Calculating your real GPA can be tough.  Everyone knows the importance of a high school student’s grade point average, or GPA. It’s the little number that labels us. It signifies whether we are a geek or slacker, or somewhere in between. The GPA is usually either a point of great pride or great shame. Those students who are proud of their GPA practically have it tattooed on their foreheads, while others skulk about in fear that someone might discover what ignoramuses they truly are.

GPA good studentsIn college admission, it serves as a critical litmus tests: how good a student is this person, and will he or she succeed at this college.

No matter how you cut it, the GPA is a source of anxiety and tension for just about everyone.

But let’s be philosophical for a minute. One’s GPA is not a measure of one’s worth as a human being. It is not even a measure of one’s intelligence. Rather, it is the gauge of a young person’s ability to play the game of school. Some tremendously intelligent students completely blow off school (I have several clients of this variety), while some less intelligent students are able, through sheer doggedness and determination, to achieve relatively high GPAs (there are fewer of these, I find).

Calculating Your Real GPA for College

Calculating one’s GPA is a fairly straightforward process. Except for the fact that many high schools report “weighted” and “unweighted” grade point averages. In a previous post, I detail the differences between a weighted and unweighted GPA. Basically, a weighted GPA takes into account the difficulty of the courses a student is taking, and those taking harder courses are rewarded with extra “brownie points” in their GPA. Usually colleges strip these brownie points from an applicant’s GPA in order to fairly compare one student against another.

But merely stripping away the brownie points is not enough to uncover your real GPA, because in today’s comprehensive high schools, we give grades for just about every class a student takes, including:

  • physical education
  • performing groups (including theater and all sorts of music)
  • high school sports training
  • vocational education classes, like shop, auto mechanics, and the like
  • health classes, including sexual education
  • student aide or school helper

These courses help pad a high school student’s schedule. But they do not constitute the academic core of high school. Grades in these courses do provide a measure of success (I actually have a client who received an “F” as a student aide–I’m hoping that was a clerical error!). But these grades cannot really be counted as a measure of a student’s academic abilities.

Therefore, to calculate a student’s core GPA, we have to remove the fluff. We have to calculate the GPA based solely on the five academic solids that constitute a high school student’s performance:

  • Math
  • English or Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Foreign Language

Your Core GPA

The core GPA is your “real” GPA: this is the measure of your academic performance in high school. (Again, it’s not a measure of self-worth.) Unless students come to me with a transcript with nothing but grades of A, most students are disappointed to see their 3.0 cumulative, weighed GPA fall to a more embarrassing 2.3 or lower. Those gym classes and band classes are not only fun, but they artificially prop up one’s GPA.

And colleges know it. So those with relatively selective admissions processes will strip the fluff right out of the GPA in order to get down to brass tacks: how well does this particular student perform in academic work?

So, while I hate to be the bearer of bad news, I encourage students from middle school onward to be aware of their “real” GPA as they go through school, and to not be blinded by the number printed on the grade report. They need to be aware that some courses, whether required (health, gym) or not (jazz band, sports conditioning) may artificially inflate their cumulative GPA, and may lead to academic complacency.

The lesson: don’t let yourself be deluded by the numbers on the page. College admissions officers, who must compare one student against another in deciding whom to admit, will strip your GPA of all non-academic fluff. Don’t wait until the fall of your senior year to come to the realization that your GPA may be artificially inflated.

Strip Your GPA and Reveal the Naked Truth

So throw off the rose-colored classes, strip your GPA of all artificial weighting, and strike out all those A grades you received in those electives you love. Ultimately, your “real” GPA is what colleges will consider most carefully.

Now with that out of the way, let’s look at the nuts and bolts of the GPA calculation for students who are awarded letter grades.  For each grade in an academic course, assign the following number values to each grade.  Then simply divide the sum of these numbers by the number of courses (a simply average). This will be how we calculate your “Real” GPA.

A  = 4.0

A- = 3.7

B+ = 3.3

B    = 3.0

B-  = 2.7

C+ = 2.3

C   = 2.0

C- = 1.7

D+ = 1.3

D  = 1.0

F = 0

So, to give an example, let’s say that Stan the Student has a B- in Math, a B+ in English, a C+ in social studies, an A in Spanish, and a B in science, we add the following values:  2.7 + 3.3 + 2.3 + 4.0 + 3.0, for a total of 15.3.  Divide by 5 course, and the GPA is 3.06.

That’s how you calculate your real GPA!

Also, you may want to get an idea of how to translate percentages into the numerical grade point average.

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Mark Montgomery
College Counselor and
Bearer of Bad News

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Technorati Tags: GPA, grade point average, college admission, college entrance, academic Tags: GPA, grade point average, college admission, college entrance, academic

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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  1. What is the point of this article? It doesn’t even tell you how to calculate your “real” GPA. Give it a relative title.

  2. Hello, Ann, and thanks for visiting my blog. I still think my title is relevant (*was that the word you were seeking?), because I do explain how colleges perceive your GPA. Perhaps I was not clear enough, but I think I do indicate that to calculate your “real” GPA, you need to
    1. Focus on core academic subjects
    2. Cut out all non-academic subjects from the average
    3. Eliminate all artificial weightings high schools may create to award honors courses more points in the GPA.

    If I can be more specific in helping you calculate your “real” GPA, please let me know. And again, thanks for visiting!

  3. dude, put down HOW to calculate your GPA that would be way more helpful than just saying how colleges see your GPA

  4. Lab,
    Thanks for the comment and the suggestion. Since you and Ann have mad the same suggestion, I have appended the post to give you tips on how to do the simple calculation. Just give every letter grade the appropriate number value, then divide the sum of those numbers by the total number of courses you have taken. Again, remember to use only the academic core courses in making this calculation.
    Hope this helps. Thanks again for stopping by and suggesting ways I can improve this post.

  5. I attend a high school in Loudoun County which has a 7 point grading scale, so the lowest A is a 93. Also AP courses are awarded only an additional .7 to the course. I find that this really hurts my GPA. Will the colleges understand the difference?

  6. My Highschool grading scale.
    A+ 98-100
    A 93-97
    B+ 90-92
    B 85-89
    C+ 82-84
    C 77-81
    D+ 74-76
    D 70-73
    F 0-69

  7. Arielle,
    Thanks for visiting. First off, thanks for sharing your grading scale at your school. It demonstrates that different schools use different scales. I have used your scale in the past, too, and in some ways I like it better.
    But never mind what I like.
    Your question is whether schools will understand the difference. Answer: absolutely. They will receive a “high school profile” with your transcript, which will help admissions officers “translate” your grades, GPA, class rank, and all other data into “news they can use.” This will help them interpret your scores so that they can make useful comparisons.
    The bottom line for all readers is this: colleges are accustomed to this sort of inconsistency among schools. They do their best to correct for the differences.
    Also please remember that admissions is more art than science: colleges rarely have “cut offs” or minimum or maximum anything. With the exception of large state universities where legislation may determine eligibility for admission, most colleges have a holistic approach to reading your application.
    Thanks again, Arielle. Very helpful information, and I hope I was able to set your mind at ease. Loudoun County, in particular, is plenty big enough that most colleges in the US will be familiar with your district and its schools.
    Best of luck!

  8. I don’t understand why you say that honors and advanced placment courses do not carry more weight in the GPA. These classes are clearly more difficult and the students GPAs should reflect it. According to your interpretation, an 83 in AP English is the same as an 83 in college level. I don’t understand your logic.

  9. Joe,
    Thanks for visiting. I understand your confusion, I think. Keep in mind that I am talking about college admission. The issue for college admission is that each school district in the country calculates a GPA differently. Some give extra weight to honors courses, and then even more weight to AP courses or IB courses. Some IB schools give added weight only to the IB diploma courses in 11th and 12th grade, while other weight the “pre-IB” courses of 9th and 10th, too. Some weight only AP courses. Some do not weight anything at all.
    So in this land of chaos, how do colleges compare apples to apples.
    1. They look at the raw GPA. This is what this post is about.
    2. They look at class rank–within the context of the number of students in the graduating class. Here, clearly, weightings are important in determining class rank.
    3. They look at the rigor of the curriculum the student has taken. Some colleges may even “score” this rigor, eyeballing it on a scale of 1 to 5, perhaps.
    Rest assured that the rigor of the student’s curriculum is very much taken into account in the admissions process.
    But the reported GPA of the high school may not be the way that rigor is best reflected. It would not be fair, for example, to compare a student who took 7 AP courses with a 3.7 GPA from a school that did not weight AP courses with a student with a 4.2 GPA of a student with identical numbers of AP courses in a school that did give extra weight to those same AP courses. The first student probably earned more A grades than the second student (who got “bonus points) for those Bs.
    I hope this makes sense. My logic is that while weights may be useful to compare students *within* a particular school, weights are often stripped by admissions offices so that they can better compare students from one school (or district or state) to the next.
    Seems I should write a post about class rank next!
    Again, thanks for stopping by and commenting, and please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

  10. I am preparing the transcript for my home schooled student who will graduate from high school with about 63 dual enrollment credits that she has taken directly at the community college. Is it worth weighting the grades to calculate her GPA for her transcript. It will be obvious that they are advanced courses already, compared to those of high school (we will request official transcript from the community college).

  11. Dear Olimpia,
    Thanks or visiting my blog. Personally, I see no reason for you to assign weights to your student. Colleges are becoming fairly accustomed to seeing transcripts from home schooled students. They will pay most attention the the dual enrollment credits, and the official transcript from the community college. Your assigning weights will seem, in my opinion, rather arbitrary. The community college transcript, though, will clearly communicate your student’s ability to do college work. This is what they want to know: can your student do college work at a high level? The GPA you devise will tell them very little. The grades in the dual enrollment courses–plus whatever SAT II scores the student has taken in addition to the SAT I and ACT–will give the college a way to compare your student with the rest of their applicant pool.
    I hope this is helpful. I would also suggest that you get into contact with whatever colleges your student is applying and make sure you understand their procedures for handling home schooled transcripts and applications.
    Best of luck!

  12. If my school includes trimester grades on the transcript, do the colleges use these or end of year grades? Would my senior year 1st trimester be counted as my senior end of year grades or will they be weighted as a single trimester or will they not be calculated in my gpa at all? Sorry if that wasn’t clear

    Thank you!

  13. Hello, and thanks for your question.

    And it’s a good one. But I don’t think I can answer it; you will have to talk to your school counselors to learn how they calculate the GPA. As you point out, it is possible they calculate GPA only on the basis of end-of-year grades, or they might include each trimester. Colleges will see whatever is put onto the transcript, and as I have pointed out elsewhere, colleges will interpret (or reinterpret) to suit their priorities. You high school will send a “school profile” sheet or brochure that will explain your school’s grading system in more detail.

    So if you want to understand the details of how your school calculates your GPA, you need to have a chat with the counseling office, and perhaps get a copy of that school profile. This way you’ll at least know how your school will be saying with regard to your own GPA.

    I hope this helps. Good luck!

  14. According to what you have written colleges only consider core academic classes when calculating a GPA. What do colleges do when a student has academic electives? For example, I am on the math team at my high school and we take an extra math course freshman, sophomore, and senior year. These are actually math courses that the entire state uses as transition courses (such as Advanced Topics in Mathematics between Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus). My school apears to be the only one that offers them to give a double period of math instead of an additional seperate option as a math course for people who feel that they are too weak to continue to the next course. Another good example is that next year I am going to take AP Psychology and possibly AP European History which count as academic elective credits at my high school. Additionally, some of the vocational classes also count as academic classes such as the Business Supervison Program (I am also considering taken a few courses here). How would a college calculate a GPA when considering academic electives?

  15. Jesus,

    Thanks for visiting, and for your question.

    Rest assured that colleges will take into account all your academic electives. If you are like a small minority of students taking more than five solid academic subjects per semester, then you are setting yourself up to be very competitive for selective colleges.

    My post here is to remind all students that non-academic electives are not treated in the same way as academic courses. If you are adding to the rigor of your academic load by taking more academic courses, then good for you! And know that college admissions officers will definitely take note of your efforts.

    Now all you need to do is get an ‘A’ in each of those courses, and you’ll be all set!

    Best of luck!

  16. So far I have straight A’s. Hopefully I can keep it up at least until the impossible Junior Year (AP U.S. History is the class where the teacher won’t let anyone have an A w/o suffering).
    P.S. The State Universitry System in my state does weigh classes but at their discretion and not the schools. My school would weigh Honors and AP courses each 1 full point while most universities in the state weigh Honors 0.5 and AP 1 point. They just take the raw GPA and calculate their own weighting.

  17. My daughter’s school does weigh their classes, so we are trying to figure out what the unweighted GPA would be. My question is…

    You have given a point value for each letter grade. Not all school districts grade on the same scale. some use 95 and up for an a, some use 93 and up for an a, and some use 90 and up. Can you list the guidelines numerically instead of alphabetically?

    Also, my daughter can feel the pain of the previuos poster. Her AP US teacher also would not give out A’s, so my daughter ended up with an 89 in the class,(one of the highest grades) yet made a 5 on the AP test…

  18. Maureen,
    Thanks for your comment.
    There is, unfortunately, no common grading school across the United States. You will likely only be able to do a rough approximation. Please do not sweat this so much. A couple of points either way will not be the determining factor in your daughter’s application–too much else is in play.

    As for the AP US History, the score on the exam will speak more loudly than the grade. Is your daughter considering getting a letter of recommendation from her AP US history teacher? He might say something about his (silly) policy in his letter.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you need anything else.

  19. I’m in the process of preparing the transcript for my homeschooled student and completing scholarship applications. Should our transcript include an overall GPA and a core curriculum GPA? When scholarship applications ask for Cumulative Grade Point Average, are they asking for the overall GPA or just the core and what will they take into consideration in awarding scholarships?
    Thanks so much !

  20. Dear Cindy,
    Thank you for visiting and for your question.

    Homeschooling transcripts are a world unto themselves. You are free to report GPA any way you like, as long as you make it perfectly clear what you are averaging and why. What matters most, however, is how your student demonstrates proficiency and mastery of material. This is why I recommend that all homeschooled students take as many SAT 2 tests as possible.

    My other recommendation is to speak directly with the colleges to which your child will apply. Each college has its own procedures and requirements (or recommendations) for homeschooling families. Some colleges even have sections of their websites in which they explain their policies relevant to your situation.

    I hope this helps! Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

  21. Hello, Laura. Good question. Usually a one-semester course is given half a credit; a whole year course is one credit. So when averaging, make sure you do your multiplication in a way that gives that one-semester course only half the full value. This is something of an SAT math puzzle, isn’t it?

    Have fun calculating, and good luck!

  22. I checked out this site out of sheer curiosity, wondering how my weighted GPA would play out (my high school doesn’t calculate it until every student graduates). I’m a sophomore in my second semester with a 4.0 unweighted, but I was wondering something. In most schools, it seems that an A counts as a 4.0 while an A- counts as a 3.7. Though my high school does employ the use of the plus minus system, it works as follows:
    A+, A, A- = 4.0
    B+, B, B- = 3.0
    C+, C, C- = 2.0
    And so on and so forth. This has helped me out a little bit as I have gotten a few A-‘s this year and last. I was wondering, though, if that will make any difference on my transcript. Supposedly at my school you can either choose to include all plusses and minuses on your transcript or omit all of them. At this rate, I would choose to omit mine, so my transcript would display a simple A in every course I’ve taken with a 4.0. But my question is that, if I were to have both my minuses and pluses displayed, even WITH a 4.0 as my GPA, would colleges mentally note that at some schools my GPA wouldn’t be nearly as high? Will this affect my significantly? I’m a little worried in case I heard faulty information in regards to the option of omitting the plus/minus system from my high school transcript.

  23. Hello, Lindsey.

    First off, congrats on your stellar academic record. If you are taking rigorous courses, you’re lining yourself up for some success. Second, I want you to read this post: . The idea is that admissions officers are not scientific in how they do business. They do not look at your GPA and that of another and say, “Aha! Lindsey has a 3.98765432 unweighted GPA, will poor old Mark hs only a 3.98765431, so I guess we’ll give Lindsey the fat acceptance envelope!” Just doesn’t work that way.

    That said, if you have the choice of reporting pluses or minuses, I guess it would depend on whether you are getting lots of minuses or lots of pluses. If you are mostly an A- student or a B- student, don’t report. But if you are mostly a C+ or a B+ student, do report the pluses.

    You might also be interested in these posts on related topics:

    Thanks again for visiting, and let me know if you have more questions.

  24. Our high school is trying to eliminate outside course for credit (students taking a class or two at a local private school and having the transcript transferred to the public high school), and has announced that any classes taken outside the high school will be accepted as only a pass/fail on the public high school transcript. The private school does provide letter/number grades. Will this be viewed positively or negatively by college addmissions? Thanks – Cheryl

  25. Hi, Cheryl,
    Thanks for your question. I’m glad you like the site.
    I’m not sure I can answer your question adequately. If you take the courses as the private HS, do you get a letter or some sort of transcript from that school with your letter grade on it? I understand that it will not be reported on your official HS transcript at the private school. But will you have documentation of your grade from the private school? If so, you can submit these to colleges as proof of performance.
    My guess is that the public school is not happy with students taking courses at the private school because it messes up enrollment numbers. So the public school is creating a disincentive for student to enroll at the private school. Assuming you and your family pay tuition at the private school for the courses you take, the private school (as an economic entity) should respond by providing you and other students with plenty of documentation about your performance that colleges can use in assessing your qualifications.
    Schools all will look out for their interests. The best you can do is respond in kind: look out for your own interests!

    Best of luck, and let me know if I can be of further assistance.

  26. Our local high school requires a 93 for a full A (and my daughter one semester had a 92.95 and the teacher wouldn’t give her above an A minus). They use the same numbers 4.0 / 3.7 / 3.3 / etc. that you demonstrate in your article.

    Do all high schools require a 93, 83, etc. to get a full “A”, “B”, etc? If not, how best to communicate the High School’s grading method to the college without appearing to be whining?

  27. Hello, Steve, and thanks for your question.

    Your high school will submit a full explanation of its grading system to the colleges where your daughter will apply. Colleges require this report, known as the Secondary School Report or the School Profile. Admissions folks have seen this sort of thing before, and they will take note as they interpret your daughter’s transcript.

    I recommend that you do not try to “highlight” this GPA system in your application, because it will, indeed, be taken for whining.

    Again, the admissions game is not standardized. But college admissions officers are aware of differences among schools.

    My advice is for your daughter to keep her nose to the grindstone in the pursuit of the full A at her school. My guess is that someone else in her class is, in fact, getting a full-on A. This is the assumption college admissions officers will make: if the transcript in front of them indicates this student received a B in biology, then they can assume that some other student in the same class did better.

    Does that make sense? Hope so. And thanks again for your question.

  28. Hi,
    My daughter took an honors geometry class in her sophomore class but couldn’t keep up with the rigor, so she dropped the class to keep her GPA high. My question is does it really not matter if you take honors or AP classes? Now my daughter has an A in her regular geometry class and overall 3.62 this quarter so far. But a friend of hers who has 3 AP classes and a GPA of 4.29, isn’t she a better contender? How do AP courses look on a college application? Is it better to have regular classes and have a 3.8 – 4.0 or have AP courses and have 4.48 or higher?

  29. Dear Reetu,
    Thanks for your question and for visiting my blog. The answer to your question is to say that it does matter whether a student takes AP or Honors classes. The more selective colleges want to see that your son or daughter is “college ready,” and AP courses are generally considered to represent college-level work. If a student succeeds in these courses, then we can say (again, generally speaking) that AP students are better prepared than students who have take regular, college preparatory courses.

    However, if your daughter was struggling in honors courses and would find the AP courses too demanding, then she made the right decision to drop them. Your daughter needs to be taking course work at a level that is appropriate for her. The fact that she is not taking honors or AP courses doesn’t mean that she will not be able to get into college (for there are many colleges and universities that will be very happy to accept your daughter). While there are many exceptions to the general rule here (too many to be able to list or explain in this short comment), the fact is that students who take the most rigorous curriculum available to them at their high school have a better chance of acceptance to highly competitive colleges and universities.

    Hope this is helpful. Let me know if I can be of further assistance!

  30. Hello Mark,
    I am a Sophmore at high school right now and have been taking all honors classes including this year and my freshmen year. I will tell you my grades from last year.
    Span II-86
    My sophmore grades right now.
    H. Chem-87
    H,Alg II-85
    (Also a question about Accounting I; is this class considered a fluff class?)
    Span III-88
    Now my overall question is do you think these grades are good for a college whose average GPA for incoming freshmen is 3.6 and other college whose average GPA is a 3.72?
    I still have junior year and senior year left. But Do you think i need to work my butt junior year? I am getting very nervous if I will get into a good college or not. I work hard but i feel like my grades are not good. It seems like i only have junior year left because dont you send out college aplications junior year? So does senior year really matter?
    My apologies if I am asking too many questions.

