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I wish someone would tell students when they first get to college how important it is to get a a good GPA if they are considering law school as a future option. Alas, they do not.

So how important is GPA? Very.

GPA taken alone probably accounts for about a third of whether you get into a specific school.

However, for any number of reasons– laziness, difficulty of the program, illness, and so on– many people graduate with a low GPA. This post is for the people with lower GPAs who are determined to get into a good law school.

The Law School Admissions Game

The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert has more great tips on getting into law school! Check out our interview with author Ann Levine, and CLICK HERE to pick up a copy of her best-selling book.

View The Law School Admission Game on Amazon

What Is Considered A Low GPA?

This depends on where you are applying to school. If you are seeking admission to a T14 school (the fourteen schools that have historically placed in the top fourteen in the influential USNWR rankings) anything below a 3.5 is generally going to place you below the 25th percentile for that school, meaning that about 75% percent of the students attending that school will have a better GPA than you. Generally, your GPA is considered low for a specific school if you are below the 25th percentile GPA of students entering that school.

The Importance Of Crushing The LSAT For Low GPAers – Making Yourself A Wildcard

Except for the very top schools, mainly just Yale and Stanford, the general rule of law school admissions is that you can predict where you will get in with a high degree of accuracy just by looking at two numbers: your GPA and your LSAT. For most schools, your chances of admission are close to 90% if you are over the median numbers for both LSAT and GPA. Check out the student profile page for schools you are interested in to see what median, 25th, and 75th percentile numbers incoming students have at a school.

What if you have a lower GPA you may be below the 25th percentile numbers at the schools you wish to get into.

What’s to be done?

Here is the rule-of-thumb: if you are below the 25th percentile GPA at a school, you want to have an LSAT at or above the 75th percentile to have a strong chance of admission.

Having this combination makes you what’s called in law school admissions a splitter. It’s not the worst place to be: schools want students who boost their numbers or at least help keep them where they are.

If you can’t provide in one area (GPA), at least help out in the other (LSAT). For a longer discussion of this, including an explanation on why law schools care so much about numbers, check out these posts:

Returning to the subject at hand, the point is that with that high LSAT you all of a sudden become someone that the school might need to admit to get the student profile they desire.

Your chances of admission are perhaps not as great as someone whose numbers are both above the medians, but they are nonetheless fairly high.

From looking at self-reported data of law schools students applying with a GPA below the 25th but an LSAT above the 75th, it appears that your chances of success run pretty close to 75% or better.

Again, the exception is the very top schools such as Yale and Stanford, where any given applicants chances of success are not very high because competition is so strong.

Look at the What Is A Good LSAT For The Top Law Schools? post for more details on this.

Because a school would obviously prefer to get someone with a high GPA as well, you are a bit of a wildcard, but that’s fine! It’s good to be a wild-card.

If they do decide they need you, you are actually in a pretty good position to draw scholarship money. Depending on the school’s needs, you may be better off than someone who is simply hovering right around the median numbers.

This is because the school is going to have a lot of applicants to choose from who have about median numbers, however, they have trouble attracting students with higher LSATs, who often go to better ranked schools if they have a high GPA as well.

If you have a low GPA, you really need to put your absolute all in to the LSAT. Devote 3 months to studying intensely for it. If you can’t do that one thing, then I promise you that you are better off doing something else besides law school. Follow this LSAT prep schedule. Prep with the best LSAT books.

Now that you know a bit about how to study for the LSAT, it’s time to learn the other rule of being a good wildcard: low GPA/high LSAT splitters need to apply to a wider number of schools to have success.

The Importance Of Playing The Odds – Apply To A lot of Schools

Any fisherman or pick-up artist knows that you have to make a lot of casts before you get a bite. The same thing goes for applying to law schools with a low GPA.

Whether you are a splitter or whether you are just throwing out Hail Marys to schools where you don’t have very competitive numbers, you will always benefit from casting the widest possible net with your law school search. It’s just good common sense.

