Shop
chat

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.

Share.

559 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

      • Hello,

        I have a 2.57 GPA. In context, I did poorly in college right out of high school and left. I joined the military, went back to school while in and will retire with 20+ years soon. My graduating GPA is 3.75. I think an addendum will help as will a strong LSAT. I’m working with a tutor now. What and where are my options? I like the idea of applying to 25 – 30 schools. As a vet, tuition is covered.

  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!

    • Hey I’m in your situation as well with a 2.6 GPA hoping to score a 160 on the LSAT to be considered for NIU Law. How did it turn out for you?

  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!