We’ve all heard that the perfect GPA is 4.0. Yet, sometimes we hear of people who have higher GPAs than that. If that is true, then what is the highest possible GPA? The answer depends on whether the GPA is weighted or not. The highest unweighted GPA is 4.0. The highest weighted GPA is 5.0. Weighted GPAs take into account the difficulty of the course, whereas unweighted GPAs don’t. For a weighted difficult class, an A equates to a 5. For an unweighted class, an A equates to a 4. Some schools have mid-level classes where an A equates to a 4.5.
How to Calculate Your GPA?
- Use the table below to convert your letter grades into points.
- Multiply the points for each class by the number of credit hours received for that class.
- Divide by the total number of credit hours.
Notice that if you add 1 to the unweighted points, you will get the weighted points. Similarly, if you add 0.5 to the unweighted points, you will get the mid-level points. Below is a sample calculation for clarification. Other than doing it manually, you can also use an online GPA calculator.
Step 1 and Step 2:
|Classes||Credit Hours||Letter Grade||Points||Hours x Points|
|Physics (mid-level/honors)||3||A||4.5||3 x 4.5 = 13.5|
|Physics lab (unweighted/standard)||2||A-||3.7||2 x 3.7 = 7.4|
|AP English (weighted)||4||B+||4.3||4 x 4.3 = 17.2|
|Calculus 1 (unweighted/standard)||4||B||3.0||4 x 3.0 = 12|
|Totals||3 + 2 + 4 + 4 = 13||13.5 + 7.4 + 17.2 + 12 = 50.1|
Step 3: Now, you divide the total hours x points by the total credit hours: 50.1 / 13 = 3.8538. The example GPA is about 3.8, but many schools will record the GPA to four decimal places, as shown in the calculations.
What is Considered a High GPA?
This standard varies. Many honor rolls and Dean’s list awards require a minimum GPA of 3.5. Graduating with honors distinction may also require a minimum GPA of 3.5. Some schools have a high honor roll, where the minimum GPA is 3.9.
What GPA Do You Need to Get Into College?
In general, there isn’t one specific GPA that will get you into virtually every College in the US. Some colleges do have a minimum GPA for applicants, but others don’t. The lower the acceptance rate, the higher your GPA will have to be to get in. However, for colleges with an acceptance rate of less than 5-10%, even applicants with a 4.0 (unweighted) might not gain admission. This is because your GPA is not the only thing that colleges look at.
There are other scores that colleges typically consider, including the SAT and ACT. You don’t have to take both; one of the two is enough. You can also consider taking SAT subject tests to supplement your grades. Furthermore, for international applicants, the TOEFL or IELTS is another required test. As it is used to demonstrate your fluency in English, international students from English-speaking countries can be exempt from these tests.
Finally, colleges also consider your essays, recommendation letters, extracurricular activities, and leadership roles in their decision. This is because colleges are looking to build a community on campus, so your personality, qualities, and skills matter. They need to know that you will contribute to their college as a unique individual. Hence, try to make your essays memorable and personal. For some universities, they matter just as much as your grades do.
How to Improve Your GPA?
- Choose the Right Courses
Taking easier classes will increase your chance of having straight A’s. Note that this works best if your GPA is unweighted. If it is weighted, getting a B in a difficult class and getting an A in an easy class equates to 4 points. This means it might be easier for you to get a B+ in a difficult class and receive 4.3 points, rather than getting an A in an easy class to get 4 points. One way to balance this is to take difficult classes (such as AP or honors classes) in the subjects you are good at and easy classes in the subjects you struggle with.
Also, many high schools have graduation requirements similar to the general education requirements that most universities have. For your elective classes that fill the general education requirements, choose the easiest classes you can find. For example, if you have to take an art class, but you don’t think you’re good at drawing, then take a photography class. This is assuming that it does not matter which art class you take.
