What to Know About Weighted & Unweighted GPAs
Last updated December 20, 2023
Your GPA is a crucial component of your college applications. While it’s not the only thing that colleges take into consideration when admitting a student, it is a common indicator of how successful a student will be in college level coursework. When working on your college applications, you may be confused about the difference between your weighted and unweighted GPA, or which one to report. We break down what each means and how to determine which to report on your college applications!
Why is your GPA important?
While your GPA is important for admissions purposes, it is also used in other parts of the college process. For example, some scholarships require a minimum GPA in order to be eligible. Some colleges also use GPAs to award merit-based aid and scholarships. Ensuring you are reporting the correct GPA is crucial to maximize your chances of receiving aid or scholarships to pay for school.
What is an unweighted GPA?
An unweighted GPA is calculated on a scale of 0 - 4.0 and does not take into account the rigor or difficulty of advanced high school classes. This means that students do not receive additional credit for taking Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and/or honors classes using this scale. For example, an “A” in a standard U.S. History class is technically higher than a “B” in an AP U.S. History class on the unweighted GPA scale. To calculate an unweighted GPA, you would take the average of your grades on a 4.0 scale.
What is a weighted GPA?
A weighted GPA takes into account the difficulty and rigor of a class. A weighted GPA reflects that a student has taken AP, IB, and/or honors classes offered at their school. The weighted GPA scale is 0 - 5.0. Students typically receive an additional 0.5 point for honors classes and 1 additional point for AP, IB, or college courses taken in high school. Using the previous example, the student who received a “B” in AP U.S. History would calculate their GPA with an additional point, making it equivalent to an “A” grade on the weighted scale. Students who take advanced classes could have a GPA higher than a 4.0 on a weighted scale.
Should I report my weighted or unweighted GPA on my college applications?
The general rule is to report whatever GPA the college you’re applying to asks for. If you’re given a choice, we recommend that you report your weighted GPA. A weighted GPA will show colleges that you took challenging classes in high school, which has prepared you for a college-level workload. Colleges want to see that students challenged themselves academically in high school and are prepared to begin college coursework.
If you are unsure of which GPA to report, contact the admissions office of the school you’re applying to.
How do I calculate my GPA?
You can use a high school GPA calculator to determine your weighted and unweighted GPAs. The chart below indicates the number of points you are given based on your grade on a weighted/unweighted scale. If you have trouble calculating your GPA, reach out to your school counselor.
Your GPA is important, but it’s not the end-all-be-all of the college application process! It will be considered alongside a variety of other factors, including your admissions essay(s), extracurriculars, test scores, and more.
Have any questions about the differences between a weighted and unweighted GPA? Text #College to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!