  31. Hi Shawn.

    I’ll try to keep my answers brief.

    1. Senior year matters: you cannot slack off.
    2. Junior year is, indeed, super important–especially if you can demonstrate improvement.
    3. What is a “good” college? There will be many fine colleges that are likely to recruit you with a GPA of over 3.5. But what does “good” mean to you? I prefer to think of finding the college that suits you best. What is good for one person is likely to be very bad for another.

    Not sure this is answering all your questions, but thanks for stopping by!

  32. Thanks for response Mark
    i got another question
    im looking at sites where they have information about incoming freshmen attending college.
    The average GPA of them is a around 3.65-3.75
    So is that their high school GPA? Or the “Real” GPA you have been talking about? And if it is their high school GPA, is that weighted or unweighted?

  33. Shawn,
    Good question, which merits a complete blog post on the “average GPA” reported by colleges. But very quickly, suffice it to say that colleges do not follow a standard on reporting this average GPA. In most cases, the reported figure is the opposite of all the rules I tell students to follow. Many colleges will report the average GPA that makes them look the best–which would be the weighted GPA. But the colleges are not consistent in this. So it’s best not to pay too much attention to this statistic when deciding what college to attend. Think more about getting the best grades you can in your core curricular courses, and make sure you are well prepared when you take the SAT and ACT. The averages mean little, because you will not be compared against the average. You will be judged by the rigor of your curriculum at your school and your performance in that curriculum.
    Good luck!

  34. We relocated my son from Texas to California at the beginning of his Junior year. At his Texas high school, he made all A’s in his core subjects, that were also all pre-AP or AP weighted.(GPA 4.71 ) If you averaged just his core classes the GPA would be higher, because an A in band and athletics actually brought his GPA down. In California, his High School offers limited numbers of pre-AP and AP classes, his overall GPA for his Junior year, so far, is at 3.87. I have two questions. (1)How will colleges evaluate his GPA, Texas vs California, when they are looking at two different weighting systems? Will they just look at core classes, and srip all weightings?
    (2)We may have to move back to Texas for his Senior year, will his Junior year in California negatively impact his admission into a college?

  35. Hi, Bonnie.

    The quick answer to your two questions is
    1) Colleges will see the two different high schools and will likely strip weightings. Your son should also include a short explanation as part of his application that the weighting systems were different at the two schools (this should be a factual explanation, not a plea for leniency).
    2) Moving schools should not have much of an impact, as long as there is the explanation above (which could also be explained by the HS counselor in the Secondary School Report sent to colleges). The fact that your son is a “straight A” student will be clear for all to see, even if the GPA is a bit whacked because of dissimilar GPA reporting.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for the question.

  36. I currently have a 90.73% average grade and I am not sure what it is as far as a GPA standard. Can you please tell be what my average grade is converted into GPA.

  37. Hello Mr. Williams.
    Thanks for visiting, and for the question. Your class rank would tell me more about your performance overall to help me put your percentage into perspective. What, for example, is the highest percentage given to students at your school? Are there any students with a full 100% average? You should also ask your school counselor for your school profile, which the school prepares for colleges to help them translate percentages into meaningful information.

    As for a strict translation, I’d say a 91% was in the A-/B+ range. But that’s an eyeball guess. I’d need to know more about your school grading system before I could be more precise.

    Thanks again for reading my blog!

  38. Hey Mark,
    I wanted to ask you when classes would stop counting as academic elevtives. For example, my school offers classes that are considered both honors and academic in Busienss Supervision that I am interested in taking. However, I’m not sure whether the colleges I will be applying for will take them as Academic classes. Would I benefit more from taking electives such as Statistics, Marine Science Honors, Astronomy Honors, etc because colleges are more likely to count them as academic.

  39. Hey Mark,
    I am a sophomore with a GPA of 3.772 taking all honors/pre-ap classes. I’m in 2 clubs and I plan on playing varsity basketball. Do you think I could get into a college like UT if i could raise by GPA to around a 3.9?

  40. I have a question. My highschool does the same GPA method as you said except it does not take out the fluff classes. I have all a’s, but they are a-‘s. will colleges see my gpa as a 4.0 or 3.7 because that would i have to work extra hard compared to everyone else who even though they get an a-, they still get a 4.0 while I get a 3.7.

  41. Hi, my question is this. According to your post it says if you have an ‘A’ give yourself a 4.0 and so on. Well in my high school a 93 or higher is an A but, also in my school, a 93 will give you a GPA of 3.5 for that class. My school also weights each class’s GPA. So I have a 5.535 which puts me in the top 7% of my class of about 400. I think this is pretty good. Then i go on to some college’s websites like UNC and see that the average, AVERAGE, GPA of an accpeted freshman applicant is a 4.44. What is going on here…? There hasn’t been anyone in the history of my school to ever get this GPA… Help?

  42. P.S. My school claims we calculate GPA based on a 4.0 weighted scale. I figured UNC figured their average on an unweighted or weighted 5.0 scale. I was wrong. According to their site the average GPA of an accepted incoming freshman was a 4.44 on a weighted 4.0 scale, the same as my school. Obviously something is not adding up. I am worried about this because UNC will see my GPA as pitiful compared to theirs when obviously ours cannot be compared.

  43. Hey Mark,
    I only a sophomore in high school and last year I slacked off and ended up getting a cumulative GPA of 3.0 which is pretty bad. So this year the first semester I lifted my grades up to a 3.5 and I was wondering what GPA for next semester would I need to round my cumulative GPA to 3.5 so I can join the national honor society. Im completely focused on making it in and you at least need a GPA of 3.5. I attend school in Washington by the way. Also next year Im taking harder IB classes so I was wondering if that also would look good on college?

  44. Hello, Omid.

    What appears on your transcript? How does your school calculate your GPA? Do they just use the 3.0 for a B and 4.0 for an A? If so, this is a simple math problem: college will use whatever they are provided. If all your grades are an A-, then you have a very solid 3.7 average.

    Rest assured, however, that admissions officers look carefully at how schools report grades, and what one has to do at that school to earn an A. At some point, the admissions process is more an art than a science. But admissions officers do make a good-faith effort to compare apples to apples.

    Hope this is helpful, and keep up those good grades!

  45. Hey Mark,
    I only a sophomore in high school and last year I slacked off and ended up getting a cumulative GPA of 3.0 which is pretty bad. So this year the first semester I lifted my grades up to a 3.5 and I was wondering what GPA for next semester would I need to round my cumulative GPA to 3.5 so I can join the national honor society. Im completely focused on making it in and you at least need a GPA of 3.5. I attend school in Washington by the way. Also next year Im taking harder IB classes so I was wondering if that also would look good on college?

  46. Hi, Maka. Thanks for your questions. Let me start with the last one: your IB program will help you, as long as you do well in those courses. In college admission, it is not only about the performance, but it is also is about the level of the courses you take. So taking hard courses, like IB, is a good idea. As for your GPA question, I’m going to tell you that this is an interesting math problem. If you are taking IB math, you should be able to solve this problem as an algebraic equation. Rather than do it myself, I’m going to challenge you do solve for “X”. But what is X? Well, think mathematically, and I think you’ll be able to figure it out.

    Thanks for your questions!

  47. Hi, Rohan. Thanks for your questions. I find it really frustrating that high schools across the US do not adopt a standard grading system. Obviously, you do, too. I have two pieces of advice. First, talk to your college counselors or guidance counselors and ask about how they “translate” GPAs at their schools for college. Second, call up UNC (or email) and ask if they are accustomed to dealing with your HS, and how they “translate” GPAs from your high school. That’s what I would do, anyway. Sometimes high schools are completely crazy in the way they report grades. I think yours falls into the crazy category.
    Best of luck.

  48. Hi again.
    Dual enrollment classes will affect your GPA if you get high school credit for them. For complete clarification, talk to your guidance counselor at your school, or consult the school policy manual. All these policies will have been voted upon by the school board or school committee, so it should be part of the public record.
    Hope that helps!

  49. Hey I have a 3.99 GPA (weighted) and a 3.89 (weighted), but after stripping away all the fluff and extra points added by honors and AP, I have about a 3.15 GPA.

    That Sucks.

    I mean its not HORRIBLE, but it will make it so much harder to get into prestigous universities even with a 2300 SAT Score.

  50. Hi Mark,
    so my freshmen year i got all B’s and C’s and made a GPA of 2.9. My Sophmore year I did so much better and got a GPA of 3.3. My Junior year I am doing a not to good job, but i am taking AP classes so i suspect my GPA will be a 2.9 again. What do I need to do to show future college people that i will succeed in their college if my GPA is not as good as i want it to be?

  51. Tara,
    Thanks for visiting. The primary predictor of success in college is your transcript. There is no substitute for hard work and academic achievement. Much will depend on how well you do on these exams, however, including the AP and the SAT or ACT. Sometimes if admissions officers see an inconsistency (success by some measures, not-so-much success in other), they will investigate further. Also, teacher recommendations will likely play a large role for students where such an inconsistency is evident.
    I hope this helps. Good luck.

  52. Hi, Jonathan. You’re right, this is not “horrible,” but it’s good to be clear on how colleges examine your GPA before you begin the college search. Best of luck.

  53. i would like to know how can i raise my SAT scores. Any tips or programs would greatly help.

  54. Hey, Mark. I have a similar story to that of Tara that has me looking at a 3.03 GPA at the moment. Its kind of upsetting you know that I have been so lazy because I could have easily done better. But regardless of that, I am not taking an AP class this year but next year, senior year, I am going to be taking AP Chem because I want to pursue a career in that field. Also I do have a leadership role as VP of class council and have upheld that position since freshman year, and I am involved in about two other clubs and I am also a part of 2 programs in my school that are very selective: Peer Leadership and Save a Brave. I am also second generation Hispanic, so do you think I have a shot at making to lets say Rutgers?


    p.s. I know I wrote and essay ha but I am just really curious and stressed out.

  55. Hi, Christian,
    Thanks for writing. It sounds like you are doing a lot of things to make your high school experience productive. I can’t give you the sort of “odds” you seek, but I can just remind you of what you already know: your transcript is the most important aspect of your college application. So taking AP classes is a good idea, and doing well in all your classes is going to propel you toward success in whatever college has the good sense to accept you.
    Good luck, and try not to be stressed out!

  56. Hello, Desiree. I recommend that students prepare first by using the “official” prep books, which you can find on the website here under resources. Second, if you’re looking for a tutor, I may be able to help you find one, depending on where you live. Finally, there is one online organization that helps you prepare that I recommend to students who are disciplined and who want a refresher in the content of the tests. The company is called EPrep, and you can find them at If you like what you see on their website, let me know. As an educational consultant, am able to get you a discount off their services.

    I hope this is helpful. Best of luck.

  57. Hello Mark:

    I am taking Algebra II at a local community college/ I will then take Algebra II honors in high school in my 10th grade. Since my school does not add outside courses to my transcript how is my true GPA calculated when I apply to college?


  58. Hi, Joshi. In this case, it will depend a bit upon the colleges to which you apply, but in all cases, having taking this community college course is an asset. It shows you are a serious student and that you are interested in pushing yourself as hard as you can. Colleges love to see this sort of serious attitude toward academics. As for calculating your GPA, different colleges will approach this somewhat differently. But assuming you did well in Algebra I in community college, most will want to give you the benefit of having made this extra effort, and will likely factor the grade from the community college into the overall GPA. So make sure you send the community college transcript in with your application, and find a place in the application to explain that this course was not included in your official high school GPA or credit count.

    I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

  59. Hello Mark

    I have a 3.6 gpa, now what is that in terms of percentages? This is also my freshman year, so honestly how well have I started off?

  60. Hi, Max. I’m not sure you need to know how your GPA translates into “percentages.” What appears on your grade report and transcripts? Usually for schools using a 4-point scale, only the grades and their numerical equivalents show up, so that’s all you need to worry about. If you really want to do the math, I’m sure you can figure this out with simple algebra.

    As for how well you have started off, I really can’t say without a lot more information, such as what classes you are taking, where you got the various grades, and what path you are pursuing for your educational future. A 3.6 is on the borderline between an A- and a B+. Are you satisfied with that? Does this grade reflect your best effort and ability? Can you improve? Where can these improvements be made? These are questions that you can better answer than I.

    Thanks for dropping by, and don’t hesitate to ask more questions!

  61. At my school, gpa’s are calculated as follows:

    A+, A, A-=4.0
    B+, B, B-=3.0
    etc., etc.

    I was just wondeirng, when a selective school sees a GPA of 4.0, but there are some A-s on the transcript, will they try to recalculate the gpa with the

    etc., etc. scale?

    Thanks in advance for your answer! 🙂

  62. Hello, Lola.
    As regular readers will tell you, then answer is, “it depends.” The more selective the college or university, the more likely they will be to recalculate the GPA. But it also depends on how familiar the admissions office is with your high school. Admissions counselors will evaluate your transcript in the context in which you go to school–inasmuch as they are able. The thing about GPAs is that they provide a semblance of scientific certainty in all this. But the process is more art than science. Bottom line: go for the solid A and the B+ rather than the A- and the solid B. Always better to do better, right?

    Oh, and don’t forget about the idea of learning something!

    Thanks again for stopping by!

  63. Are you suggesting that students should not take honors/AP classes because it will not have any value to colleges when applying? In other words, are you saying take standard level courses to get an easy “A” because that’s what a college will look at?

  64. Hello, Jugia,
    I’m not sure how you drew this conclusion, but the answer is emphatically no: I am *not* suggesting that honors and AP have no value when applying to college. I am *not* saying that students should get the easy A.

    Quite the contrary. The bottom line is that all student, regardless of their academic ambitions, should take the most challenging courses available in which they can succeed. If a student aspires to the most competitive colleges in the land, of course that student should take the most rigorous curriculum possible…and get great grades in those courses.

    There is no short-cut.

    Thanks for dropping by and for asking me to clarify.

  65. Hello Mark,

    When UC colleges refer to average high school GPA, would they consider freshman and senior year grades when viewing the transcripts too? Most people say they will basically just look at sophomore and junior year grades, but maybe they’d look at more than just those?
    Also, how do they look at summer school grades and consider them as part of the overall high school GPA?

  66. Hi, Alex.

    Two quick answers:

    1: Live in California.
    2: Get excellent grades in very tough high school classes.

    But seriously, I cannot really tailor any advice to you personally without knowing more about you. All questions students have about college really start and end with the student–and not with the college. So I’d have to get to know you and work with you for a while before I could give you any more than the standard answers that you’ve heard before.

    Let me know if you’d like to explore the possibility of providing you more personalized assistance.

    Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

  67. Hi, Eric.

    I don’t know who “most people” are, but all colleges, and especially the UC colleges, are looking at all your grades. All of them. Including summer school, assuming those appear on your transcript.

    In other words, your transcript is that dreaded “permanent record” that adults talk about. It will follow you until you are safely ensconced in an institution of higher learning. Until then, discount nothing that appears on this short, but very powerful document.

    Of course, if there are extenuating circumstances that explain poor performance in your 9th grade year, then perhaps that explanation can appear somewhere in your application. But the UC app offers precious few places to do that sort of thing. And senior grades will definitely be important–all colleges will ask to see those, and usually will not make a decision without them.

    Good luck, and let me know if I can be of further assistance!

  68. If u drop a full year class half way through the year, like a foreign language, is that class counted in your GPA?

  69. Only the classes you take and for which you receive credit will be counted in your GPA. But make sure you are calculating your “real” GPA.

    Hope that helps. Where are you from, Michael?

  70. Hey Mark, I was wondering about a few things pertaining to calculating GPA:

    Do colleges consider weighted or unweighted GPA when deciding who to admit? I found out on a college data list that the UC colleges consider the weighted GPA.

    When calculating the GPA, do colleges apply the scale with number values such as 3.7 for an A-, a 3.3 for a B+, or just simply four points for any A (e.g. A+, A, A-) and three points for any B(B+, B, B-)?

    For summer school, if I got an A and a B as the grades, what would the GPA be since the seven weeks spent in summer school is similar to a whole year on the subject taken?

    Thanks, Mark. I feel your advce is really helping me learn more since I will be starting the college application sometime this summer

  71. can a teacher in calif change the grading system for their class to say that 94-100% is an A and 84-93% is a B and 74-83% is a C and 64-73 is a D and 63 and below is failing? Changing the grading system like this also change the gpa…and thus does not seem to be apples to apples for how another class may rate a student. My daughter has struggled in her geometry class. She has a 70 and her teacher told her she has a D. This definitely changes her GPA. If she was in a different geometry class, she would have a C-. Does a California teacher have the power to change the grading system for their class?

  72. Hello, Shawn. Thanks for your interesting question. I think the answer is best sought from your school district. While each state is somewhat different in the amount of meddling in classroom practices, districts set grading policies. Within those policies, teachers may or may not have leeway in setting their own grading system. I know that in most Colorado districts, not only does each classroom teacher have different grading practices, but they may also use different tests, assign different homework, and use completely different teaching methods.

    But here’s the rub. Actually, there are two rubs.

    First, grading is not a science. Ever. Never has been. Never will be. So while you’re looking at a difference between a 70% and 73%, my question is—70% of what? Of course, the answer is, “70% of points possible.” But what does the “points possible” have to do with the amount of geometry learned? The dirty little secret is that while all teachers (myself included) try to establish a fair, scientific, transparent grading scale, the fact is we mess with the numbers all the time. Or, if we don’t, we are just deluding ourselves about the unscientific nature of the grading process.

    Second, there is a movement afoot to create “standards based” grades, that clearly define the learning outcomes required, and to measure a student’s performance (or give a grade) based on whether they have mastered the concepts and skills. A full implementation of this idea would cause a revolution in high schools, where kids now get “points” for turning in homework–and sometimes just for showing up to class. We thus have a situation in which it is common to find that students get 100% on the homework but fail the test. If students fail the test, then we might logically assume that they didn’t really learn and assimilate the material into their brains. Of course some kids are “bad test takers” (so they say), but some kids rely too heavily on the daily churn of homework that they forget to actually learn anything. Teacher, too, are guilty of focusing on the wrong things: they give the homework points, see lots of kids getting 100%, and then are “shocked” when their students fail the tests. If we paid more attention to actual learning and proficiency and less attention to inane homework assignments, we might actually be able to compare apples to apples. Or at least we’d be stepping in the right direction.

    But in the meantime, Shawn, if you’re looking for “fairness” in American education, or if you believe that we can somehow compare apples to apples across classrooms, across schools, across districts, across states…well, dream on.

    So without strict national or state grading guidelines, all we can say is that your daughter’s grade is an impressionistic measure of how well your daughter stacks up against her peers in the same geometry class. No matter what numbers the different teachers in your school are using, if they use different tests, assign different homework, and teach differently, there is absolutely no way to ascertain whether your daughter would be getting a C or a D under a different numerical grading system. I know we all want “apples to apples” comparisons. But as I say…a pipe dream as long as we have 50 states and 14,000 school districts in this country. I know a lot of people–especially teachers–hate the “standards” movement in K-12 education. But without them, we will always be comparing apples to kumquats to endive to radishes.

    All that said, it seems to me that your focus on different grading systems misses the point. I’d pay less attention to the numbers, and more attention to your daughter’s learning. Whether a 70% counts as a C or a D, she seems to be learning a lot less than the students with a 95%. How could she be learning more?

    I hope this is helpful . Thanks for stopping by.

  73. Hi Mark, thanks for your speedy reply. I appreciate all of the great info and wisdom you passed onto me. I agree with your last comment…about how much has she really learned if her grade is a C. My issue is a C is considered average. She is not an average student in any of her other classes. She is above average. (A’s and B’s) Geometry is not a subject that she will need to be highly proficient in for her future career. (which is in writing and art)So with that said for her to have to repeat the course whenin essence she is average seems wrong. She now cannot take chemistry until she retakes geometry. So the domino effect now prevents her from also taking algebra II. Just as you say, nothing is perfect…I am just frustrated. Thanks again for your reply.

  74. Hi Mark,
    My school counselor just sent a form requesting a class called “College Knowledge” in which seniors could get a head start on their college apps and personal statements and get it done before the end of 2009. The only conflict is that I have to give up a selected class in exchange for this one.
    Do you think I should check it out or just stick with the classes that I already have?

  75. Hi mark,
    I have a a question that is sort of off topic. Is my choir teacher allowed to lower my grade because of an unexcused absense to an after-school concert? How much would my grade for the class and my gpa lower?
    Thank you!

