits be counted toward my total number of credits with two different grades or would 3 credits with the averaged grade be factored in?

  100. David says:

    Hey Matt,
    I do believe you covered this a little bit in a previous question, however my question is this: I am just finishing up my engineering undergrad – My first two years were a little rough (averaged ~2.6). My final two years were/are considerably better (~3.4). Will they be looking at my cumulative GPA average over the 4 years or will they take the final two years into more consideration?


    • Yuko Sin says:

      Hi David,

      Late response, but here goes.

      They will definitely think it’s a good thing that there’s an upward trend in your GPA.

      However, your cumulative GPA will probably be the main number they rely on.

      Don’t get too discouraged though. You can target schools that are less GPA sensitive like Northwestern.

  101. J says:

    Hi Matt:

    Another question regarding double degrees and how it is calculated in LSAC GPA:

    I completed double degrees (a total of six years) in an Australian university, one in engineering and another in law. The engineering degree was awarded in 2010 and the law degree was awarded in 2012.

    While the degrees were awarded at different times, I took some of the law courses when I was doing my engineering degree, and these law courses did not contribute to my engineering degree. I understand that my grades from engineering will definitely be used to calculate my GPA.

    My question is this: for those law courses I took during my engineering degree, will LSAC use them in the GPA calculation, despite the fact that they don’t contribute to my engineering degree?

    This is very confusing for me…

    Many thanks Matt!

  102. Shony says:

    I am a military spouse. I did my basic college classes through 4 different community colleges across the US. The GPA in these are 4.0, 4.0, 3.7 and 3.5. Once I transferred to a University my GPA lowered to 2.67 due to two F’s and 2 C’s on my senior year. The reason for these grades are two back to back tough deployments in 2006 and 2007 respectively. In the letters to the different Universities, Should I talk about these deployments and explain why my grades suffered?
    Also I have a graduate certificate with a 3.8 GPA. Will this one be accounted towards LSAC GPA?

    Thanks for all your help,

    • Yuko Sin says:

      Hi Shony,

      I would definitely include an addendum about how your grades suffered due to military deployment.

      Any coursework you do after your first degree was granted never counts toward your LSDAS GPA.

  103. Hayden says:

    Hi Matt:

    Thanks for this great resource!
    My university has a coterminal program in which during my final undergraduate year, I was taking both undergraduate and graduate courses, although I had not yet graduated nor closed my undergraduate grade record. Additionally, according to my university’s transcripts, now that I am in my fifth year of study ( in the coterminal MA program), my GPA appears as cumulative (my four first undergrad year + one coterminal year). At what point do you think that the LSAC will stop considering my grades in their calculation?

    Thanks for your help

  104. Michael says:

    (I’m a UCLA student)

    *This is a real technical question

    -Took AP Econ in high school and got a 4 on the exam
    -UCLA gave me the credit for the class and said I didn’t have to take it
    -I took the class anyways for a letter grade
    -The letter grade is on my transcript, but has a notation that it was retaken, and is not counted by UCLA in my GPA

    Question: Will that letter graded Econ course I retook at UCLA be counted for my law school GPA?



    • Yuko Sin says:

      I’m pretty sure it will be included in your LSAC GPA, but you can call LSAC to make sure. Let us know what they say.

  105. Gassen says:

    Hi Matt – I went to college overseas where GPA is not used. The grading system is 0 to 20. People think if you’re an A student, you’ll get 18-20/20, but in reality, no one ever gets that close. For example, the number one ranked student in the entire college got an average of 13/20. Does LSAC convert my grades to a GPA? I know some friends who were A students where I came from and were penalized when their GPAs got converted to a US GPA system (they all applied to business schools), because whoever is in charge of converting their grades think, unless you have 18-20/20, you’re not an A student. Any ideas? Much appreciated.

    • Yuko Sin says:

      If you got your degree outside of the US/Canada and you have less than 60 credits (~2 years worth of classes) from a US/Canadian school, then LSAC will not give your schools any sort of GPA.

