Kaplan Survey: Law School Graduates Divided on Pass/Fail Grading Amid COVID-19, But Majority Oppose it Becoming the New Normal

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC)

Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 917.822.8190
Twitter: @KapTestNews, @KaplanBarReview

New York, NY (June 17, 2020) — There’s a hung jury among newly minted law school graduates in the case of their alma maters’ swift shift to pass/fail grading amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new Kaplan survey. Of the nearly 200 graduates polled, 48 percent support the change; and 41 percent oppose it, with the rest unsure of what to make of it.

Law schools that have temporarily dropped the traditional system of letter grades have stated that it’s part of an effort to lower students’ anxiety and show empathy for their students who are under an elevated level of stress during the pandemic. But some law school students who oppose the move from letter grading say it takes away their competitive advantage when applying for jobs and internships. Some law firms have also echoed this sentiment saying it makes it harder for them to decide who to hire. 

The survey also found that once the pandemic is over, any support for pass/fail grading is likely to melt away. Only 25 percent want pass/fail grading at law schools to remain, while 63 oppose it. The remaining 12 percent aren’t sure.

“These are unparalleled times for everyone and legal education certainly isn’t immune from changes that were once unthinkable just six months ago. It’s quite understandable that law schools have moved to pass/fail grading on a temporary basis since students are already stressed out enough thinking about how to stay healthy, securing a job, and prepare for the bar exam. Combining that with the naturally hyper competitive nature of law school could add to that stress, adversely affecting students’ mental health. Students’ physical and emotional well-being must always take priority, perhaps now more than ever,” said Tammi Rice, vice president of Kaplan’s bar prep programs. “It’s highly unlikely pass/fail grading will be maintained once the pandemic subsides. Students who are looking to work for top law firms or secure prestigious internships know that high grades help differentiate them from others vying for those same positions and most are loath to give that up. It’s important to note that the pandemic is still a long way from being over and more significant changes to legal education, which already includes online learning, are likely on the way. Students should continue to make their voices heard and also adapt.”

For more information about Kaplan’s survey or to schedule an interview, please contact Russell Schaffer at 917.822.8190 or russell.schaffer@kaplan.com

*Based on the results of Kaplan e-survey conducted in May 2020 of 188 law school graduates who took a Kaplan bar preparation course. 

About Kaplan 

Kaplan, Inc. serves over one million students globally each year through its array of higher education, test preparation, professional education, English-language training, and university preparation programs, and offerings to individuals, institutions, and businesses. Across its 80-plus year history, first as a small test-prep pioneer and then an early online education leader and now a global education provider, Kaplan has been recognized for expanding educational access and using technology and learning science innovations to continually improve outcomes for its students and partners. Kaplan has operations in nearly 30 countries, employs more than 12,000 full- and part-time professionals, and maintains relationships and partnerships with more than 1,000 school districts, colleges, and universities, and about 10,000 corporations and businesses. Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC) and its largest division. For more information, please visit www.kaplan.com.

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