  76. Hello, Isabella. Thanks for the question.

    Of course your teacher is “allowed” to lower your grade because of an unexcused absence to a concert for which you spent the entire term preparing. This is the performance assessment. As with any other course, your grade depends on how well you perform. You didn’t perform–you missed the equivalent of the final exam. So it’s absolutely no surprise that your grade plummeted. If I had been your choir teacher, I would have done exactly the same thing.

    As for how much this will lower your GPA, I cannot calculate that because I don’t know the rest of your grades. But if you do a bit of math, I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out.

    Thanks for reading my blog and for asking your question. I’m sorry it’s not the answer you may have hoped for, but perhaps it’s the one you need to hear.

  77. Hello, I know that grades are important, but I’m doing very well in terms of grades, leadership, and extracurricular activities.
    However, I’m worried about teacher/ guidance recommendations and my AP scores. I don’t feel comfortable sending in AP scores that are not 5’s, so should I refrain from sending any of my AP scores to colleges? How will the college see that action as (since I clearly took the AP courses)?
    As for teacher recs,I’m a fairly good student, but I doubt I’m one of the teacher’s best top 5% ever, and my relationship with my guidance counselor is professional at best.

    Thanks, your blog is great 😀

  78. Hi, Chloe. Glad to hear you like the blog. Everyone loves a compliment now and then!

    Let’s tackle the recommendations first. First have a look at my tips for getting recommendations: . You will have to put your fears aside. You must ask teachers and run the risk they will not say that you are their number one, all-time favorite student. Teachers will be fair, and they see it as their job to promote their students and help them get into the college of their choice. I have a feeling you are worrying too much. As for the counselor, you need to start building a good relationship with that person…starting now.

    As for the AP scores, you are again worrying too much. If you leave the scores out, the colleges will assume that you failed or were too lazy to take the test. So submit the scores and let the chips fall where they may. It may not be “comfortable,” but to do otherwise will be shooting yourself in the foot.

    That said, it seems to me that you need to think outside the box a bit when looking at colleges, and stop putting so much pressure on yourself! There are TONS of awesome colleges out there who want a good student. Don’t try to fit some ideal image of what you think the perfect student ought to be, and start shopping around for colleges who will value you for who you are. Don’t be so anxious and worried! This a time to get comfortable with who you are and start telling the world about your wonderful characteristics. You may not be perfect, but who is? You will have plenty to offer, and some college that you will absolutely love will snap you right up. Stop fretting!

    If you need help with personal college shopping, first take a look at this post ( ) and then give me a call. Maybe I can help!

    Take care!

  79. Hello Mark,
    I was wondering about one thing concerning summer school.
    Since summer school gives only two grades spent on seven weeks which is equivalent to a whole year, if the grades are a B and an A, how would colleges calculate them into the GPA, assuming they are counted towards sophomore and junior year? Thanks!

  80. Hi Mark,
    I was thinking about how GPA would be affected since I heard physical education and some classes not related to academics would be cut from the calculation process. Are there any other suggestions on how to keep the GPA stable and around a decent average?

    P.S. I recently saw your blog – it looks magnificent 🙂

  81. Hi, Eric.
    The best advice I can give you is advice you’ve probably already heard: do as well as you can in your academic subjects. Remember, the point of school is to learn stuff. Your GPA is a reflection of your efforts and your abilities. You just need to be doing the work to the best of your ability–and your GPA will take care of itself.

    In other words, if you’re looking for a short cut to blood, sweat, and tears–I’m afraid I cannot point you toward one.

    Thanks for the question, the compliment, and for visiting my blog!

  82. Hello, Abraham.
    I think you should ask your school first: how will the summer courses be presented on your transcript and will the grades from those courses be factored into your GPA. Remember that your GPA is built on the number of credits in each subject. So if you get a full credit in your summer school course, then it will count as a full year course in your GPA. Alternatively, if it is a semester credit, then you get half a credit for that grade. So start first with your school administrators.

    As for how admissions folks will perceive this, it all depends. What is the class you are taking? Why are you taking the summer school course? What grade did you get? Clearly if it’s an AP Chemistry course, colleges will “count” or perceive this course differently than if it is a physical education credit.

    I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by to ask a question!

  83. Hey Mark,
    The summer class was a regular Chemistry course. I basically took it to get it over so that I could take another science class during the school year.
    The next summer school class was Math Analysis. Along with Chemistry, the grades were a B and an A. I wonder how colleges might calculate these into the GPA?
    Thanks for the advice 🙂

  84. Hello again, Abraham,
    As I mentioned, the answer depends partly on the high school policy: will these courses appear on your HS transcript? If not, then you will submit the summer courses separately. Either way, you would calculate these courses into your GPA just as you could factor in any other core academic course.
    Hope this helps.

  85. Hi,
    Great work you are doing. I am a Nigerian student and our GPA is on a scale of 5.0 I am applying to grad school and I would like to know how to convert my GPA to a 4.0 scale

  86. Hey Mark,
    I’m a freshman, and i think i’ve been doing pretty well in school (mostly A’s, two A-‘s, one B+ throughout all three trimesters). However, i got a single B in my robotics elective (in only one trimester… in the others i got A’s).
    Lets say that i want to make it into an ivy league school. How will this elective grade affect my chances? Based on your post, stripping the GPA would actually help me, right?
    Oh, and also, do colleges look at the trimester/semester grades or the year grades? How important are each year’s grades to admissions? (for example how important are freshman year grades compared to junior year grades?)

  87. Hello, Ruth.
    I do not know the specific answer to your question. You can rest assured that most graduate schools will either have the in-house capacity to interpret your transcript fairly, or they will ask that your transcript be evaluated and certified by a third party expert. Whenever I work with foreign students, I ask that their transcript be submitted to a third-party firm (I facilitate this process for my clients) for certification, so that the university can easily determine whether that student has the qualifications necessary for admission.

    For you, I’d worry less about converting your GPA before entry, and consider your class ranking or your performance on examinations. Your GMAT, LSAT, or GRE scores will also be important indicators of your abilities.

    I hope this is helpful. Let me know if I can offer any more specific advice. What sort of graduate school will you be applying to?

  88. Hello, Andy.
    Thanks for the question. The answer is….too early to tell. The robotics course will likely be considered an “academic elective,” so it might not be dumped from your GPA. This might or might not make any difference: colleges will be glad you challenged yourself.

    I suggest, Andy, that you worry less about water under the bridge, and more about the white water that is coming along in the form of your sophomore and junior years. If you get excellent grades in all your classes in the future, the impact of the B in robotics might be lessened. Everything now depends on the future, not the past. Colleges like to see upward trends in your high school performance (so yes, junior year grades are generally more important than freshman grades).

    As for which grades colleges look at? All of them. Trimester/semester and end-of-year. However those grades are reported on your high school transcript is the way colleges will look at them.

    Finally, keep in mind that the Ivy League is a football conference, not an indicator of quality. The Ivy League schools are nothing alike in tone, personality, or educational value. They certainly are popular, and they do play sports against one another. But that doesn’t mean that they belong in the same educational pot. Look beyond the label and look at the differences.

    Good luck, and keep those grades up!

  89. Hello, Mark,

    I am a sophmore and going to be a junior after the summer. I took French in the freshmen year, however, I decided to change to Spanish. Today, I found out that my 2nd semester grade for Spanish 1 is a B, 84 percent. I thought I would get an A becuase I was ranked 2nd in the class before the final which was 94 percent. I believe that my teacher made a mistake. I will ask my teacher why did I end up getting a B. Since I got a B in the Soph. year, I think I should get all As in the AP classes(four of them,) next year to fill in my B. I will try hard, but I don’t think I can survive 4 AP classes. Should I drop some of the APs before failing all of them? It’s too much pressure on me.

  90. Hello Simon.
    First of all, do contact your teacher and inquire about the grade change. Make sure you just inquire–don’t get defensive or “demand” any grade change. Just explain what you explained to me, and tell her your expectation was that you would be receiving an A. Also state that is you did, in fact, merit a B in the course, you’d like to understand where it was that you fell down, so that you can make improvements next year. Just be nice and humble, and the teacher will respond accordingly. I’ve made such makes myself many times (or the grades were mistyped into a spreadsheet), so if it was an error the teacher will be more than happy to correct it.

    I can’t really advise you on your load next year. Four AP courses is a lot, but then again, you would not have been accepted into those courses if others did not think you could handle the load.

    As for the pressure you are feeling, where does it come from? Are you putting it on yourself? Are others putting pressure on you? And pressure to do what, exactly? What is your goal, ultimately?

    At the risk of stating the obvious, education is about learning. If you are AP material, generally speaking, you will learn more in an AP course than in a regular course–regardless of the grade you receive. If your main goal is to maintain a spectacular GPA, then take all easy courses. If your goal is to get into a competitive, selective college, take all AP courses and get exceptional grades and risk driving yourself nuts. If, however, your goal is to train your brain and actually learn something, focus less on your GPA and more on the concepts and ideas introduced to you in your AP courses. Try to keep it all in perspective. A single B on your report card is not going to kill you. If you focus on getting an excellent education, you can certainly get that–even if you were to get all grades of B on your report card.

    Focus on the doughnut…not the hole.

    Best of luck!

  91. Haha, my “real” GPA is higher than my original. Because I have an A in every class but drivers ED, and since that counts as fluff and is removed, now my GPA is based off of nothing but A’s and I have one AP class, which means one extra point, with my original GPA that point is divided into 7, as 7 class and 7 grades, where as when the fluff is removed it’s only being divided into 5 classes. My orignal GPA is 3.5 my “real” GPA is 4.25

  92. My son transfered in his junior year…9 and 10th grade his gpa (based on a 4.0) was unweighted 3.65…we moved in his junior year to a new state, it was a tough year not only due to the move but his brother left to college and they were extremely close…his gpa dropped to a 3.0..he has taken several honor courses and 1 ap course (us history b+)…how do we explain the drop in gpa and how much will this effect him???

  93. Dear Cat,
    Thanks for your question. I think you explain the drop in his GPA exactly as you have explained it here. The only thing you need to be careful of as you craft the explanation is to explain–not excuse–the drop.

    As for how much the drop will affect him, it all depends on where he is applying and what his plans are after high school. The effect will also depend on what other skills, talents, and abilities he presents to admissions offices. Different schools are looking for different traits and abilities, so there is no way to give a simple answer to your question.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

  94. Well, Gabe, you’re definitely figuring out how to do the math. But be careful: colleges will also not be pleased with low grades in “fluff” courses. They’d prefer to see you be consistent and committed to all your classes. They pay most attention to the academic core, but they will not be blind to poor performance in other areas.
    Good luck to you, and thanks for stopping by.

  95. My GPA just dropped from a 4.0 to a 3.975 because of an econ and history class. I think I can fix then if I retake the classes but at the same time, I want to move forwards and take other things. I realy, really want to get into a top tier school like MIT or Princeton. Should I retake the courses or do you think I still have a chance with a 3.97 or a 3.98? Thanks.

  96. Hi Mark:

    My son just completed his Freshman year and took 4 honors courses. He obtained an A-, B-, C+ and C, in the honors courses, as well as a B- in French AF (academic foundation). If I did the math correctly, his weighted GPA is 3.26, as the school provides 6 points for each honors / AP course, and 4 points for AF.

    Having reviewed your website that states that most colleges and universities review unweighted GPAs, we are concerned that taking 3 honors courses for next year may in fact be a lot of work. The difficulty is that each honors course involves a lengthy year-long project, which was extremely time consuming this year given the subject areas (Honors Geometry, Honors Physics, Honors History and Honors English).

    Although we support our son’s undertaking advanced courses so as to challenge and prepare him for college-level learning, we recognize that his unweighted GPA will surely be lower as a result. As a learner, our son is almost a full year younger than most of his peers due to his birthday / the cut off day for his group. Whereas he was able to make honor roll and the national honor society in middle school, he was disappointed to receive a C and C+ in geometry and physics.

    The choice ahead of us is whether or not to go from 3 schedules honors courses this fall (Honors English, History and Biology) to two, with one AF.

    Any thoughts on which would be best as he thinks about moving ahead?


  97. Dear Lea,

    Thanks for your question. Perhaps you won’t find this response helpful, but here goes…

    To paraphrase Shakespeare, methinks thou dost worry too much. Twenty-five hundredths of a point is just not worth fretting about. Do you really propose to retake the courses? To what end? Will your life cease to be meaningful without a 4.0? As for your entrance into MIT or Princeton (which, by the way, are VERY different institutions), I can assure you that if you are denied admission it will not be because of a twenty-five hundredths of a point on your GPA. Take new and challenging courses, get involved in some fun and interesting extracurricular activities that you care about, and let the chips fall where they may. Focus on getting a good education, not on a particular institution. If you are stressed about 0.25 points on your GPA, you’ll develop an ulcer before the age of 18. Go out and have some fun and focus on learning, not on minuscule movements in your GPA.

    Hope you find this helpful…and reassuring. Go out and kick up your heels a bit! Or as Shakespeare would not have said: “Chill!”

    All the best.

  98. Hello, Julie.

    I’m not sure I can offer specific advice, as I’d need to know a lot more about your son’s current performance, his past academic history, and his future plans. I can tell you this: his current “core,” unweighted GPA is a 2.68, or not quite a B-. I cannot tell from your message whether your son is in over his head, or whether he is just having trouble making the adjustment from middle school to high school. But you have hit on the question: is this schedule too hard for him? Whether it is related to his level of intellectual development (which is somewhat age-related) or simply part of a normal adjustment to higher level work, I cannot say. His disappointment may be an indicator: if he feels he is giving his personal 100% but is still not succeeding, perhaps he is, indeed, in over his head.

    What do his teachers and counselors say? Are they advising that he continue with the honors courses? If they are, I’d be more hesitant to pull him back from the challenge (the challenge has positive effects, even if his level of achievement is not super high). But if he is struggling, frustrated, and risks falling into a downward performance spiral, I might recommend that he take a less demanding schedule and focus on the courses in which he is mostly likely to perform well.

    I wish I could be more specific. Let me know if you’d like me to take a closer look at his transcripts and school record so as to make some more personal recommendation. And thanks for visiting my blog.

  99. Hi Mark-
    so – I calculated my daughter’s GPA taking out the “fluff” and she gets a 3.6 now instead of her school’s calculated 3.86 with a lot of honors classes and some AP. Latin killed her- she made a C twice with a hard Latin teacher!
    Does yearbook count as a fluff class too? Her yearbook is not a club- it is totally student produced and requires a lot of work and homework. She worked hard enough to be Editor her Senior year. Will this just give her leadership points with Adcoms or GPA points? Her parochial school also has challenging theology classes (often times more like philosophy/ ethics classes) in the mix too with research and term papers etc…? Should I assume these are fluff too? She was shooting for selective colleges and has a 35 ACT – do you think a 3.6 will make selective colleges too much of a reach?

  100. Do your senior year grades get factored into your gpa when colleges see your gpa? If so since they are only semester grades do they count less then the college grade. All of my senior year classes are IB classes so would i also get the 1 point boost to my gpa when those are factored in?

  101. Hello, Ellen.

    While I’m sure that the Yearbook is a challenge, it is not really an academic challenge. It is more of an editing and production and management challenge. So my guess woudl be that colleges would not hold it on par (say) with Pre-Calculus or US History. With regard to Theology, different schools may judge this differently. My sons attended a religious school this past year, and while the course required a lot of work, not much of it was academic in the same way their geography or English literature courses were. If the Theology course very academic, she might want to explain the nature of that course in a supplemental essay and submit an academic paper she did for that course.

    With regard to selective colleges, I have no real insight as to your daughter’s chances. So much depends on additional, qualitative factors. For me to “place odds” on admission, I’d also need to know which “selective college” we were talking about. Certainly the 35 ACT will help a lot: great score.

    Hope this is helpful. Thanks for visiting my blog and for your question.

  102. Hello, Tayab.

    Colleges see the grades you submit at the time you apply. In most cases, colleges will request your first semester grades from senior year, and will factor those grades into your overall GPA. But keep in mind that the “1 point boost” would be taken away before calculating your “real” GPA. Don’t focus so much on the average: focus on doing well in each and every class you take.

    Hope this is helpful, and good luck with your senior year!

  103. Hello.

    Thanks for your question. I am assuming you are talking about the 7-point IB scale. This does not easily translate into an American-style GPA. However, college admissions officers in the US are very accustomed to reviewing these grades. And of course, lots of scores of 7 would be much better than lots of scores of 4.

    Where do you go to school, and where are you planning to apply?

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  104. hey..
    i need to know how do we convert IB scores which are marked on a sclae of 7 for every subject and for 6 subjects total being 42, how do we measure that in terms of GPA

  105. Hi, Surbhi,
    Good question. The answer is that grades on a 7-point IB scale are not easily translated into a standard, US-style GPA. However, bear in mind that admissions counselors at US universities are very accustomed to seeing transcripts with IB grades on them, and are more than able to make a thumbnail judgment as to a student’s ability. Of course, it’s much better to have a transcript with a bunch of sixes and sevens than one with a bunch of threes and fours. So keep on working!

    Let me know if I can be of any other assistance.

  106. I just calculated my “real” GPA and discovered that it is exactly 3.5 coming out of my sophomore year. What chances would you say I have getting into a fairly good college, given that I have maintained, and will continue to maintain a very rigorous courseload (4 AP classes next year), and take part in several extra-curricular activities, including Speech and Debate and marching band? I would assume that extra-curriculars hold some weight in what colleges look at. An additional question I would have is slightly unrelated: This summer, I took two classes at a local community college, and received an A in my Latin class and a B in my Chemistry class. I have the choice a either recording, or not recording these grades on my high school transcripts. What should I do?

  107. Hi Mark,
    I will be a junior in high school next year, but I am worried about my GPA. I slacked off in my freshman year, and my GPA for that year was 3.2. However, I realized the importance of my grades the next year and got a 3.6. If I am able to keep my grades on an upward trend this coming year will colleges I apply to be reasonable and see that I have changed? Or have I screwed myself over?

  108. HI David,

    My name is Katherine and I work with Mark. As a former admissions officer I can tell you that an upward trend in grades is definitely a good thing to see on a transcript. You can also talk about how you have changed in your application. It does not have to be a part of your essay or anything, but just a little bonus paragraph you can add. Keep in mind that admissions officers at most schools also look at your entire application (test scores, essays, recommendations, leadership, etc.) to determine if you are accepted, but as with most things in life, nothing is a guarantee! Let us know if we can help you determine if you fit the profile of a particular college you are thinking about.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  109. Hi Loren,

    Sounds like you are on the right track. It is difficult to determine what your “chances” are to get into any college at this point. College do look at your standardized test scores, leadership and involvement, essays and letters of recommendation when determining if you are accepted. Grades and a competitive curriculum are definitely important so keep up the good work! As far as your community college courses go, are you receiving high school credit for the courses? If so, then yes they would have to be recorded on your high school transcript. If not, then consider just submitted the community college transcript directly to the colleges your universities you are applying to. Some schools may give you college credit, some may not, it all depends on their policies. Either way you have to inform the schools that you are applying to of all of the academic work (high school or otherwise) you have completed. You may also want to talk to your guidance counselor about the benefits of recording the grades on your high school transcript.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  110. My daughter is in her junior year in High School.She is taking AP English 111, AP US History, Pre-AP Physics, AP Environmental Science, Pre Ap French 111, AP Calculus BC and oh is a Varsity Cheerleader….. I think this is way too much. She said to expect her GPA to go down this year. Would colleges rather see a high GPA or a heavier course load with lower GPA?? Thanks for your advice.

  111. Jacqueline,
    Thanks for visiting my blog.
    This question is always impossible for me to answer in a general sense. The rule of thumb is that a student should take the most rigorous curriculum in which she can be successful. Of course, the word “successful” is key: what does that mean in each individual case?

    In your daughter’s case, perhaps you already have answered your own question: “I think this is too much.” However, the proof is in the pudding: does the workload seem too much for you, or for her? Is she struggling already to get all the homework done? Is she complaining? Is she getting to bed at a reasonable hour? Are her grades holding up (remember, perfection is NOT the goal!)?

    Your daughter, with the help of her parents, teachers, and guidance counselors (and, perhaps, an independent counselor like me) must make the determination of what is “too much” for her. Perhaps she takes the challenge in stride, in which case, there isn’t much to worry about. If she is stressed and unhappy, then perhaps pull back a bit.

    But don’t make this decision based on considerations of college admission. I don’t think there is any doubt that your daughter will be ready for college. And with a rigorous schedule like hers, she’ll likely have many, many options from which to choose.

    Hope this is helpful. Thanks again for your question.

  112. Mark,
    Our daughter is in her senior year. She was slotted to take an AP class that was cancelled over the summer. This puts her one AP course below the contender for Valedictorian, so the best she can place is Salutatorian. On principle the district sees that this is unfair but are unable to find a solution to offering the AP class. Is this worth fighting the .02 percentage point difference?

