How To Calculate Your GPA: Step-by-Step Guide
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated August 25, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020
Updated August 25, 2021
Published February 25, 2020
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
GPA, or "grade point average," is your high school or college grades added together—based on a point system—and divided by the number of classes you took. College and graduate school admission offices and prospective employers look at your GPA to see how well you’ve performed academically to qualify your potential for success. In this article, we discuss why your GPA is important, weighted vs. unweighted GPA and how to calculate it with examples.
Why is GPA important?
A student's GPA can tell them many things about their academic performance and can be used for higher education admissions and job acquisition. A student who maintains a high GPA may be eligible to graduate with honors or to attend graduate school. Here are some other reasons why your GPA is important:
It is a useful metric that helps to show how a student is performing in their overall studies.
It can show a high school student's dedication to academic success when applying for college scholarships.
It can help determine a student's success when applying to join an organization or club.
It is useful for application to graduate programs.
It can be useful for demonstrating work ethic for entry-level job positions.
It's an important factor for college admission.
How to calculate GPA
It's important to keep track of your GPA while in school. If your GPA isn't readily available, you can follow these steps to calculate it over the course of your time as a student:
Determine your grade for each class and the number of credit hours assigned to each class.
Convert each letter grade to a numerical equivalent point.
Multiply the number of credit hours earned for each class by the numerical equivalent point for the class.
Add the number of hours for the classes you have taken for the academic year.
Divide the total number of grade points by the total number of credit hours to find the GPA for the academic year.
1. Determine your grade for each class and the number of credit hours assigned to each class
The first step is to find your letter grade for each class and the number of credit hours allocated to each class you took in an academic year or semester.
For example, Jackie took four classes in one academic year and had the following grades: A, A+, B, B and the following credit hours, respectively: 3, 4, 4, 3.
2. Convert each letter grade to a numerical equivalent grade point
Next, convert the various letter grades for each class you've taken into decimal numbers using your school's GPA scale. The decimal numbers are usually between zero and four. For example, the following point scales or decimal numbers represent the different letter grades:
A+ = 4.0
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
E/F = 0.0
Using the scale above, the grade point for each score in Jackie's example is:
A = 4.0
A+ = 4.0
B = 3.0
B = 3.0
3. Multiply the number of credit hours earned for each class by the numerical equivalent point for the class
The next step is to multiply each of the grade points by the number of credit hours for each class, as determined under step 2, and find the total. For example:
First class: A = 4.0 x 3 = 12.0
Second class: A+ = 4.0 x 4 = 16.0
Third class: B = 3.0 x 4 = 12.0
Fourth class: B = 3.0 x 3 = 9.0
Total = 49.0
4. Add the number of hours for the classes you have taken for the academic year
The next step is to find the sum of all the credit hours for all the classes. Using the same example, the total number of credit hours is: 3 + 4 + 4 + 3 = 14.
5. Divide the total number of grade points by the total number of credit hours to find the GPA for the academic year
Finally, divide the total number of grade points—as determined in step 3—by the total number of credit hours as determined in step 4 to find the GPA for that academic year. For example:
Total grade points: 49.0
Total credit hours: 14
Jackie's GPA: 49.0/14 = 3.5
Types of GPA
High schools and colleges may use different types of GPA scales to measure their students' performance. The most common types of GPA are unweighted and weighted:
The unweighted GPA has a scale from 0 to 4.0, and it does not take into consideration the level of difficulty of classes taken during the academic years of students. This type of GPA is commonly used in colleges and universities.
Usually, a 3.0 GPA for a student indicates a B average, while a 1.0 indicates an F. Since it does not take into consideration the difficulty level of the classes taken, a student who got a B average in all honors classes would have the same GPA as a student who got the same B average in all lower-level classes.
A weighted GPA moves up to a 5.0 scale instead of the standard 4.0 used in unweighted GPAs. For example, consider a situation in which you take a lower-level class, a mid-level class and a higher-level class. The weighted GPA gives maximum consideration for the levels of difficulty in each class. Weighted GPAs are often used in high schools to give students credit for taking honors or AP classes.
Generally, a grade point of 0 is added for every lower-level class, 0.5 is added for every mid-level class and a grade point of 1.0 is added for a high-level class.
Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Examples of GPA
The following are examples of weighted and unweighted GPA:
Unweighted GPA example
The letter grade in Algebra: B
The letter grade in English: A
The letter grade in Biology: A
The letter grade in Physics: B
The letter grade in World History: A
If you're using an unweighted GPA scale of 4.0, then the A's in English, Biology and World History each convert to 4.0. The B's in Algebra and Physics convert to 3.0 each.
To find the GPA, add all the grade points together and divide them by the total number of subjects or classes.
The sum of grade points = 3.0 + 4.0 + 4.0 + 3.0 + 4.0 = 18.0
GPA = 18.0/5 = 3.60
Weighted GPA example
In many high school classes, a weighted GPA scale is used to calculate the GPA to give a fair representation of a student's accomplishments. For example, consider a report card in which the letter grades and the grade points in the subjects are as follows:
Honors World History = A = 4.5 (because for an honors class, A = 4.5)
Biology = B = 3.0
AP Algebra = A = 5.0 (because for an AP class, A = 5.0)
Physics = A = 4.0 (because for a regular class, B = 4.0)
AP English = B = 4.0 (because for an AP class, B = 4.0)
Therefore, the weighted GPA of all grade points/total number of subjects = 20.5/5 = 4.1
It's important to note that some schools may calculate weighted GPA differently. To make sure you're getting an accurate calculation, check with your school to get information on the standards they follow concerning weighted and unweighted classes.
Related: How to List Education on a Resume
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