Select Page

How to Calculate a High School GPA: Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

Aug 14, 2024

A GPA, or grade point average, takes the overall grades from all of the classes a student has taken during high school and produces an average grade that reflects how they performed cumulatively throughout their high school career. This GPA is usually calculated using a scale from 0 to 4.0.

Importance of GPA Calculation

Correctly calculating a GPA is an important part of a college application because it serves as the cumulative grade from all of their high school classes. As stated in a paper on the usefulness of high school GPAs, “Analyses of data from 192 institutions suggest that high school GPA is more useful than admission test scores in situations involving low selectivity in admissions”.

Some selective colleges will only accept students with a high enough GPA, usually ranging from 3.0 to 3.5. Therefore, it is crucial that a high school GPA is properly calculated.

How to Calculate GPA

Calculating a GPA is very simple, especially with the help of resources that are available online. When calculating an unweighted GPA, a 0 to 4.0 scale is used with each letter grade representing a different number on the scale as shown below:

A = 4

B = 3

C = 2

D = 1

F = 0

There are many calculator websites that are able to calculate a GPA for you, such as this one. By simply inputting the courses and the grades received, it will calculate an unweighted GPA for you.

What Is a Weighted GPA?

A weighted GPA is similar to an unweighted GPA, but it also considers the difficulty of the courses. With a weighted GPA, honors, AP, and dual enrollment classes are worth more because they are more challenging. The weighted GPA scale goes up to 5.0 instead of 4.0, with a 5.0 being given if a student receives an A in an honors, AP, or dual enrollment class. This means that a weighted GPA scale would look like this:

A = 5

B = 4

C = 3

D = 2

F = 1

This scale would be used for honors, AP, and dual enrollment classes while regular high school classes would still be judged on the normal GPA scale. This calculator will calculate a weighted GPA for you.

Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

When a weighted GPA is submitted to a college, it will usually be unweighted and then recalculated into an unweighted GPA. This is done so that there is a universal scale used to measure all GPAs, even if it does not take into account the difficulty of the courses taken during high school.

Because of this, it is generally best to submit an unweighted GPA. However, checking with the admission department of each specific college is always a good idea, as it shows initiative and will give you a definitive answer on how that college prefers GPAs to be calculated.

Summary

In conclusion, a student’s high school GPA is very important, but it does not necessarily reflect an accurate prediction of how their college career will go. A paper published by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln noted that “a study of approximately 34,000 students from 30 colleges across the United States found that neither the SAT nor the high school GPA were definitively predictive of the first-year college GPA. Most studies of this nature explore the potential correlation between GPAs or test scores at two different times, spanning high school and college”.

Therefore, the proper calculation of a good high school GPA will be a great advantage for students as they begin college, but it is not the end-all be-all and should not serve as a point of stress for students or parents.

The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Excelsior Classes, LLC or the consortium of teachers.