What is G.P.A., How to Calculate It, and Why It Is Important
G.P.A. stands for “Grade Point Average,” and is a standardized system for evaluating overall academic performance, typically on a 4-point scale. On a general G.P.A. scale, 4.0 is the best, and 0.0 is the worst. At a school that gives the same weighting to all classes, G.P.A. is found by simply converting a student’s grades from the courses he or she has already completed into numbers from 0 to 4.0, then averaging those numbers together. That number is typically rounded to the tenths place, i.e. one decimal, and is the grade point average.
A basic G.P.A. scale
|Letter Grade||Number Grade (out of 100)||4.0 GPA Scale|
|A+||97 – 100||4.0|
|A||93 – 96||4.0|
|A-||90 – 92||3.7|
|B+||87 – 89||3.3|
|B||83 – 86||3.0|
|B-||80 – 82||2.7|
|C+||77 – 79||2.3|
|C||73 – 76||2.0|
|C-||70 – 72||1.7|
|D+||67 – 69||1.3|
|D||63 – 66||1.0|
|D-||60 – 62||0.7|
|F||59 and below||0.0|
So for example, a typical high school student may have the following transcript for one semester.
An example transcript with G.P.A. calculated
|Course||Letter Grade||Number Grade||4.0 GPA Scale|
|3.4 = Average|
The G.P.A. calculation is straightforward here. The G.P.A.s are added for the seven courses, then that sum is divided by seven to obtain the average.
Some schools, however, only count academic courses towards G.P.A., excluding P.E. or Gym class, Art, Music, etc. Each school makes its own determination on whether or not these courses are included in a student’s G.P.A. If a school counts only academic courses for a G.P.A., then the G.P.A. for the transcript above would be different.
An example transcript with G.P.A. calculated for only academic courses
|Course||Letter Grade||Number Grade||4.0 GPA Scale|
|3.2 = Average|
In this case, only the G.P.A.s for the five academic courses are added together, and then that sum is divided by five. The grades for Painting and P.E. are ignored for G.P.A. in this case.
It should also be noted that Honors and Advanced Placement (A.P.) courses may use what is called a “weighted G.P.A.” Honors and AP courses may be calculated on different scales, a 4.5 and 5.0 scale, respectively. That means that an A in an Honors course would not be worth a 4.0, but rather a 4.5. It is important to check with individual school policies, especially if Honors or AP courses are involved.
What are course credits or units?
At some high schools and most universities, not all courses can be averaged equally for a G.P.A., and that is because of each course’s number of units or credits. The terms “credits” and “units” are generally used interchangeably, and indicate the amount of credit a student receives for having completed the course. The number of credits generally corresponds to the number of contact hours of class the student had for that class during a semester. A class worth four credits implies four hours of class time per week over a semester, while a class that only had three hours of class time would be worth only three credits.
Credits can affect G.P.A. because courses that are worth more credits subsequently have a greater impact on a student’s G.P.A. To find the G.P.A. for classes that do not all have the same number of credits, several additional steps are required. First, find the total sum of credits for all of the courses. Second, multiply the G.P.A. for each course by the number of credits for that course. Third, add all of those numbers (G.P.A. x Credits) together to find the total number of G.P.A. credits. And fourth, divide that sum by the sum of the total number of credits. That number is the G.P.A. for classes with different credits/units.
An example transcript for G.P.A. for courses with different numbers of credits
|Course||Credits||Letter Grade||Number Grade||4.0 GPA Scale||G.P.A. x Credits|
|17 = Total||58.2 = Total|
|58.2 ÷ 17 = 3.4 G.P.A.|
Is there only one kind of G.P.A.?
There are several different types of G.P.A. typically calculated for a student. When applying to a college or university, freshmen are asked for their high school G.P.A., which is the average for every course completed in high school. While students are attending university, G.P.A. is calculated each semester and overall. High school and university courses are never combined when calculating a G.P.A. – the number is for either high school or university studies completed. If transferring to a new university, however, a student may be asked to provide his/her high school and university G.P.A.s.
Why is G.P.A. important?
G.P.A. is a snapshot of a student’s academic performance. At a glance, university and college admissions offices can see that a student with a 3.9 G.P.A. has obviously gotten mostly A’s across all subjects. A student with a 2.0 G.P.A. has struggled more and either has a wide variety of grades or all low scores.
Universities often use this single number as a filter for applications. Each school application involves a myriad of components – written statements, extracurriculars, standardized test scores, etc. – but if a prestigious school receives an application with a low G.P.A., then admissions officers will likely assume that that student is not a good fit for the school and will not spend time evaluating the other parts of the application.
Using the two examples calculated above, G.P.A.s of 3.4 and 3.2 may not seem very different, but in terms of G.P.A., that distinction is massive in terms of college acceptance rates, scholarship money, etc. It is important not only for students to maintain as high an average as possible, but also to make sure that they are calculating it in the correct way for each university.
If you plan on studying in the U.S and are embarking on the application or transfer process, we can translate your academic documents for you. You can visit our store and request a quote or order a certified translation of your academic transcript, diploma or other school documents.
All our certified to English translations are accepted by the USCIS. Our translations follow the guidelines established by the USCIS and are also accepted by educational institutions.
Most Requested Documents
You can order most translations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through our online store. For large projects (more than 20,000 words or 50 pages), please request a quote.