The myOptions Team
If you’ve never heard the term GPA, you should definitely get used to it because it’s one of the most important components to your college application.
GPA stands for Grade Point Average and represents a summary of all of your grades throughout your four years of high school.
Every school has a different method for determining your GPA.
The main difference you’ll want to know is whether your school uses a weighted GPA or an unweighted GPA.
A weighted GPA gives you extra points (or weighting) for taking harder classes (like Honors and AP). An unweighted GPA calculates all grades the same regardless of the level of class you’re in.
The second difference is the scale your school uses. The three most common scales are: 0-4.0, 0-100, and A-F, but there are many others. You’ll want to find out what your school uses.
For the 0-100 scale, it’s pretty self-explanatory, but for 0-4.0 and A-F, you’ll want to find out what the benchmarks are at your school. For example, does your school give pluses and minuses (i.e. A- or B+) or just the main letters?
For the 0-4.0 scale, a 4.0 equates to an A, a 3.0 is a B, a 2.0 is considered a C, and a 1.0 is a D. If your school uses pluses and minuses, you either add 0.3 or subtract 0.3 (i.e. a B+ is a 3.0 + 0.3 = 3.3)
Familiarizing yourself with your school’s GPA calculation policies early on will help eliminate the possibility for surprises during your senior year.
You’ll also want to find out whether each of your class’ grades are calculated based solely on your test grades, or if you could lose points for not submitting homeworks, or if your class participation, and absences could also improve or lower your class grade.
Lastly, you’ll want to find out if your school ranks students.
You don’t have to worry about this until senior year, but if your school does rank, then you’ll want to find out if it reports your percentile rank (i.e. you’re in the top 10th percentile) or if they will report your actual rank (114 out of 365).
Having an understanding of all the factors going into your GPA early on will help you make the right decisions (especially surround course selection) in order to maximize your GPA before applying to college.