  113. Hi, Robin.
    In my opinion, the .02 is not worth fighting for. Valedictorian is an honor that may mean a lot, or not. In college admissions, it will mean nothing. The admissions folks will care about whether your daughter has taken a challenging curriculum and achieved at the highest level. Seems to me that she has done both, and therefore has little to worry about. Keep in mind, too, that many districts are moving away from ranking, and this example of your daughter demonstrates the goofiness of making fine distinctions (two one hundredths of a point) when these distinctions mean nothing.

    I hope this is helpful. Thanks for visiting our blog!

  114. hey mark. i am currently a sophmore and i have 4.0’s until now. this year i am taking ap classes for the first time. ap bio and ap us history and i know ap’s are waded but do they actually help when applying to colleges. i mean the waded gpa. Because im planning to take maybe 10 more before i leave school.Also do ivy league schools only accept valedictorians?

  115. Dear Mark,
    I am sixteen years old,in an IB school in switzerland and i wanted to be further informed about how US college admision offices perceive IB applications. Last year i got a 6.7 average (on the 7 point scale) and living in geneva have some interesting opportunities as i have represented and assisted an important country during a conference held at the UN as well as having interened for a week at WIPO (i plan on studying law). On top of this i practice other common extra curicular activities. I would really appreciate if i could be given some advice and information about what colleges to apply to. Thank-you in advance for your help!

    Best Regards, Léa

  116. Hello, Lea. Thanks for your inquiry. It sounds like you have many strengths and some interests that really engage you. I’d be happy to give you some advice about which schools to apply to, but the process of finding the right “fit” is more complicated than what can be communicated in a short paragraph. There are issues of personality, of priorities, and even geography. There is the structure of the academic calendar and the core curriculum. As you may know, law is not an undergraduate major in the US, so you would need to explore which sorts of major subjects would be most appropriate and interesting for you.

    I work with my clients through the process of creating criteria by which to choose the right college. Once we have a solid set of criteria, I help students select the colleges that best fit those criteria. The result is a perfect match between the student and the college or university.

    I would be delighted to help you through that process, as I do my clients in Asia and the Middle East. I have experience working with IB students, too. So if you think I might be able to help you select the right college for you, please let me know and I can tell you how we might proceed.

    Thanks again for your inquiry!

  117. Hello.
    Perhaps you should have a look at this post regarding AP classes in general.

    You can also search my archives for similar posts on the pros and cons of the AP program.

    The bottom line: they do matter. Also, Ivy League schools like to reject valedictorians. It’s not about being #1 in the class. There are many more variables at play here.

    Finally, check your use of the word “waded”: you waded into a lexical swamp when you raised the subject of your weighted GPA.

    Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

  118. Hi Mark, I am a senior right now and planning to apply some colleges. However, I didn’t do well in my junior year and ended up having 3.4 cumulative gpa, from 3.8 during my sophomore year. I know that having upward grade trend is very important and I don’t know what colleges will think about it. Also, I take three ap classes this year…Oh and english is not my first language, but I went to international school for 2 and a half years, and I came to US in my sophomore year. Would college consider this as part of admission? I know that there are lots of international students out there too…
    I really don’t know what to do

  119. Hi, Jane. Thanks for your question. It seems to me that you need not worry about whether you will get into college, but where you plan to go. You have been taking difficult classes, and doing reasonably well. Colleges that have a holistic admissions process (which includes most private schools and some public ones) will take into account your cultural, linguistic, and educational background in assessing your prospects for admission. While your GPA and your transcript is the most important credential you hold with regard to college admission, many other factors do come into play. So take the time to research the colleges that suit you best. If you need help with that research, just let me know. But once you find the colleges that fit you best, you’ll be on your way to getting admitted.
    Hope that helps!

  120. Hi Mark,

    I am a high school senior and am taking a few classes at my local county college: Research Writing, Western Civ and a Music History class. How do I weight these classes into my GPA?


  121. Hello Bram,

    Thank you for your question and the answer is, it depends! If you are receiving high school credit for your classes, then your high school may calculate the grades you receive at a community college into your cumulative GPA. If not, most colleges will just review your grades separate from your high school transcript. Most colleges will also review your community college courses as more challenging than a regular high school course and therefore, give you props for taking a challenging curriculum.

    Hope that helps!

  122. WOW!!!! This is amazing. You can not compare 2 different students, from 2 different schools, in 2 different states. The top 10% in one school may not even be in the top half of another. Standardized test scores is what the colleges should be going off of. Here in my district we have 6 high schools. I have taught at 3 of them over my tenure and can tell a considerable difference in the 3 schools academic wise. Take for instances the top 5% of the students in the first school would not even be in the top 25% of the 2nd school and the top 25% of the 2nd school would barely make it in to the top half at the 3rd school. So with this being said the top 5% of the first school would be in the bottom half of the 3rd school. Do away with the GPA and go off standarized test scores. That is the only true way to measure where a kid stands on a national scale.

  123. Hi, Jason.

    You’re right that grades among schools do not correlate with student ability or performance. But I’m afraid that using test scores is not the panacea you suggest. Because test scores vary greatly among schools.

    For example, I have worked with students in the top 5% of a wealthy suburban school where kids regularly scored in the high 30s on their ACT. However, the students who were numbers 1 and 2 in their class in an inner city high school (I was working with them, too) scored a 23 and 24, respectively.

    Shall we just say that all kids in poor neighborhoods lack intelligence? Of course not. The fact is, however, that research is pretty clear that ACT and SAT scores do correlate closely with the test-taker’s socio-economic status. Rich, white kids do better than poor, brown and black kids.

    The problem is that the “achievement gap” is not just a matter of grades. It is also a matter of preparation. It is also a matter of the education level of parents. It is is a function of early childhood education. It’s a lot of things.

    But we’re not going to really solve the achievement gap problem by relying on test scores. And colleges know it. So while they are interested in seeing scores, they will also put those scores into perspective. So those students who were at the top of their class in urban high school were judged differently than those from the wealthy, suburban high school.

    Is that “fair”? Well, it all depends on how you look at it, doesn’t it?

    Thanks for your comment!

  124. Hey, right now I am a junior in high school, and my goal is to get into the naval academy. I calculated that my weighted GPA is 4.125, unweighted 3.25, and “real unweighted” is 3.05. I will have taken AP Calc AB and BC, along with English, US history, and Environmental science. I have been getting practically all A’s with my math and science courses, but have struggled in social studies areas like world history and Spanish. What are my chances of making it in the naval academy? assuming all 5’s and 4’s on the AP exams.

  125. whoops forgot to mention extra-curriculars. I do odessy of the mind, am on the varsity wrestling team, have over 800 hours community service and am on the Debate team

  126. If your GPA has mitigated owing to your junior year grades, will an exceptional extra-curricular be considered in lieu of this?

  127. Hello, and thanks for the question. The answer is an emphatic no. Exceptional extra-curriculars are never considered “in lieu” of your grades. There are times when exceptional extracurriculars will alter the way your entire application is judged. For example, an exceptional athlete with lower grades may sometimes be accepted before a student with higher grades with minimal extracurricular involvements. But the first–and most important–part of any application is the transcript: grades and GPA always count.
    I hope this is helpful. Good luck.

  128. Hey, Ben.
    First off, let me just share a pet peeve. It’s not a good idea to address a formal question to someone by using the word “hey.” I don’t know many admissions officers that are impressed by that sort of greeting. But I digress….
    Entrance to the service academies is a somewhat different admissions process than to a “regular” college. You will need a nomination, and recommendations play a big role. And of course, your grades. I would say that your unweighted average is more indicative of your chances from a statistical point of view–along with your scores.
    But I can’t tell you for sure one way or another: as I have said elsewhere, admissions is an art, not a science. I don’t have a crystal ball. My only advice is to get the help you need with social studies and Spanish to bring those grades up as best you can. Strong performance in one area (math or science) does not counteract poor performance in another. So work hard to bring everything up to the highest level. Self-discipline and productive effort will mean quite a lot in the admissions process to the service academies, and a positive grade trend in junior and senior year that looks better than your freshman and sophomore years will help you.
    So keep on working toward your goal, and do the best you possibly can. Your goal is within reach, as long as you stay focused upon it and do whatever is necessary to attain it.
    Best of luck!

  129. Dear Mark,
    I’m in my Junior Year and throughout high school I’ve gotten mostly B’s with a few A’s (in my core classes) because the honors courses I’ve taken are pretty rigorous, but this year I’ve finally got the hang of things and I’m sure I’ll finish with all in A’s (again in honors). Anyway what I’m trying to get at here is if my improvement along with my long list of extracurricular activities get me considered for let’s say a moderately competitive school?

  130. Hello, Kervin,
    There are plenty of good schools that look for B-to-A students with solid extracurricular activities. I have been visiting a few of these sorts of colleges recently, and they provide excellent educational opportunities. The challenge is to identify the colleges that fit you best. For more on college fit, you might want to take a look at this post:
    or this one:
    Alternatively, you can have either Katherine or me help you find the right college for you. Good luck!

  131. Dear Mark,

    I have four questions that I hope you can answer.
    I am wondering if courses such as AP music theory are considered fluff courses.
    Do colleges look at your summer school grades?
    How do college’s look at the grading scale? My school had no A-‘s or B-‘s during my freshman year. I would have received A’s in some of those classes. Will colleges know about these?
    I changed my language sophomore year, will this look unfavorable to colleges?

    Thanks in Advance!

  132. Dear Mark,
    I am currently takeing my first AP course this year. It is still the begining of the year and my teacher still did not show us our grades yet, however I am really worried about getting a low grade in my AP class. My teacher is very nice however she keeps reminding us the getting an A in an AP class is impossible! This really worries me because i always try my best and challenge myself… and yet at the same time it makes me worry that if i blow it up it will affect my GPA really bad! So what should I do? Do you think its worth me worrying about it?

  133. Hi,
    Im going to a college that do not really care about the kind of courses I take in high school. The only two things they care about are my GPA aswell as the SAT score. So, do you think i should choose all the easy courses for my senior year since they really do not see my chosen courses? Right now, i take many serious subject including math, science and a few AP subjects but i found out that the college will not take in account the courses i have taken. So what do you think about it?

  134. Hi.

    If the only thing you care about is getting into college, then no, you shouldn’t care a whit about what courses you take. Take all the easy ones–even the remedial ones–and get great grades. At the same time, you’ll learn little, challenge yourself little, and be less prepared for the challenges of college than your peers who pushed themselves a bit harder. There are people who at satisfied by doing the least amount of work possible in life, in expending the least amount of effort. If you are one of those people–and there is a college that values people like you–then go for it. Because you’re already there.

    If, on the other hand, you view school as a time to learn, grow, and improve yourself, then you might want to take a different approach.

    Best of luck, and thanks for your question.

  135. Hello, Harry.
    Here are your responses:

    1. AP music theory will not be considered fluff.
    2. Summer grades that are on your transcript are treated like any other course.
    3. Colleges will see only what is listed on your official transcript. Some high schools put pluses and minuses, some do not.
    4. The answer depends on the level to which you reached in language 1, and upon the college. Some strongly prefer commitment to a single language.

    Hope this helps!

  136. My Daughter is a high school senior. She has a unweighted GPA (stripped down) at 3.7. Her SAT scores are 670CR and 680 Math. What do you think here chances are of getting into Notre Dame, Boston College or Boston University? She has taken 5AP and 6 honors courses(As and B+s). She is working so hard I hate to see her disappointed!

  137. Hello, MaryLou. Thanks for your question. I often wish I had a crystal ball to be able to predict the outcome of the admissions process. All I’d need is a gypsy outfit and some tarot cards, and I’d have a whole new business model!

    Focus less on “getting in” than on the “fit”. I’m curious as to why these three schools are on her list; they are all great, and I seem some patterns (my tarot skills at work, I guess). Your priority, as a parent, I think, is to help your daughter find a list of colleges that fit her very well. You want to be sure she has schools on her list that are all along the curve of selectivity–each of which is a great fit and would provide her with the educational and social opportunities she wants and deserves. This–more than anything else, including “hard work”–will ensure that she is not disappointed. Finding other great schools that fit her vision of what she wants in an education is important.

    I’m sorry I can’t be more specific. I’d need to know much more about which programs at each university she is most interested in (and applying to), what her scores are on the AP tests, and where her other, extracurricular talents and achievements lie. I’d also need to know more about her religious priorities, as well as her geographical preferences (she has all three: urban, suburban, and small town/rural).

    I do, however, wish her good luck, and I’ll be rubbing my rabbit’s foot on her behalf (just as soon as I put away the tarot cards…).

    Best wishes!

  138. Dear Mark,
    What’s your definition of a good grade for an AP class? I currently have an 88 in my AP language class, do you think an 88 is considered a good grade? When i use to be in the normal English class i use to get higher than that!

  139. I’m gobsmacked. Are you really saying that colleges don’t believe that a B in AP English is as good or even more meaningful than an A in regular English? Then, why even bother to have kids take AP classes, if College Admission officers don’t bother to check if a class has an AP designation?

  140. Hello, Nancy.
    Sorry to gobsmack you. But in fact colleges DO look at whether a course has an AP designation. They like to see kids challenging themselves.

    But think of it this way: if a B in an AP course equals an A, what does an A in an AP course equal?

    All colleges prefer to see AP courses on a transcript, rather than no AP courses (assuming, of course, that the high school offers AP courses). Colleges also prefer grades of A to grades of B. Therefore, the most highly prized students are those with grades of A in AP courses. A student with a B will not be thrown into the circular file. But they will not be judged to have done as well as the student with the A.

    But don’t forget the AP tests. If your student gets an A in the AP course but fails the AP exam, then that grade in the class really wasn’t good indicator of the student’s learning. Kids need to focus on both: get the grade, and nail the test.

    Hope this helps!

  141. Hi Linda.

    88 is good. 89 is better. 95 is much better.

    Keep in mind that your current grade is not your semester grade. Nor is it your score on the AP test. Keep working hard and do the best you can in the course and on the test. You are doing well. Only you can determine whether or not you an–and will–do better.

  142. I am working on our school’s K-12 report cards to make it easier on all the teachers so that all they have to do is enter the grades into the computer rather than write everything by hand passing around report cards to each other. I have run into a situation. (This directly effects high school GPA’s) There are four quarters to the school year. And at the end of each semester the teacher averages the grade for each subject. So when the final grade is averaged they end up with six grades for each subject, when the student is only directly responsible for four of those grades. I have a problem with averaging averages. Calculating this way can give a child extra grades they did not earn. For a middle of the road 2.5 student it does nearly nothing. However, for the student who is inconsistent and may receive a D or F occasionally, their GPA is artificially lowered by .3 Likewise, if a student with the one A per semester, that student’s overall GPA will be artificially raised by .3 So, can you direct me as to how grades should be calculated to end up with a final average at the end of the semester that does not include this problem.


  143. Hello, Julius.

    I’m not a registrar, who is usually charged with these calculations for an entire school, but it seems to me that you are right. Your school is doing the calculations incorrectly. Here’s what I recommend. Have teachers report quarter grades only. Enter those into the computer. Average the two quarters together to get a semester grade. End of story. Report only the semester grades. The semester GPA is the average of all semester grades earned in all courses that semester. Cumulative grade point averages are then the average of the semester grades.

    Your math is correct, and statistically speaking, averaging averages is not what you want to be doing.

    I’m glad to hear you’re moving into the computer age. The last hand-written report card I received was in middle school. In the 1970s. Time to invest in a laptop!

    All the best!

  144. The Standard 4.0 A-F Grading System has a “Fatal Flaw”! Why isn’t it pointed out here one your Web Site? Why don’t “Educational Experts” ever discuss it? Assuming a 4.0 Grading System (A=s 90-100%, B=s 80-89%, C=s 70-79% & D=s 60-69% – Student #1 can have an “Average Classroom Performance Percentage” as low 90% (takes 32 classes makes exactly 90% in every class and still receives a GPA of 4.0 while Student #2 takes the same 32 classes and makes a 100% in 4 of the classes and makes an 89% in the other 28 classes. Student #2 has an “Average Classroom Performance Percentage” of 90.375 “SLIGHTLY HIGHER THAN STUDENT #1, but Student #2 receives a GPA of 3.125 – “A GPA THAT IS 21.9% LOWER THAN STUDENT #1 EVEN THOUGH STUDENT #2 IS PERFORMING AT A LEVEL THAT IS SLIGHTLY HIGHER STUDENT #1! THIS IS ONLY ONE EXTREME EXAMPLE – THERE’S ALMOST AN UNLIMITED NUMBER OF EXAMPLES I COULD LIST! THE GPAs CREATED/CALCULATED BY THE STANDARD 4.0 GRADING SYSTEM ARE “SCREWING OVER STUDENTS” AND NO-ONE SEEMS TO CARE!


  145. Dear Mr. Holtzclaw,

    Thanks for your comment. The fact is, you are right. The system is “unfair” as you describe it. And there are ways to remedy this to make it more clear. Most obviously, schools could report out percentages instead of calculating to the 4.0 scale. But even that would not make the whole national grading system “fair.”

    But let’s be honest, Mr. Holtzclaw. There is no way that grading can be completely fair or accurate. There is no national standard for each subject in the US. There are no national standards in K-12 education. Mr. Obama cannot do a thing about this, as education policy is in the hands of the 50 states and 14,000 school districts. Further, each classroom teacher often has a different measuring stick–based on different tests, different assessment policies–not to mention that teachers do give the “benefit of the doubt” to students they like or perceive are working hard.

    Grading is always a subjective business, no matter how “scientific” we would like it to be. Similarly, the college admissions business is not scientific. Nor is it fair. Nor will it ever be completely fair. Perhaps other educational experts choose not to focus on this lack of fairness.

    But fundamentally, Mr. Holtzclaw, life is not fair. Never has been. Never will be. My job is to point out the facts, and then help students understand how to navigate a system (and a universe) that isn’t completely a meritocracy. We may try to be meritocratic. But we’re always going to fumble somewhere along the way. We owe it to kids to help them understand that whatever unfairness exists in our educational system should not be an obstacle to their success, happiness, or fulfillment as a human being.

    If I were you, I would not focus on “fair and accurate” GPAs as a way to improve the nation’s educational system. Rather, I would militate to improve the overall standards, to raise our collective expectations for all students, and find ways to assess performance in a variety of ways across state lines, across districts–and even from classroom to classroom–so that we know that a 90% is a 90% and not a 95%.

    But to do this we’d have to have a lock-step, completely centralized educational system that is more common in France or Mexico or China. Are you proposing to Mr. Obama that the Federal government take over the educational system in order to solve this “problem”? Your crusade is an interesting one, but it’s important to propose some solutions that take into account the structure and governance of our nation’s educational system.

    Best regards.

  146. I home school and 9th and 10th grades were 3 quarters. So to calculate the grade in a subject, like math, I would average the final grade of each quarter before I compute the GPA. Is that correct?

    Second question: It seems more practical in my son’s junior year to work on a semester system. Does this impact the GPA in any way, or do I simply average the two semester grade when calculating the GPA for his junior year subjects.

    Thanks so much for your help.

  147. I have a questions about gradeing. My daughters in 8th grade. The 1st trimester she got 5- A’s and 1-B. they said she didns’t qualify for either 1st or second honors. Is that correct? I really feel she’s been cheated. The school doesn’t think so.

  148. Dear Cathy,
    Each school sets its own policies for awarding honors. So if the school’s policy spells out conditions that your daughter has not met, then your daughter didn’t qualify for honors. Do you know how policies are determined? All you can expect is clarity in how such awards are made.
    All the best.

  149. Hello, Teri.
    Home schooling is a different kettle of fish, and I’ll go out on a limb here and say that colleges do not really care all that much about a home schooling grade. They want to know more about the curriculum taught. They also want external verification of a student’s ability, including normed tests such as CLEP exams, SAT 2 subject tests, and the ACT or SAT tests. Because grades offered in a homeschooling context do not have strong validity of their own, portfolios of work, examples of written work, lab reports/experiments, participation in science fairs, and mastery of mathematical concepts will be more important than any GPA you might calculate.
    Thus, in my opinion, they way in which you calculate the GPA is unimportant. You just need to “show your work” so that an admissions officer can follow your internal logic.
    Hope that helps.

  150. I am filling out scholarships and I have hit a block. Our school systems GPA scale is out of 5. I have a 5.143 because of my AP classes and grades. The scholarship wants my GPA on a scale of 4. What do I do?

  151. Just fill out the application with a GPA of 5.143 and include a separate sheet of paper with a short explanation of how your GPA is calculated. Better, include a school profile (ask your guidance office for one) with your application.
    Hope that helps unblock you!