Consider applying to 25 or even 30 or more schools and you might get a nice surprise. Schools do not auto-reject students just because they don’t have the best numbers. If they really like you, you may get in despite being below the normal range for the school, which brings us to our next point…

The Importance Of Being Perfect – Making Your Application Air Tight

Though it’s not recommended, students with great numbers can often get away with being lazy on their applications. This is never true when you have a GPA below the range of your target school.

As a low GPAer you should make sure that your resume is flawless and that your personal statement glows with subtle perfection. The best way to do this is to ensure you get advice from the best sources.

The following books are generally regarded as the two best resources out there to help with your law school application:

These two books are required reading for anyone applying to law school, but I particularly recommend The Law School Admissions Game, as Ann Levine recently published a second edition of the book.

The additional info takes account of recent trends in law school admission that might affect your strategy. We had the good fortune to interview Ann about her book recently so check that out too.

Putting a lot of effort into an application will help you shine by comparison with stronger applicants who might be lazy on their applications. Particularly focus on coming across as likable in your personal statement and you will boost your chances of getting into reach schools.

Need advice on your specific situation? Tell us your GPA and where you want to go and we are happy to assess your chances for you. Don’t worry, comments are completely anonymous. Feel free to use an assumed name! Best of luck and stay in touch.

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557 Comments

  1. Hi I have a 2.98 gpa and average around 160-164 on practice tests. What are the chances I get into the University of Tennessee law?

    • Hi I have a 3.51 undergrad GPA in Electrical Engineering from a respected engineering college and a 177 LSAT score. I am planning to apply to Top 14 schools for fall 2022, specifically I am hopeful to attend one of the two top 14 schools in NYC (Columbia, NYU). I didn’t plan on going to law school until after graduation, so the lower GPA is not due to any particular hardship, just taking some particular difficult classes like advanced math. I am hoping to get more perspective on my chances at entry in Top 14 schools, and how to best address the lower undergrad GPA in my application. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

      Thanks

  2. Hi guys,

    I had a very poor undergrad GPA that had multiple factors that played in. No need for making excuses here as, let’s say, I have matured quite a bit since graduating. I finished with a 2.475 with a BS in Aerospace Engineering from ERAU. This is a top aerospace school which can hopefully play in my favor. I’m planning on taking the LSAT’s about two years into my working career, and currently work for the Largest Aerospace company in the US. Only reason I say this is I am hoping it can increase my odds when applying if I can reach the 170+ score range. I would like to be in Corporate Law which I’m no stranger to knowing requires quite a good school. With that poor of a GPA, will my school and degree have any value compared to someone who’s bachelors was in another field?

  3. If I have a 3.2 GPA and am studying to hopefully get an LSAT score within the 172-174 range, do I have a good chance at any of the T-14 schools? And will COVID-19 factor in for Fall 2021 admissions?

  4. Hi! I’m dreaming of going to law school. I’m a 31 year old single mom of 3. I have primarily stayed home with my children over the last 8 years, but have some work experience from college and a little here and there over the last 10 years. My undergrad GPA is a 2.9, unfortunately. I plan to start studying for the LSAT this summer and hope to be able to score high enough to be considered a low GPA/high LSAT splitter. I am also taking a mediation certification course this summer and will volunteer with the mediation clinic in my small town. I will be limited in my school choices (only two options) because of geographical restrictions regarding child custody in my court order with my ex-husband. With all of these mitigating factors, what do you think my chances are of getting into law school? Feel free to email me. Thanks!

  5. Hello! I have a 2.69 cumulative/degree GPA in Finance, but I graduated over 10 years ago. Since graduation, I have been working in an industry (Finance/Trading related) that is pretty highly coveted and rewarding. However after realizing that law has always been my passion, I have become determined to go back to school to earn a J.D. I feel like my self-awareness of my low GPA from over 10-12 years ago haunts me multiple times everyday. I even think about it while I’m studying for my LSAT, such as right now! 🙂