      “LSAC does not report a cumulative GPA or admission index for applicants who:

      received their undergraduate degree from an institution located outside the United States, its territories, or Canada, and who also completed less than 60 credits of US/Canadian undergraduate-level work prior to the awarding of the international degree.”


      Hope that helps.

  106. Fish Star says:

    So I took community college courses for fun while attending a university, didn’t take them seriously, since I thought they wouldn’t be reported, and didn’t do well. Do I have to report them? If so, I don’t understand why I have to report it if schools wouldn’t know I took those classes unless I reported it to the institution?

  107. Raquel says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for this helpful post. If I have credits that appear on a community college transcript but were NOT taken at the college do they need to be disclosed? The classes were taken at a high school with high school students and counted toward my high school graduation. Namely, the college let you pay them and they basically issued you concurrent credits for the high school classes. At no point did I ever even go to the college or use their resources. I’d prefer not to disclose but don’t want to break any rules. Any insights would be appreciated.

    • Greg Nix says:

      It’s a good question, and the rule of thumb is that you must count all classes for which you received college credit before your first bachelor’s degree. The fact that you say “concurrent credits” makes me think that you were also issued college credit, which means you should probably disclose. Since I know that’s not the answer you want to hear, you can contact the law schools to which you’re applying and ask. The worst thing that can happen is they say you should include those transcripts, which puts you in the same position as just sending them in without asking. But they might say you don’t need to, in which case you’ll get the outcome you want without the fear that you made a misstep.

  108. Christian says:

    I had a FGPA of 3.47( Political Science Major)
    How will LSAC calculate my GPA from the FGPA, or is my GPA the same as my FGPA
    Again, will university required courses and faculty courses included in LSAC’S calculation of my GPA.

    • Greg Nix says:

      I’m not quite sure what you’re asking, Christian. By FGPA do you mean first-year GPA? Or does that acronym stand for something specific to your school.

      Maybe go back and read the article again. This line, in particular, may help: “Every grade you received before your first Bachelor’s degree will count towards your GPA.”

  109. Patricia says:

    Okay, after high school I attended a 4 year university and got kicked out after 3 semesters because my grades were terrible. I started over at community college and then transferred to a different 4 year school and graduated with my bachelors last May. I sent LSAC a transcript from the school I got kicked out of, but will it count towards LSAC’s GPA because none of the classes I took there counted towards my bachelors degree.?

  110. Fred says:

    I took a single class in community college my senior year in high school but withdrew because it was too hard (Calculus). I took no other courses there. Do I still need to submit a transcript from there just to show the withdrawal?

  111. Josh says:

    I am planning to take a year to study abroad after I graduate. I don’t know if this is common, but my school has a program that allows graduated students to do this, sort of like a super senior year. So by then, I would already have my degrees but I am wondering, since I will apply for law school fall of my “super senior” year, will they count the grades for that semester and the following spring semester?

  112. Ameya Patel says:


    So I understand that law schools will mostly look at the LSAC report rather than undergrad transcripts. But which GPA on the LSAC report to they pay most attention to? I found three of them, first one labeled just “GPA”, second says “Cum. GPA/College” and the last says “Cum. Across GPA”

    Which one do the law schools look at?

    • Greg Nix says:

      Schools look at Cum. Across GPA.

      GPA is the one your school gives you.
      Cum. GPA/College is LSAC’s GPA for your degree granting intstitution.
      Cum. Across GPA is LSAC’s GPA for all schools/courses you’ve attended.

  113. Jeff says:

    I’ve seen a couple questions on post-grad programs and if those transcripts should be sent to LSAC. But what if I took a few continuing education undergrad courses several years after obtaining my bachelors. Should the transcript for these undergrad continuing education courses be sent to LSAC?

  114. interested observer says:

    so basically law school admissions committees are not looking for people with intelligence, intellectual rigor or a strong moral code, they’re just looking for people who could do an internet search for “how to game the system” and take loads of community college classes in nutrition or basic hygiene or what have you.
    I’m not an applicant, and I’m not writing this to whine about it being fair or unfair–the issue is that this is an ABSOLUTELY ABSURD way to conduct the admissions process. If you can’t see that you’re gonna be a really sh—- lawyer.

