Ask Cappex: How to Get a GPA Over 4.0
Our college expert Mark Kantrowitz answers your questions about college and financial aid in our weekly Ask Cappex column.
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 that 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 required for admission and one based on all classes.
High school GPA based on just college prep classes tends to be predictive of academic performance in college, especially graduation rates.