    I understand that a high LSAT score will separate you from the rest if you have a lower GPA. However, I feel like those applicants such as myself, who have grown professionally and matured considerably since undergrad, call for some special and unique circumstances. The first question that comes to mind is “How low is too low?” Do the websites that list the school’s low GPA truly signify or imply that if you have a GPA lower than that school’s “low GPA” that you are very unlikely to get accepted? The next question is, “would my undergrad university possibly forgive or expunge a couple significant grades, if I send a letter of appeal to the dean, explaining my situation with my genuine intent to enter law school?” Based on my GPA of 2.69, I look at the top 200 law schools, and it appears to me that I would break the “low GPA” record for 190 of the programs. This makes me feel deterred from even applying. For example, given that Mercer University in GA has a median GPA of 3.31 and a low GPA of 2.98 (on ilrg.com 2020 Raw Data Law School Rankings Report), does that mean my 2.69 GPA will be impossible? 2.69 is so far off from the low of 2.98. The LSAT high is 154, so then what happens if I score a 160?

    I hope you see my point. I am torn because in the beginning I simply read that for “late bloomer” law school applicants such as myself, your LSAT score can tremendously impact or overrule your GPA from over 10 years ago. However, I did not realize that my low GPA was so far off still and I began getting this huge sense of doubt or hopelessness. Anyways I look forward to your feedback!

  6. Hi Josh Craven and Evan Jones,

    I know this thread is several years old now, but it nonetheless came up in my research while looking into law school admissions, and I figured I’d give it a shot. I just got back an LSAT score of 172 (first-time test taker, if that matters) and I have a 3.70 GPA from a large university (within top 30 in the nation). I am hoping to ED either NYU or Columbia, seeing as I seem to be within the 25-50th GPA percentile for both schools, and 50th LSAT percentile for Columbia and 75th for NYU. I also have some work experience (<1 year) in a law firm as well as some other work experience as a journalist, writer, etc. What do you think my chances at either of those schools are? And I'm wondering if there is a strategically better choice in terms of choosing which school to ED (since I know Columbia is a bit more of a reach for me, should I ED to that instead of NYU)? Both schools are dream schools for me, so I am trying to think very strategically about this. Thank you so much in advance for any response that may come.

  7. courtney.schomaker on

    Hi, My cumulative GPA for my undergrad in Art History was a 2.8. I’ve been working as a teacher for two years now and I had a 3.8 GPA in the program I enrolled in to get my teaching certification (if that even matters). I live in Arizona and would love to stay here (shocking, I know) – I’m wondering if it would even be possible to get into Arizona State University with my GPA and, if so, what LSAT score you would recommend I shoot for. If that goal is a little too lofty, would University of Arizona be a more realistic goal? Thanks!

  8. I graduated with a 2.98 GPA and got a 145 the first time I took the LSAT. I was accepted into Appalachian School of Law, however decided to defer a year and work in a law office and retake my LSAT. I’m hoping to get into Texas A&M commerce law school. Any advice? Or goal score for my LSAT??

  9. Hi, I’m wondering if you can provide me with an estimate LSAT score I would need to get into a law school with a cumulative GPA of 2.5? I’m, of course, not looking into getting into the top 10 law schools, but I’m just hoping for an estimate. Thanks!

  10. I will have finished my Undergrad with a 2.9 GPA and am looking at getting a 165-170 on the LSAT based on my practice test. I don’t have any specific Law schools in mind but wanted to know if I even stood a chance of getting in with that GPA.

  11. Hello Josh,
    Well my gpa is low it’s at about a 3.2 I think, however my major gpa is about 3.6. I graduated with honors within the major. I’m looking into getting into UCLA. This is my dream Law school. I haven’t taken any LSAT exams yet. However I would like to know what score I’m I looking at to get into this school? I’m also willing to go to the east cost.

  12. Olivia Rose on

    Hi there. Thanks so much for this article! I’m a student at Brown University, and I’ll likely be graduating next year somewhere in the 3.4-3.6 GPA range, double-concentrating in English with Honors as well as Visual Arts. I know my GPA is on the lower side, but I was wondering if attending an Ivy League undergrad, getting Honors, double-concentrating and a good LSAT score could get me into Columbia Law School.

    Thanks so much for your help!

  13. 3.1 UGPA (2.8 LSAC GPA) in a double major at a top 10 public. Grade trend is positive. Practice LSAT 160 +/- 2.