  115. interested observer says:

    (…not least because that community college applicant with the 3.9 GPA who took 2 or 3 classes per semester is never gonna survive in a top tier law school. The difficulty of the classes and demands of the class schedule cannot be compared.
    Law schools are just setting these applicants up for failure. thank god med school doesnt work this way)

  116. Jogo5 says:

    I had about two semesters worth of credit from US undergrad schools, then another two from St. Andrews in Scotland, before leaving school for awhile. I’m finishing up through the University of London International Programme this May. The LSAC put my US GPAs on the report and then just put “foreign” for the st. andrews and uol grades. How might law schools consider this? Do they look at the individual transcripts or just the lsac report? My US GPA was really great, but the uol classes have been so-so given that I also am working beyond-full-time while finishing.

  117. John Michael says:

    How do law schools view “Pass/No Pass” classes taken? How do they view a “pass?” How do they view a “no pass?”

    • Greg Nix says:

      This is from the official LSAC policies:
      Grades Excluded From Conversion
      Passing grades from systems of one or two passing grades (e.g., Pass/Fail, Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, Credit/No Credit, or Honors/Pass/Fail, High Pass/Pass/Fail, and those for which conversion rules cannot be formulated), including courses for which a transcript gives only narratives or descriptions. Credits for the work in these courses are totaled and reported separately as unconverted credits. The only exception to this policy is for a reported grade below C-minus from a two-passing-grade grading system (e.g., Credit/D/Fail) when the issuing institution includes this grade in their calculation of a GPA.

  118. Jay says:

    So, some schools have “pluses” and “minuses” in GPA, while others won’t have that factor in? If my transcript doesn’t show them, is it safe to assume my school doesn’t use them? Will my UGPA be the same as this recalculated one assuming everything else goes according to plan? I transferred from a school that showed the +/-, but my new one doesn’t.

    Thank you!

    • Greg Nix says:

      You need to send in transcripts from both schools. The one that uses +/- will have that factored into its LSAC GPA, while the one that doesn’t will probably stay the same. Those GPAs will then be combined into your overall GPA, which may differ slightly from what shows up on your transcripts, depending how your schools weight the +/-.

  119. Mina says:

    Hi Greg,
    I studied two years in Cairo university in Egypt before I transfer to the U.S.
    The grading system there is: very weak, weak, pass, good, very good and excellent.
    My first question is, are these classes going to be factored in my gpa? If so, how is lsac going to calculate the equivalent gpa?
    Second, there is no way I can contact Cairo university from the U.S. to have them mail my transcript. The only way for me to get them to do that is by going to the campus myself which is very hard to do at the moment. Is there any way I can convince the lsac to accept a copy of the transcript or to waive the original document requirement?
    Thank you

  120. Jay says:

    If I start a class before I get my first BA, then would that still count on my LSAC transcript. For example, If I start the class in April and it ends in June, but I obtain my BA in May.

    How does that work?

  121. isabelle says:

    What are “CC classes” ?

  122. Klay says:

    If I had to leave my CC due to an immigration problem, and had to drop the classes after drop deadline, to receive 2 F’s. How detrimental would that be to my chances with an explanation about it? it brings my GPA from a 3.4ish to a 3.0. I have a strong upward trend after that period, since I’ve been back in the U.S., and transferred.

    • Greg Nix says:

      Hi Klay,
      It’s hard to say exactly, and might depend on the school/admissions officer. It probably won’t hurt you too much, especially with the better grades afterwards. That’s a solid explanation, so definitely include it in an addendum.

