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Understanding Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA & Cumulative GPA

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There are various completely different ways in which college students are assessed on the data that they be taught in a selected class. In some courses, chances are you’ll obtain a move or fail, whereas in different courses there isn’t any grading in any respect.

Nevertheless, most highschool and school courses are evaluated when it comes to a letter grade, typically from A to F.

Every letter grade will be transformed to a numeric worth and when averaged collectively make up what’s known as a Grade Level Common, or GPA.

As a result of it is useful to grasp how GPA works as you progress in your tutorial profession, this publish explores the alternative ways GPA is calculated: Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA, and Cumulative GPA. 

What Is Unweighted GPA?

The best kind of GPA to contemplate is your unweighted GPA. Your unweighted GPA solely takes into consideration the precise grades that you simply obtain in every class. You then convert every letter grade right into a numeric worth.

Sometimes an A is value 4 factors, a B is value 3 factors, and so forth, with plus and minus grades receiving a barely greater or decrease rating. From there, multiply every numeric grade worth by the entire variety of credit to get your unweighted GPA.

This is an instance of a pattern school semester that may hopefully make calculating your weighted GPA simpler to grasp:

With 53.1 GPS factors and 16 complete credit taken, this scholar’s GPA for the semester is 3.32. It is also necessary to notice that even with an unweighted GPA, you continue to weight the grades that you simply obtain by the entire variety of credit that every class is value. It’s thought of unweighted as a result of you don’t alter the numeric GPA factors that you simply obtain for the problem of the category.

What Is Weighted GPA?

Whereas unweighted GPAs are widespread in school and different greater training faculties, many excessive faculties select a weighted GPA. It’s because there are lots of completely different ranges of programs in most excessive faculties, and the workload will be considerably completely different. Most excessive faculties have determined that college students shouldn’t be punished for taking a tougher class (and probably getting a decrease grade than they might have in a extra primary model of the category)

Whereas every faculty can calculate weighted GPA in no matter method they select, one widespread system is so as to add 1.0 level to the numeric worth that you simply earn in the event you’re taking an Superior Placement (AP) class and 0.5 factors in the event you’re taking an Honors class. In case you take a typical highschool class, your numeric grade is just not modified.

This is an instance of a pattern highschool scholar’s semester grade, utilizing a weighted GPA and a 1.0 / 0.5 adjustment for AP and Honors courses.

On this instance, has 23.0 GPA factors and 5.5 credit, for a GPA of 4.18. It’s normally by way of Honors and AP courses that you simply would possibly see college students with GPAs above 4.0. Sometimes unweighted GPAs can’t be greater than 4.0.

What Is Cumulative GPA?

One other GPA time period is cumulative GPA. Your cumulative GPA represents your complete GPA over the sequence of a number of completely different phrases or semesters, and will be weighted or unweighted. To calculate your cumulative GPA, you merely add up the entire GPA factors that you’ve got gathered whereas attending this explicit faculty, and divide it by the entire variety of credit that you’ve got earned.

It is also necessary to notice you could’t simply take the common of every of your semester GPAs. As a result of you’ll have a special quantity of credit earned every semester, taking a easy common of the GPAs from particular person semesters is not going to produce an correct cumulative GPA. As an alternative, you could add up the entire variety of GPA factors you’ve got earned and divide that by your complete variety of credit earned.


As you’ll be able to see, most faculties calculate your grade level common (GPA) as a means of evaluating your efficiency within the courses that you simply take, however there are a number of completely different types of GPA. An unweighted GPA would not keep in mind the problem of the category, whereas a weighted GPA might give further credit score for taking superior courses. 

Final however not least, there’s the cumulative GPA, which represents your performance-to-date throughout a number of completely different semesters or phrases. No matter the kind of GPA calculation that is used, doing all your greatest in your whole courses will assist to maintain your GPA excessive.

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