    I have a lot of Ws from community college prior to transferring that lowered my LSAC GPA and my initial GPA after transferring was also quite low (2.4 for my first year) however term GPAs have consistently been 3.0-3.5 since

    My goal simply is to attend the best-ranked institution I can, however, if I were to receive any scholarship offers I would strongly consider selecting a lower ranked school. If I continued to improve my LSAT how far could I climb the rankings (if at all)? My dream schools are UCLA and UCI, but really I’d go anywhere in the top 50.

  14. -Ended Sophomore year
    -Had an awful first three semesters resulting in a 2.2 gpa, but increased last semester by 1.4 points
    -Engineering/Psychology major
    -Have had to work an average of two jobs throughout school
    -Leadership roles in an a capella group and a service fraternity
    -Full time engineering internship this upcoming summer
    -Have had offers for letters of recommendation from professors and employers
    -Last LSAT practice was 170+
    -I am a good writer(get paid to review papers), and have written personal essays about overcoming diversity for scholarships before
    I would like to get into a top 50 law school, and I have time to take classes to continue getting 3.5+ semester gpa’s, but still would be below the median, is it realistic to hope to get into those law schools? Law school at all?

  15. Fashion2Law on

    Hi, I am deff one of those low with low GPA. I went to FIT ( Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC and got a 3.25. I graduated in 2015 and having been working in Marketing since. Last year I quit my job and traveled the world, volunteered, started a blog and decided I wanted to finally make the push for law school. I am 3 weeks into studying with your guides so I am unsure of where I am right now in terms of LSAT score yet. I took a diagnostic test before I started studying and was at 151, with never having learned logic games or any sort of reasoning. I completely bombed the LG and only got 7/24. For the rest of the test I did fairly well. ANYWAYS I digress, I am aiming for a 165. I am taking the LSAT in July and Sept. My question is, if I did get a 165 on the LSAT with a 3.25 GPA and apply early, do you think I have a good shot at getting into Fordham Law – my top choice. I feel like I am a major wild card because I haven’t heard of anyone who went to FIT or studied fashion getting into law school, so I am unsure how I measure up to others.

    • Fashion2Law on

      Forgot to mention I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and am now finally getting treatment, which kind of explains my low GPA years ago.

  16. Martin Varona on

    3.46 overall undergrad, 3.23 graduate, both in civil engineering. Haven’t taken the LSAT yet but I want to study hard and hope to at least get 168+. Want to get into UCI or preferably UCLA. These are the local UC schools in my vicinity and I would like to stay in SoCal. What are my chances?

  17. Hey Josh,

    I know this was posted forever ago but hoping this still comes through. I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer and I’m at the point where it feels like now or never. I’m much like you and scored a 153 on my cold diagnostic (like, really cold – didn’t even know what sections comprised the LSAT) and hoping by following your plan I can boost to 170+.

    Wondering my chances for T14 given —
    GPA: 3.46 – I know this is slightly below the median. This is dragged down by my freshman year of college. In the last two years, I was nearly a 4.0 student and was offered a full-ride for my Masters as well as a teaching position in communications (both public speaking and debate). Our department head said the decision was “very easy” and I was the top scorer in the class he taught (rhetoric of Plato and Aristotle). Major was comms theory with many business classes.

    Upon graduating, I’ve had a very successful marketing career working at 2 of the top ad agencies on some of the most famous campaigns out there and now one of the top 5 tech companies. I’ve won numerous professional awards, been nominated for global marketing awards, been selected by our VP (again, top 5 tech company) to host her offsite, and nominated by a panel of VPs to speak to the entire global marketing org about trends. I have no doubt my recommendation letters would be quite good.

    If I get a high enough LSAT, what do you think my chances are at T14?

  18. Graduated 10 years ago… with a 2.52 gpa… fast forward to now and I have a husband and 3 kiddos a full time successful job as a medical sales representative… haven’t taken lsat but I’m confident my study habits have indeed changed from my younger college days. Your thoughts on even considering taking lsat and applying

  19. Brian K Mckoy on

    Hello, I have a 3.6 GPA. I am a Series 7, Series 63, Series 24, Series 65 Licensed Financial advisor and have been working as such for 19 years. My GPA is a little lower than I would like because I have been trying to finish undergrad for years now. I dealt with a few tragedies on my path to finishing undergrad. Along the way I had a daughter who passed away when she was 19 months old and a son who was killed about 2 and a half years later. So I have had to start and stop and start and stop.

