The Official Blog

Do schools inflate their GPA?

by Rita 24. June 2010 06:28

Some do. The New York Times recently reported that schools like Loyola Law School Los Angeles added 0.333 points to every grade going back several years. Their rationalization? They have a mean first-year grade of 2.667 when other California schools have 3.0 or higher. This is due to the difference in the grading curve, which is less forgiving at Loyola, according to faculty and students. Georgetown and New York University law schools have also made changes to their grading systems making them more competitive (as long as the recruiters are not aware of the changes). Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and Berkeley law schools do not even have grades anymore and, instead, use achievement systems that award honors, pass, fail, or similar recognition.

This presents a problem when evaluating foreign credentials because grading systems already vary significantly from country to country. Should foreign grades be ever converted to the Harvard's grading system or the Loyola's? Is it fair to convert letter grades to pass/fail? Do recruiters still want to see a GPA based on the letter grades? Let us know. There is a new section on our website where you can convert grades from other countries to grades in the US. It's free, and you can access it here. We will be adding more countries in the next few weeks and keep them updated as time goes by.

Being able to convert grades, however, is only half the work. What about the GPA? In most US schools, chromatic variants (+ and -) are quantified as x.3 and x.7. For example, an A- would be equivalent to 3.7 and B+ would be equivalent to 3.3. However, some schools only use a mid-point, so both A- and B+ would be converted to 3.5. In addition, some schools assign 4.5 to 5.0 GPA for honors and advanced placement classes while others allow an A+ letter grade and interpret it as 4.3 GPA. This is not fair to schools that don't allow an A+ or interpret it as only 4.0. 

While it is sometimes not obvious how foreign grades should compare to the US grades, we hope we can make this process easier. A good recruiter or an admission officer must understand that the GPA is just one aspect of student's performance.

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