  152. Hi, Kayla.
    The real answer is that it’s better to get an A in an honors class. That said, “better” depends on what your priorities are. If you want to communicate to colleges that you are prepared for the rigor of college work, that you have pushed yourself academically, and are prepared to sacrifice grades for the sake of learning something more advanced and interesting, then risk the C. If you want to play it safe, take easy classes, cruise through high school, and perhaps run the risk of being slammed in college because the demands are greater than what a “regular” class may require, then by all means…go for the A.

    Challenge yourself, do your best, and focus on learning stuff. That is what’s really better in the long run.

    Good luck!

  153. I am in 7th grade takeing algebra a high school coarse… last quater i got a B for the semester and am on the track to get about the same grade this quarter.I have the oppertunity to retake this class next year and not have this be on my high school transcript, but will people notice that i took this class in 7th grade. so would it be better to get B,B+ in 7th grade than mabey getting an A next year in eigth grade

  154. Bailey,
    It’s great that you are challenging yourself in Math at such an early age. Your grade will never appear on your HS transcript (although some school districts do this–you’ll have to check). Your grades from 9th grade onward are the ones that really count.

    That said, remember that math is not a “race”. You want to make sure you are feeling confident and competent as you move forward. I sometimes see kids rushing too early to get into calculus. If you are really gifted in math, then by all means–forge ahead. But don’t push so hard to take HS classes that you sacrifice competence. Thus retaking the course may be a good idea, not only for the grade, but to ensure mastery of the concepts before moving forward.

    Best of luck.

  155. In my high school how come our gpa system has gpa numbers as high as 4.5 and not the limit you gave: 4.0

  156. Hello, Christine.

    You’ll have to investigate your school’s policy. My guess is that some courses at your school are given extra “weights” that correspond to the rigor of the coursework. Honors and AP courses, for example, are often given extra weight that is factored into your class rank.

    Have a look at these posts:

    Hope this helps.

  157. Hey Mark,

    I am completely new to calculating GPA’s but as of this year I have been the one calculating them for the private high school I work for. I haven’t ran into any real problems as it has been pretty straight forward (4=A 3=B 2=C and so forth) but as I started calculating one of our seniors this year she told me that the Principle last year told her that if she re-took the courses that she did poor in the old grade wouldn’t be calculated into the GPA. She told her that the old grade wouldn’t even show up on the transcript. I have had a few transcripts of students that have transferred to our school from public schools that have a “Retake” next to a course with only the new grade shown and I believe only the new grade calculated into the GPA.

    My question to you is: If it isn’t effecting the GPA should the original attempted credit even be showing up on the transcript i.e. at the bottom of our transcripts we tally how many attempted credits and how many earned credits – attempted credits include IC or NC but there is no value where as earned credits would be A, B, or C (we don’t give anything lower than a C at our school anything lower is NC or IC). So with her transcript would I just count her new attempted credits and use those credits to calculate her GPA or would I count also the first credits she didn’t earn?


  158. Dear Emily,

    Thanks for your question. I really don’t know how to respond, as the decision on how to calculate and report is an internal matter to your school. But here are a couple of principles that are worth bearing in mind.

    First, kids should be held accountable for their failures and bad choices. Constantly giving them “do-overs” doesn’t say much about our standards. Therefore I’d be inclined to show the fact that the girl had to retake the course on the transcript, especially if students transferring into the school are dunned in this way. Colleges will be happy to see improvement–but the girl should not be able to selectively suppress information.

    Second, consistency is key. A principal should not be allowed to override a policy (which is what the student implies–and my guess is that the student is a poor reporter of the principal’s intentions). The policy for reporting grades should be clear, transparent, and communicated to parents (and written into your secondary school profile distributed to colleges). Then when there are questions, refer to the policy. If you handle transfers into your school in one way, you should not then favor students who have been there longer by clearing their transcripts of blemishes. If you put blemishes ON a transfer student’s transcript, what sense does it make to take them OFF another’s transcript? Consistency is key–if only to avoid parental uproar later!

    Third, do not make policy based on a single case. Do not decide how you should report grades based on one girl’s difficulties. Think about what the most important principles are, what the standards are, and how grades reflect those standards. Make a solid policy, communicate it, and stick to it.

    I hope this is helpful in some way.


    Mark Montgomery

  159. would it be fine for my junior year to only do 1 ap class 1 honors and the rest college prep

    Ap Bio
    English P
    American history P
    Trig/pre- cal

    I was thinking of also doing ap english but i think it may not fit in my time schedule

  160. Hi, Jacob. Thanks for writing in.

    Your question is a good one, but you don’t provide enough context for me to advise you. What are your goals? What are your plans? What are your capabilities?

    Clearly your “time schedule” is an important consideration, but without more insight into these other considerations, all I can say is that you are asking the right questions

    Hope this is helpful!

  161. My son’s college professor computes class grades in a manner that I believe is incorrect. She takes individual letter grades on assignments and converts them to a 4.0 scale grade. Then, after weighting them, she assigns the final grade based upon a 100 point scale. For example, individual grades of A and B, would be converted to 4 and 3 respectively. Assuming they are weighted equally, the sum of those, 7, is divided by the sum of the total possible, 8. The quotient 87.5, is then the basis for a B+ grade on a 100-point scale.

    It seems to me the fairer way would be to assign the A and B numerical grades of 95 and 85, respectively. The average would be a 90, a borderline B+ or A- depending on the college. Under this professor’s system, in fact,a student making all “B’s” on individual assignments would receive a “C” for the semester, based on the 75% overall average. Am I right? Thanks

  162. Hi, i have a non weighted GPA of 3.33, but i took like 4 AP courses (calc BC, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics C, AP human Geography). I got decent grade on most of the AP classes will I qualify for a UC school?

  163. What about schools that do not adhere to the 4.0 or A, B, C, etc. scale? My school is run on a 6.0 scale, where a 4 is a relatively bad grade. How would my grades translate?

    Th Blog I contribute to, Radical Parenting, has had a great deal to say about college admissions:

  164. In regard to “Kayla’s” question.

    My son is just going through this unfair problem with UCSD.
    UCSD does not care about the difficulty of his high school program. Many schools do not.

    We are frustratingly finding out that although high schools ask your children to “challenge themselves & not go for the easy A” they don’t tell you the reality of the situation. It’s ridiculous. His 3.76 GPA which is “weighted” due to double honors & AP classes” mean NOTHING to many schools.

    HE WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER OFF TAKING “BASKET WEAVING” AT THE WORST SCHOOL IN CHICAGO rather than “challenging” himself with double honors physics & pre-cal.

    It’s almost as if the CPS sets a student up to fail in the real world.

    Very frustrating. Very, very unfair for the student & his/her family.

  165. Dear Mike,

    Thank you for your question. The answer is “it depends on which UC”. As you probably know, different UC’s have different levels of requirements for admission. They will also take into consideration your standardized testing scores. If you need help navigating the UC admissions process, please let us know!

    Katherine Price
    Educational Consultant

  166. Thanks for your comment, James. I’m sure your son’s problems in dealing with UCSD have been frustrating. And it is true that some state schools will tend to look at overall GPA, rather than dissect the rigor of the coursework–especially for in-state (taxpaying) students.

    However, my point remains the same as it always: it is wrong to believe that a C in “double honors” is in any way equivalent to an A in the same class. This trade-off between grades and rigor is not really a trade-off–even though many parents and even many school counselors may see it the same way.

    Again, I understand your frustration. But I cannot agree with your assumption that underwater basket weaving would have prepared your son for the rigors of college work. His C in that double honors course probably did more to prepare him for those rigors–even though he may not be able to enter UCSD. Remember, the goal is not only to enter a good college–but to graduate from one. Students who take basket weaving are probably going to be among the 50% of students who enter college who do not graduate. I’m guessing your son will be on the positive side of that statistic, when all is said and done.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  167. Mark,

    You took my “basket weaving” example too literally. The point is that any student has a better chance of being accepted to a majority out of state public university if they take a much easier curriculum in their high school years, thereby having a much higher probability of receiving a much higher “non-weighted” GPA. than they would by “challenging them self by taking honors or double honors classes.
    (Unless of course they’re brilliant to begin with and will receive stronger grades regardless.)
    I’ve come to the realization that many high schools offer the honors/dbl honor programs and encourage students to enroll in these programs for the main purpose of achieving a certain degree of “prestige” within the high school community itself.
    Unfortunately they conveniently fail to inform both the student & the parents the reality of the situation when it comes time to apply to many universities.
    It’s totally wrong, unfair & misleading. And to say “that’s the way it goes because life isn’t always fair” is just condoning a broken system which appears to be built on lies and egos within the CPS system.
    As you can tell, I’m more than a little frustrated & upset about this situation.
    Yes, you are correct in the fact that the double honors classes have more fully prepared our son for college. But the sad fact is that it’s a double edged sword in regard to the numerous schools that he may now not have the opportunity to attend which he could have, had he skated through an easier program. It’s sad but true.

    To put it in a nutshell…Kids shouldn’t be pressured into taking academically challenging classes in high school unless they know full well they will almost certainly ace that class w/ no problem. Or until the system is corrected and ALL universities begin looking at students as individuals and take into consideration the degree of difficulty of their high school program.

    Best Regards

  168. My GPA is 3.76 and I’m going to start my senior year with the following courses and I wanted to know if they will help me get into college. I want to be a foreign language teacher.

    AP Literature and Composition
    AP U.S. History
    Statistics and Descrete Mathematics
    Spanish 6
    German 2
    French 1
    Ceramics 1
    Ceramics 2

  169. Hi, Alex. This looks like a good set of courses. Being a foreign language teacher can be very rewarding. Keep up your linguistic skills, and keep enjoying yourself!
    Best of luck.

  170. Hi, Bob,
    You have stumbled onto the fact that most colleges do not really have grading policies. And most graduate programs do not teach their students how to be professors and how to set up grading systems. It’s crazy–to the point that in some respects, college grades do not mean much of anything anymore. Lawrence Summers figured this out during his tenure at Harvard, and he tried to change the system–without much success.
    Anyway, if you think the grading system is wacky, then your son (and not you) should approach the professor and point out the mathematical effects of the system. If the professor sticks to it, then your son goes next to the department chair. If there is no change, then the next level is the dean or head of school–whoever is above the department chair.
    It will a a long row to hoe, but if your son becomes a good self-advocate, and avoids getting angry at what will be a frustrating process, then he could have an impact–and learn a few things along the way.
    Best of luck!

  171. Hi Mark! I’m going to aply for NYU for a second undergraduate course as a foreign student, and I would like to know if I can use high school grades and my first undergraduate course grades to calculate my GPA, or only high school grades?

    Thank you for the attention!

  172. Hello, Priscilla. You will actually have two GPAs: one for high school and one for your first undergraduate course. The latter will be much more important in determining admission.
    Hope that helps, and good luck with your application!

  173. Hi Mark,

    I am applying for a MS program in Canada at Carleton University. I received my BS degree in Mexico. My grades are mostly B (Bien). In accordance with the the Mexican system that indicates that my actual grades are between 80-89% ( Thus, I am being evaluated as a B student the since I do not have the extact percentage grade. However, I am a good student and my grades are 88% and above. What should I do to conveince the university?


  174. Dear Cristina,
    Thanks for visiting this site, and for your question. Canadian universities ought to be very familiar with the Mexican grading system. You need to connect with the office at Carleton that evaluates the transcripts to ask how (and why) your transcripts are being evaluated as they are. My reading of the Wikipedia article, as well as my own experience with my own children who attended middle school in Mexico, an “8” or anything within the 80-89% range is considered, well, something like a B. I think you also need to ensure that if the grading system is somehow different at the university where you earned your BS that your undergraduate university helps to plead your case.
    I’m not sure how helpful this is (as I’m not an expert on either Canada or Mexico), but I wish you all the best.

  175. I found your article very helpful, especially since I’ll be applying to colleges later in the year. However, I do have a question. My school system has a sort of weird grading system, where each letter grade is worth two points (A+=100-98, A=97-95, etc) . So I was wondering if your scale would work for my grades, too, or if the scale would need to be changed slightly.

  176. My son will be a HS senior this school year. At the completion of his junior year his weighted GPA is 92.04 and unweighted is 90.14. However, passing at his school is 75%. What would his GPA be on a 4.0 scale. Will colleges take into account the 75 passing grade? Thanks.

  177. Dear Mark,

    I am having quite an issue with my GPA. Throughout my high school years, I have been concentrating on my weighted values. I am a high school senior now, and my unweighted/weighted GPA is: 3.35/3.88. My junior year caused a huge drop in that number since I transfered from an average, suburban school to a rigorous and dedicated urban school, faced the emotional challenges of leaving most of the kids I grew up with and meeting new faces, and heavy bouts of depression. Throughout my high school career, I always took the oppertunity to take the toughest classes I could, as I wanted to challenge myself and learn advanced concepts. I love learning, but I feel like my less than flattering un-weighted GPA will not show that. The time to apply for colleges is upon me, and I’m worried about rejection due to my less-than-perfect execution of my difficult classes during my junior year.

    Overall, my questions are: Getting a B in honors is like getting an A in a regular class according to high schools, but is it like that for colleges? Will colleges understand my mission to never back down from the toughest classes, even if my precious numbers are affected?

    In one of your earlier question/response sessions, a student asked you: “what’s better, a C in an honors class or an A in a regular?” You responded: “an A in an honors class” (I really liked that response, mediocracy is not an option) During my senior year, I plan on doing just that, getting all A’s in all of my honors and AP classes (2 AP classes and 3 Honors classes) I am in the National Honors Society: Beta Chapter, and a student tutor for my Honors Physics class. But even with all of this effort and improvement, will colleges see this in time? I really don’t want to have the open wound of my junior year to be the concluding picture they see; I want them to see that A+ finisher that says: “Look at me! I’ve matured! I’ve failed in the past, but I have picked myself up and defeated my past limitations.”

    From: A young student seeking redemption,

  178. What do you think about those high schools that inflate their grades by giving points to students for every little thing? For example, my teenager is taking multiple “honors” courses in which points are given for everything, including covering one’s textbook, having the parents sign a test paper, in addition to the usual tests, projects and homework assignments. How can one call these “honors” courses if many of the points are given for just following directions and doing what’s right? Do colleges know that this is happening? Will this come back to “haunt” the students later?

  179. Dear Christopher,
    You will find redemption. You are doing what you need to be doing. You are challenging yourself. You have your eyes wide open. Focus on getting a good education, and learning as much as you can. Don’t worry so much about the grades, and you will be redeemed. There are MANY colleges that will take your story into account, and that will offer you redemption in the form of admission–and a solid education, great opportunities, and fun galore. If you genuinely love learning, that will show up on your teacher recommendations (search my site for tips on getting great recommendations!). The most judgmental colleges may not offer you all the redemption you desire, but keep your eyes on the prize (learning) and you will get it. If you need help identifying the colleges that value your focus on learning, and that are most likely to offer that redemption, give us a shout.
    Best of luck.

  180. Hello.
    Yes, colleges will compare your son’s scores with the school grading system. In this case, his class rank–if he has one–will be important. But college people are accustomed to figuring this stuff out.
    Best wishes, and thanks for writing in!

  181. Hi, Natalia,
    Some schools have slightly different systems. It’s part of what makes US secondary education so confusing: everybody thinks they have a better system. Your performance will be judged in the context of your school. Admissions folks will also receive a school report that explains your school’s grading system. No need to make any adjustments yourself.
    Best wishes, and thanks for the question.

  182. hi mark
    I’m a sophmore in high school with a “real” GPA of 3.94 am currently taking 3 honors courses and will hopefully go on to take 4 AP courses in my junior and senior years. I’d like to major in arquitecure in college. I’ve wanted to go to UGA for a long time and was wondering if you thought a school like this would be within my reach

  183. Hi, Jane.
    If you continue to be a good student, I’m guessing UGA will be within reach–especially if you are from Georgia. Architecture, however, will be a very competitive program for undergraduates–no matter what university you may be interested in attending. So keep in mind that admissions standards to different departments may be different: you will need to inform yourself of these differences.
    Good luck, and keep up the hard work!

  184. Dear Mark/
    My son has recently joined MIS- BI program at TTU, Lubbock after his BTECH in CSE from India.
    He has taken 3 x 3credits courses. In one of the course has secured C grade; I am worried if he get C in another course—in that case what are our options; he still has half of the semester left.
    He is indeed a sincere & hard working young fellow.
    He is under great pressure and so are we–his parents.
    He has gone out for the first time.

    Kindly suggests options and whether this mayeffect his job prospects seriously.

    Avinash Sharma

  185. Dear Avinash,
    I feel your pain. However, keep in mind that your son is struggling to adapt to the new culture, the new educational demands, and many other aspects of academic life in America. A single C grade–or even two–will not be what keeps him from a good job in India. His sincerity and work-ethic–in addition to his knowledge and skills–will be what carry him forward.
    I would encourage your son to talk with his professors, and with student services offices at TTU. He needs to do whatever it takes to get his grades up. If he needs extra tutoring, he should find out what resources are on his campus–that he already pays for–that can help him succeed. I wouldn’t consider transferring at this stage, as the adaptation stresses will simply start all over again. Rather, he should talk to his professors and get the help he needs to improve his grades.
    One question I would have, however, is whether your son really likes and enjoys his chosen field. Many students from India choose the technology field because they feel it will prepare them for a great job. But I have met some Indian (and this is true of Chinese, as well) students who are pursuing technology that absolutely hate it and are not all that good at it. If this is the case for your son, then perhaps it would be worth a “return to the drawing board” to choose a graduate program more suited to his strengths and preferences.
    Best of luck to you and to your son.

  186. I know you have touched base on this but I am still concerned with the broad spectrum of grading scales that exist throughout our community. I am looking at two college prep high schools for my son.

    The first has a grading system of:
    A 90-100% (4.0)
    B 80-89% (3.0)
    C 70-79% (2.0)
    D 60-69% (1.0)
    F 50-59% Failed

    The second has a grading system of:
    A+ 99-100% (4.3)
    A 95-98% (4.0)
    A- 93-94% (3.7)
    B+ 91-92% (3.3)
    B 87-90% (3.0)
    B- 85-86% (2.7)
    And so on…

    I don’t understand how a college would be able to tell the difference. At one high school the school awards (4) quality points for a 90%. At the other school they award (3) quality points for a 90%. It will have an incredible impact on his GPA.

    The high school that we really liked and are highly considering for my son has the more difficult GPA scale. I really don’t want to mess up his chances on admission and/or scholarship because of this.

    Any advice would be helpful. Again, the two schools offer all of the same classes and are both considered college prep.

    Thanks so much for your time.

  187. Hello, and thank you for your question.

    In the immortal words of Shakespeare, “Methinks thou dost obsess too much.”

    Do not choose a school for its grading scale. Choose a school because your son will enjoy it, thrive, and do well. Colleges will not directly compare students from School A with kids from School B. They will judge your son’s performance within the school in which he attends. In other words, if he attends School A, it makes more of a difference how well he does against his peers at his school A–and not how he stacks up against students at School B.

    Again, do not choose a school based on grading scale. What matters is whether your kid learns something, works hard, and gets the top grades in his school. Oh, and whether he makes friends, finds activities he enjoys and excels in, and is generally happy and content.

    Seriously, if you choose a school because of 3 vs 4 “quality points” (whatever those are–and frankly, colleges won’t care as much as you might think), you are 1) focusing on the wrong things, and 2) trying to make this college admission thing into a science. Believe me: it’s not.

    Focus on your kid, not grading scales.

    Best of luck.

  188. Hi,

    Here is my story. My daughter is Australian and we moved in Denver because of my husband work, when she was in year 7 (2006). In year 9 we moved to London for 8 months and then moved back to Denver, to make home here. In London the daughter was home schooled, we received bad advice from Middle School, so she gained no credits in English and Maths for one semester. In the second semester of year 9 she was enrolled in this very good public high school. She made up for English missing 0.5 credits in the summer of year 9. So she really carres and work hard. She did well academically in the public school but was lonely. So we moved her from this well recognized public high school into a private school in year 10. She did well and was happy, plaied sports and made friends. Now she is junior in the private school. She took 2 Honors classes and one AP class. She pushes herself to have A in those honors classes (missing just) and hope to get there, but in AP she is D (68%). We cannot improve and she studies and actually lost confidence. The councelor and the AP teacher encouraged her not to withdraw from the class. The private school weights only the AP class. My daughter is extremly good with animals. She wants only to be a vet, which I understood is very competitive. She aims for Pennsylvania or Cornwell. She works hard to reach high in SAT at least 2200, but we believe that GPA (unweighted) is to low. Unweighted would be 3.4. The Honors are in Chemistry and Algebra while AP is European History. She took that because we, the parents, are Romanians and she being born and raised in Australia wanted to know more about Europe. Her AP teacher gives very hard tests (as those for the final AP Exam), and only in those tests she does poorly (runs out of time and then guests). Should I be very worried, worried or more relaxed? What can I do to advice and help my daughter to reach her dream. To make her try even harder even if would be some other schools? Thank you.