    I’m confident in my ability to do extremely well on the LSAT which I will be taking next year. I am extremely focused on getting into Yale Law. I wanted to know what your thoughts ideas or recommendations are for my achieving my goal of admission to Yale Law. Thanks

  20. hello,
    I am in my senior year as an undergrad with a pretty low gpa (2.61 roughly). I personally didn’t take school seriously in my earlier years along with being in a fraternity and wrestling for the school, getting a couple injuries in the way. I am getting my actions and attitude in line so I can follow through with my goal to get into law school. Is it still possible?

  21. I can either graduate next spring with a BA 3.00/4.00 gpa and a minor or stay an extra semester and add a BS and another minor as well as improve my GPA.. should I go for it? If I have a 3.00 and mid to high 160s on my lsat what are my chances at a t40? T50?

  22. I will graduate with around a 3.00/4.00 cumulative and 3.85/4.00 I’m also at 160-165 for practice lsats. I was sexually assaulted while in college and plan on talking about that in my personal statement as it’s why I want to go to law school and why my gpa is poor. I’m looking to apply to University of Pittsburg, University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, and University of Georgia. What are my chances??

  23. Hi! My GPA is a 3.5, but my LSAT score is a 178. My freshman year gpa was below a 2.5, due to family trouble – I also became homeless that semester. It’s always been my dream to go to UChicago’s law school and also study public policy. I have work experience as an undergrad legal fellow at a law clinic (for the past 3 years). I was wondering if UChicago or other top law schools – like UT Austin accept students with a GPA below a 3.7… Thanks!!

  24. Hi! My GPA is a 3.5, but my LSAT score is a 178. My freshman year gpa was below a 2.5, due to family trouble – I also became homeless that semester. It’s always been my dream to go to UChicago’s law school and also study public policy. I have work experience as an undergrad legal fellow at a law clinic (for the past 3 years). I was wondering if UChicago or other top law schools – like UT Austin accept students with a GPA below a 3.7… Thanks!!

  25. hi,
    I just finished the first semester of my sophomore year, and my gpa is around a 3.0. I was diagnosed with ADD right before finals this year (a little late, I know) and the meds improved my final exam grades dramatically. I reallly want to get into an Ivy, but I’m worried that my grades from the first two years will prevent me from being admitted. Should I stay an extra year in college to bring up my gpa? If I start studying for the LSAT now, will that help me get an incredible score? Will a double major make my application more impressive?

  26. Hello,

    I have a 2.2 undergrad cumulative GPA and a 3.3 graduate GPA. My undergraduate degree is in Physical Education and my graduate degree is in Criminal Justice. I also have some completed hours in a graduate program for Legal Studies. Do I have any chance of getting into a top 20 school? What about top 50? What do I need to score on the LSAT?

  27. Hi, I’m starting LSAT prep given my GPA isn’t exactly where I’d consider “competitive,” but nonetheless I thought I’d get a feel for my chances. I’d like to regionally be located in the north east, so any top law schools in that area you think I’d have a shot in would be nice. Ideally I’d like to be in NY, MA, or CT but obviously open to anything.

    GPA: 3.4 at UTexas at Austin
    LSAT: aiming for at least 170

  28. 2.9 gpa environmental science major. Want to practice environmental law. PREFER FSU, any schools in Florida or northeast. I had rough periods of time throughout college that I could talk about interfering with my academics.

  29. ivanaguida329 on

    I am currently sitting on a 2.6 GPA with 3 classes left at UCSB. I plan on taking a year or two off to work and study for the LSAT. What do I need to do in order to get into a top 50 school? Is it possible? Does my GPA become less relevant if I take time off to work?

