Unweighted Vs. Weighted GPA

21K School · Jul 9, 2023 · 3 min read

Pen with A+ grade

Grade Point Average (GPA), as the name implies, is a measure of your overall academic performance across all your courses. GPA is derived by translating assignment grades (A, B, C, etc.) into percentages. It is usually, but not always, on a scale of 1.0 to 4.0, with a higher Grade Point Average indicating better performance on a standard A-F grading scale found in the United States.

GPA is calculated on a scale of 0 to 4. Four corresponds to an A, while 0 corresponds to an F.

Each assignment, project, and exam results in a grade for the student. To compute the average score for the semester, these grades are combined and divided by the number of work units. This gives them their grade point average.

Some colleges issue GPAs higher than four on a weighted scale, considering the difficulty of coursework rather than just the final grade.

Two types of GPA

Unweighted GPA
GPA is traditionally determined on an unweighted scale. GPA is calculated on a scale of 0 to 4.0. It does not consider the complexity of a student’s schoolwork. An A as a 4.0 is an honor, AP, or lower-level class representing an unweighted GPA.

However, remember that an unweighted GPA does not consider course difficulty. A student who takes AP courses and earns a 3.3 unweighted GPA may be more competitive than those who take ordinary subjects and make a 3.5. If a school only utilizes an unweighted GPA, students should consider how many AP and honors classes they have taken.

In that respect, an Unweighted GPA can be considered a student’s “pure” or “basic” GPA, as it just considers grades and does not differentiate between regular classes, honors courses, AP courses, and other courses. Both unweighted and weighted GPAs are significant in college and university admissions, although when people talk about GPA on a 4.0 scale in general, they usually mean unweighted GPA.

Weighted GPA

Weighted GPA is your Grade Point Average adjusted for the number of challenging courses in your schedule. In that instance, a weighted GPA is usually rated higher than an unweighted GPA. More complex or particularly designated courses, such as honors classes and Advanced Placement (AP) courses, gain you more points.

GPA unweighted Student Illustration

Shawn receives B+s in AP Physics and Chemistry and A+s in AP Maths. Each class carries one credit. His GPA would be 3.43 if his transcript only included these three classes. Charlie receives A’s in Regular Psychology, A’s in Regular Chemistry, and A’s in English 3 and 4. He would have a 4.0 GPA on his transcript.

Students with a Weighted GPA

In the identical situation, Shawn’s weighted GPA would be 4.53 if he received a B+ in AP Psychology, a B in AP Chemistry, and an A+ in AP Literature. Because these are AP courses, the school would add 1.0 points to each class’ computed value. Three classes add 1.0 to her overall GPA when split by three credits.

GPA Explained: Weighted vs. Unweighted

Charlie’s GPA would not be affected by a weighted system. It would simply remain at 4.0. With this example, it is evident how the weighted GPA can make things appear more even.

High schools often issue weighted GPAs on a scale of 5.0, although they can go higher. For example, if a student receives an A in an AP course, they will receive a 5.0, a B will receive a 4.0, and so on. When course difficulty is considered, students may have a higher GPA than those with comparable grades.

You should know how to calculate your unweighted and weighted GPA as you progress through college admissions. For example, if you’re applying to a UC school, you’ll need to calculate your UC GPA.

Colleges generally do not have a preference for either weighted or unweighted GPA. You will report the GPA that will increase your chances of admission based on your goals and the requirements of the universities.

The fundamental truth is that whether your GPA is weighted or unweighted, universities will look more profound than the bare statistics when considering your high school academic record. Admissions officers can discern which classes you took and how hard you worked, so your GPA is simply one piece of a much more comprehensive picture.

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