Law schools look at a variety of factors when reviewing applications for admission. One of these factors is undergraduate grade point average (GPA). If you have a strong GPA, it can help offset weaknesses in other areas of your application. Conversely, if your GPA is lower than you would like, other features, like your personal statement and LSAT scores, will need to make you stand out.
Law schools often publish the GPA range of accepted students. Some of these ranges will be for the middle 50 percent of accepted applicants. For example, if the low end of the range is 3.41 and the high end is 3.82, 25 percent of accepted applicants had a GPA below 3.41, 25 percent had a GPA above 3.82, and the other 50 percent were in between. Other times a school will simply publish the median GPA of all admitted applicants, and some schools will give the actual highest and lowest GPAs of admitted students. Be sure you know what type of range you are looking at before making a decision about applying to a particular school.
Law School Applications
Looking up the GPA range of accepted students can help you decide whether or not to apply to a particular school. If your undergraduate GPA is near the high end of the range and the rest of your application is solid, you are likely to be accepted. If your GPA is at the low end of the range, you may not be accepted unless you have a very strong LSAT score and personal statement. While you do not need to apply solely to schools you know will accept you, be realistic about your chances of admission when sending out applications.
If your GPA is lower than you would like, you can offset it with an exceptionally high score on the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) or a particularly compelling personal statement. Adequate preparation for the LSAT is essential if you are trying to bolster your application to compensate for a low GPA. Consider taking a prep course before taking the exam. When applying to a school that generally accepts students with higher GPAs than yours, take great care in crafting your personal statement, being sure to highlight any areas of experience you have that will bring a unique perspective or particular expertise to the classroom.
Schools may also consider the difficulty of undergraduate coursework. A low GPA from an excellent school or in a difficult field of study looks better than a high GPA from a less prestigious school or in less rigorous coursework. Because schools consider your application as a whole, and often do not have hard and fast guidelines regarding admission, you may be admitted even if your GPA is lower than the range of typically admitted students.
Beth Anne Beckenhauer is an attorney in Montrose, Colo. who has dabbled in personal injury, bankruptcy, and environmental law, but prefers research and writing pertaining the U.S. Constitution, personal liberties and property rights. She began writing professionally in 2010. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science from Ashland University, and a J.D. from Washington and Lee University.