  189. Dear Anne,
    Thanks for writing in. I understand your worry, and in part your worry stems from an unfamiliarity with the way college admissions works in the US. It’s awfully confusing, isn’t it?
    I am not sure I can address your worries in any specific detail, as I would need a lot more information about your daughter, her school, and her performance. It is clear that she is hard working and dedicated, but sometimes she is not performing as well as her peers. There may be many reasons for this, some of which cannot be controlled or changed. But focus on this: if she wants to be a veterinarian, that goal may still be attainable. She need not go to a college or university with a vet school as an undergraduate: vet school is a graduate program, anyway. So she has many years of academic toil before she can even begin to make that decision about which vet school to attend.

    Again, I’m not sure how to respond specifically in a way that will really help allay your fears. Perhaps you can give me a call and we can talk about my colleagues and I might be able to offer you some expert counseling to sort out the issues and set your daughter up for success after high school. My office number is 720.279.7577. I hope to hear from you!

  190. Dear Mike,

    I am a junior in high school, and I am taking all honors or the IB program. School really hasn’t been that hard for me besides math, so going into the program was a big shocker for me, and my grades have dropped. With the fluff classes i have a B average but without them I drop down to a 2.8. Knowing what I have to do next semester I can get them up, but will this first semester ruin my chances of getting into a selective college? My worst grade is a C in math right now, and I do many activities outside of school. So, really do I still have a chance? Also, my top school is Vanderbilt, if that helps at all.

  191. Hello Mr. Montgomery,
    I was wondering which schools use the A = 4.0, A- = 3.7, B+ = 3.3, and so on scale. I am aware the UCs operate with the A = 4, B = 3, etc. scale, and was wondering if this scale is different for other colleges when they re-calculate the GPA of applicants.


  192. My daughter is entering her junior year in high school in the fall, and plans to take 3 AP courses. But her grades right now are only B’s in these same honors courses. Should I allow her to take these AP courses? She believes it looks better to “challenge herself”.

  193. Michelle,
    It’s hard for me to advise you or your daughter without more information. Generally, it is good for kids to challenge themselves. It helps prepare them for the tougher academic work ahead better than easier courses might. As my posts point out, getting into college is not all about having a 4.0. There are many more qualitative aspects to the process. I’d be happy to try to advise you about your daughter’s specific decisions, if you’d like. Check out my contact page at

  194. Hi, Erica. Colleges have their own policies about reporting grades, and the UCs are a world unto themselves. Generally speaking, colleges interpret the transcript they are given by your high school. They may then fiddle around with it to fit their own evaluative format. But they do this to try to level the playing field a bit, not to give one kid an advantage over the next. My advice to you is not to sweat the small stuff. Do your best, and don’t treat every B as if it were a life-or-death matter.
    Best of luck.

  195. Hi Mark, thank you so much for shedding the light on this subject. I did have one follow-up question. My daughter has some full year classes and some that are only a semester. For example she has a full year Core science but then took Chemistry I (a half year) and is now taking Chem II (for another half year). If she got an A in Chem I do I consider that 1 course the same way I would consider the full year course? Or is there some other mathematical equation for full year versus half year classes? Similarly, she has some English classes that are only half year.

    Thank-you in advance for your help!

  196. hi, i have 87/100 in percentage grades(college) here in mexico,,,what is my GPA?? ive heardd a 3.3, 3.4 or even 3.2, ,, do i stand a chance to u of miami, u of texas and g washington university.

    i am an intrnational transfer student.

    My college grades without – or +, so its like1,2,3,4,5,6 7,8,9 and 10,,, would a 9 be considered an A??

    thanks a lot Mark.

  197. Hi Mark, do the colleges look at the cummulative GPA 9 over a certain period of time in the High School years? Or Do they only look at one year to figure the GPA? Can you advise how most college figure the GPA exactly? Meaning which classes for how many years do they incorporate into the figure?

    thank you

  198. Sondra,
    Thanks for writing in. Your 9th grade GPA factors into your cumulative GPA. Each college will make their own calculations based on their own standards. My post provides a guideline. But I can tell you that if you are obsessing over your GPA, then you are obsessing about the wrong thing. Selective college admissions is not determined by GPA alone, but by a very complex mix of other factors.
    I hope this is helpful!

  199. Hi, Carmela,
    The bottom line is that no matter whether the class lasts one semester or two, GPA is based on the number of credits one takes. If a student takes a class for 4 months and is granted a full credit, then the grade will be multiplied by the credits earned. If the class is a half-credit class, then the grade is multiplied by the half-credit. Look on your daughter’s transcript for indications of how much credit she receives for each class. That should help. If in doubt, contact your school’s guidance counseling office: I guarantee they have answered this question before.
    Best of luck.

  200. Hi, I was just wondering do colleges look at sophmore psat scores? Also, I have been recieving many college brochures and letters, does that mean they want me to attend their college?

  201. How much will a freshman gpa hurt my college acceptanctance chances?I had a 79 gpa freshman year but broyght it up to a 90 sopomore year and a 94 my junior year.Will they focus more on my hard work and better grades if my sat scores and essay are good?

  202. Hello Laura,

    Colleges do not look at your PSAT scores for that admissions process. The reason you are receiving so many brochures is because colleges have the opportunity to “buy” names of students that meet their demographic based on PSAT scores or other boxes that you checked when you took the PSATs. So, to answer your question, these colleges really want you to apply to their school, it does not mean that you will definitely get in. Unfortunately it is a marketing technique that is a part of the admissions game!

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate
    Montgomery Educational Consulting

  203. Hello,

    Colleges always like to see an upward trend in grades. They will definitely focus more on your sophomore and junior years (as well as your mid-semester grades from senior year). I would definitely advise you to address your freshman year grades in your applications. Is there an explanation for why you struggled? You should also describe what you have done to improve your studying skills and habits. Good luck!

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate
    Montgomery Educational Consulting

  204. I was wondering if a student with a gpa of 3.8 could get into a school like Carleton or Macalester if they were involved in extra curriculars and volunteering.

  205. Hi, Hannah,
    Yes, it’s possible. But you don’t mention whether it’s weighted or unweighted. And you don’t mention the rigor of your coursework. And you also realize, I’m sure, that many other things will come into play when the admissions folks at those colleges look at your file. But yes, all things being equal, a 3.8 would be considered.
    Hope that helps.

  206. I have a 3.8 unweighted GPA. I have taken 12 AP courses my Freshman-Senior Year, or all of my classes having been honors or AP, when available. I am a member of the National honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society. Both my parents and my brother have gone to Penn. I have 500 volunteer hours and i have 6 varsity letters. Do you think i have a good chance at getting into Penn?

  207. Hi Jack,

    It sounds like you have a very impressive resume and academic background. It is difficult for us to assess your chances for being admitted to a school without actually reviewing your transcript and other materials. Remember that admissions officers will look at your entire application, including letters of recommendation and essays.

    Good luck!

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate
    Montgomery Educational Consulting

  208. Teacher made an error on my grade gave me a B instead of an A, so now that it is corrected I ‘m trying to determine my corrected cumulative GPA . The current Non-weight is 3.186 because of the correction, my term GPA went from 2.714 to 2.857. What I’m trying to figure out is, do I minus 2.857-2.714= 0.143 then add that to 3.186 which gives me 3.329. I’m not sure if that is the correct way to find out my corrected Non-weight GPA.

  209. I was wondering if you had any insight into the Admissions process for Marist. I understand they look at the unweighted GPA, as do all colleges I gather from previous posts, but then Marist talks about putting their own weight to classes the student takes and other attributes the student brings to the table. My son is a solid B student in all Honors and AP courses in the 5 areas of study that have been discussed, but as I understand it, Marist looks for a 3.2 through 3.7 unweighted GPA and my son’s falls in the lower end of that range. So I guess my question is, do you think it’s a waste of time to even pursue Marist. As stated, he is a B student in the second semester of his junior year with 5 A’s thrown in there and 2 C’s in Math where he really struggles. He is active in sports, plays both Varsity soccer and tennis for the school and has a part-time job working around 15 hours per week, plus plays club soccer year-round. Several of his teachers have offered to write his letters of recommendation because he is a very hard-working student. What are your thoughts? He is obviously not interested in pursuing a degree in Math but looking into the Special Education Field or Social Work Field.

  210. Hello, and thanks for your inquiry. Like most colleges, the admissions process at Marist is relatively opaque. But I’d definitely pursue it. However, keep in mind that if youre family is seeking financial aid (merit aid, especially), most money is going to flow to students at the top of their admissions pool.
    Good luck!

  211. Hi, Bernard.
    When the mathematical calculations become so fine, it’s hard for me to say what the “correct” GPA will be now. Different schools use different statistical methods to come up with these numbers. So it’s best to be in touch with the school registrar for more complete information.
    Best of luck.

  212. I have a problem here. Right now, i am ranked 13th out of 400 kids at my school with a weighted average of 4.35 because i have taken all advance/ap classes from freshman year to senior year. However, i only have a 3.4 unweighted gpa, whereas many of my peers who have taken just honors classes have near 4.0’s. They have taken a significantly easier class load compared to me, but they have superior unweighted gpa’s and are below me in rank and SATs. How does this work?

  213. Anthony,
    Your rank is what indicates that you have taken harder classes. The fact that your unweighted GPA is lower than those who have taken only honors classes is irrelevant. Colleges see class rank as a proxy for the rigor of your curriculum. Do not despair–you have made the right choices.
    Good luck.

  214. Hi Mark,

    I am glad that I discovered your site while searching the web for ‘how do colleges calculate gpa’. There is a lot of information here which I previously did not know of. Thank you very much for that.

    Although I was able to gain clarity on the subject I was seeking info on, it also raised a question and I am hoping if you can offer some insight.

    My daughter (a sophomore) attends a public school which, as a policy, does not calculate or provide weighted gpa on school transcript nor does it report weighted gpa to colleges. The school also does not rank students either. (I wonder how the school picks valedictorian and etc)

    You have repeatedly indicated in your previous comments that colleges see class rank as a proxy for the rigor of curriculum.

    She started taking summer college courses at a local community collge while she was in the middle school and has continued that practice since. Except for one B and one C in two of her college classes, she has all A’s including her freshman year. Sophomore year however, is not going all that well for her. She, I believe, has bit more than she can chew. She is taking AP Bio, AP Chem, AP US History, and three other honors classes. She is managing A’s in four classes but got a B in AP Bio and a C in AP Chem in the first semister (she is working very hard to get those up in 2nd semister).

    I understand that even though her weighted gpa, due to all those AP and college courses, should be relatively high, her unweighted gpa does not appear very impressive. Factor the low gpa (3.67) along with the fact that school does not report class rankings (which I see as a disadvantage), how would she be seen by college admissions officers? Colleges she has in mind expect close to perfect gpa. Also, if it is a numbers game to colleges, numbers are not in our favor. She scored 1900 on her psat last year.

    Your expert opinion will be much appreciated.

    Ps: She is enrolled to take 4 AP classes in her junior year. I have discouraged her from taking more challenging subjects such as AP Physics and advised her to take classes that are not as demanding on time and effort. Please comment on this strategy. Thanks

  215. Dear Rozina,
    It sounds like your daughter is a very good student. I am not able to give you much in the way of specific advice for your daughter, other than to say that she needs to find a balance between the rigor of her course and the performance she is able to attain. Pushing too hard to do both will be counter productive. It’s also important at this stage of her life, I think, NOT to have “colleges in mind.” This can put too much pressure on students (and parents) to judge themselves by some goal that is statistically not something that anyone can plan on, anyway. Rather, help your daughter achieve that balance so that she pushes herself academically as far as she can, but not so far that she feels unsuccessful. So your strategy, overall, is the right one. But in order to give you more specific advice, we’d have to talk at greater length and with more specificity. I hope this helps!

  216. Hello,
    I have a question regarding my college gpa.
    I currently have a cumulative gpa of a 3.0.
    Is it possible to raise it up to a 3.7 by the end of my
    Fall 2011 semester?

  217. Hi, Stephanie.
    Your question involves a math problem that I cannot do without all the figures. I suspect that you know how to calculate an average. Take the cumulative GPA from each semester, and then divide by the number of semesters. Give yourself a 4.0 in the Fall 2011 semester, and see what you get. Good luck. Happy calculating!

  218. My son who is a freshman in H.S. has a GPA in just his core classes of 0.8 (not a typo), and an overall GPA of 1.3 (these are not hard or AP classes). He says he would like to go to WSU, but when I pointed out that he’d never get admitted to a school like that due to his grades, he said he’d just go to a community college instead. Will he get admitted to a community college with grades like that? And, will he be eligible for financial aid or any other kind of monetary help to pay for college? Is there anything I can show him to prove that I am not just harping on him and that I actually know what I’m talking about?

  219. What is the odds of your GPA Staying the same since the grade of 10th Grade if you are getting high grades?

    I look forward to your reply.

  220. I forgot to mention to you that my school weights our gpa, so I believe I’m at a 4.2 or 4.3. I plan on improving it Fall semester.

  221. Hi, Mark.
    I am from Peru, and I have just arrived to the U.S. I am planning to study electrical engineering. I have finished high school in my country. Also, I took the SAT and the TOEFL iBT. On the other hand, I know that GPA is an important factor that colleges and universities evaluate and take in consideration. How can I calculate my GPA score if I am from Peru and my grades are in a scale from 1 to 20. Is there any institution I can go to ask about it? I am living in Miami right now.
    Thanks for your time and consideration.

  222. Hi, I have a question about core GPA. I am wondering is a 3.665 core gpa competitive with others. It is true that other classes artificially inflate gpa’s. My accumulative average is a 3.89. Is a 3.665 core gpa competitive with other applicants at institutions like University of Wisconsin Madison and other comparable schools.

  223. Mark
    I am writing to you because of my daughter, she currently attends St. Thomas high school in Ft.laud Florida, It is a private school that prides themselves on Academics and Athletics, My daughter Kristal is taking courses that I honestly believe I did not take at Ohio State. They are all AP or Honors classes, She gets B’s and C’s . If she were taking the regular course selection for a junior she would have a straight A or 4.0 grade point the school keeps telling us that she will get credit for these courses when applying for college scholarships , Others haveb told me that it is B.S. and it is not going to matter to many students applying and she shoukld take regular advanced get all A’s and get a scholarship and go on , I am concerned, she struggles alot about time management and to many ap and honors classes, Ap Biology, AP History Ap computer animation(elective)AP ALGEBRA II, AP Spanish III , and on and on. she went from a 4.0 or 4.4 to a 3.4 and the school is trying to tell us it means more than a 4.4 or there abouts , she takes an advanced S.A.T class
    because she scored in the top percentile in her school on a testb they gave.

    I am concerned , She has no life and yet I dont know if I can afford college,
    where she wants to go without a scholarship , She wants to be a doctor.


  224. Hi,

    The high school that I go to does not weight any classes, so my GPA is unweighted (and my school offers 0 AP classes because it conflicts with their mission statement, apparently). However, my school does offer UC approved honors courses that are still not weighted by the school. Does this mean that I only have an edge over most of my 10th grade class when applying to UC schools (only 3 others took UC approved honors Spanish 4 with me)? Or do other colleges also recognize that I took a much harder Spanish class and consider that?

    Also, I took the first half of Spanish 3 in the first trimester, but did some extra work and moved up to the second half of Spanish 4 in the third trimester. Do colleges see anything special from me skipping over a year’s worth of coursework midway through?

    Finally, how important is the 12th grade courework in the college admission process?

  225. Kyle,
    Your GPA is judged on the basis of the courses you took at the school you attended. Your GPA is quite respectable. Much of the answer to your question depends on whether you live in Wisconsin, which program you are applying to, and what the rest of your application looks like. Your GPA is an important part of the equation. But other factors weigh in as well.
    Good luck.

  226. Hi Mark,

    I am going to be a Senior after this summer, and I go to a Vocational High School (with a trade/related class). I was wondering if all colleges leave out the shop in terms of GPA. My school calculates my GPA by adding all of the classes I took, such as: Math, English, History, Science, Gym, Shop/Trade, and a Related class for that Shop/Trade. With my Trade classes and Gym incorporated into my GPA I have about a 2.9. Without those classes it’s higher but, I do not have all of my school information sadly. I’m really worried about my GPA when it comes to my trade, because my teachers are very strict when grading. So does every college calculate GPA with JUST the core academics, or will some just look at what is given to them by my school? If so, is it possible to get my GPA to over a 3.0 by the end of my senior year? Another problem is my school does not have a Foreign Language class. Is that fact going to hinder my chances of getting into a certain college?

  227. Say someone has a 3.18 as their overall gpa and they score a 2200 on the SATs and countless community and extracurricular activities. Will a college like Howard University,Rutgers,TCNJ,Riders,or UPenn accept them?

  228. Hi, John. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’d say you’d be competitive for the schools you list, with the exception of UPenn (then again, it depends in part on your activities and the level of accomplishment in them). You have a good (but not stellar) academic record, and your test scores are good. So there will be many, many colleges that will give you a very serious look. Still, use your senior fall to really shore up your grades and show them you’re on an upward trajectory.
    Best of luck.

  229. Hi, John.
    There is no minimum threshold. Some kids get into colleges with relatively low GPAs–but there is usually something else (test scores, sports skills) that pulls those kids in. Aim for as high as you can, then make the case that you fit best at Howard. GPA is important, but it is not the only factor in admissions. The problem with college admission in this country–especially at private schools–is that there is no clear standard. There is no bright line between acceptance and rejection. I wish I could offer more clarity. If you need help assessing your chances in greater specificity, let me know. We work with students from all over the country! Good luck!

  230. Dear Howard,
    It sounds like you have some very particular circumstances that are throwing a monkey wrench into a clear understanding of your college chances. I can’t really analyze very well without more particulars. I’d need to look at your transcript, learn more about which sort of colleges you are considering, and I’d like to learn more about the trade you are pursuing. With regard to the foreign language, if your school doesn’t offer it, then it is difficult for you to take it! Again, everything sort of depends on everything else, so perhaps my associates and I could be helpful in assessing your educational plan, and helping you make some good decisions on how best to move forward. Let us know if this might be helpful and I’ll hook you up with one of the members of our team!
    Best of luck.

  231. Dear Phillip,
    I”m sorry for the late response to your plea for help. Kristal is in a tough position. She is challenging herself, and yet not completely nailing the challenges tossed her way. But if she moved down to easier courses and puffed up her GPA, she might not be taken as seriously in some ways by some colleges. The issue is this: which colleges are on her list? You note that you need financial aid in order to pay for college. So that means having a higher GPA would be really helpful. This is really a Catch-22. I can’t offer much in the way of specific advice without looking more carefully at her transcript, her school profile, and the sorts of colleges she aspires to attend. If saving money is part of the strategy, we might want to retool in some way to ensure success on all fronts. Let me know if you’d like to talk to one of my associates. I think we might be able to help you–and Kristal.
    Best regards.

  232. Carol,
    Clearly if your grades go up, then your average will go up. This is a mathematical question related to how averages work. Thanks for writing in.

  233. Hi, Jen. I feel your pain. Your son can perhaps walk into a community college, as they have open enrollment policies. He will not get any aid, however. Aid goes to the best students. Here’s some advice: tell him that if he doesn’t get an acceptable GPA (you decide what the threshold is), you won’t pay for college. He will have to pay for it on his own. Then let him make his own choices. Just draw the line and let him live with the consequences. This will be hard to do, I’m sure. No one likes to see their kid make bad choices. But all kids need limits. Nevermind what colleges will or won’t do. They will make their own decisions. It seems to me that you need to make your decision about how you’ll respond to your son’s inattention in school. Perhaps the Bank of Mom and Dad will not provide any assistance unless he has a cumulative GPA of 3.0? Just an idea.
    Good luck. Not an easy situation…

  234. Hi, Jordan,
    So how did you make out this year? Did your grades improve? Sometimes moving to a new school can have a negative impact on one’s grades, and colleges are aware of that. But what matters is whether you adjusted to the shock and rose to the occasion. So have things been improving? If so, then your top school might be attainable.
    Hope this helps.

  235. Hello, Farid,
    You do not need to translate your GPA from the Peruvian to the US system. The US universities will make the calculation for you.
    Good luck.

  236. So if your GPA significantly improves over te years, it looks better? In 8th grade I took German I and Algebra I and got Bs, giving me a 3.0, then freshman year I averaged a 3.52ish, then sophomore year I had all As, giving me a 3.9, and junior year I had a few more A minuses, giving me like a 3.8, so now my cumulative is a 3.755! So does it look better that I can improve my GPA by over .7 points?

