Weighted Vs Unweighted GPA

Are you confused between weighted GPA and unweighted GPA? Well, most people are. Read on to know what is weighted and unweighted GPA, how to calculate, which GPA does colleges consider important and the key difference.

Updated by Shrestha Dey on 29th October 2020

When it comes to college admissions, your GPA is one of the most important factors to take into consideration while filling up the application. So, you may ask, what exactly is GPA? 

GPA stands for Grade Point Average. It represents your average performance in classes. GPA is mainly categorized into:

The key differences between weighted and unweighted GPA are, Weighted GPA uses the GPA scale ranging from 0 to 5.0 and the difficulty of the course and student's performance is considered to calculate whereas, the Unweighted GPA uses a GPA scale ranging from 0 to 4.0 and the difficulty of the course is not considered. 

In this article, we aim to give a better understanding of the Weighted vs Unweighted GPA.

Table of Contents:

What Are The Different GPA Scales?

GPA or Grade Point Average can be defined as the average of the total grade points you obtain in core subjects. There are two types of GPA scales- weighted scale and unweighted scale.

Here we have presented the weighted and unweighted GPA chart.

What Is AWeighted GPA And An Unweighted GPA?

Weighted and unweighted GPAs are the two types of GPA scales.

Weighted GPA


Grade


Point 

(Weighted scale)

A

5

B

4

C

3

D

1

F

0

A weighted GPA assesses your ability to take up academic challenges in college. It takes into account the difficulty level of your classes along with your grades. The idea behind the weighted GPA is that some classes are more difficult than other classes in high school; as such they should carry more weight. Weighted GPA is measured on a scale of 0 to 5.0

Unweighted GPA

GPA

(Unweighted)

Grade

4.0

A+

4.0

A

3.7

A-

3.3

B+

3.0

B

2.7

B-

2.3

C+

2.0

C

1.7

C-

1.3

D+

1.0

D

0.0

F

An unweighted GPA is the most common way to measure your academic performance in high school. It doesn’t take into account the difficulty level of your classes and is measured on a scale of 0 to 4.0. Whether an Unweighted GPA should be taken into account for your college admissions is a debatable topic which we will discuss in this article later.

What Is The Difference Between A Weighted GPA And An Unweighted GPA?

Weighted GPA

Unweighted GPA

GPAs use a scale ranging from 0 to 5.0  GPAs use a scale ranging from 0 and 4.0 
The difficulty of the class, along with a student’s performance is considered The difficulty of the class/ coursework is NOT considered

Advanced Placement and honors are measured with a weighted scale. 

An unweighted GPA does not account for Advanced Placement and honors programs.

How To Calculate The Weighted And Unweighted GPA?

Weighted GPA

The process gets a little complicated with a weighted GPA.

If you are taking up an AP class, 1.0 point is added, 0.5 points are added in case of an honors class and no points are added for introductory classes. So, A in an introductory class is still worth 4.0 while it is 4.5 in an honors class and 5.0 in an AP class

Now, if you have 3As, 2 Bs, and 1 C, 

A in AP = 5, A in hons = 4.5 , B in AP =4, B in hons = 3.5, C in AP =3, A in introductory class =4

Now if you add the total, you’ll get a total of 24 which then is divided by the number of subjects you have taken up. In this case, you will divide 24 by 6 to get your weighted GPA. Your weighted GPA is 4.

Given the difficulty level of your classes, your grade here would be A.

Unweighted GPA

The calculation of the unweighted GPA is pretty simple.

Here , A= 4, B=3, C=2, D=1, E=0 

Now, if you have 3 As, 2 Bs, and 1 C, your total score would be -  

(3*4) + (2*3) + (2*1) = 20

Now, you divide your total score i.e., 20 by the number of subjects you have i.e., 6 

20/6= 3.33 

3.33 is your GPA which means your average performance is slightly above grade B.

