How Does the LSAC Calculate Undergraduate GPA?

Why is the cumulative GPA that LSAC reports not the same as the GPA as calculated by their undergraduate institutions?

After submitting their transcripts to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), many applicants are perplexed to find that the cumulative GPA that LSAC reports is not the same as the GPA as calculated by their undergraduate institutions. When this happens, the discrepancy is the result of a difference between the GPA calculation policies of the LSAC and the applicant’s undergraduate institution.

But why, you might ask, does LSAC go through the trouble of conducting its own GPA calculation?

Good question. By creating a uniform set of rules regarding which grades count toward an applicant’s undergraduate GPA, LSAC is giving admissions committees a uniform basis for comparing applicants from any American or Canadian undergraduate institution. So, like the LSAT, the LSAC GPA is a “standardized” evaluation tool.

In general, you should assume that any undergraduate course for which you received a grade and credit will count toward your LSAC GPA. Below is a summary of LSAC policies for the types of grades that most commonly create a discrepancy between an undergraduate institution’s GPA and LSAC’s GPA.

The Grades that NEVER Count

  • Grades received after the first undergraduate degree (e.g., B.A., B.S.) was received
  • Passing grades in a Pass/Fail grading system
  • Grades for classes that don’t provide any credits

The Grades that MAY Count

  • Withdraw Grades: any type of withdraw grade (e.g., Withdraw/Pass, Withdraw/Fail, Withdraw/Unsatisfactory) are counted unless the school issuing the grade considers it non-punitive
  • Incomplete Grades are also counted unless the school considers the grade non-punitive
  • Repeated Courses: both grades will count unless either the grade or number of credits has been removed from the first attempt of the course
  • Grades in a system of two passing grades (e.g., High Pass/Low Pass/Fail, Pass/D/Fail) are not counted unless the
  • AP Credits are counted if the undergraduate transcript shows both a grade and awards credits

If you notice a significant discrepancy between your undergraduate GPA as calculated by your school and your LSAC GPA, it’s worth it to look into why. Make sure that no clerical error was made in calculating your GPA. You may also want to describe the discrepancy between the two GPAs in an addendum.


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