In some cases, it does matter which classes and which level you take. For example, if you apply to engineering programs, you probably want to take higher level (AP/IB) math, chemistry, and physics classes. However, you could take higher-level courses in chemistry and physics, but not math, if you believe you can earn a much higher grade in a lower-level math class. Colleges like students that challenge themselves, but you need to do well in your challenges. If you choose to take difficult courses, choose the ones that you can score high in.
- Take Advantage of Extra Credit
Some teachers will offer extra credit assignments. Consider doing them, especially if they don’t take much time or effort. The extra credit can help boost your grade. You never know. It could mean the difference between a B and an A.
- Do the Homework
For some classes, homework is graded. If this is the case, you might want to consider getting help with your homework since you must get it all right. You can hire a tutor to help you if you need it or go to your teacher outside of class. However, you mustn’t make your tutor complete the homework for you, as you may have trouble with exams. Use the homework to help you master the material while also boosting your grade.
- Turn Things in on Time
This one is simple. Most teachers will deduct points for assignments that are turned in late. To avoid losing those points, you need to turn things in on time. You can use a planning system (online calendar, physical bullet journal, etc.) to track due dates. After that, be sure to manage your time well.
- Create a Study Strategy
Everyone has a different study strategy that works for them. You should experiment with various things and find out what’s best for you. Here are some general tips that could be helpful. First, it is better to test yourself or practice with quizzes rather than just rereading the material. This way, you can see your mistakes, and you will remember the information better. Second, don’t study two similar subjects (such as Spanish and French) back to back, as you might get them mixed up. Third, study the most important content one hour before you sleep, as this information is remembered best the next day. Notice that sleep was mentioned in the previous tip. You absolutely need to sleep. It allows your brain to process the information and remember it better when you wake up. Students who sleep well the night before taking the test often do better than students who stay up studying until morning. Finally, one notable strategy is to prioritize difficult classes. Don’t be afraid to spend more time on the classes you struggle with. Just be sure to plan your schedule carefully, so you always have sufficient time to study.
- Befriend Smart Students
Befriending smart students, especially those taking the same classes as you, will give you more people to ask for help. If they are your friends, they might be more willing to share notes with you or tutor you at times.
- Reward Yourself
Rewards are used to boost your motivation. First, set a condition for the reward. For example, if you get an A on your midterm, you will treat yourself to some fluffy pancakes at your favorite dessert cafe. This will make you feel more motivated to reach your goals. Also, it will give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction as you treat yourself to a reward.
- Start Now
It takes a while to raise your grades. If you are serious about increasing your GPA, you need to start now. Begin working on improvements as soon as possible. You only have until the end of the semester to raise your grades. It is also worth noting that colleges look at all of your high school transcripts, meaning you need a high GPA starting in 9th grade.
- Minimize Extracurriculars
To have more time to study, you can cut down on some of your after-school activities. This includes sports, arts, and club participation. Be sure to keep some of them, though, especially ones you are passionate about or ones you have leadership roles in. Remember that colleges review your extracurriculars as part of the application. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of the less important ones to focus on studying.
Does Your GPA Affect Job/Internship Applications?
In many cases, your GPA is a factor in determining if you get accepted to your first job or internship position. After that, job experience matters more. This means it is important to participate in internships or part-time jobs while studying, as these may lead to full-time jobs after graduation. Collecting work experience also helps you build your network and allows you to experience different career paths. However, remember to balance your studying time with your employees and create a schedule that accommodates both.
Getting A High GPA
Now you should have a better idea of how to calculate and improve your GPA. Maintaining a high GPA requires a lot of effort and commitment, but the things you learn will stay with you for years to come. Remember that good grades aren’t everything. A perfect GPA won’t get you everywhere in life, but it is a solid starting foundation. Although education is the beginning, there are many other important factors, including the essays and extracurriculars colleges consider and the previous work experience that employers value. Please do not hesitate to leave some thoughts and questions down in the comments section below.
Also read Do Transfer Credits Affect My GPA?