All articles

Ask Cappex: How to Get a GPA Over 4.0

Ask Cappex: How to Get a GPA Over 4.0


Our college expert Mark Kantrowitz answers your questions about college and financial aid.

Q: How do you raise your GPA over 4.0? Some people I know have a 4.2 or something similar, so I was wondering how that is possible and how it got like that.

A: There two main ways a student can get a grade point average (GPA) greater than a 4.0. Both depend on how their high school calculates GPA.

Some high schools report GPA on a 5.0 scale instead of a 4.0 scale. So, a 4.5 GPA on a 5.0 scale is the equivalent of a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Most high schools use a 4.0 scale, however, because most colleges use a 4.0 scale.

Other high schools report GPA on a 4.0 scale, but give extra grade points to students who take more challenging classes, such as Honors, Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. For example, some high schools add 0.5 points to a student’s grade for taking an Honors class and 1.0 points for taking an AP or IB class.

Giving bonus points for taking more advanced classes puts students whose high schools don’t offer Honors, AP and IB classes at a disadvantage. College admissions offices require copies of a student’s official high school transcripts, so they can adjust for differences in class difficulty and grade inflation. They may also calculate two different GPAs for a student, one based on just college prep classes and one based on all classes.

Your high school GPA is based on just college prep classes and tends to be predictive of academic performance in college. The GPA Calculator web site includes a full-featured GPA calculator that can calculate weighted grade point averages. 

Create a free Cappex account to find, finance, and attend the college that’s right for you Get Started Now