Law School Discussion

Ah Panicking! UK scaled study abroad grades factor into GPA conversion!?!

I just registered so I could post this topic!

So, everything is going along smoothly -- LORs are out, apps are done, things uploaded as things ought to be, transcript request to undergrad school faxed over a few days ago, etc.

As I'm browsing the boards, I start reading that LSAC does some 'conversion' of your undergrad GPA. Fine. THEN (panic begins now) I go to the LSAC page on their grade conversion, and I notice that they convert numerical grades into GPA equivalents.

I studied abroad for a full year in London. As I'm sure many of you know, the UK operates on a completely different grading system. Mid-70s are as high as you'll ever go: 40s, 50s, and 60s are what is common. I have a full year on my transcript with no letter grades (my undergrad doesn't factor abroad grades into the GPA) but a full slate of reported number grades, most in the 50s and 60s.

Hence, my 'oh crap' moment. Is LSAC going to just go ahead and convert all those grades into GPA equivs, sending my nice ~3.75 into the toilet? Or do they have the mental wherewithall to refrain from factoring in the UK scale grades?

This obviously could be very problematic. Is there anything I can do pre-emptively, to prevent this from happening? I know my transcript is already out (and it will have the study abroad grades on it), but LSDAS doesn't yet report it as having been received or processed. Should I call someone? Write someone? Weep in the corner somewhere?

Any and all responses are appreciated!

They converted my year of study abroad grades, and including them in my uGPA, but I went to a school in Britain that used the American system of grading.

That makes at least some sense, as the grades and GPA convert match up. I guess my concern is that they're going to take the numbers at face glance and say: "oh, '50' = 1.67' or whatever. Or even worse (I just thought of this), I have one course I never actually took abroad listed on my transcript alongside a '0' for a grade because of a major f-up in communications between my abroad school and my undergrad school. At the time, since my undergrad doesn't take abroad marks into consideration and knew what the hell was going on, I really didn't care. Now, I'm wondering if that too is going to screw things up.

I don't understand why they don't just follow the lead of the undergrad institution ... i.e. however the undergrad place calculates your GPA, they just accept it at that.

I'm almost thinking that I should just forget LSDAS and have my transcripts sent directly from my undergrad institute ...

I'm almost thinking that I should just forget LSDAS and have my transcripts sent directly from my undergrad institute ...

I don't think you can do that.  I'm pretty sure every ABA accredited school requires you to use LSDAS's transcript service.

Do you have a pre-law advisor at your school?  If you do, try talking to them; I'm sure they've seen this situation before, and they can probably tell you what's going to happen/what you need to do to prevent this from messing up your GPA.

I'm almost thinking that I should just forget LSDAS and have my transcripts sent directly from my undergrad institute ...

I don't think you can do that.  I'm pretty sure every ABA accredited school requires you to use LSDAS's transcript service.

Do you have a pre-law advisor at your school?

I just sent her an e-mail, but who knows how long that will take to work its way back to me. (I'm not on campus anymore, I graduated in May). There must be someone here who has dealt with this issue before ... in fact, I'm suprised LSAC doesn't say a thing about it -- I'd think it's fairly common for people to go abroad where they don't have a US grade scale system.

I'm obviously freaking out -- I appreciate the responses so far. This could be like the Twilight Zone. I have a 173LSAT and a 3.72GPA, so I'm obviously applying to some of the top schools. If an entire year's credits worth of LSDAS converted 'Fs' are converted into my GPA, I'm utterly screwed at any of the schools I've considered.


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Well, call LSAC and talk to them, they are helpful once you get past their automated system.

This reminds me of when my mom, who immigrated to the US after getting her bachelor's degree, applied to get a master's degree. She got a phone call from the admissions people saying "you know, you've got a lot of guts. you're applying to graduate school, and I'm looking at your transcript here, and the highest grade you have is a 20." She then had to explain to them that in her country grades are out of 20, not 100.

Well, I just heard back from my law advisor, after which I spoke on the phone with LSAC.

According to the law advisor, although LSDAS has been going back and forth on whether/when to convert foreign grades into the GPA, they've been leaning toward NOT converting, and there is a "very good chance" that they won't convert at all.

(Note, I think this is premised on the fact that: a. I was at an actual independent foreign institute, b. there are no letter grades reported on that part of the transcript, and, c. it is on a different scale).

I then talked to the LSDAS people. I actually did not find them very helpful -- it took me 5 minutes to make him understand that I didn't have a choice in terms of sending these grades, as they were directly on my ug transcript (he kept on talking about the 'new policy' of not having to send foreign institute grades if you were there for a year or less, which I knew about but also knew was irrelevant to the discussion).

He was in general very defensive! (Him: "you're assuming that we don't know how to handle these things, and haven't seen a lot of them before" Me: "No, not at all. I'm just horrified by the possibility that you'll give me 30 credits worth of Fs") But, ultimtaely, he seemed to say that, as long as it wasn't an americanized (i.e. US grades) study abroad program, they won't convert.

Of course, he also told me that I couldn't actually talk to the people mangaging the transcript conversion, and that if there were any problems, I'd have to call them after they happened -- so much for being pro-active.

I guess I'll find out when the transcript is posted up online. Knowing my luck, despite everyone saying they won't be factored in, they will, and I'll be screwed. But, for what it's worth, those are the responses I've gotten.

I had a study abroad transcript as well as a regular undergrad transcript.  What happened is this:
The Academic Summary showed only the info from my undergrad, so only 3 years worth.  These grades were scaled to the LSAC grid for my official UGPA.

There is a separate transcript from the JDCAS or something like that -- it's for foreign credentials.  When I pulled that up, it gave my JYA summary and a recommended scale for converting the grades to the US equivalent, if the school should want to do that.  It was relatively accurate but didn't count toward my UGPA.

If you slacked off while JYA, this is good news.  If you didn't and got good grades, it kind of sucks because only your freshman, sophomore, and senior grades will count toward your UGPA so you're losing out on a full year of any upward grade trend that might have helped you.

ETA: If your undergrad school factored your JYA grades into your transcript there, then they've already assigned you US grades for your coursework and those will show on your LSAC UGPA.  If you just get credit but no actual grades from your undergrad school, you have to get your JYA institution to send an official transcript to LSAC, which will be processed as I wrote above.

Transcript just came in at LSDAS. Everything turned out as good as possible --
they simply left the abroad period as "unconverted credits", never factoring it in anywhere. I'm very relieved and I have a bit (emphasis: a bit) more faith than I had yesterday in the ability of largish organizations to do things properly.

I hope this series of panicked and not so panicked exchanges can help other applicants down the road. If anyone has any questions related to this, just toss a reply in this thread and I'll do the best I can to answer.


I also studied abroad, but I think my undergrad school did things differently. They converted the British grades to "US equivalent grades". I was at Oxford and got alpha minuses which was a ton of work and an awesome grade by their system, but looks like an A-, but when the grades were converted to be applied for undergraduate credit at my undergrad school they all turned into A+/4.0's and the converted grades are all LSAC ever looked at (because that's all that's on my undergrad transcript). I think my school more or less bumps up Oxford grades by either one half or one letter grade when converting, don't know really because I didn't have room to go up by a full letter. Anyway, however LSAC does it worked out well for me as my LSAC GPA is higher than my actual GPA.

best of luck