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 and which GPA does colleges consider important..

Updated by Shrestha Dey on 2nd March 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:

  • Weighted GPA and

  • Unweighted GPA

In this article, we aim to clear all concepts about Weighted and Unweighted GPA

Table of Contents:


What is Weighted GPA and Unweighted GPA?

Weighted GPA

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

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 Unweighted GPA should be taken into account for your college admissions is a debatable topic which we will discuss in this article later.


How to calculate the Weighted and Unweighted GPA?

Unweighted GPA

Calculation of 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

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.

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


What do colleges consider- weighted/unweighted GPA?

Every college is different and so is their way of measuring a student’s capabilities. However, most colleges consider weighted GPA more useful than 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 take your GPA into consideration in context.

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.


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.