Although it is not common for a student to have a low GPA and a high LSAT score, it is possible to be one of these students. Many students with bad grades spend a lot of time and money on LSAT preparation courses in order to make their law school applications are lot more competitive. With a lot of time, effort, and some money, it’s possible to become a student with a great LSAT score.
The Good News: LSAT Scores Count More Than the GPA
From lots of anecdotal experience, it is estimated that most top tier law schools weigh the LSAT score between 50% and 75% of an applicant’s academic score. Many schools weigh the LSAT at around 65%. That is very good news for a student that has a good LSAT score but a crappy GPA. That is bad news for a student with a great GPA but a crappy LSAT score (but this is very fixable for the student with a high GPA via LSAT prep courses).
The Bad News: Automatic Law School Acceptances Will Not Happen With a Low GPA Even With a High LSAT
With a good LSAT score, your law school application at top tier institutions will not result in an automatic denial. However, your application will be very closely scrutinized by adcom members due to the low GPA. An automatic acceptance with a low GPA will not happen except at the lowest tier schools, which you will want to avoid since employment prospects may be low at those schools. In other words, if you don’t think you can get into a top tier law school, you are probably much better off choosing another career rather than to choose a low tier law school that will forgive your low GPA.
Keep in mind that if your study habits led to your low GPA, how are you going to pass the bar exam. Schools are thinking of this too.
Explain Away the Low GPA in a Convincing Manner
You will need to explain the low GPA away. Excessive video game playing on MMORPG or partying is not a good excuse for low grades unless there is substantial evidence of maturity in the years after graduation. Ultimately, this means you will need a good reason for the low GPA. Spend a lot of time on your application. Here are some better reasons for a low GPA:
- Death in the family
- Caregiver for a family member
- Needed to work full-time (but not as a guild member in World of Warcraft… LOL)
- Chronic health problems that interfered with school (eg. a cold doesn’t count)
Just providing the reasons is not good enough. You need to use any opportunity available to explain the low GPA in the application. Put in as much detail as possible. Furthermore, you are likely to be asked about the low GPA during interviews as well. There is going to be a healthy dose of skepticism if you have three or more bad GPA semesters. Why would a death in the family cause so many problems for two years? Make sure you are able to explain it in a way that’s understandable and believable. Otherwise, adcom members may think that the death in the family was really excessive partying or game playing in World of Warcraft. Also, make sure you explain how the reasons for your low GPA will not continue into law school. If you haven’t really resolved the issues leading to low grades, you probably should not enter law school.
If you did play video games like WoW, don’t try to spin it into a positive. Being the leader of a guild and guiding members to complete raids successfully may build management and people skills, but nobody who works in adcom will believe you. I’m not saying you should lie about the reasons for your low GPA, but it’s going to be tough if you admit if it was due to partying or video games.