What Is GPA and Why Is It important?

January 8, 2023
By AdmissionSight

What Is GPA and Why Is It important?

What is GPA?

What is GPA? Grade point average is a conventional method of evaluating academic performance in the United States on a scale of 0 to 4. You might be able to compute your GPA if your country uses a percentage- or letter-based grading system, but most systems outside of the U.S. do not use this scale.

What do these numbers mean?

What do these figures indicate? Depending on the value of the course, your institution will assign each course a specific number of “units” or “credits.” Most courses in high school have the same number of units; this is not the case in college.

Using a pencil while writing in a desk.

The typical number of units in a college course is 3, but this can range from 1 to 5 depending on the course (i.e., three hours of lectures and six hours of homework per week for each semester). GPA requires that grades be assigned on a scale of A–F. Grade points are allocated to each grade. A passing grade earns four points, whereas a failing grade earns zero.

How to calculate the GPA?

How to calculate the GPA? When you enroll in a 3-unit course and earn an A, you will receive 3 units multiplied by 4 points (for the A), for a total of 12-grade points for the course. Let’s imagine you also enroll in a 4-unit course (often found in mathematics) and earn a C. That’s 4 units multiplied by 2 points for a final score of 8.

You have accumulated 20-grade points for the 7 units in your two classes. The GPA is then calculated by dividing the total grade points by the number of units. Your grade point average (GPA) is 2.86, which is just below a B average (20/7 = 2.86). So

What is a good GPA in college?

Even if you had a decent GPA in high school, you could perform poorly in college. What is a good GPA in college? The expected GPA for each major and department can differ, even within one university.

After we have answered the question, “What is GPA?” here’s a tip from AdmissionSight that can help you determine a decent GPA: When you graduate from college, ask yourself what grade point average you’d be willing to list on your résumé. Anything below a 3.5 is less likely to be viewed favorably by future employers unless you’re in a major that is known for being challenging.

Female student writing in her desk.

In terms of honors distinctions, a strong grade point average in college can also be defined more broadly. Most frequently, students graduate “with praise” (cum laude in Latin) when their GPA is between 3.5 and 3.7, “with great praise” (magna cum laude) when it is between 3.7 and 3.9, and “with highest praise” (summa cum laude) when it is at or above 3.9.

Finally, people who intend to apply to graduate programs should concentrate on maintaining a strong undergraduate GPA. While top-tier programs frequently want at least a 3.5 GPA, many graduate programs have a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0.

What is a cumulative GPA?

Grade point averages (GPAs) are used to quantify a student’s level of academic achievement. GPAs come in a variety of forms, including cumulative, semester, weighted, and unweighted.

Your semester grade point average is calculated as the average of your semester grades. To figure out your cumulative GPA, you take the average of all the grades you got in all of your high school classes.

Each course is given a specific number of credits, with courses with more credits having greater value than courses with fewer credits.

What is GPA? What is a cumulative GPA? A grade point average is the calculated average of the equivalent numerical value of your grades using the method shown below; it is also known as the “Grade Point Average.” A 4.0 on the standardized scale is equivalent to an “A,” whereas a 0 is equivalent to an “F.” More challenging courses receive an additional half or full points when calculating weighted GPAs.

How to calculate your cumulative GPA?

Here’s the formula prepared by AdmissionSight to help you how to calculate your cumulative GPA and compute your unweighted GPA:

  1. Divide the number of credits you got for each course by the number of grade points that goes with your final grade.
  2. Add up all of the grade points.
  3. Total up the credits you have accrued.
  4. To the nearest hundredth, divide the grade point total by the total credits.

The only modification is that in the first step, you will now add the following to each grade point to determine your weighted GPA:

For ordinary courses, 0.0

0.5 for IB SL, dual enrollment, and honors courses.

1.0 for college courses, AP, post-AP, and IB HL courses.

What is an Unweighted GPA?

The most typical metric used to assess academic performance in high school is the unweighted GPA. Unweighted GPAs are calculated on a scale of 0 to 4.0 and do not take into account how challenging your courses are. As a result, both an A in an AP class and an A in a basic class will result in 4.0s.

An individual who enrolls in all honors and AP courses and receives all As, along with a few Bs, will have a lower unweighted grade point average than an individual who enrolls in just low-level courses and receives all As.

Although it may appear horribly unfair, college admissions are more complicated than that. Unweighted GPAs frequently give an erroneous impression of a student’s academic potential, and colleges are aware of this. They will look into this further to determine whether an unweighted GPA is genuinely an accurate picture of a student’s academic potential.

An unweighted GPA is where the notion of a 4.0 as the ideal GPA originates, although as we’ll see in the following section, this isn’t necessarily the most reliable performance indicator.

What does your unweighted GPA mean? Will colleges use it?

Unweighted GPAs are the most commonly used grade point average scale, so there is a lot of advice regarding them available. All of this advice, though, depends on how challenging your lessons are. Your 4.0 won’t be nearly as impressive to colleges if it was obtained in easy classes.

If you’re performing well in your classes, aim to move up a level, even though it can be challenging to accomplish so. In the long run, you’ll be doing yourself a favor in the college application process, even if your unweighted GPA somewhat declines. Your GPA is important to colleges, but they also look into how you obtained it. Don’t count on taking simple classes and obtaining As to manipulate the system.

Your class rank can be lower than someone who takes simpler classes than you if your high school only considers an unweighted GPA. You shouldn’t stress over this too much. Once more, if you had a slightly lower unweighted GPA from high-level classes than you did from low-level classes, you will have a better chance of getting into a good college than vice versa.

What does weighted GPA mean?

After answering the question “What is GPA?” and defining its implications for many students’ academic futures (especially in the context of college and university applications and admissions), we may go on to the discussion of weighted and unweighted grade point averages.

Young woman holding her books on a school campus.

The term “weighted GPA” refers to your grade point average that has been modified to account for the number of very difficult courses you have scheduled. To put it more precisely, this means that a weighted GPA is often graded on a higher scale than an unweighted grade point average and that more difficult or specially designated courses, such as honors classes and Advanced Placement (AP) courses, among others, give you bonus points.

For instance, a student who obtained all As would have a weighted GPA of, say, 6.0, and a given semester’s or year’s total number of AP courses may have a 6.0 weighted GPA and a 4.0 unweighted GPA. In addition to accounting for and adjusting for the relative course difficulties of your schedule, a weighted grade point average gives harder (or ostensibly harder, depending on their category or classification) courses that you take more “weight” (hence the name “weighted GPA”).

This encourages students to push themselves academically and rewards them for doing so (challenging oneself academically is something that colleges often value quite a bit in admissions decisions).

What is the difference between weighted and unweighted GPA?

We may continue our examination of weighted vs. unweighted grade point average now that we have defined Grade Point Average, Weighted Grade Point Average, and Unweighted Grade Point Average. But what is the difference between weighted and unweighted grade point average?

When analyzing the variations between weighted and unweighted grade point average, it is important to recognize several key distinctions. While we have already mentioned some of the variations between weighted and unweighted grade point average, we will go into more detail in this section of our post about some of those changes.

Are you interested in learning more about the importance of a weighted GPA for admissions success? You’ve landed just where you needed to be. Welcome to AdmissionSight!

Over the past ten years, AdmissionSight has assisted students in navigating the challenging admissions process. With our guidance, you can apply to colleges with confidence. To learn more about our services, get in touch with us right away.





Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.