  30. Hello! I hope you’re still active here. I went to San Francisco state university and had a 3.07 GPA. I messed up because I thought I wanted to be a nurse, so took some classes before finishing up my degree in financial services. I realized it wasn’t for me. Even before that, I struggled with some finance courses because I had to work full time and didn’t have as much time to focus on school during my Junior year. During Senior finals, I also got really sick. My luck is terrible. Anyway, I am a CFP and am now considering law school. I received a 3.71 from the Berkeley extension program where I took courses needed to meet my CFP education requirements. I don’t know if that helps boost my GPA? I spent my post college career working at financial firms and have been promoted each year since I graduated college. I haven’t started studying for the LSAT yet, but I’m aiming for 165-170+. Do you think NYU or Columbia will accept me? I was even considering Georgetown, Duke, or Berkeley. Thanks!

  31. Airline Pilot 2 on

    3.73 cumulative gpa. I currently have a full time job as an airline pilot with good income and I run a real estate investment business. I plan to quit my job as a pilot if necessary once accepted to law school or drop my airline schedule to one weekend trip per month if that will be allowed by the ABA guidelines and the school’s requirements. My life goal is to go to HLS and get a biglaw job handling mergers and acquisitions. I have a virtually unlimited amount of time to study for the LSAT since I am not trying to start law school straight out of undergrad. Over the last 6 months I have been studying for the LSAT several hours a day and I enjoy learning this test. I plan to continue studying for at least the next year before taking the actual test. For me, it doesn’t seem worthwhile to go to a low ranked school given that you only get one law degree in a lifetime and what school you go to seems to pretty much set your course. My question is, what goal LSAT score do I need to set in order to have a good shot at getting into Harvard with my GPA? Also, I graduated from undergrad more than 10 years ago so getting recommendations from professors might be a little tricky. I have volunteered for numerous events in the past but most recently I have volunteered as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and this has been rewarding as well as educational about the field of law. What else can I do to increase my odds? Thank you in advance for your help!

  32. Hey Evan & Josh,

    I’ve got a GPA of 3.2 from Princeton. Presuming 170+ LSAT, 3-4 years consistent work experience, and diversity status, what are my chances at a T14 and a T6 school? What should I focus on, moving forward?

    Thanks in advance. I’m impressed by your helpful individual replies on this comment thread!

  33. I have a GPA of 3.6 if we don’t include retakes, but if you factor in all my F’s i have around a 2.6… I was a biochem major premed at a prestigious and arduous school, but after doing some shadowing realized it was no longer my passion and am now considering a law degree. What ways could I make my application remotely competitive? I’m just now looking into all of this and know very little and am still considering other options as well. Took a practice LSAT and scored a 172, if I could manage this on the real LSAT would that be competitive enough?

  34. Confidence-lacking on

    Hi Josh and Evan,

    I am a great fan of your site and have recently purchased one of your schedules in the past. I am feeling very discouraged with my numbers as well and would greatly appreciate your feedback. My ugpa is 2.73. I am an URM and a veteran. My most damning period was in the first year of college, straight out of high school- 24 years ago-just immaturity, really. After that first year of college, I went into the military for almost 12 years. Upon separating (honorably), I completed my A.S. (2.9), my B.S. (3.3) and my MPA (3.3). Most of the A.S. was completed during active duty, while being a single parent (part of which time I was going through a stressful divorce)- not an excuse, just my story. Clearly, none of my GPAs are great. I had a tendency in later years to put more effort toward graduating by a specific date (loading up on classes each semester) than I did toward achieving a great GPA. My one complete LSAT PT score was 158, and in hopes of drastically improving that score, I’m studying at this time.

    My preferred list of schools:
    -Columbia (LSAC calculator actually shows 46-71% chance increase (up from I think 170) with a 180 so I’m thinking higher LSAT may make a difference here, even with such a low GPA)
    -NYU (no calculator anywhere shows I have more than a 0-10% chance here, whether I get an LSAT 140- 180. But, why not try.
    -William& Mary
    -George Mason
    -University of Richmond
    -Brooklyn Law
    -Cardozo
    -St. John’s

    Can you advise on the likelihood of getting into any of these schools? How would you recommend approaching the application/ personal statement for these schools? Also, do you think there is anything outside of the ‘norm’ I can do to beef up my chances of admission- i.e. volunteerism, particular work, etc? Thanks so muych for any feedback you are able to provide.