Note: This is the most common method of calculating a weighted GPA. The process of calculating a weighted GPA might vary from school to school.

You may also want to read, How to convert your GPA to a 4.0 scale?

What Do colleges Consider - Weighted Or Unweighted GPA?

Every college is different and so is their way of measuring a student’s capabilities. However, most colleges consider a weighted GPA more useful than an Unweighted GPA. 

The GPA of different schools vary differently. Some schools count AP and Honors as a high level while some schools count only AP as a high level. Some APs are easier than others. For example, it wouldn’t be fair if a student with an A in AP physics is given the same credit as a student with an A in AP Psychology. In other words, they consider your GPA in context. There is a list of AP classes offered to students. However, it is upon the student to make the pick and enroll in his/her desired class.

Most colleges consider the rigor of your schedule and you’ve improved over time. Colleges do not provide a minimum GPA they’ll consider or a minimum amount of APs that you should take up in school. Instead, they consider the number of challenging courses in your schedule, growth and improvement, and strong academic performance.

GPA Policies for top colleges/universities

The GPA policies for the top colleges/ universities are as follows:

1. Yale University 

According to Yale University

Since each high school has different ways of measuring student grades, Yale does not have an average GPA calculated for accepted students. The admissions committee does not prefer weighted or unweighted GPAs, instead, they prefer to see that students have challenged themselves with the strongest curriculum possible at their high school.”

Information via the Yale Admissions Office.

2. Harvard University

According to the Harvard University admission website, there are two key questions the admissions officers revolve around while examining applications:

Have you reached your maximum academic and personal potential?"

"Have you been stretching yourself?"

Acceptance into Harvard requires an outstanding GPA. However, the admission body has not stated any concrete numbers as the GPA requirement. They value the urge for learning and a student’s untiring effort to break inhibitions and boundaries and reach pinnacles of success.

3. The University of Southern California 

According to the University of Southern California,

“There is no minimum requirement or absolute “cutoff” for grades, class rank or test scores. USC evaluates prospective students through an individualized, comprehensive review process that takes these, and many other factors, into account.”

Information via the University of Southern California Admissions Office.

4. Stanford University

According to Stanford University,

"The primary criterion for admission to Stanford is academic excellence. We look for your preparation and potential to succeed. We expect you to challenge yourself throughout high school and to do very well. ... There is no minimum GPA or test score; nor is there any specific number of AP or honors courses you must have on your transcript to be admitted to Stanford."

Information via Stanford University Admissions Office

5. Mount Holyoke College 

There is no concrete information on the GPA requirements for college admittance. Mount Holyoke College is keen on student’s interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and talents.

6. The University of Mississippi 

The University of Mississippi resorts to a weighted GPA. The minimum GPA requirement for consideration is 2.5.

What Is a Good GPA?

A good GPA will vary according to the GPA scales.

Unweighted GPA

Grade

GPA

A

4.0

(Best)

B

3.0

(Good)

C

2.0

(Average)

D

1.0

F

0.0

(Poor)

Weighted GPA


Grade


Point 

(Weighted scale)

A

5

(Best)

B

4

(Good)

C

3

(Average)

D

1

F

0

(Poor)

Which Colleges Accept A 4.0 GPA?

Few of the colleges that accept a 4.0 GPA are as follows:

Institution

GPA

California Institute of Technology 

4.21

Rice University

4.18

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

4.17

Yale University

4.13

Columbia University

4.13

Harvard College

4.18

Princeton University

3.9

University of Pennsylvania

3.88

Stanford University

3.94

Brown University

4.09

Dartmouth College

4.09

You may also read: Colleges you can get into with a 4.0 GPA

Concluding Thoughts

GPA is only an overview of how you have fared in your high school and only one of the factors among many others. This is not the only criteria to consider before they make a blanket judgment. Every admissions department will dig deeper than just your GPA. At the end of the day, every college wants students who know to push boundaries and can endure the toughest of times. 

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