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Grade inflation and law school admissions

Winai Wongsurawat (School of Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 11 July 2008




The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the evidence on whether grade inflation has led to an increasing emphasis on standardized test scores as a criterion for law school admissions.


Fit probabilistic models to admissions data for American law schools during the mid to late 1990s, a period during which trends of grade inflation can be observed, and detect changes in emphasis on grades and standardized test scores as admissions criteria over time.


The juxtaposing trends of grade inflation and of the increasing predominance of standardized test scores in law school admissions suggest the possibility that grade inflation has had a negative impact on the value of grades as a signal of student ability.

Practical implications

The empirical evidence of potential undesirable consequences of grade inflation may persuade education professionals to take active measures to control the inflationary trend.


Viewing grades as a signal of a student's ability, this study is the first attempt to measure the responses of signal receivers to grade inflation using real‐world, behavioral data.



Wongsurawat, W. (2008), "Grade inflation and law school admissions", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 224-235.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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