College Admissions: Computing Your GPA

College Admissions

If you're applying to college,Young woman hand hold with the blackboard showing A plus mark-1 you'll hear a lot of talk about your GPA, and how much it matters in the college admissions process. Your GPA, or grade-point average, indicates your overall performance in school--i.e., your grades. Your GPA is calculated from your letter grades or percentage grades, and is expressed as a number from 0.0 to 4.0. Still confused? Let us break it down for you.

Here's how GPA is calculated, and how it works.

Your GPA is the average of your entire high school academic performance. Essentially, they take all of your grades, add them together, and divide them by the number of grades, and voil√°! --You've got your GPA. But before you can add them all together, you need to convert them to the 0.0 to 4.0 scale that is used in GPA calculations. Here's how letter grades and percentages typically compare to GPA numbers:

Note that this is just a general table, and that some schools may have slightly different variations; however, this table should give you a good general idea of how letter grades compare to percent grades, and how they both compare to GPAs. Based on this chart, if the average of your grades was a 81, then you would have a GPA of around 2.7. If you had a C average, then your GPA would be a 2.0.

A tip for those of you who go to schools where the grades are given as letter grades: If your school doesn't give you a GPA or the average of your grades, and you want to get a good idea of what your GPA is, you could do the following:

  1. Get your transcript.
  2. Convert all of your letter grades to their corresponding GPA number.
  3. After they are converted, add all of the numbers together.
  4. After you add them all up, divide them by the number of grades.
  5. The resulting number is your GPA!
For example, a rising sophomore at Lincoln High School has the following grades:
English:  B  (3.0)Algebra:  A- (3.7)
Biology: B+ (3.3)
World History: A (4.0)
Phys Ed: C+ (2.3)
Business: A (4.0)
His GPA is calculated as follows:
3.0 + 3.7 + 3.3 + 4.0 + 2.3 + 4.0 = 20.6
Average = sum of items/total number of items
Average = 20.6/6
Average = 3.43
Some colleges look only at core academic courses when computing GPAs, so this student's C+ in gym class could possibly be removed, improving his GPA to 3.66. You never know, though, how prospective colleges will view your transcript, so it's important to aim for As in all of your classes.
If your school gives out grades as percentages, then just add all your grades up, divide the result by the number of grades you added, and then find the resulting value in the table above. The corresponding number in the GPA column is your overall GPA!

Your GPA is an important part of your college application. Make sure you know what it is and how to find it, so that you can know what you're showing potential schools!


Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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