Understanding Your GPA

To make the transition into college possible, you must first understand why your GPA (Grade Point Average) is important and how to both calculate and find your GPA.

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Learn how to calculate, or get a copy of your current GPA

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Your GPA is the average of a point value assigned to a your grades. Your GPA is important because they tell a college a lot about how dedicated you were to performing well academically from 9th-12th grades. Colleges want the students they accept to do well academically. The best way colleges predict how well a student will do will be how well the student has done over the 4 years of high school. The higher your GPA, the more confidence colleges have in your abilities to be successful as an undergraduate student. You want your GPA to be as high as possible so your application gives admissions officers the highest confidence in your potential.

So How Do you Calculate GPA?

You need your grades from your time in high school to calculate your GPA . Let’s take this pretend report card and set of grades from Student A. It looks like Student A took 5 classes and got 1 A, 3 B's, and 1 C. To calculate the GPA we will take these grades an convert them into a point system. Below is an example of a grade converter that a high school may use to calculate the GPAs of its students.

You can turn the grades into points now that we have both the grades and the converter. Take each grade from Student A's report card and find its point equivalent (Language Arts = 2.0, Geometry = 3.0, US History (AP) = 3.3, Art = 4.0, Chemistry (Honors) = 3.0). Add up the points and divide by the number of grades you have. When we add all of the points listed previously we get 15.3. Next we divide 15.3 by 5 since there are 5 total classes listed. Student A’s GPA, based on their provided report card, looks to be 3.1.

But wait. How do kids get above 4.0 GPAs?

Since Student A has an AP and an Honors class, the student can use a different GPA Scale for those classes. Instead of using the 4.0 GPA Scale listed above, high schools give an extra 1.0 GPA weight to any GPA points earned in an Honors or AP class. High schools give this extra point to account for the increased rigor of Honor and AP classes. As a result of the additional point, Student A’s 3.3 in AP US History becomes a 4.3 and the 4.0 in Honors Chemistry becomes a 4.0. Student A's new point total becomes 17.3. Once we divide by 5 again the new GPA is 3.5. Most people refer to the new GPA as Student A's “Weighted GPA” and the old as the "Unweighted GPA."

How Does My School Calculate GPAs?

Each high school has a different GPA Converter for their weighted and unweighted GPA calculations. Be sure to ask your teacher and counselors how they calculate their GPA so you can get an accurate measure of your GPA. Finally, if you would like to get a copy of your GPA, request a transcript from your school’s counseling center.

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