The high school Grade Point Average (GPA) indicates your academic success, from grades 9 to 12. It translates the letter marks into numeric values that create a representative score of your results.
But how do you calculate it and improve it? The answer is in this short but comprehensive high school GPA guide.
Why the GPA matters
A high school GPA is crucial for the student’s future because it’s one of the factors that ensures their place in a college. Specifically for very competitive colleges, with a strict application policy, GPA weighs the applicant’s future.
Here’s what most colleges consider when reviewing a student’s application:
- College preparation courses;
- Admissions test scores (SAT, ACT);
- Letters of recommendation;
- Personal interview.
Most college counselors look for two things: dedication and passion.
Hence, they look for numeric values like GPA and SAT results to determine whether the applicant is dedicated to their academic life.
So, the SAT preparation courses are vital, and counselors advise including them in the student curriculum at the top. Next, SAT scores are also important because they further underline the determination of said student when it comes to the academic career.
Curriculum also lists several accomplishments and activities, such as sports, competitions, hobbies, etc.
Last but not least, counselors look for passion. They want to check if the student is interested in something. Specifically, prestigious colleges look for people who believe in their purpose and have a voice.
So, the personal essay is quintessential for the applicant. Hence, many students rely on tutors, essay writing services, and friends to correct their personal letters. This way, they make sure that the tone is perfect and reflects their personality.
Also, letters of recommendation play a part because counselors want to see how others view the applicant.
Lastly, the personal interview (not always required) confirms all of the above.
How the GPA system works
You can calculate your GPA with the help of an online site, paper writing service, or you can do it yourself. But first, you have to understand how it all works.
The GPA is an average, so it’s made of a series of scores summed up and divided per their number. However, the scores are simply numeric translations of the grade letter system:
- A = 4.0;
- B = 3.0;
- C = 2.0;
- D = 1.0;
- F = 0.0.
Some grades might even be in the middle of those values depending on your high school. For instance, a “B+” is a 3.3 while a “B-” is a 2.7. So, the plus and minus become an addition or subtraction of 0.3.
Nevertheless, some high schools discourage grades in between because they don’t fit well with the scale, or they might count both “B”s as 3.0, regardless of the plus or minus.
Lastly, multiple scales can be 0-4, 0-5, and 1-5.
The most simple GPA to calculate is the unweighted GPA. You start with adding all your converted scores together. Then, you divide the total by the number of scores you had.
For instance, let’s assume you have an “A” in history, biology, and maths. You also have a “B” in English and Spanish. “A”s are worth 4.0 each, while “B”s are worth 3.0 each. The total is 18.
Next, you divide your total per number of subjects, so five. The result is a 3.6 GPA.
Here’s the calculation: (4.0 + 4.0 + 4.0 + 3.0 + 3.0) / 5 = 3.6 GPA.
Depending on your high school, you might have to add or subtract 0.3 from each grade (B+ becomes 3.3).
Some classes are more challenging than others. So, a lot of schools add a weighted GPA scale.
For example, a class in Calculus is harder than a regular algebra. So, a “B” in Calculus might require more work than an “A” in algebra. A weighted GPA scale considers this fact.
This weighted scale also considers whether the class is AP, honors, or regular.
Here’s an example of a weighted GPA:
- Two AP classes. An “A” in AP is worth 5.0.
- Two honors classes. An “A” in honors class is 4.5
- Two regular classes. An “A” in regular class is 4.0.
Let’s say that the student is acing all the classes. So, here’s the calculation:
(5.0 + 5.0 + 4.5 + 4.5 + 4.0 + 4.0) / 6 = 4.5 GPA
So, even though the student has all “A”s, because of the weighted scale, they have a 4.5 GPA.
If you choose an online calculator, you can add in your:
- Course Name;
- Credits (if known);
- Course Type (Regular, AP, Honors).
How to improve your GPA
First, check the minimum GPA accepted by your favorite colleges. Most of them will accept at least a 3.3 GPA. Then, you can calculate your GPA.
Whether you’re over the minimum of your college or not, there’s always room for improvement. So, here are some tips to improve your GPA:
- Take Honors and AP courses. Since these classes have “heavier marks,” they can improve your GPA significantly. Moreover, they’ll look amazing on your college application.
- Change your study strategy. Sometimes, it takes to study books instead of notes or vice versa. Nevertheless, if you have trouble learning, consider changing your studying habits.
- Attend classes. If you are present in class, you can understand better. Also, participating by raising your hand can help you memorize better.
- Find tutors or someone to help. Sometimes you need some after-class sessions to understand concepts better. Or, you can join a study group.
Your GPA might affect your college application. So, it’s vital to calculate and improve it.
You can calculate using unweighted or weighted scales periodically and take extra classes to raise it. Nevertheless, make sure you perfect the rest of your application (essay and letter of recommendation) to maximize getting into your dream college.