Your GPA is one of the most important parts of your college application.
A high grade point average tells admissions officers that you are the kind of student that takes school seriously. It means that you have worked hard for all four years of your high school career to ensure that you graduate with stellar grades. A high GPA also lets colleges and universities know that you will be able to handle the coursework at their school. This makes you a competitive candidate for admission.
Even if your grade point average isn’t as high as you’d like it to be (maybe because you weren’t thinking about the bigger picture yet, so you slacked off during your freshman or sophomore years) a solid improvement of grades during your last two years of high school still looks good on an application, because it shows dedication.
Calculating your GPA should be a relatively simple process. If you do well in school and get good letter grades, then they should translate over into high numbers. But unfortunately it is not always the most straightforward
Are you feeling confused? Well, you shouldn’t be. In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about how to calculate your unweighted GPA. We will also touch on what exactly unweighted means, and what steps to take once you know what the answer is.
If you are still just wondering what a GPA actually is, you can find the answers you need here.
What is an unweighted GPA?
The unweighted grade point average is the method used by most American high schools and colleges to easily quantify students’ success. You are probably very familiar with it already, even if you don’t know it yet.
Let us explain: unweighted GPAs are reported on the 4.0 scale. This means to get the perfect 4.0 GPA, you would need to be a straight A student. On the complete other end of the spectrum, if you failed literally every class you have ever taken, you would have a GPA of 0. This is easy enough to understand, right?
An unweighted GPA also means that the difficulty of a student’s classes isn’t considered when calculating his or her GPA. This means that if you take all AP® classes and earn a grade of B in most of them, your GPA will be about a 3.0. But, if your less-ambitious friend takes all academic classes and earns A’s in all of them, her GPA will still be higher than yours (likely a 4.0) even though you are actually taking harder classes.
This might seem a little unfair to you. Well, this is because it did to a lot of people. Because of this, an entirely new grading scale was created to accurately reflect the effort that upper-level students put into their honors and AP® classes.
But, if your school only reports unweighted GPAs, you don’t need to worry too much. This is because college admissions officers take a great deal of care when reading your application. They will be familiar with your school and its policies and be sure to check your transcript to see what kinds of classes you took. Your B+ in AP® Physics will not be out-shined by another student’s A- performance in its academic equivalent.
So, now you know why the 4.0 has long been touted at the ultimate achievement in the land of high school GPAs. But, you need to keep reading to find out why this assertion isn’t entirely true.
What’s the difference between weighted and unweighted GPAs?
You can read our in-depth post about how to calculate your weighted GPA here, but we’ll still give you the rundown on their differences in the paragraphs below – so stay put.
Basically, the main distinction between the two systems is that a weighted GPA considers the difficulty of the courses each student takes when calculating their average, while an unweighted GPA considers all grades to be equal.
Let us explain:
If your school gives out weighted GPAs, it means that if you take all AP® or honors classes, a perfect GPA would be a 5.0. When higher-level classes were introduced, those in education knew that they needed a way to differentiate between academic and high-achieving students. The work they were completing was just too different for it to be graded the same way.
To achieve this, you now get an additional 1.0 added to your GPA if you are enrolled in AP® or honors classes. Basically, if you get a B+ in AP® Biology, it’s the same thing as earning an A in regular biology.
Sometimes, high schools even offer “in between” classes that are a little harder than academic, but not quite as crazy as AP® courses. If you take these classes, you’ll find an extra .5 added to your GPA. So an A in an intermediate biology class would be a 4.5 on the 5.0 scale.
How do unweighted GPAs affect the college admissions process?
By now, you have probably read other articles about how to calculate your unweighted GPA. This is because the unweighted scale is most commonly used by American colleges and universities when vetting their freshman classes – so there is a definitely a lot of advice out there about it. But you need to be careful, because the guidance offered in these articles will only help you if you are taking upper-level, competitive classes.
If you want to go to a highly selective school, of course you want your GPA to be as high as it possibly can be. However, if you earn your marks solely by excelling in gym class and academic English, Harvard is smart enough to notice what you’re up to.All this to say that even if you have a 4.0, if you didn’t take any honors or AP® classes (especially if they were available to you), your college applications are going to suffer because of it.
If you are currently only in academic classes and doing great in them, talk to you guidance counselor about moving up a level in one or two of them. Logistically, it might be a little tricky to make the transition, especially mid-semester, but it never hurts to ask.
While the AP® or honors classes are definitely going to be harder and your unweighted GPA might experience a slight dip, college admissions officers will take note of how you earned it. What this really means is that you can’t expect to sail into a highly selective college with all A’s earned in super easy classes.
Remember: if you school only uses the unweighted GPA to report grades, when you start taking more challenging classes, people who are in easy classes might earn better grades than you for a little while. Let them! You’ll have the leg up when it comes time to apply for college.
There has also been some debate as whether an A in an academic class or a B in an AP® class looks better on a college application. The truth of the matter is that you should aim to earn all A’s in your AP® classes, but you can never achieve this if you don’t sign up in the first place. So go for it!
Here’s how to calculate your unweighted GPA
Okay, now we’re at the good part! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to calculate your unweighted GPA.
For this example, let’s say you’ve just finished your freshman year of high school. If you are further along, just repeat the steps below according to how many semesters you have completed.
This chart illustrates how each letter grade translates into an unweighted GPA.
Now we’ll show you some examples of these grades in action. Like we mentioned, let’s say you just finished your freshman year of high school and your first semester looked a little something like this:
To calculate your unweighted GPA, all you have to do is add all the numbers in the third column, then divide them by their quantity. Hence the name grade point average.If you are taking more or less than the six classes we listed, simply adjust the chart to suit your needs.
So, if these were your first semester grades, you would end the fall semester with a 3.45 unweighted GPA.
The process for the spring, and later, semesters is a little different. Imagine that these were your grades for the spring of your freshman year:
Your unweighted GPA for the spring semester would be 3.52, but to find out your grade point average for the entire year, you’ll need to calculate the average of these two GPAs, which in this case is roughly 3.48
Remember, this only works if you take the exact amount of classes each semester. If you add or drop a period, you’ll need to go through and manually add up each of your final grades, then divide it by the total number of classes that you have taken.
A quick review
Here are a few key things you should take away from this article:
- Your GPA is a very important part of your college application.
- An unweighted GPA is scored on a 4.0 scale.
- An unweighted GPA does not consider your classes’ difficulty when assigning grades.
- Regardless of this, you should still take AP® and honors classes when available.
- To calculate your unweighted GPA, find your letter grades’ corresponding number, then find the average for all your classes each semester.
Remember, it is also easier to raise your GPA earlier in your high school career, when you have taken fewer classes. If you wait until you are a junior to take school seriously, your GPA will suffer because of it.
What should you do next?
You should make sure to check out this article on what the average GPA is to see how you stack up. Also take a look at this in-depth look about how colleges consider weighted and unweighted GPAs.
If your school reports GPAs on a weighted scale, we covered how to handle that as well.
Good luck out there!
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Once you have the grade point for every course, the unweighted GPA is calculated by adding all of the grade points together, then dividing the sum by the number of courses that were added. This is how averages are calculated, which is why this is called a grade point average.How do you calculate unweighted GPA to weighted? ›
Unweighted to Weighted GPA
Multiply your unweighted GPA by the count of classes you have taken. Add 0.5 for each mid-level course you've registered for and 1.0 for each high course. Divide the outcome by the total number of courses you have taken.
Click the Course History menu. The student's All Students Cumulative GPA and Unweighted GPA appear at the right.How do you calculate unweighted GPA in Powerschool? ›
To calculate your unweighted GPA, all you have to do is add all the numbers in the third column, then divide them by their quantity. Hence the name grade point average.What is an unweighted GPA example? ›
Mario gets a 4.0, 3.0, 4.0, and 4.0. Those numbers summed and divided by 4 (the number of courses) give Mario an unweighted GPA of 3.75. In an unweighted system, an A is an A and a B is a B (regardless of course difficulty,) so Danielle would end up with the same GPA of 3.75.What is a 4.7 GPA unweighted? ›
For example, if you had a 4.7 weighted GPA for an AP class, then subtract the 1.0 that was added to weight it, and it'll bring it down to a 3.7 on an unweighted scale.How do you calculate weighted and unweighted? ›
The simplest way to translate grades into weighted GPA is to follow the unweighted scale for regular-level classes, add 0.5 to the unweighted scale for mid-level classes (such as honors classes), and add 1.0 to the unweighted scale for high-level classes (such as APs).What is a 3.7 weighted GPA unweighted? ›
According to College Board, the 4.0 unweighted scale is often used by colleges and high schools. A 3.7 GPA as a letter grade is A-. Converted to a percentage, a 3.7 GPA shows you've scored an average of 90-92% in all your classes.How do you get a 4.0 unweighted? ›
But to achieve an unweighted 4.0 GPA, which doesn't offer extra credit for advanced courses, you'll need to earn straight A's. Some schools do award a 4.3 for an A+, meaning you could theoretically get an A- if you also have an A+ on your transcript, but this is not the case across the board.Is the GPA in StudentVue weighted or unweighted? ›
Weighting grades have already been implemented this year and you can check your weighted and unweighted GPA on your StudentVue.
An unweighted GPA is calculated on a scale of 4. This is because the course credit is not taken into account. However, the scores can be confusing sometimes. Generally, an unweighted GPA above 4 means that you have secured A+ in all your courses.How do you get a 5.0 GPA unweighted? ›
A 5.0 generally indicates that a student took only 5.0-scale classes and earned only A's (and/or A+'s). Normally, all perfect straight-A grades result in a 4.0; with weighted classes, though, perfect straight-A grades could result in a 5.0 (or even higher).What is the unweighted GPA grading scale? ›
Unweighted 4.0 GPA Scale
Essentially, the highest GPA you can earn is a 4.0, which indicates an A average in all of your classes. A 3.0 would indicate a B average, a 2.0 a C average, a 1.0 a D, and a 0.0 an F. This scale does not take the levels of your courses into account.
Is a 4.1 GPA good? This GPA is outside of the normal 4.0 range of unweighted GPAs, meaning your school measures GPA on a weighted scale. A 4.1 is a very good GPA. It means that you've either been taking the most difficult classes and earning mostly Bs or you've been taking mid level classes and earning As.What is a 4.2 GPA unweighted? ›
A 4.2 indicates that you are earning Bs and B+s in high level classes or As and A+s in mid level classes. This is a very good GPA, and it should give you a strong chance of admission at most colleges.What is the highest unweighted GPA? ›
The unweighted scale is most common, and the highest possible GPA on this scale is a 4.0. The unweighted scale doesn't take the difficulty of a student's classes into account. Weighted scales are also used at many high schools. Typically, they go up to a 5.0.Is 3.92 a good unweighted GPA? ›
Considering the highest possible GPA is 4.0, it's pretty easy to say yes, a 3.9 is a great GPA unequivocally. The average high school student graduates with a 3.0, so your achievement is well-above average and qualifies you for acceptance into even the most competitive institutions.Is a 5.2 GPA unweighted good? ›
On the weighted scale, a strong GPA could range from a 4.0 to a 5.3 – indicating to colleges that you're taking challenging courses (Advanced Placement, Dual Enrolled, etc.) and keeping up A's and B's. On the unweighted scale, a good GPA could range from a 3.0 to a 4.3, which spans the A/B average values.What is a 94 GPA on a 4.0 scale unweighted? ›
|Letter Grade||Grade Points||Numerical Grade|
σ = 1 n ∑ i = 1 n ( x i − μ ) 2 .
An unweighted average is essentially your familiar method of taking the mean. Let's say 0% of users logged into my site on Day 1, and 100% of users logged in on Day 2. The unweighted average for the 2 days combined would be (0% + 100%)/2 = 50%.What is a 3.8 unweighted GPA weighted? ›
What's the Difference Between a Weighted 3.8 GPA and an Unweighted? A weighted 3.8 GPA takes the difficulty of your courses into account and is typically measured between 0 to 5.0. An unweighted GPA of 3.8 is considered “higher” because it's on a 4.0 scale.Can you get into Harvard with a 3.5 unweighted GPA? ›
To get to Harvard your GPA has to be at least a 4.0 and even then if you get in your lucky but they require at least a 4.18 GPA only .Can I get into an Ivy League with a 3.7 unweighted GPA? ›
Yes, you can get into an Ivy League with a 3.7 GPA. Though, the lower your grade, the less your chances of getting into an Ivy League, but with a strong personal statement and a properly packaged application, you can get in with a grade even less than 3.7 GPA.Is 3.2 A good unweighted GPA? ›
Is a 3.2 GPA in high school considered good? Earning a 3.2 GPA, two-tenths above the national average GPA is generally considered a good GPA. It shows academic proficiency and consistency, as well as makes you eligible to apply to a high number of colleges.Can you get into Harvard with a 4.0 unweighted GPA? ›
In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Harvard. That means nearly straight As in every class.Is unweighted GPA out of 4 or 5? ›
An unweighted GPA uses a 4.0 scale — meaning each letter grade corresponds to a numerical value.Do you need all 100s for a 4.0 GPA? ›
Many schools report your GPA on a 4.0 scale. Obtaining this grade at the end of the semester would be the equivalent of getting all A's or perfect scores in all your classes. If you have perfect scores all around then there is no need to use this calculator as your GPA is obviously 4.0.Do schools look at unweighted GPA? ›
Colleges will look at either weighted or unweighted GPAs in your application. They do tend to prefer weighted, because it gives more information about the difficulty of your classes, but don't worry if your school uses an unweighted scale.What is a 3.0 weighted GPA to unweighted? ›
|Letter Grade||Weighted GPA||Unweighted GPA|
GPA Stands for Grade Point Average and is the number that represents your academic achievement in high school. GPAs that don't account for how hard your classes were are called unweighted and are reported on a 4.0 scale. GPAs that monitor how difficult coursework is are called weighted and are reported on a 5.0 scale.Is a 4.4 GPA good for Harvard? ›
The average high school GPA for admitted students at Harvard University is 4.18 on a 4.0 scale. (You can calculate your high school a GPA here.) This is a very competitive GPA, and Harvard University is clearly accepting students at the top of their high school class.What is a 93 unweighted GPA on a 4.0 scale? ›
Search for Colleges Using Your GPA.
|Letter Grade||Percent Grade||4.0 Scale|
A 3.4 is comfortably above the national average GPA for high school graduates and is considered competitive at most colleges and universities. It also approaches the 3.5 GPA that more selective schools use as an unofficial benchmark.What is a 7.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale? ›
|Original Scale||Multiplier||EX. GPA on 4.0 Scale|
The traditional unweighted GPA scale ranges from 0 to 4.0, while the weighted scale spans from 0 to 5.0. Schools that use a weighted scale assign more points to honors and AP classes. For example, students who earn an A in AP Calculus would receive a 5.0 on a weighted scale and only a 4.0 on an unweighted scale.What is the lowest unweighted GPA? ›
Unofficially, 2.0 is the lowest GPA accepted into a standard college, so while there's a chance that college admission is possible, it's not likely at more than a few institutions.Is a 2.3 unweighted GPA good? ›
The answer is No. The national average for a GPA is around 3.0 and a 2.3 GPA puts you below that average. A 2.3 GPA means that you've gotten only C-s and D+s in your high school classes so far. Since this GPA is significantly below a 2.0, it will make things very difficult for you in the college application process.How hard is it to get a 4.0 unweighted GPA? ›
On the 4.0 scale, an unweighted 4.0 GPA means perfection. You need straight As in every class—not even one A- is allowed. In college applications, this carries a lot of weight. You're essentially telling the college, "High school classes are a cinch.
However, for college applicants, the average GPA is more likely between 3.5 and 4.0. If you're aiming for a top university such as one in the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, or others of the same caliber, a 4.0 GPA — or close to it — is expected.Is a 2.4 unweighted GPA bad? ›
Is a 2.4 GPA Good? A 2.4 GPA signals to a college or university that a student has earned average scores within the B- and C+ range. A 2.4 is a hair away from the 2.5 range, which opens up eligibility for a number of colleges, but is still below the competitive benchmark for college applications of 3.0.Is 3.3 A good unweighted GPA? ›
Is a 3.3 GPA Good? Because a 3.3 GPA is on the cusp of a B+ average, it is indicative of good performance in all classes with a consistently positive record on tests and homework assignments. With this in mind, a 3.3 GPA makes your application competitive at a majority of schools.What GPA does Harvard accept? ›
You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.Is 3.5 unweighted a good GPA? ›
A 3.5 GPA is a strong GPA, but it may not guarantee admission to highly selective colleges. Admissions committees consider your entire application when making their decisions, including your test scores, extracurricular activities, recommendations, and essays. A 3.5 GPA may make you a competitive candidate.What is my unweighted GPA on a 4.0 scale? ›
Unweighted 4.0 GPA Scale.
A 3.9 GPA can be composed of three years of two semesters, each semester containing 5 classes, and all grades equal to As except 3, which are Bs. A 3.85 GPA is the same but 1 or 2 more Bs.Can you have a 4.0 with an A unweighted? ›
On the unweighted scale: absolutely! This is especially true if your school doesn't distinguish between an A and an A+. Many dedicated students will be able to earn a 4.0 GPA by taking a variety of classes (regular → advanced) and earning an A in each course.Do colleges look at unweighted GPA? ›
Colleges will look at either weighted or unweighted GPAs in your application. They do tend to prefer weighted, because it gives more information about the difficulty of your classes, but don't worry if your school uses an unweighted scale.Is a 5.0 GPA unweighted? ›
The traditional unweighted GPA scale ranges from 0 to 4.0, while the weighted scale spans from 0 to 5.0. Schools that use a weighted scale assign more points to honors and AP classes. For example, students who earn an A in AP Calculus would receive a 5.0 on a weighted scale and only a 4.0 on an unweighted scale.
The average high school GPA in the US is 3.0, which also accounts for roughly 35% of students who don't end up applying for college. However, for college applicants, the average GPA is more likely between 3.5 and 4.0.