  237. Hello, Delonte. It certainly does look best if you improve! Good job. Remember, however, that colleges generally do not see your 8th grade grades on your transcript…only 9th grade forward.
    Best of luck!

  238. really random but could anyone tell me what my unweighted gpa would be if i have a 4.4 weighted gpa?

  239. how do I find out my cummulative GPA? do I add all my GPA’s since ninth grade and divide them by the amount of years i’ve been in highschool?

  240. Hi, Elizabeth. You divide by the number of courses/credits you have. Hope that helps!

  241. Impossible for me to do without seeing all your grades. It depends on which grades are weighted by your school, and by how much. You have to just take the raw numbers and divide by the number of courses or semester or credits, whichever your school uses.
    Best of luck.

  242. Hi, Gabe. If you are taking the toughest courses in your school, that will help when it comes to college admission. They will also notice (as long as you point it out) that you made a leap in curriculum. With regard to 12th grade curriculum, the 1st semester really matters a lot. The second semester…quite a bit less. It matters, but by then the decisions already are made.
    Hope this helps. Good luck.

  243. In 10th grade I was transferred to another school in another state. The new school will not count my 9th grade grades into my new GPA – this puts me at a disadvantage – what do you suggest I do?

  244. Hi.
    Most colleges will recalculate your GPA to include grade 9. When you submit your application and they provide a space for you to “add any other information,” just include a short sentence: “Because I transferred to my present high school from another state between grades 9 and 10, my reported GPA does not include my grades from 9th grade. If it were recalculated to include all my high school grades, my cumulative GPA would be higher.” And then let the college look at it and recalculate. You might also ask your HS counselor to recalculate your total GPA by hand, and include that recalculation in his/her recommendation, known as the “Secondary School Report,” or SSR. That will then make it even easier for the college to view your entire academic record at a glance with greater ease.
    Hope that helps.

  245. Hi,

    I learned today from our school counselor that In Georgia they use only a four point scale where 90 to 100 is an A and 80 to 89 is a B. Two students – one with all 80’s and one with all 89’s will have exactly the same GPA – namely a 3.0 or B. They do however report the 80 and the 89 on the transcript.

    Have you ever heard of this? If so, would colleges look at the 89 or just the 3.0?


  246. Hello, Confused.
    Thanks for the question. Colleges will see whatever your secondary school puts on the transcript. If they put an 89 on the transcript,then colleges will see it–in addition to whatever averages are calculated by the school. Colleges will “look” at whatever they are given. And believe me, what with 50 states and 14,000 school districts, plus about 3000 private schools and tens of thousands of homeschooled kids–the colleges have seen it all. They have to take into account whatever they are given, and endeavor to make good comparisons among unlike things. It’s a difficult job, but for the most part they do it professionally and dispassionately.
    Hope this helps.

  247. Hi Mark,

    I know that every college seems to calculates GPA differently. For example, UC’s only take UW 10-11 and disregards pluses and minuses. JHU takes UW 10-12 and uses pluses and minuses. But when we are filling out the Common Application, what GPA do we put down? Unweighted? (9-12, 10-12, 10-11, 9-11: WHICH ONE?) Weighted? (Do I put the weight to all my AP/honors classes?)

  248. Hello:
    My son is one step away from high school. He is aim for med school. Reading all the GPA confused me. How do med schools admit students, GPA from high school or GPA from B.S. or combine? Should he compete for a place in excellent private high school or just settle with public school since his GPA will some how probably higher in non competitive public high school then from competitive private high school? Does he need real high GPA to be admitted to Bachelor programs or premedicine?

  249. Hello. First of all, medicine is a graduate program. So the graduate program will look only at his undergraduate record, not his HS record. Second, “pre-medicine” is not a major, but a program that can be combined with virtually any major. Many students who major in history, psychology, or philosophy go on to become doctors. In addition, admission to both colleges and graduate schools is also partly determined by test scores. For undergraduates, we have the SAT and the ACT (not to mention the SAT2), and for medical school we have the GMAT. But the answer to your last question is generally yes: those who perform the best get the best chance of moving on. With regard to choosing high schools, it’s hard to speak in generalities. I’d have to know more about your son’s situation to make a recommendation.
    Thanks for taking the time to write to us.

  250. Aleena,
    You just put the GPA that is listed on your transcript. You are right that different colleges do different things to manipulate your GPA . But on the Common App, you can do one of two things. First, you can just leave it all blank and let the data technicians at the universities in question manipulate the data however they like. They’ll do this anyway, so why bust your own brain cells when their computers can do their dirty work for them. Second, you can just report things the way your school does (use UW, or Weighted…whatever tends to make you look best). This will be fine. Why do the colleges even ask for the information on your Common App? Heaven only knows; but my suspicion is that they are all just lazy. They could get the info from the transcript, or they could just pull the numbers from the Common App. No harm in just leaving the whole section blank.
    Hope this helps.

  251. Hi! I’m dominican and here GPA’s aren’t calculated like in the US, here I have a 91.77 GPA, how do I calculate it the US way?

  252. Hi,
    I take a rigorous schedule-all honors, but my high school does not weight my GPA. My friends that are all taking classes for easy A’s have higher GPA’s than me, but they aren’t challenging themselves! Will colleges reward me over them for challenging myself?

  253. Howdy.
    The answer is generally yes, assuming that you are both applying to the same schools. All things being equal (and they never are, unfortunately), you will have the edge over those who took the easy route. Of course, by assuming that “all things are equal,” that would mean you had earned A grades in all your course, just as they had.
    Good luck.

  254. You cannot calculate in the US way. You need to leave your grade average as it is. Your school, then, would need to communicate to the US university how you are graded at your school, and what percentage of students (roughly) earned a 990% or above. Do not try to recalculate your grades. US universities will interpret your GPA as it is.
    Good luck.

  255. Hi,
    Freshman and Sophomore year, I take mostly honors and accelerated classes (weighted to 4.5 and 5.0 scales) with the exception of orchestra and art classes which an A gets you a 4.0. So far I’ve gotten all As in my classes and so the art and orchestra classes have pulled my GPA down so its about a 4.4 now- but I think without them it would be over a I had the option to waive them from my weighted GPA, but it took filling out forms and I guess I didn’t really think about it then. Do you think that will affect how colleges see me at all vs. someone with the same classes and grades who did waive those classes? And junior year I’m taking all honers classes except for orchestra(but since its the highest this year its on a 4.5 scale)- do you think I should go to the trouble of waiving it, or will it matter?

  256. Becky,
    You are worrying too much. You are an excellent student, you have excellent grades, and you are trying to game the system. Don’t worry! Just submit your grades, and the colleges will love you. If you are striving for perfection–and measuring perfection by your GPA–then I’d say go do more music and art and have a good time. You’re focusing on something that won’t really matter in the end. Do what you love. You seem to be doing everything well. So what’s the problem?
    Good luck. Everything will be fine.

  257. I am a senior and currently in IB. During my first two years in pre-IB, I had wasn’t in the right set of mind due to some family issues. Throughout the four years, I have taken rigorous classes, I have only had one class that colleges won’t consider as core class which is a performing arts class. Due to intensity of the classes and due to personal life, I had terrible GPA in my first two years but there is a positive change that can be seen in my transcript going from 2.2 to 3+. My cumulative weighted is 3.79 out of 5 and is definitely increasing. If I were to properly state my problems and explain the rigor of my classes in my essay, would that possibly cause the colleges to disregard or at least take into consideration everything that was going on and downplay my freshman and sophomore years? Is there anything that I can do help push myself further away from my GPA and show that I am intelligent and would do well in college and just had a difficult time in high school?


  258. Hello, and thank you for your answers. I can’t bring myself to making my child’s HS experience overbearing to just play the “AP” game. Given she is an excellent student with a 96.4/100 class average (4.0 unweighted) at the end of her first year, named freshman of the year in her band section, made all state in her freshman year for her sport , is it ill advised to wait until the junior and senior years and take only 2 AP classes per semester? Is it not more important to do well on the SAT I and II and have maybe 4 AP courses (or less) in which she scores a 3 or higher and a high unweighted GPA? Her school offers up to 20 AP’s. But I’m sorry. HS biology is not UG biology is not Grad School biology even if the same person was teaching the course. The depth and breath of knowledge the student (and instructor) brings to the course determines what will be extracted. Thank you for your thoughts.

  259. Hello,

    I am a bit confused…when the colleges ask for my GPA to the nearest decimal should I give them my most current GPA or my Cumulative GPA?

  260. My school has different grading scale an A would be 93-100. Will colleges take that into account if I get an A on my grades.

  261. Hi Mark I was wondering how IVY league schools calculate their GPA’s, do they evaluate grades 9-12 with equal weight or is greater emphasis placed on grades 10-11 like the UC system? I’m curious about this because I had straight A’s freshmen year and good grades my first semester of my senior year

  262. My son is a Freshmen ; he has AP/ college prep classes. His grades are high B s and C ‘s. Im a very concerned parent – how does the GPA work for 9th grade . He however is excelling in band!!! Can we change his classes to college prep only at this stage. Planning to speak to the counsellor after the quarter report.

  263. Hi, Terri. Thanks for writing in. It’s possible your son is over his head if he’s already in AP courses and not flourishing. Ninth grade “counts,” but perhaps a bit less than 11th grade. The big question is what is causing him to get those Cs. Is he unprepared? Is he not developmentally ready? Or are they just too hard? Talking to his counselor is a good idea.
    Best of luck.

  264. Colleges will get a “secondary school report” that explains how grades are awarded at your school. So they will take your context into account.

  265. Add up all the grades and divide by the number of credits. Most US high schools put the GPA on the transcript. If you are not a US student, leave that part of the application blank and submit your academic record however it is written. The universities will interpret it from within your own national curricular context.

  266. Are “real” electives that do not fall into math, science, English, foreign language, or history included in core GPA? One example is Accounting.

  267. my school uses a scale where a 4.0 is all A+’s so will my gpa be adjusted to the 4.0=A scale when i apply to colleges

  268. Bob,
    You need to ask your school how your GPA will be reported to colleges. I have no real way of knowing the precise answer to your question…but officials at your school will be able to respond with clarity. Good luck.

  269. Accounting is likely considered a business elective, but usually is not considered a “core” academic course. Some university programs (especially those in accounting) will look more closely at the grade in accounting than others. But “core” GPA does not, generally speaking, include electives like accounting. That said, it’s great to take the course and do well in it, if that is something you wish to pursue.
    Good luck, Chris!

  270. Hello,
    I was worried about my GPA. My GPA is 2.7. Is that goood enough to find a scholarship. Please reply and you can please tell me an effective way of learning and an effective way to get a 4.0.
    Thank you!

  271. Hi, Tommy. A 2.7 GPA is probably not the best for getting a scholarship. It might be possible, depending on what other assets you bring to a college. But you’re instincts are right: you need to figure out how to double down and bring up the grades. I recommend anything and everything Cal Newport writes (his website is called “Study Hacks”). I could give you some personal advice, too, if you and I were to have a conversation or two about what you’re doing now and how you could improve your study skills and habits. If you’re interested, give us a ring here at 720.279.7577 and we’ll see if we can’t find a way to be helpful to you.
    Best of luck.

  272. Hi Mark, I attend a school that uses a 5 pt scale for the GPA, and it’s weighted as well for the AP courses. I currently have a 5.05 GPA, but most scholarships are asking for the real GPA. How do I determine my true GPA? Is there a formula? Please advise.

  273. Laurant,
    You, yourself, do not need to translate on your applications. You simply put what your school reports. If you are applying to an outside, third-party scholarship, then include the “school report” that your US high school sends with your transcript. Go to the guidance office and ask for this document–every school should have one. Colleges will get this automatically and will do their own formula to determine your eligibility for the scholarship. Judging by the fact that your GPA is above 5.0 on a 5-point scale, you’re doing well. Don’t worry about formulas–just make sure that the school or scholarship organization has enough information to judge your abilities.
    Good luck!

  274. Hi,
    Which grade is more important in calculating our “real” GPA average?
    In my school the GPAs are really low and are the administration offices consider the GPAs according to our schools? Are AP exams beneficial for the applications?

  275. Hi, Jade. The colleges will take all the grades you earned and make their own determinations. AP courses are definitely beneficial, if they are available to you. Your secondary school will send your grades, along with an explanation of their grading policies. So you will be evaluated within the context in which you have been educated. I hope that’s helpful.

  276. Daniel,
    Ivies want to see solid grades all the way through. But if your grades are not perfect, they do like to see improvement from year to year…in part because high school does get harder from year to year. So all things being equal, the trend should be upward from 9th to 12 grades. Hope that helps.

  277. Hello,

    It is difficult to balance out AP courses. The important thing is that your student does not take on more than she can manage. If 2 AP classes per year is the right load for her, then that is what she should take.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate
    Montgomery Educational Consulting

  278. Hi Jeff,

    It is perfectly fine to write a separate essay on your college applications that describes the difficult time you had your first two years. You should focus on what you have done to improve. Colleges do like to see an upward trend in grades, so it is good that you are on the right track!

    Good luck!

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate
    Montgomery Educational Consulting

  279. My school bases its grades on an eight point scale. A 93 to a 100 is an A. I am currently taking two AP courses this semester. I’m getting a high B in one of them but I’m affraid it’s going to hurt my GPA. If I get a high B in the course, does that mean that it counts only as a 4.0? Or can it be something like a 4.3? I’m a bit confused.

  280. Thanks for answering my question. My next one is does information technology classes like programming count towards real gpa.

  281. Hello. The answer depends, in part, on how your school classifies the course. Is it considered “math” credit, or is it primarily an “elective” credit. If elective, it may not factor into your “real” GPA.
    Hope that’s helpful!

  282. Hi Kat,

    You GPA is going to depend on your school’s grading scale. So if your school does not have a traditional grading scale (A is 90 to 100, etc) then you would need to adjust your GPA according. When colleges review your transcript, they will make note that you school does not have a traditional grading scale.

    Hope that helps!

    Katherine Price
    Educational Consultant

  283. hello i m completed my B.E. Computer science from india with 60.55% so can u tell me how much GPA is there now days i m in usa and i have green card and i m doing job in good company.and i want to do masters in usa but there is some confusion can any body guide me

  284. Hello,

    Thank you for your inquiry. Your GPA would depend on the grading scales used in India. If you tell me the name of the program you completed your degree under, I could probably assist you with determining your GPA.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

    Montgomery Educational Consulting

  285. My son is a senior who has taken all tough classes (AP & Honors) and hard electives like engineering. He saved his required to graduate easy electives (Art & Gym) for his senior year to offset his two AP classes. His high school does not weight his honors classes, so his GPA is only 2.88 on his transcripts. If the honors classes were weighted he would have a 3.06. He has tons of EC’s (Captain of two teams, Student Senator, founded a charity, plays on four teams, etc.) and got a 29 Math and 29 English ACT or a total 1800 (with writing) on his SAT. Sadly, colleges and scholarships with a 3.0 GPA cut-off are accepting students from schools that weight honors classes on transcripts but won’t accept my son because his transcript reads 2.88. Friends that took easier electives to boost their GPA are making the cut. He wrote an explanation on the common app but admissions offices don’t seem to read it. Any suggestions?

  286. Hi

    I have a National Diploma in Hospitality management from a University in South Africa, and I want to study Public relations at Ballstate University. Would they calculate my GPA based on my Varsity transcript or the Highschool one?


  287. i am senior High School student. why my GPA never goes up? i know i didn’t do well when i was freshman and sophomore year because my English is the second language but i didn’t get U in any subject i just got C D And B sometimes. when i became junior i got all A and B. i am senior now also i got good grade but i don’t know why my GPA never goes up. i am so worry about it. i feel like colleges are not going to accept me. if they are not accept me my future will be in same disaster forever..

  288. Hey Mark,
    So my daughter has a mediocre high school GPA, but received an A+ in a class that she took at UCLA over the summer. Does that A+ become part of her GPA? I am sending the transcript from that course to the colleges that she is applying to.


  289. The A+ in the UCLA course only becomes part of her HS GPA if the high school puts it on the HS transcript. Otherwise, you do as you suggest: submit the transcript from UCLA to colleges.

  290. Hi. If your son has a 2.88 GPA, that means he has received some grades of C. You don’t mention where your son is applying. The fact is that he didn’t perform as well in those honors and AP courses. Again, it’s hard for me to provide you with much information to alleviate your concern at this point. His ECs will not wipe away his academic performance. I wish I could be more specific in my advice, but at this point, there is not a lot that can be done, other than make the explanation you have made. However, if his explanation was “I worked hard in my courses to get a grade of C,” the fact is he still earned a C in that course. You also do not indicate his scores on the AP exams, which would be helpful. Again, sorry I cannot be more specific in my recommendations.

  291. Hello, Sheela. Your GPA will go up if your grades improve substantially. If your grades stay about the same, then your GPA will stay about the same. GPAs are mathematical averages, so you’re unlikely to see any great leaps in the numbers one way or another. But as you continue to improve your grades, your average will increase accordingly. I hope this is helpful. Good luck.

  292. Hi Mark,My question is similar to the Mom who son has the 2.8.GPA in a school with unweighted honors courses. My daughter has taken all honors freshman and 1/2 of sophomore yr, now and has a 3.8.(with no weighting for honors). My question is shoudl we bump up and take a few AP courses next year , but I do think that would mean she might need to drop a few honors. Honors and AP are to much to have any other life.
    I guess I do not understand why a school does not weight honors courses.
    I am confused but also know since she is looking at big universities she probably needs a few AP course along the way.
    I also saw one of your comments said her daughter took AP her freshman year, our school did not offer any freshman year. What is more commom?

  293. I have a C in AP world history, a B in honors bio, an A in PE, an A in regular english, a C in algebra 2, an A in spanish 2, and an A in intro to art, could you please calculate
    My weighted
    And unweighted gpa

    please estimate for weighted because i knoe it is different for every school but if you can estimate that would be great and I go to palisades charter high school if that helps.

    Thank you

  294. Hi Mark. I’m currently a Freshman, and I just calculated my GPA to be a 3.38. I’m currently shooting for an Ivyleague school, and planning to load my schedule with APs and Honors classes. Would I be better off dropping most of these clases to get a better GPA or try to get a GPA that looks a bit worse, but still having all my AP courses on my transcript? Thanks

  295. Hi, Corey.
    Long story short: to get into the Ivy League, you must take the most difficult classes offered (especially in those things you are good at and enjoy) AND get good grades. You cannot get in simply by taking hard classes. And you cannot get in by taking easy classes and getting a great GPA. The fact is that you need both.
    And please, Corey, as a 9th grader, you need to understand that “Ivy League” is a football league. It is not a basis on which to make a decision to go to college. Maybe you want to go to a “good” school, but there are hundreds of “good” schools. Please do not fixate on the Ivy League as some sort of nirvana. To fixate thus is a recipe for unhappiness.
    Take hard classes, work hard, and accomplish as much as you can. But aim for happiness, too. Do not sacrifice happiness for some fuzzy goal like belonging to a particular sports league.
    Hope that helps.

  296. Hi Mark,
    My school still uses the 7 point grading scale(100-93 is an A 92 to 85 B etc) but is going to change to a 10 point when I become senior, but will my freshman, sophomore, and junior grades alter with the new grading scale? Also I read in a different post that said only certain colleges do not look at the fluff GPA. So is that true and if it is then how high in the ranks are the colleges that look at the overall GPA(weighted/ unweighted I do not care)?


  297. My bad on the mistakes. It should say that …how high in the ranks are the colleges that look only at the core GPA…

    My Apologies

  298. Hello! Thanks for your comment. Each school is different so sometimes their offerings of AP/honors courses are different. It sounds like your student might be a good candidate for some AP courses next year. Also, a lot of colleges will give college credit to students who are successful (get a high score) on the AP exams so that may be a benefit to think about.

  299. I have a class that is a pass or fail (teacher’s aide), if i pass, what would the letter grade be, a C?

  300. Hi, Martha. You don’t get any grade that is factored into your GPA if it is a Pass/Fail course. It just doesn’t count one way or another.

  301. Hi, Chris. The bottom line is this: your school has the responsibility to help explain the changes in GPA calculation to colleges. You should ask them how they will be reporting your GPA to colleges as they make the transition to the new system. Some colleges do look more at 10th grade and later, while others want it all. Without going through a list, think of it this way: the more selective the college, the more selective they will be. So they will look at–and evaluate and compare–more information about students–rather than less.
    Hope this helps.