  123. Tony says:


    Shortly after graduating high school, I attended two different community colleges and withdrew from both the first semester in. I was not ready for school at the time, and was dealing with severe issues involving the death of my mother. I then joined the Army and spent 8 years in the military. In the duration of my military service, I got my head together and finished school. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.8 GPA. Will those withdrawal failures count against my GPA when LSAC does the conversion, also do you think those Withdrawl Failures will play a substantial role in my admissions process, considering I am now 29 and have completely turned my life around compared to where was I 19? Thank you so much for you help.
    – Anthony

    • Greg Nix says:

      Unfortunately, you will have to include any transcripts from community college in the materials you send to LSAC, and those credits will hurt your LSAC GPA. But the good news is that your excellent grades and military service should both outweigh any poor grades from a decade ago, especially if you write a compelling personal statement about your growth and an application addendum explaining the extenuating circumstances that forced you to withdraw. Get a good LSAT score and you’ll still be an excellent candidate for admission.

  124. Future Law Student says:

    I currently am heading into my senior year of college and will have ~3.5 at end of year. I am thinking of staying a 5th year and taking one class each semester before I get my degree. During this year I am planning on taking community college classes to bump up my GPA. Key is that I am taking the classes before I graduate. Are there downsides to this strategy?

    I should end up with ~3.65 LSAC GPA and anywhere from a 172-178 on LSAT. Does this put me in play for Columbia/Harvard?

    • Greg Nix says:

      I’d be careful here if you will have completed your degree requirements by the end of your senior year. I wasn’t able to find anything unambiguous about whether LSAC includes CC courses taken after your degree requirements are completed but before you actually walk. Your best bet is probably to give LSAC a call to double check (and then let us know what they say!).

      As far as your numbers go, check out Law School Predictor — it’s an inexact science, of course, but it can give you an idea of what schools you’ll have the best shot at. Even with the fifth year classes included, you’re a little below Harvard’s median, but a really high LSAT score can help compensate for that.

  125. Mackenzie says:

    Hi I have a quick question! If I have one W on my transcript should I be concerned? I know LSAC doesn’t factor it into my gpa, but I still feel like it looks bad. Also I got that W at the very end of the semester because I wanted to avoid getting a C- in that class, as it would have lowered my gpa significantly. I go to CSUF and it says on the website that “The “W” carries no connotation of quality of student performance and is not used in calculating grade point average or progress points.”

  126. MRG009 says:

    If I earned by undergrad degree twenty years ago, how important is my GPA to a law school? I went to a really good – top ten – undergrad school.

  127. Lidah says:

    Hello I was wondering if I Recieve a minor before I get my BA or at the same time will the minor grades be calculated into my LSAT gpa??

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  129. Bethany Williams says:

    My explanatory essay is going to be a book. I find this entire thread to be ridiculous. Why the hell law schools require transcripts from everywhere when other schools did not necessarily factor into your first degree is ridiculous.

    Growing up all I wanted to be was a meteorologist! Hah! I changed degrees and now I find out that my CC degree will factor into my bachelors. Wow! That is just sad. Did the assholes that sat around coming up with ways to break the hearts of so many truly consider how this would affect people like me? Life challenges hurt so many GPA’s and none of us were ever given courses on how to survive GPA calculation… ?!

    End rant…

  130. Ernest says:

    In 2004, I started college at 17 and over of the course of two years took 45 credits. Through a mixture of not going and not caring, the Fs accumulated and I left the school with a 0.874 GPA (out of 45 credits).

    I dropped out of school, successfully ran my own business for a few years, and finally went back to school in 2012. At CC I earned a 3.82 over 50 credits before transferring to a university where my GPA is 3.58 after another 51 credits. With two classes left before graduation I’ll likely stay right around that 3.58.

    My question is likely obvious by now. Over the last four years and 107 credits my GPA is right around 3.7 (philosophy major). However, counting my grades from ten years ago, it’s around 2.86.

    In my letter, I did mention my mental immaturity overriding my academic ability as a teenager who followed a girl to school after graduating at 16 years old. I also highlighted the fact that I ran my own business and earned my highest GPA over my last two semesters while working 40 hours per week with a wife and baby at home.

    Basically, what kind of chances am I looking at here with a 155-160 LSAT and a hope of going to my local law school (ranked in the 60s), preferably part-time while I maintain my full time job?

    Is the transcript from 10 years ago going to matter? Or even count?

