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Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

Sep 12, 2007

by Staff

The terms "weighted" and "unweighted" get thrown around a lot when students reach their senior year of high school. Scholarship providers, grant providers, employees and colleges are frequently unified in their interest in a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA). They are not as unified in the GPA format they would like to see.

This is what is they mean when they ask for your weighted or unweighted GPA.

Weighted GPA

Many schools offer accelerated and Advanced Placement (AP) classes to students who show academic merit. To distinguish an “A” in the advanced geometry class from that in the regular one, schools often assign a different point system to harder classes. They may, for example, bump up a student’s grade by .5 points if the class they took was accelerated.  Therefore, a student with three “Bs” in a regular class may have a 3.0 GPA while one with three “Bs” in advanced classes may have a 3.5 GPA. If a student takes only accelerated classes and their school bumps up each accelerated grade by one point, they may potentially earn a 5.0 GPA. The weight a school assigns to each class varies, and straight “A” students can graduate with different weighted GPAs depending on the school they attended.

Unweighted GPA

The unweighted GPA is the average of all class grades based on a 4.0 scale. If the student earned an “A” in an advanced English class, the unweighted grade would still be a 4.0-- the corresponding number on standard grade conversion charts--instead of, for example, a 4.5. Regardless of class level, each class is graded on the same point system. Things can get a bit confusing when schools have an unweighted scale but still offer and “A+” that is worth 4.3 points. While still unweighted, this GPA is higher than a 4.0.

Generally, however, an unweighted GPA peaks at 4.0.  Students who have taken accelerated classes may have lower GPAs on this scale, but those who have a regular schedule may fare better in class rank once everyone is on the same playing field. Because the weight a school attaches to each accelerated class varies, an unweighted GPA allows schools and award providers to see a student’s performance on the same scale, regardless of the school they attended. Unfortunately, additional efforts exerted in advanced classes may not be as visible.

At, students are asked to state their GPAs on a 4.0 scale. Students who received anything above a 4.0 should record their GPA as 4.0. If a scholarship provider asks the student for GPA information, they may then offer in-depth information.

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Posted Under : College Culture , GPA , High School


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Steven R.  on  11/15/2016 7:13:44 PM commented:

In general, when asked for an unweighted GPA, do they want on for that year, or all of High School?

jane c  on  9/2/2016 5:39:20 AM commented:

I go to a school that does not have weighted GPA but all the classes are advanced placement or honors classes. So everyone has to work hard. I've got a 3.9 so how will it compare to a kid from a school with a weighted GPA that only took 3 or 4 honors classes?

Opee  on  5/17/2016 5:17:44 PM commented:

I have 3.5 GPA. I worked very very hard for it. Many people always say I'm so lucky to have that high average. To be honest, it's not mere luck I started off with a 2.1 GPA but see me now. I get a little hurt when people think I was lucky enough. I wasn't. I only got there because I'm constantly moving out of my comfort zone to get every single work done. When my friends are talking or chatting class. I become a "nerd" when I chose homework instead of hanging out after school. This marking period I've worked the hardest. And I hope I get a 3.6 or higher GPA. Thank you. I'm sorry for your precious time.

brandon d  on  5/17/2016 4:46:46 PM commented:

You guys don't get it. You think you can do things the way you want and still be able to do whatever you want. If you want to go to an ivy league college, you better have a 4.0 or higher, no excpetions, those who do not do good in school will reflect so in their grades and GPA. It doesn't matter if you work hard and dumb or have strive and dumb, like your going to screw stuff up, leave It to the lazy smart dude who can actually do the job.

Kiara =)  on  3/30/2016 7:06:20 PM commented:

This year in high school I've learned that GPA isn't that important. Of course it's important to get into a great college. But when your school district changes the GPA grading scale and starts to hurt the student who are in the top of the class, like myself that's a serious problem. When student who wouldn't have a good GPA, but literally only have good GPA's because of the new grading scale. It's like student in the top of the class have been working hard since freshmen year for nothing. BTW I'm in the top 15% of my class with a 84 average.

Rachel T  on  2/22/2016 5:40:04 PM commented:

Transcrpits and GPA don't prove that much. A GPA is your average grade after 4 years of high school. You weight GPA at least shows how much you tried to challenge yourself but even then sometime good grades come easy to people. Since childhood we are told having good GPA is important, but why? A GPA only show how good you where at school it doesn't demonstrate how hard you work or how much you grew. A student with a high GPA doesn't mean a student with a good work ethic or a drive to push themselves. It's normally the student with the low or average GPA that works hard everyday to Imporve themselves. If I was an adminstater I would take the hard working student over the naturally smart student anyday.

Brittany sephers  on  1/28/2016 11:00:51 PM commented:

I think that I have been doin really good in school and trying my best to get good grades I have a 2.97 and I'm so close to a 3.00 but I am a hard worker and I feel like my grades don't really show that because I make sure that I do all my work and stuff it's just I sometime forget and turn things in late but I'm a very hard worker and nice person because I know that I can do better and I will do better.

Owen S  on  1/19/2016 9:31:00 PM commented:

My High School Career got off to a mediocre start. My weighted GPA was 2.69 so that will go on my transcript.

Sierra G  on  12/11/2015 9:32:07 AM commented:

I think i am doing good in my school. I'm in a middle and i have a 4.0. But i must ask a very important question. Is a child's GPA so important that you would not let them into a school for which they have worked so hard for? Or how would you like it if your child was not accepted into a school because GPA matters more than there EDUCATION. These are the things we need to think about Not what your GPA is

mikeisha m  on  11/24/2015 2:26:46 PM commented:

Yes you're Gpa is important but is it so important that you wouldn't give a child a chance. My Gpa isn't that high but I'm dedicated I work and go to school I pay majority of my bills so I think it's better to have unweighed GPA but maybe that's just me

Esther Matturie  on  8/18/2015 7:57:01 PM commented:

I think you avail yourself in helping many that thinks there present situation is the end of life. But that's not true if only you're determine I am now even though I have three kids but yet want to improve myself in learning more you're willing to help me my fees. I want to do Cosmology.

Kandis M.  on  4/2/2015 3:58:49 PM commented:

What if your child's high school has a more challenging grading scale? 92.99 is a B here and roughly where we are overall. My daughters college is calculating the unweighted GPA on a 4.0 and it is not looking good. Is this often recalculated with the final transcript to take into account that her 92.99 was a B ? Or is a B considered a B regardless if the kid made a 92 in an AP class, like mine, where another made an 89 in a regular class and finished with a B . That seems crazy to me.

Brannon L.  on  3/31/2015 4:49:10 PM commented:

The author is correct. Most colleges and universities look at the unweighted GPA first. Do not discount the value of rigor, however. Most colleges will go on to "weight" the applicants GPA if they are taking advanced classes. Many will bump the score by an additional .5 points if the class is AP, IB, etc. Keep in mind that the admissions process is highly subjective; a candidate with a 4.0 that took only "regular" classes in the end will not be valued as highly as the student with a 3.5 (unweighted) who shows a history of challenging herself. For large state schools, which are primarily concerned with class rank, the system puts students who challenge themselves at a disadvantage. Schools that concern themselves with getting to know the student before admission is offered will take the level of academic rigor into consideration. This is why I spend so much time in my college planning practice advocating for smaller private colleges and universities.

 on  2/16/2015 3:45:23 PM commented:

i need help asap

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