The Ultimate Guide To Weighted vs Unweighted GPA

What one particular score comes to mind when you are in high school? The GPA. Students worry most about the GPA because it is one essential component of your college applications.

As a result, it is important to know the crucial differences between how the GPA may be calculated, depending on the high school that you are attending.

Some high schools prefer using unweighted GPAs whereas other schools might be using weighted GPAs. What are the differences between the two and what do they mean?

Today's blog post will answer some fundamental questions parents and students have regarding the GPA.

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Key Differences: Unweighted vs Weighted GPA

Before trying to decipher what GPA that you have for high school, be sure to understand the key differences between the unweighted and weighted first.

Unweighted GPA

Traditionally, most schools calculate the GPA scores of students on an unweighted scale.

The unweighted measures the GPA on a scale of 0 to 4.0. Whether the high school student decides to take take honors, advanced placement, or lower-level courses - the unweighted GPA will represent a letter grade A as a 4.0 in each of these corresponding classes.

As such, the unweighted GPA, in essence, does not take into account the rigor or level of difficulty of coursework that a student is taking.

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Weighted GPA

In comparison, other high schools might choose to utilize the weighted GPA to be more representative of its students' scholastic achievements in varying course levels.

The weighted GPA measures a class taken from a range of 0 to 5.0 instead of the traditional unweighted GPA scale of 0 to 4.0. