What's the Difference? Weighted vs Unweighted GPA (2023)

What's the Difference? Weighted vs Unweighted GPA (1)

Most students think a lot about their GPA in high school. There's no doubt that GPA is one of the most important pieces of information colleges will consider in your application. However, GPA can vary drastically in the way it's calculated at different schools. Some high schools use unweighted GPAs and some use weighted GPAs. I'll give you an overview of the differences between the two and what each type of GPA might mean in the context of your personal experiences.

Basic Differences Between Weighted and Unweighted GPAs

So what are weighted and unweighted GPAs? Here are the main differences between the two.

Unweighted GPA

Traditionally, GPA is calculated on an unweighted scale. Unweighted GPA is measured on a scale of 0 to 4.0. It doesn't take the difficulty of a student's coursework into account. An unweighted GPA represents an A as a 4.0 whether it was earned in an honors class, AP class, or lower-level class.

Weighted GPA

Weighted GPA is often used by high schools to better represent students' academic accomplishments. Weighted GPA takes into account course difficulty rather than providing the same letter grade to GPA conversion for every student. Usually, weighted GPA is measured on a scale of 0 to 5.0, although some scales go higher. An A in an AP class may translate into a 5.0 weighted GPA, while an A in a regular-level class will give you a 4.0 weighted GPA. Many schools also have mid-level classes (such as honors classes) where the highest weighted GPA you can earn is a 4.5.

Differences in Calculation

As you might expect, unweighted and weighted GPAs are calculated differently. In this section we give an in-depth explanation of how to calculate both GPA types.

Unweighted GPA

Unweighted GPA is much simpler to calculate than weighted GPA. This is because you don't have to consider the levels of your classes in the calculations. Let's say you're taking five classes, and you have As in two of them and Bs in three of them. The two As will each translate to 4.0s, and the three Bs will each translate to 3.0s. If you add 4.0 + 4.0 + 3.0 + 3.0 + 3.0 and then divide by five, you'll get an unweighted GPA of 3.4.

(Video) Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

If your grades aren't quite as simple as that, here's a quick letter grade and percentage to GPA conversion chart to make things easier.

Letter GradePercentageGPA
FBelow 650.0

Most schools more or less follow this scale for unweighted GPAs. Yours may be slightly different, but it shouldn't vary too much.

Weighted GPA

The calculations for weighted GPA can get a little more tricky because you may be taking a variety of courses at different academic levels. Going with the example that we used for unweighted GPA, let's say once again that you're taking five classes and getting As in two of them and Bs in three of them. But this time let's also say that one A is in a regular-level class, one A is in an honors class, two Bs are in AP classes, and one B is in an honors class.

How is your weighted GPA calculated? Well, each grade has to be considered in conjunction with class level. This means using the unweighted GPA conversion scale for grades in regular-level classes, adding 0.5 to the scale for mid-level/honors classes, and adding 1.0 for high level/AP classes. This means:

  • The A in a regular-level class would still be a 4.0
  • The A in an honors class would be a 4.5
  • The two Bs in AP classes would each be 4.0s
  • The B in the honors class would be a 3.5

If you add 4.0 + 4.5 + 4.0 + 4.0 + 3.5 and divide by 5, you get a 4.0 weighted GPA. Remember, not all schools will use this exact weighted GPA scale, but as you can see, there can be a big difference between the numbers you get for unweighted GPA and weighted GPA based on the types of classes you're taking.

Even if two students have identical grades, one might have a weighted GPA that's a full point higher than the other. Let's say you have a 3.2 unweighted GPA and are taking five classes. If even two out of the five classes are honors or AP and the rest are regular-level, your GPA would get bumped up to a 3.6 on a weighted scale. A slight difference in the levels of your classes can make a big difference in your weighted GPA.

What's the Difference? Weighted vs Unweighted GPA (2)Go for it! All you have to do is believe! (and study more, but mostly believe!)

What Does All of This Mean for You?

Whether your school uses weighted or unweighted GPA can impact your class rank and experiences in the college admissions process.

(Video) Weighted vs Unweighted GPA

If Your School Uses Unweighted GPAs…

Admissions committees look at your coursework in conjunction with your GPA to reach conclusions about your academic potential. They understand that some schools do not take the difficulty of students' classes into consideration when calculating GPA. If you challenge yourself in your classes but don't have a perfect GPA, you will look better in the college admissions process than someone in regular-level classes who has a 4.0.

It may be harder to stand out from your classmates with your GPA because more students will have GPAs that are at the same level when class difficulty is not a factor in the calculation. If class rank is based purely on unweighted GPA, your class rank may not reflect the effort you expended. Students with a lot of AP classes can have lower unweighted GPAs than students who took less difficult classes despite being more academically driven.

Don't worry too much though. College admissions officers are aware of the limits of the unweighted system, and they will look closely at your course record to determine whether your GPA is an accurate reflection of your academic potential.

If Your School Uses Weighted GPAs…

First off, you should know that having a 4.0 weighted GPA doesn't mean you can get into any college. A 4.0 may be the commonly accepted gold standard, but with weighted GPAs everything shifts upward. A truly elite GPA under the weighted system will actually be close to a 5.0, so you will need to make sure you adapt your concept of what constitutes a high GPA to fit this model.

With a weighted GPA, your class rank is more likely to reflect your academic drive and ability because your GPA is a reflection of both your grades and the levels of the classes in which you earned them. You'll have a higher rank than someone who earns the same grades as you in lower level classes.

Weighted GPAs mean that you need to be careful because they can be deceptive. A lot of the advice that's out there is targeted towards unweighted GPAs, so you'll need to adjust your thinking to account for the size of the GPA scale at your school.

The bottom line is that colleges will look deeper than the raw numbers when evaluating your high school academic record regardless of whether your GPA is weighted or unweighted. Admissions officers will be able to tell which classes you took and how much you pushed yourself, so your GPA by itself becomes only one part of a much larger picture.

What's the Difference? Weighted vs Unweighted GPA (3)You will also be required to lift the weight of your GPA times 40 in order to walk at graduation, so start training. Why do you think valedictorians are always so ripped?

(Video) WEIGHTED VS UNWEIGHTED TUINING FORKS: What's the Difference? How Do You Use Them? Sound Healing

Do Colleges Look at Weighted or Unweighted GPAs?

So, which do colleges care more about then, your weighted or unweighted GPA? The short answer is that most colleges care somewhat more about weighted GPAs because they do a better job showing the difficulty of the classes you took.

However, colleges care more about your entire record of coursework than just your GPA out of context. They'll look to see which classes you took, how difficult those classes typically are, and what your class rank is. All of these factors are going to give them a better understanding of your GPA. So, when you're wondering which GPA is more important, the real answer is that colleges will look at all the information they're given to get the best idea of your academic skills. They won't just glance at your GPA and decide whether it's a good number or not without looking at other factors.

If your transcript shows increasing difficulty in your coursework, this will look impressive to colleges, even if your GPA isn't perfect. If you have a 4.0 GPA but took all the least challenging classes in high school, colleges will be less impressed since you didn't push yourself academically. This means you should continue working on taking difficult classes and getting high grades in them in order to be as impressive as possible.


Your high school GPA may be measured on either an unweighted or weighted scale. The main difference between the two is that weighted GPAs take into account the difficulty of your coursework and unweighted GPAs don't. Most unweighted GPAs are recorded on a scale of 0 to 4.0, and most weighted GPAs are recorded on a scale of 0 to 5.0.

For the most part, whether your high school uses unweighted or weighted GPA shouldn't affect you in the college application process. Colleges will look at your GPA, but they will also consider the bigger picture. Their greatest concern is that you've managed to challenge yourself intellectually with your coursework. GPA is important, but proof of your determination and perseverance in the face of academic struggles is often more impressive than a 4.0.

What's Next?

Want more information about how to interpret your GPA in the college search process? Find out what it means to have a good or bad GPA for college.

Is your GPA above average? Do you need to work on bringing it up? Learn more about the average high school GPA.

Your college GPA may end up being very different from your high school GPA. Read this article about average GPAs in college to see what might be in store.

(Video) How To Calculate GPA (In Just 60 Seconds) | Difference Between Weighted and Unweighted GPA

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!

What's the Difference? Weighted vs Unweighted GPA (4)

Samantha Lindsay

About the Author

Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.

(Video) Weighted vs. Unweighted GPAs: Which Matters To Colleges During Application Season?

Get Free Guides to Boost Your SAT/ACT


Is it better to use weighted or unweighted GPA? ›

Students who score high across the board will have high weighted and unweighted GPAs. A high unweighted GPA indicates an academically successful student, and a high weighted GPA demonstrates they can maintain that level of success when faced with rigorous coursework.

Do colleges look at weighted or 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 weighted GPA of 3.7 good? ›

Overall, a 3.7 GPA is impressive. As a percentage, a 3.7 GPA means you've achieved an average of 90-92% in your classes. Achieving a 3.7 GPA in high school is good, and with an excellent application, there are many schools where you have a shot at acceptance.

Is a 3.8 weighted GPA good? ›

Is a 3.8 GPA in high school considered good? The average GPA of graduating high schoolers is 3.0, making 3.8 a definitively good GPA. It gives you a reasonable chance of acceptance at even competitive institutions, so reach as high as you can!

Which GPA do colleges look at? ›

An unweighted GPA is the most popular grade point average reporting scale. It is used in high schools and colleges across much of America.

Is a 3.4 weighted GPA good? ›

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.

How many B's is a 3.9 GPA? ›

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.

What is a 3.7 GPA weighted to unweighted? ›

The term “unweighted” refers to the scale used for calculation. The traditional, unweighted GPA scale runs from 0 to 4.0. That's it.
Here's what educators are talking about when referring to an “unweighted GPA.”
Letter GradePercentileGPA Score
8 more rows
Dec 6, 2018

Can I get into an Ivy League with a 3.7 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 a 5.0 weighted GPA good? ›

Typically, high schools that use weighted GPAs opt for the 0-5 scale that makes 5.0 the highest possible grade. A GPA higher than 5.0 is rare, but school point systems are occasionally structured so that students taking advanced classes can rack up bonus points.

Do colleges care about unweighted GPA? ›

That said, even if your high school uses an unweighted GPA, colleges absolutely pay attention to how many honors and AP classes you are taking. Thus, even if your GPA is a lower than a peer who is taking all regular classes, you will still be the more competitive applicant if you're taking more honors classes.

Can I get into Harvard with a 3.8 GPA? ›

3. Can You Get Into Harvard With a 3.8 GPA? Whether a 3.8 GPA can get you into Harvard or not depends on the rest of your application. Although Harvard is an incredibly competitive school, high test scores and a well-rounded profile can help increase your chances of acceptance.

Can I get into an Ivy League with a 3.8 GPA? ›

The admission rates of these schools have an average of merely 7.6%, with only Cornell University's acceptance rate being greater than 10% (and it's only up by 1%). None of the Ivy League schools have a minimum GPA requirement for applications, which means anyone can apply regardless of their GPA.

Is 3.8 GPA too low for Harvard? ›

With that being said, there is still a benchmark GPA that you want to meet. I believe for Harvard it is 3.9-4.0 unweighted. It is always good to meet the average GPA or exceed it, but not having perfect grades doesn't eliminate your chances completely.

Do colleges look at all 4 years of high school? ›

Your first year and sophomore year affect your cumulative GPA, which is important to most colleges. However, a solid academic record in your junior year is likely to carry more importance with an admissions committee.

Does senior year GPA matter? ›

Your senior year grades hold weight on your overall GPA, which is one of the components, along with SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, etc., that institutions review as part of the admissions process.

Which GPA is most important? ›

As such, a weighted GPA tends to be more important in the admissions process for the simple reason that they can help communicate how challenging a student's course load is. A Weighted GPA demonstrate how many advanced classes you've taken, and your performance in them.

Is a 4.2 GPA good enough for Harvard? ›

However, unweighted GPAs are not very useful, because high schools weight GPAs differently. In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Harvard. That means nearly straight As in every class.

What is the lowest GPA Yale will accept? ›

You should also have a 4.14 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 Yale, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We'll cover those details next.

Can I get into Yale with a 3.5 GPA? ›

A 3.5 GPA will be highly competitive, and admission can be reasonably expected at many colleges. Still, it's not the most competitive at places like Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth, which, on average, accept students with GPAs exceeding 4.0.

Can I get into Harvard with a 3.9 GPA? ›

With a 3.75 to 3.99 GPA, you have a decent chance of success. A GPA between 3.50 to 3.74 makes Harvard a reach school. GPAs between 2.50 to 3.49 gives you an extremely low chance of success. Anything below 2.50 means you will most likely not be accepted.

Can I raise my GPA from 3.3 to 3.5 in one semester college? ›

If you have a 3.0 GPA and 15 credit hours, by earning straight A's during your next (15 credit) semester, you can bump your GPA to a 3.5. However, if you have already earned 60 credit hours and have a 3.0 GPA a straight-A semester will only bump your GPA to a 3.2.

Is it hard to raise your GPA? ›

It can be difficult to improve your GPA quickly, especially if you're in the latter half of high school already. With your previous grades working against you, you'll have to put in even more effort to overcome lower averages.

Is a 3.92 unweighted GPA good? ›

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.

What is the unweighted GPA for Harvard? ›

GPA Needed to Get Accepted

At Harvard, the average unweighted high-school GPA for admitted students is 4.0. This is the average, which means that some applicants submit GPAs lower than this and some applicants submit GPAs above this level.

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.

What's the lowest GPA Harvard accepted? ›

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. We'll cover those details next.

What GPA is needed for Yale? ›

In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Yale. That means nearly straight As in every class.

What is the average high school GPA in America? ›

What is the Average GPA in High School in 2023? The average GPA in US High Schools is 3.0. This number varies by gender – the average female GPA is 3.1 and the average male GPA is 2.9. The grade point average (GPA) was only 2.68 in 1990 and 2.94 in the year 2000.

What is the easiest ivy to get into? ›

What's the easiest Ivy League school to get into? While all Ivy League schools have a low acceptance rate, Cornell University has the highest acceptance rate among them. Cornell's acceptance rate is 11%, but try not to get too hung up on the numbers.

Is a 4.7 GPA good for Harvard? ›

Can you get into Harvard with a 4.7 GPA? If you don't pass their SAT and GPA requirements, they'll likely reject you without much consideration. To be safe, you should aim for the 75th percentile, with a 1580 SAT and a 4.18 GPA or higher to be above average.

Can I get into Harvard with 2 B's? ›

Can I get into Harvard with 2 BS? Does Harvard Accept B Students? Yes, just like I mentioned above, it's completely possible to get admitted into Harvard University with B grades. Admissions are not reserved only for straight-A students.

Is it possible to get a 7.0 GPA? ›

No matter what kind of coursework a student takes, the highest possible GPA in an unweighted system is a 4.3. NOTE: some schools do not differentiate between an A (5.0 weighted, 4.0 unweighted) and an A+ (5.3 weighted, 4.3 unweighted).

Who had a 10.3 GPA? ›

High school senior Dhara Patel was always a good student, but she'll graduate from Plant City High School with an incredible academic accomplishment. Patel has earned a 10.03 GPA, the highest in Hillsborough County, Florida -- and perhaps anywhere else.

What is the highest GPA in university? ›

A 4.0 GPA is the highest possible score a student can get. This score means that a student received A grades in all of his or her classes.