    Thank for your time.

    • Hey there! Unfortunately, LSAC calculates GPA using all grades you got before you received your undergraduate degree, and so those grades will be sent on to the schools to which you’re applying. Most schools allow you to write an explanatory essay, and your story is one that every law school has encountered. On the one hand, admissions officers will review your application holistically, and I can assure you that they understand that your recent grades are the ones that are predictive of your performance, not the decade-old grades. That said, they’re required to report GPA of incoming students, which affects their law school rankings, most notably US News & World Report rankings.

      I wish it were not so, but that’s a consideration for them in reviewing your application. Please don’t be discouraged, though. That’s a solid LSAT score, and the admissions officers reviewing your application will take everything you submit with your application into account. That’s all the more reason to make sure the rest of your application — letters of recommendation, personal statement, resume, etc. — are the best they can be.

  131. Eric says:

    Are all AP classes taken into account or do only those you received college credit for which appear on your transcript count towards your LSAC GPA?

    Also, how are these AP classes added into your LSAC GPA if they only show up as credits on your transcripts with no grade or AP score?

    • Hi Eric! The short answer is that the courses for which you received college credit will be reported to the law schools to which you apply, but they will not factor into your GPA. Anything for which you didn’t receive college credit will not be reported at all. You might want to check out this link on LSAC’s website for more information.

  132. Amanda says:

    I just came across this article as I am going into my senior year of college, with the intent to apply this Fall. Where should I include the paragraph explaining my W’s and the failed classes I experienced in the state college I attended before transferring? Thanks!

    • Hi Amanda! Just about every school gives applicants the option of submitting a supplemental essay explaining the hiccups in their applications. We’ve posted about this in the past, and there are definitely some best practices you should follow when writing such an essay. Just like everything else, the explanatory essay is submitted to LSAC, and they’ll forward it to law schools.

  133. Richard Center says:

    1st… Thank you for your attention to everyone seeking your advice and assistance.

    2nd… I attended 3 years of college 25 years ago with a cumulative 2.6GPA (I had some family issues including a situation where my sister was “shipped off” to live with me for a couple years). I returned to school and I am completing my 4th year now (2016-2017) with a 4.0GPA.

    Please advise on how you think potential schools will view my situation. Additionally, will the fact that I’m now 50 years old factor into their decision?

    Thank you in advance for your input,


    P.S. One hypothetical because I just thought of it… If someone completed a 4yr degree with a 2.2GPA. Is that a death sentence with regard to admission to any law school until the end of time? It is beyond comprehension to me that one cannot rectify a problem such as this, but everything I’ve read above seems to say that person would NEVER be granted admission to law school, no matter what they do after the fact. What am I missing here?

    • Hi Rich,

      First, the good news: law schools are not admissions robots, and they will definitely take into account the fact that your GPA woes are justifiable, situated squarely in the past, and, most importantly, not reflective of the work you do today as evidenced by your current GPA. Law schools will indeed take that into account and adjust accordingly, up to a point.

      The less great news: Some quick, back-of-the-envelope math says that you can expect to apply with about a 2.95 GPA, assuming you keep your 4.0. Sorry to say, but for the top schools — probably at least top 20 — that’s disqualifying. But that’s most certainly not disqualifying at lots of other very good law schools. This isn’t because they don’t think you’d be a good student or care about your particular circumstances. It’s that a student’s GPA is an important statistic that must be reported to the ABA, and average GPA has a lot to do with how schools get ranked by US News and other ranking services. That, in turn, has to do with making sure that they’re getting good students willing to pay full tuition. If you look at it like a business, someone with a low GPA is a liability, as harsh as that may sound.

      However, you should know that your LSAT score is the most important part of your application package, and acing the LSAT means schools will have a very important positive statistic to report to the ABA.

      As far as your hypothetical, I don’t know how useful it is, since it doesn’t fit your circumstances, but that person would definitely be consigned to an unranked school, and might need to go to an unaccredited school. That makes it extraordinarily hard to get a lawyer job after.

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