  302. Hello Mark,

    I am trying to figure out my son’s grade translated from weighted GPA to 4.0 scale GPA. He is a Jr. going to a school in San Jose, CA. He Academic Cum. GPA is 4.22(Fresh and Sophomore). He has taken 4 Hnr classes in Freshman and Soph years and 2 AP in Soph. This year he is taking 5 AP classes and two regular classes. His Academic GPA for his Jr. Fall semester be around 4.5~4.6(we will know the exact grade when the finals are over and grades are posted early in January). He is doing extra cur activities, leader of his school Robotics club, does weekly Tutoring working with kids from disadvantaged kids, did fundraising to raise more than $1500 for a family homeless center. He will do his internship with a software company in summer 2012. Also he will do 2-week trip to India from school in late summer, to visit various orphanages to spend days with them, visit high-tech centers all over India. He wants to study CS in college. He likes programming and already taking Java prog class. He really likes programming. What is his chances to get in UCB, UCLA, UCSD, Cal Poly, Purdue, Urbana Champagne,or some of the private colleges, Rice, Harvey-Mudd, Rose-Hullman, RPI, WPI, Cooper-Union, MIT?

    Anyway, we tried to register to few websites to help find various scholarship available, they ask for his GPA in 4.0 scale. I don’t know how to translate his AP/Honor Class grades. Any help will be highly appreciated.

    Dad of Jr. student

  303. Hello,
    I want to take AP art history as a self study and then take the exam,will the exam grade be used to calculate class rank ?

  304. Hello.
    My advice is to enter his cumulative GPA as it is listed on his official transcript. If 4.0 is the highest you are allowed to enter, then put in 4.0. Hope that helps. If you’d like more personalized advice on acceptances to particular universities, feel free to contacting me via email. I’d be happy to help.
    Best regards.

  305. Hi Mark
    I just want to know how would my GPA be calculated If I am retaking a class in order to improve the grade, would the new point average include the total number of the semester hours including the repeated class hours. as it is counted again in the number of attempted hours?

  306. Hi,
    I’m an American junior student studying in Canada, and i was wondering how will american universities convert my GPA ?
    Canada has a completely different grading system where percentages are used instead of Letter grades. In USA 94% equals to a 4.0 , where as in Canada 85% + is a 4.0. According to the Canadian system i have a 4.0 GPA , but i have no idea what my GPA will be in the states. How will the conversion affect my GPA ?

  307. My daughter is about to select courses for her junior year. She’s an A/A+ regardless of the course and will have near-perfect or perfect SAT scores (yeah, I know). She likes to play sports and write fiction so keeps a study hall. She’s clearly on the dartboard, tho unlikely, for an elite school. 2 questions: is it “slacking” to have a study hall in an 8 period schedule so you can do other things? Can she add a 3rd language, Russian, which is known to be the hardest course in the school, because she’s interested in it, or is she better off finding an AP elective?

  308. I forgot to say that they do not have class rank but do give weight to AP courses in determining GPA. Colleges are provided with average GPA for school. She is interested in aeronautical engineering and will have Latin I-III and Chinese I-IV. Almost seems like Russian may be seen as “pertinent” to her major. It will lower her weighted GPA as she would take 2 years of Russian and colleges won’t know that it’s harder than the AP electives.

  309. Do you get to add on points for AP classes when calculating GPA? For example would an 89 in AP English (4 on AP test) be counted as 89 or 99 for the GPA calculation?

  310. I got a B in a music class, would that effect my GPA in the colleges eyes? or would they just take the fluff class off my real GPA, and use my core study class grades (math, science, forgein language, english)?

  311. Dear mark I am a freshman who is talking a computer class regular geometry honors English ap world history and spanish 2 I I got all A’s except for in math and Spanish I got a b now my gpa is 3.6 and I am rely disappointed and I want to know if that is bad or good plus if I can some how bring it up or will it badly affect my gpa in later years?


  312. Hi Mark,

    My daughter is a high school freshman. Once per year the school allows each student to take a second study (a free period) vs. another elective. She would like to take the second study to use the time to better study and do homework so she can improve her grades in her core classes instead of taking a class in fashion design, electronic music, etc. It’s not that she does not take any electives, as she does, but I am not sure how colleges look at transcripts. If the student has enough high school credits, does it matter if she takes 1 less elective per year in lieu of another study period to improve her grades?



  313. Hi Mark!
    I have a question I want to ask. Currently, I’m a freshman in an IB school. I currently have a 3.86 unweighted gpa and a core gpa of 3.8. I was on the swim team and made it to regionals on a team for two events. I placed 4th at a district Mu Alpha Theta competition, and a member of FBLA(Future Business Leaders of America). I’m trying out for the tennis team currently. I was wondering, do you think I have a chance so far in getting accepted to Washing University in St. Louis?

  314. Hi, Kathy.
    My crystal ball is deficient, I am sorry to say. In order for me to evaluate your chances, I would need a lot more information. WUSTL is a very, very competitive university. One of my main questions would be whether you were being recruited for the swim team. If so, your chances go up. If not, your chances go down. Each factor tells part of the story, and I’d need the whole story in order to get my crystal ball back in gear again.
    Why WUSTL? What are the other colleges on your list?
    Best regards!

  315. Hi, Lisa,
    Every choice has possible positive and negative consequences. As for electives, my only thought is, what is she then doing with her time–if she is freed up at school to complete her homework, then what is she doing with her time at home? No choice is simply binary: this or that? The entire context is important. How does she spend her time? What universities does she aspire to attend? You mention “improving” grades: what are they now? I see no particular reason why she needs to take extra electives in which she is disinterested. Getting good grades is admirable. But how does this decision fit into the rest of her plans: this is the sort of question we help our kids figure out. It’s not easy!
    Thanks for writing in.

  316. Core is more important than non-core. But every class affects your cumulative GPA. So the answer is, “both” will affect the way colleges look at you. Also a tip (as you prepare for the SAT): “affect” ≠ “effect.” You might want to look those up again!
    Best regards!

  317. Susan,
    The calculation of your GPA is handled by your high school. Each school is different. However, colleges will be looking at the raw grades, too.
    Hope that helps!

  318. Hi Sheri. Tough choice. My gut tells me to tell you it won’t matter. She already has plenty of languages. Taking another would be nice. But ultimately her admission to the most elite colleges will depend more on what she does outside of school than inside it at this point. If she’s number one and headed to engineering, I see no big benefit to taking Russian. That said, if she wants to take it because she’s interested in it, that’s cool, too. But it’s also not “slacking” to have a study hall if that allows her to do those other things that help her stand out.
    I realize I haven’t answered the question categorically, but this is a tough one without understanding the entire context–and without talking to your daughter.
    Best of luck!

  319. Lara,
    It’s your high school that calculates your GPA on your transcript (and that decides whether to expunge the old grade and replace it with the new one). Talk to your school counselors. If the grade appear on your transcript, then colleges will see it and take it into account.
    Hope that helps.

  320. Sam, your GPA stays with you in calculating your cumulative GPA. But the future hinges on current actions more than past ones. What are you doing now to improve your grades? Will your second semester be better than your first? If so, things will continue to look up. Put one foot in front of the other, learn from your mistakes, improve your study habits, choose appropriate courses, do your best. You can’t expunge the past. But you can redeem it.
    Best of luck!

  321. My daughter has a weighted gpa of 4.4 but her unweighted gpa is 3.6. Almost all her core courses were ap classes and most of them were A’s except maybe a 2-3 b’s. This is her final year. Is it possible her unweighted gpa was calculated wrong. She is stressing out since she is considering schools like USC. Should I contact the school to recalculate her gpa? Another question I have is if you get turned down by your first choice – can you appeal and what are the chances of students who appeal to get into college.

  322. Hi Mark,

    Will a couse like theology count towards my GPA? I go to a catholic school and it is a required course and counts towards my weighted average.


  323. Hello Mark. I am currently a sophomore in High School. I am in all AP, Honors and/or advanced classes. I am doing exceptionally well in two of my main subjects and the other three are fare. They have been improving, however, and the final grade will be swayed by a few points. Is this enough, along with extracurricular activities, to get into an Ivy League School? Also take into consideration that next years grades will be much better; because I know the classes I am taking and have already familiarized myself with the material. Thank You.

  324. Hello Marc, my major GPA is 2.38 and i must increase it. I want to re-take only 1 course of 4 credits.If i took B, will i make it to 2.5 or no?
    Thank you

  325. Mark,
    Do college admissions officers calculate GPA as by taking all the grades from all the years and then calculating, or by calculating a freshman year GPA, a sophomore GPA, a junior GPA, and a senior GPA; and then dividing by 4?

  326. In general, colleges look at a cumulative GPA. That said, they also are looking for performance trends, so they will eyeball the year-by-year grades, too.

  327. Hi Mark,

    My 11th grader has the following stats:

    9th Grade
    Weighted: 4.14
    Unweighted: 3.86
    Using Your Formula: 3.81

    10th Grade
    Weighted: 4.0
    Unweighted: 3.43
    Using Your Formula: 3.32

    11th Grade (1st Semester)
    Weighted: 4.71
    Unweighted: 3.71
    Using Your Formula:3.63

    She took 3 honors courses in 9th grade (only 1 honors UC recognized), 3 APs and 2 honors in 10th grade (only 3 APs UC recognized), and currently taking 3 APs and 2 honors in 11th grade (all UC recognized for extra point)

    In addition, she has been taking college courses during last 3 summers (above mentioned GPA is all inclusive)

    As you know, most UCs practice “capped and weighted” formula to determine GPA and allow maximum of 8 semister credits to add extra point

    My question is:

    a) The more courses she takes the more her “capped and weighted” GPA continues to slide downwards (since those 8 extra points will be stretched among more courses). Is my understanding of this matter correct?

    b) In her senior year, her course load will appear much easy compared to her previous three years course load since a) there aren’t many APs left for her to take, and b) she must take PE (high school graduation requirement which she has not yet satisfied) and ROP (she was actively participating in DECA activities for past couple of years without registering for any ROP class, but recently she ran and got elected as Vice President for California, she must enroll in ROP course to continue to actively participate in DECA activities). From what I’ve heard, colleges like to see course rigor go upwards and not downwards in senior year. How will this sit with colleges?

    and c) she would like to attend UCLA, UCB or UCSD Medical Scholar Program. What are her chances of getting in those schools and in that program?

    Can you please help.

    Thank you.

  328. Hello, I am a highschool sophomore. My cumulative GPA is a 2.85, for me that is horrible. I was wondering why I have a lower GPA (with B’s and 2 C’s) in honors classes, than my friend who got C’s and D’s with honors classes as well? Also what would be the fastest way to bring my GPA up in order to get accepted to a “good” college. It would mean a lot if you answer me as soon as you can. Thank you.

  329. Hi Mark!
    It’s me again. I saw your comment, and unfortunately, I wasn’t recruited for the swim team. However, I tried out for the tennis team and I made it to the top five people, so I get to play in all our district matches. And, for FBLA, I placed 2nd in my district in Word Processing 1, so I’m competing in states.
    And I chose WUSTL because I’ve actually been there once, and I really liked the campus. It was really peaceful and pretty, and it seemed like a place I’d truly enjoy. I’m also considering Northwestern, UChicago, Vanderbilt, and Harvard.

  330. Hi Sebastian,

    It is difficult for us to answer your GPA question without seeing your transcript. The fastest way to bring up your GPA is do get better grades- simple answer, I know. Are you taking too many honors classes? Have you communicated with you teachers for extra help? Have you determined study and time management plan? You need to look at your current habits, find the road blocks and figure out solutions that will work for you.

    Good luck!
    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  331. Hello,

    Thank you for the information on your daughter. She sounds like a very accomplished young lady. You must be very proud of her! With regards to your questions, it is difficult for us to determine “chances” for students to be admitted to certain programs without viewing their entire record. We look not only at her GPA, but her class rank, challenge of her curriculum and how challenging her high school is. We currently work with students all over the country and would be happy to speak with you in detail about your daughter. Please feel free to call us at 720-279-7577.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  332. We moved to US when my son was in 10th grade. We moved 1 week after the school started. He didn’t get into any honors class in sci or Math.

    10th grade: Eng, Alg 2, Bio CP, Wor. History AP , Spanis, PE
    All A’s
    11th grade: AP Eng, AP Bio, AP US His., H Math Analysis A, H Spanish
    1st semester his Bio grade was C and Math grade was B.

    Bio had more chem, he didn’t take chem yet.
    Math Analysis had more Pre-calc, which he skipped.
    He is doing better this semester though.

    His SAT 2060(Took only once). Class Rank 64. He has lot of volunteering hours, President of Octagon Club & JV Tennis. What are his chances of getting into top UC’s. I would appreciate your response.

    Thank You,

  333. Hello,
    My son’s AP English and Spanish Honors grades are really bringing his GPA down. He has C’s in these subjects this year. He is a junior. He has a B in AP Calculus/BC, B in AP Physics B, A in Histroy and B’s in other sciences like Biology and Chemistry Honors. But is unweighted GPA is still just about 3.0 because of languages. He wants to major in Engineering. I am not sure if he can get into any decent colleges at all. Any advice?

  334. My freshman son has entered a “college prep” high school this year which has been very challenging (it boasts an average SAT score of 1901). His friends from our previous private school are attending the local public school. My son’s academic scores have always been similiar to his friends, but now they are getting straight A’s at the public school and my son is working hard to make B’s. Will colleges look at how challenging his high school is when considering his GPA & admissions?

    Thank you for your time,

    Concerned Mom

  335. A friend of mine has a 2.1 gpa unweighted which I believe is necessary for graduation. What happens if her last final grades are D and C

  336. Megan,
    The answer to your question depends entirely upon the grading policies of the teacher. Also, without a full transcript, we cannot calculate the GPA. Good luck to your friend.

  337. Hi Soma,
    I would suggest that your son take the SAT again so that he might get that higher. His coursework sounds good and I’m guessing that his weighted GPA is at least a 4.0 if he received A’s in his AP courses. No one way say for sure though if he would get accepted at UCLA or Berkeley or even UCSD. I would suggest that if he really wants to go to a UC, that he be open to all of the UC’s and not just the “top UC’s”. I would also suggest that he consider some private colleges as they might be even more interested in him. I hope this answers your question.

  338. Thanks for your comment! Most colleges do a very good job of looking at students within the context of their high school and the curriculum that is offered. In addition, many colleges representatives have specific territories that they cover during recruitment and are able to learn a great deal about the different schools in the area that they represent, get to know the counselors, and take what they learn about the rigor of the school into consideration when reviewing applications. In addition, most high schools submit school profiles to the colleges that the admissions counselors can review to better understand how academically challenging a high school is. So, the message is, yes-colleges will be aware of the differences in high schools. However, remember that they still want to see the student perform at the highest level that they can!

  339. Hi Susan, thanks for your comment. It sounds like you are doing great work so far in regards to your academics and extracurricular involvement. Unfortunately, there is no way to say whether or not this will be enough to get you into an ivy league school. Admissions is getting more competitive each year with these schools and many students, even those with top grades and test scores, are not accepted into ivy league schools. This is not to say that you will not be admitted but we cannot make any predictions right now without seeing more information. Remember a few things. First, there are MANY wonderful colleges out there that are not part of the ivy league and worth looking into. Second, try to focus on depth of your activities, involvement and leadership and what sets you apart from your peers rather than filling up your plate with many activities. If we can be of help with your college search please let us know and contact us at .

  340. Hello Dawn,

    There are plenty of schools out there that offer engineering programs that have less competitive admission processes. He can also consider transferring into a more selective program. If you would like to discuss options for you son further, please feel free to give me a call: +1.720.279.7577.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  341. Hello,

    Thank you for your question. It is difficult for us to answer your question without seeing your son’s full transcript. The UC system recalculate the student’s GPA using a specific formula. However, even if he meets the target GPA, there is no guarantee he would be admitted. Here is more info on the UC GPA calculator:

    Hope that helps!

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  342. Different high schools will calculate different courses into weighted and unweighted gpas. So, for example, some schools may consider non-core classes in the unweighted gpa, but only academic core classes in the weighted gpa. Other schools may have a different approach to their weighted/unweighted calculation. Since I don’t know what the situation is with your particular school, I can’t really say whether your high school has made an error with your daughter’s gpas. I encourage you to ask your guidance office how they go about doing their calculation. As for appealing admissions denials, I have never heard of this working, especially at more selective schools. Students are expected to put their best foot forward during the application process and provide any new information that needs evaluation prior to the time that decisions come out. Once a decision has been made, colleges don’t want to change their minds. They don’t want to set a precedent.

  343. Colin, thanks for your message. You will likely need to check with the schools you are interested. Some colleges will consider religious courses and some won’t in the GPA. Please let us know if we can help you with your college admissions process.

  344. Hi, incoming senior looking into colleges in the Boston area… I’m looking into some of Emmanuel’s scholarships, the best of which are based on having a 1250 SAT (I got a 1300) and a cumulative GPA of either 3.5 or 3.4. In their FAQ, they state: “Are high school honors classes weighed more heavily when a transcript is evaluated?
    Yes, the Admissions Office puts more weight on honors and AP level courses than standard college prep level courses.”

    I swung a “meh” 3.5 my junior year (in the past two I averaged a 3.8), but when I recalculated my GPA using the method above I got a dismal 3.1. Using my school’s honors and AP weighting for only my core classes I got a 3.64… Can I safely expect them to base scholarships on that 3.64 (bolstered by my honors level curriculum freshman and sophomore year, and the 3 AP classes to come), or some similarly inflated system?

    I’m going to ask my guidance counselor next year, but if I’m going to apply early action I’d like to know what’s going down sooner rather than later. Here are my core grades, if needed. B (AP), A-, C (honors), A- (AP), B. Also got an A, A-, A-, and another A in four half year classes.
    Thank you in advance!

  345. i was wondering if college admissions will recalulate my highschool gpa? i went to a college prep military boarding school and our gradeing scale was (A- 93-100 B-84-92 C-75-83 D70-73) so if i had a 90 in math and i got a B on my report card and a normal public highschool student would be credited with an A on a 10 point scale of he recieved the same grade i did. will college admissions reconise this? some friends told me they would not but this seems unfair.

  346. Hello,

    Colleges will make note of the grading scale at the school you attended. They will notice that a 90 is a B and not an A-. That is the reason some schools recalculate GPAs, to get even on an even scale.

    Hope that makes you feel better!

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  347. Hello,

    I think you best bet is to call Emmanuel and ask if they even recalculate GPA’s when looking at admissions or scholarships. Some schools will simply take the GPA off of the transcript. In that case, ask if they consider your weighted or unweighted GPA.

    Good luck!

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  348. my old high school that i went to for my junior year did not tell u grades but just told us the letter grade, A B C etc….how will these translate because there is no A- or A+, there is just A’s. A 92 95 or 100 all get an A.

  349. I am wondering, I attended college when I was younger, but had dropped out do to having small children and getting divorced. I am now back in school, and completed a semester with 3 A’s(very High A’s) and one B. Now I am told that my cumulative G.P.A, is less then 2.67, and I no longer qualify for financial aid. I am no longer Employed and my children are grown. how do I fix this and how do I report this if I apply for a scholarship?

  350. Hi, Maureen,
    The calculation of your GPA will depend on how your new school reports the grades on your current transcript. You should speak to someone in the counseling office at your current school for guidance, as different schools handle this question differently. Good luck!

  351. Lori,
    I apologize, but I’m not quite sure what your question is. I would need much more information about your current situation to give you insight into how to approach fixing a problem with your GPA and your financial status. Best of luck to you in your efforts.

  352. What do you do if you repeated a class d you replace that grade with the old grade? Or would you simply add both in to calculate your GPA?? Also I already graduated high school I decided to take a year break, so would I do all my classes or just classes till my 11th grade year when calculating my GPA?

  353. Marc,
    You should check to see how your high school handled the repeated course in terms of your GPA. Some schools will replace the old grade with the new one in a student’s GPA; others won’t. As for your second question, you should count all of your courses, because a college will see all of them when you apply.

    Hope that helps.

  354. i have a 3.9 gpa unweighted, but the thing is that i recently got a 2.63 (B) on a course for the 1st quarter; not semester. I am freaking out because i dont want my gpa to be affected. can you please tell me if my B in the quarter will affect my overall GPA?

  355. I am about to finish my first quarter of high school (9th grade) and my unweighted GPA is a 2.5, will I be able to bring it up to a 3.0 by the semesters end? I am extremely worried about the GPA effecting me in the long run.

  356. Dear Mark,
    Do colleges look at a high school health class that I need to take in order to graduate. By the way it was taken on the summer before 9th grade

  357. Hi! I took health this summer and opted out of a portion by my parenting requesting that I don’t take that section and do some alternative assignments. Due to the class being online it resulted in complications and marked the excused portion as missing. Due to this, my grade dropped a letter grade. I understand that it is merely fluff but I need some reassurance. Will this impact my GPA?
    What exactly do you mean by only academics? Can you give an example?
    Thank you in advance for your help.

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