What is a good unweighted GPA for Ivy League? ›

For most of the Ivy League schools, they expect as close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA as possible. However, the actual unweighted GPAs of students admitted could vary, with many around the 3.5-4.0 range.

Is a 3.7 unweighted GPA bad? ›

A 3.7 GPA is a very good GPA, especially if your school uses an unweighted scale. This means that you've been earning mostly A-s in all of your classes. If you've been taking high level classes and earning a 3.7 unweighted GPA, you're in great shape and can expect to be accepted to many selective colleges.

Will one B ruin a 4.0 GPA? ›

One B over 4 years will not substantially affect your cumulative GPA, but a B every term will make you noncompetitive for graduate study at the top schools.

Does Harvard want weighted or unweighted GPA? ›

This is because all the Ivy League universities take into account a weighted GPA over an unweighted one.
Average GPA (weighted) of Accepted Students at Top Schools.
UniversityAverage GPA (weighted) of Accepted Student
Harvard University4.15
Columbia University4.14
8 more rows

Is a weighted GPA of 3.9 good? ›

Is a 3.9 GPA in high school considered good? Considering the highest possible GPA is 4.0, it's pretty easy to say yes, a 3.9 is a great GPA unequivocally.

What is a 3.8 weighted GPA to unweighted? ›

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.

Is a weighted GPA of 3.3 good? ›

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 is the lowest GPA to get into Ivy League? ›

None of the Ivy League schools have a minimum GPA requirement for applications, which means anyone can apply regardless of their GPA.

What is the lowest GPA ever accepted to Harvard? ›

What is the lowest GPA someone has got into Harvard? It's possible for Harvard to accept a student with a 3.0 GPA but with a compelling story. Similarly, it's possible for Harvard to reject a student with a 4.0 GPA but with qualities that do not impress the Ivy League's admissions officers.

Can I get into Harvard with a 3.9 weighted 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 .

Is a 3.8 GPA good enough for Ivy League? ›

For most of the Ivy League schools, they expect as close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA as possible. However, the actual unweighted GPAs of students admitted could vary, with many around the 3.5-4.0 range. GPA alone will not make or break a student's application — but it can play a pretty influential role.

Can I get into UCLA with a 3.8 GPA weighted? ›

At a minimum, you must earn a 3.0 GPA or better (3.4 for nonresidents) in all college preparatory courses. No grades can be lower than a C.

How hard is it to get a 3.7 GPA in college? ›

A 3.7 GPA is equivalent to 92% or an A- letter grade. The national average GPA is 3.0 which means a 3.7 is well above average. A 3.7 GPA can be hard to raise as it's already so high, but if you're really determined you can make it happen.

Is an unweighted GPA of 3.7 good? ›

A 3.7 GPA stands for a Grade Point Average of 3.7 on a 4.0 scale. It indicates that you've earned a predominantly A- average in your courses. A 3.7 GPA is considered to be a very good GPA and is often an indicator of strong academic performance.


1. What are Weighted and Unweighted Grades? // Definitions #shorts
(From Nest To Wings)
2. Unweighted vs weighted GPA?
(Transcript Maker)
3. Ask CollegeVine: Weighted vs Unweighted GPAs, Superscoring, Campus Tours, and Supplemental Essays
4. Weighted GPA
5. #Transizion What Is a Good GPA? The Unforgettable Guide
6. Difference Between Weighted and Unweighted Biosonic Tuning Forks
(John Beaulieu)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Francesca Jacobs Ret

Last Updated: 04/09/2023

Views: 5361

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (68 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Francesca Jacobs Ret

Birthday: 1996-12-09

Address: Apt. 141 1406 Mitch Summit, New Teganshire, UT 82655-0699

Phone: +2296092334654

Job: Technology Architect

Hobby: Snowboarding, Scouting, Foreign language learning, Dowsing, Baton twirling, Sculpting, Cabaret

Introduction: My name is Francesca Jacobs Ret, I am a innocent, super, beautiful, charming, lucky, gentle, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.