GPAs can oftentimes be very confusing and unclear. With college admissions growing more and more competitive, GPAs are growing more important. This guide will explain what exactly weighted and unweighted GPAs are, which are best for college, and which GPA to report to college.
What is an unweighted GPA?
Unweighted GPAs are usually the most standard, and are typically out of a 4 point scale. With unweighted GPAs, the level of classes your taking does not matter. Whether you are in an honors, AP, or regular class, you’re grades are all assigned the same number. The unweighted GPA scale often goes as following:
A – 4.0
B – 3.0
C – 2.0
D – 1.0
It is important to mention that some schools assign different values for “minuses” and “pluses”. For instance, if you get an A-, that might be worth a 3.7 rather than a 4.0. Basically, unweighted GPAs measure how you perform in your classes, while ignoring the level of your classes.
How to calculate unweighted GPA
You can calculate your unweighted GPA, by adding up the point values you got in each class, and dividing it by the total amount of classes taken. For instance, if someone took 5 classes and got 3 As and 2 Bs, you could calculate their GPA by doing: (4+4+4+3+3)/5=3.6 UW GPA.
What is a weighted GPA?
A weighted GPA factors in the level of your classes rather than just the grades you received. The specifics of a weighted GPA varies per school, but oftentimes it is on a 5 point scale. Honors classes may be worth 5 points, while regular classes might be worth 4 points. So, if you were to get an A in an honors class you would get a 5, and if you were to get a B you would get a 4. In a regular class, if you were to get an A you would get a 4, and if you were to get a B, you would get a 3.
Weighted GPAs get a little bit more complicated, but ultimately show if you took advanced classes, and how you performed in them. A weighted GPA of a 4.4/5 would show that someone took many advanced classes and did well in them. A weighted GPA of a 3.7/5 would show that someone either got mostly As in regular classes or Bs in mostly advanced classes.
What is the difference between weighted and unweighted GPA?
An unweighted GPA only looks at the letter grades you got in your classes. An unweighted GPA does not take the level of your classes into account. Someone that got all A’s in honors classes would have the same GPA as someone who got all A’s in regular classes.
A weighted GPA also factors in the level of your courses. You are typically assigned more points for higher level courses. Someone in an honors class could get 5 points for an A, while someone in a regular class could get 4 points for an A. A weighted GPA ultimately demonstrates the level of classes you took, and how you performed in them.
Honors GPA scale
Every school does honors classes a little bit differently, but they are always higher point values than regular classes. If a regular class is worth a maximum of 4 points for an A, an honors class might be worth 4.5 or 5 points. Taking honors classes will make your weighted GPA higher.
What is cumulative GPA?
A cumulative GPA is the average of your GPA from each semester, quarter, trimester, etc. If you had a 3.0 your first semester, and a 4.0 your second semester, your cumulative GPA would be a 3.5. Each period of time holds the same amount of weight.
Is cumulative GPA weighted?
Oftentimes, you have both an unweighted and weighted cumulative GPA. If you are provided with both GPAs, your cumulative one should usually be your higher one.
What is a good weighted GPA?
It really depends on what your total GPA scale is out of, the point system your school has, and the difficulty of your courses. Since weighted GPA varies so much per school, it is very difficult to say. Oftentimes, colleges don’t even look at your weighted GPA, and instead calculate it themselves and look at the level of your classes.
In general, a good weighted GPA would mean a GPA higher than your unweighted GPA. If your unweighted GPA is a 3.6, a good weighted GPA would be a 3.8 or even a 4.1. Although weighted GPAs are pretty non-standard, an indicator that your weighted GPA is strong, is that its higher than your unweighted GPA.
What is a good unweighted GPA?
It is easier to determine what a good unweighted GPA is, since usually unweighted GPAs are more standard. It is important to note though, that an unweighted GPA from someone who took all honors classes may hold a different weight to admissions officers than someone who took all regular classes.
To determine a good unweighted GPA, you need to determine your goals when looking at colleges. Unweighted GPA is NOT everything, and below are purely suggestions.
If you are looking at extremely competitive and Ivy League colleges, you would be best having a 3.9+ UW GPA.
If you are looking at competitive colleges, you would be best having a 3.7-3.8 GPA.
If you are looking at slightly competitive colleges, you would be best having a 3.4-3.6 GPA.
If your unweighted GPA is below those numbers, it does not mean that you will not get into a competitive college. Those are just the GPAs that put you at the best chances of getting into competitive schools.
What is a good GPA for college?
It really depends where you want to go to college. You can determine a good GPA for the college you want to go to by googling the college’s average GPA. Oftentimes, a college will provide a common data set that provides the 25th-75th percentile GPA. If you are within the 25th-75th percentile, then your GPA is good. It is important to note that if you are below the 25th percentile, it does not mean that you won’t get into the college. If you are above the 75th percentile, then that is a pretty good indicator that you will likely get in.
What GPA do colleges looked at – weighted or unweighted?
Oftentimes, you can choose to report your weighted or unweighted GPA. Colleges will look at whichever GPA you choose to report. Sometimes, colleges have their own way of calculating GPAs, so they may all together ignore the GPA that you report and stick to their calculated one.
Should I report weighted or unweighted GPA should I report to college?
Typically, go with your higher GPA, which is usually your weighted GPA. If your unweighted GPA is the same as your weighted GPA, then definitely report your unweighted GPA.
In special circumstances, you may want to report your lower GPA. For example, If your unweighted GPA shows your academic achievement better than your weighted GPA, then you might report your unweighted GPA.If you have a 4.0 unweighted GPA and a 4.1 weighted GPA, reporting the 4.0 may look better. A 4.0 unweighted GPA shows that you got all As while a 4.1 weighted GPA could potentially look like you took honors classes and got Bs in those.
I highly recommend to someone who goes to your school when deciding which GPA to report, as each school does GPAs a little bit differently. In general, I would say go with the higher GPA.
What is a good weighted GPA for Ivy League?
Ivy Leagues are getting more and more competitive to get into. Even with a perfect GPA and SAT, you still are not guaranteed a spot in an Ivy League. With that being said, your weighted GPA should be near the highest possible. For instance, if your weighted GPA is on a 5.0 scale, ideally it would be a 4.8-5.0. Thousands of kids across the country have perfect stats, but most Ivy Leagues can only admit about 2,000 students. With that being said, you should have a near perfect weighted GPA and have outstanding extracurriculars.
Of course, there are exceptions. If you have a lower GPA due to struggles, or you have extremely impressive extracurriculars to make up for a lower GPA, of course you still have a chance.
Weighted vs unweighted GPA: summary
Ultimately, weighted GPAs measure both the level of your courses and the grades you received in them. Unweighted GPAs only measure how well you did in your courses. If you took a lot of honors and AP classes, your weighted GPA will probably be the best. If you only took regular classes, you unweighted GPA is probably the best.