How to Calculate Your GPA
What’s your GPA? If you can’t answer that question off the top of your head, you aren’t paying enough attention to this number. It seems insignificant, but it actually has a huge impact when you’re looking at colleges.
Let’s tackle some of the most important FAQs surrounding GPA.
What Exactly is a GPA?
In short, your GPA (or grade point average) takes into account all the grades you’ve gotten throughout high school. It’s a quick summary of your academic career. In general, the higher your GPA, the better grades you’ve earned.
Here’s a quick guide to how your grades translate into GPA:
A = 4
B = 3
C = 2
D = 1
That means if you get straight-As, you’ll have a 4.0. Half As and half Bs will give you a 3.5.
Keep in mind that some schools calculate GPA a bit differently, and some also count Advanced Placement or honors classes as a higher number. Ask your counselor if you aren’t sure how your school determines GPA. But in general, you multiply each grade value by the number of credits the class was worth (so if you took a three credit class and got an A, multiply 3x4=12). After you've done this for every class, add the numbers together and divide that total by the number of credits you took up to this point. That final number is your GPA!
Why Does it Matter?
Colleges want students with high GPAs. It’s that simple. The better your GPA is, the more likely you are to get into your top-choice colleges.
A higher GPA also boosts your chances of getting grants or scholarships.
Is My GPA Above Average?
A study from the U.S. Department of Education showed the average high school GPA is 3.03. That’s just above a B average.
Help! My GPA Isn’t Where I Want it to Be
Slacking off a little the first few years of high school won’t hurt you, right? Wrong! Every bad grade counts toward your GPA, so try your hardest in every class you’re taking. There are a few ways you can increase your GPA if you’re getting worried. Talk to your teachers if you’re struggling to understand anything – getting help when you need it has a huge impact on your grade (and your GPA!).
Will Any Colleges Accept Me With a Low GPA?
Yes! There’s a school for everyone, even if your GPA doesn’t really reflect what you’re capable of. Some colleges don’t put as much emphasis on GPA, and you can always save money by attending a community college before transferring to a four-year university – these schools typically accept applicants who have struggled to keep up high GPAs.
You can calculate your chances of getting into your dream school, or talk to your counselor about whether or not your college goals are realistic.