Author: Chris King
Now that post-secondary schooling has been moved online, and Canadian universities have implemented the pass/fail option for undergraduate students, an important question to consider is: ‘how will COVID-19 and pass/failing courses impact my law and other graduate program admissions?’
In truth, these are unprecedented times for both students and admissions offices, and the best way to summarize this answer is that it depends, but that one pass/fail will not be detrimental to an application so long as the rest of it is strong.
Both Queen’s and Western have provided pages which answer the majority of admissions questions one may have surrounding COVID-19. Similar to most schools they maintain that for future undergraduate applicants “performance in one semester alone rarely ‘makes or breaks’ your application” and that they will not infer you did poorly by implementing the pass/fail option on a course. This means that choosing this option for courses likely won’t impact law admissions, so long as they are confident your GPA is an accurate representation of your undergraduate academic success. Furthermore, Queen’s will let you write a letter detailing extenuating circumstances of up to 1000 words, which may be beneficial if an applicant has to pass/fail a few courses from this semester and is concerned about the strength of their application.
Similar to these institutions, U of T Law’s FAQ page says that they will consider a pass as a completed course, and that they are confident they can assess the strength of the application accurately despite not receiving a mark for a course or two. Like Queen’s, pass/failing a course will not make or break the application, so long as the admissions office is confident in the application as a whole – which includes LSAT scores, academic record, and a personal statement of admission.
Through other research on forums, United States Law School admissions, and smaller institutions, there is a pattern of admissions officers being confident that one to two courses being pass/failed will not influence an application; however, electing to do this with multiple courses will raise red flags as to whether or not you deserve the GPA you are applying with.
To conclude, it is clear that law programs will be flexible about a few courses being ungraded, so long as they believe that you are a strong candidate and that your GPA is accurate. Feel free to refer to these sites for further questions, and stay safe.