Class Standing and GPA Computation

Please Note:  The following applies only to students who started law school at the University of Wisconsin Law School prior to September 2005:  

The rules about what University of Wisconsin Law School students can and should say about their GPAs, class standing, etc., can be confusing. The rules, and an explanation of how to correctly calculate your GPA, are described below.

Class Standing

Rule 4.02 of the Law School Rules states that "The Law School will no longer make available or routinely prepare students' class rank, but will make available a student's GPA, plus a graph of class distribution." For that reason, individual class rank information is not available to students. Instead, each semester the Registrar's office issues a graph that shows where a given GPA falls, percentage-wise, within that student's class. The graph is issued in 5% increments.

Calculating Your GPA

Under the Law School's grading system, the highest possible grade in any course is a 95, and the lowest possible grade is a 65. Your GPA, therefore, is always going to be a number between 65 and 95. Your GPA should NOT be stated on or converted into a 4.0 scale. Because a half-point difference in GPA can mean a substantial difference in class standing, you should always present your GPA to the tenth of a point (e.g., 84.3). Do not round it to the nearest whole number; round it only to the nearest tenth of a point.

To calculate your GPA, begin by disregarding any courses in which you received a letter grade or a grade of S. Those grades do NOT factor into your cumulative average. Then, for each course you have completed in which you received a numerical grade, multiply the grade you received times the number of credits you earned in the course. When you have done that for each course, add the points for each numerically graded course together, and divide by the total number of numerically-graded credits, and the quotient will be your GPA.

If, for example, in the fall of your first year you received an 80 in Contracts (4 cr.), an 81 in Civil Procedure I (4 credits), an 84 in Torts I (4 credits), an 85 in Legal Research and Writing, and an 89 in Intro to Substantive Criminal Law, your GPA for that semester would be an 83.6, calculated as follows:

Contracts I

4 cr. x 80

=

320
Civ Pro I

4 cr. x 81

=

324
Torts I

4 cr. x 84

=

336
Legal R & W

1 cr. x 85

=
85
Criminal Law

4 cr. x 89

=

356
Total points 

=

1421 points
divided by 17 numerical credits 

=

83.58, rounded to 83.6

As the semesters go by, you continue to make the same calculation, always carrying forward your total number of numerically graded credits. If in the spring semester of your first year you get an 81 in Property (5 cr.), an 84 in Legal Research and Writing, an 83 in Criminal Procedure, and a 79 in Civ Pro II, you calculate your cumulative GPA as follows:

Carried Forward 

=

1421 points
Property

5 cr. x 81

=

405
Legal Research

2 cr. x 84

= 168
Crim Pro

3 cr. x 83

=

249
Civ Pro II

3 cr. x 79

=

237
  

=

2480
divided by 30 numerical credits 

=

82.66, rounded to 82.7

You are not required to include information about your GPA or class standing on your resume. If, however, you do decide to include it, be sure it is correct. Employers routinely call the Law School Registrar's office asking for confirmation that a law student's GPA or class standing as represented on the student's resume is accurate. The Registrar is not free to release information about your GPA or class standing to a third party, but does either "confirm" or "not confirm" any information the student has provided to the employer. It is critical, therefore, that you not make mistakes in calculating your GPA, since an employer might assume that your mistake was a deliberate misrepresentation rather than an innocent mistake.

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