How to Calculate GPA
This ultimate guide on grade point average (GPA) will help you understand the differences between weighted and unweighted GPA, and how to calculate your college GPA, cumulative GPA, and semester GPA.
What are the different GPA scales?
Grade point average (GPA) can be measured in different systems. Usually, the high school GPA is calculated with a 4 or 5 point system, depending on if it’s unweighted or weighted. In college, the grade point average is calculated on a 4 point scale.
As most grades are awarded using a letter grade system, you need an equivalence between the letter grades and total grade points. So in a 4 point scale an A grade will be equivalent to 4 points, B will equal 3 points and so on, until F, which will have 0 grade points.
High schools frequently have advanced placement or honors courses, which award more points per letter grade than regular ones. Many schools use “+” and “-” modifiers to grades, which translate into 0.3 points in a points grade system. A B+ would be 3.3. total grade points.
This lack of standardization means that the easiest way to move between the different scales is to bookmark our GPA scale converter.
High school GPA : weighted and unweighted GPA
Weighted High School GPA
The weighted GPA takes into account the difficulty of the class along with the grade. While an unweighted GPA scale goes up to 4.0, the weighted GPA allows for scores up to 5.0. Grades in honors and advanced placement courses are translated into a scale of 5 grade points. Regular classes still are graded using 4 grade points.
The reason for the different grade point averages for higher difficulty courses is to incentivize students to take on more difficult coursework without fear that slightly lower grades (due to these courses being more demanding) would lower their GPA. In fact, a student in AP or honors courses could have lower grades than a student in regular classes and still have a higher GPA.
A weighted GPA can have an impact on your school admission process. A weighted 4.0 GPA will not necessarily grant you admission to any college if you only took regular courses. Colleges factor in how many advanced courses the student took in high school as well, to see if the student is able to take academic challenges.
In order to calculate your weighted GPA you’d need to translate each letter grade to the corresponding grade points. Then, divide the total grade points by the number of classes. Or you could just use our high school GPA calculator to find out your GPA easily.
Unweighted High School GPA
In an unweighted GPA scale, each class has the same value, and the grade points go from 0 to 4.0. In order to calculate your grade point average you would translate letter grades into grade points and then find out the average by adding all grade points together and divide the points earned by the total number of classes.
Use our high school GPA calculator to keep track of your GPA through several semesters.
How to calculate your college GPA
In college, GPA uses a 4 grade points scale, the same as an unweighted GPA calculation, but now we need to take into account credit hours for each class. Even though most college courses are worth 3 credits, there are others which may be worth more, depending on their difficulty or if they require extra work, like lab time. A class with more credit hours will have more weight on the GPA than a regular class.
To calculate your grade point average in college you would translate each class letter grade into grade points, using the 4.0 grade points scale. Then you need to add an extra step, which is to multiply each grade by the credit hours of that course. Once you have a total number of grade points for the semester you would divide the total by the number of total credits.
Cumulative and semester GPA
A semester GPA will take all your grade points for the semester and divide the sum by the total number of credit hours for that semester.
A cumulative GPA measures your academic performance for more than one semester. But you can’t just find the average between the individual semester GPAs, as each semester may have a different number of credit hours.
To calculate your cumulative GPA you’d need to sum the total grade points for all courses across all semesters and then divide by the total number of credits. If you’re in high school, the cumulative GPA is calculated by dividing by the number of classes instead of credits.
If you want to save time and keep track of your cumulative GPA, you can use our cumulative GPA calculator.