Weighted or Unweighted GPA?

How do colleges calculate GPA in the admissions process? Some students take courses that “weigh” more than others, which can boost their GPA and their class rank. But how do colleges treat these different weights when they read your application?

Most colleges will consider both your weighted and unweighted GPA, and most high schools will report both to the colleges to which you are applying.

Colleges want the weighted GPA to reflect your class rank, as well as the relative rigor of your high school course load. But they will not use this weighted GPA in comparing you with other applicants.

Most colleges will use the unweighted GPA as the best reflection of your high school performance. As they say, “an A is an A.” A B in an Advanced Placement course does not mean that you somehow really got an A in that course…you still did B work, according to your teacher. So while the weighted GPA will reflect the relative rigor of your high school coursework, the unweighted GPA reflects your actual performance in those courses.

So don’t be lulled into complacency when you get a “B” on that AP history test by telling yourself that B work equals an A in a less rigorous course. The fact is that colleges will pay closer attention to your unweighted GPA than to an average that is artificially inflated.

Furthermore, many colleges today are “stripping” GPAs of any fluff courses, such as gym, art, music, business, or other courses not considered to be sufficiently academic in nature. Padding your GPA, therefore, is not really possible by getting a straight-A average in chapel or woodworking or glee club. Colleges want to know how well you do in your academic core subjects: English, math, science, social studies, and foreign language.

Bottom line: your GPA matters.


PS:  You might want to look at my post on how to calculate your “real” GPA.


Mark Montgomery
Montgomery Educational Consulting

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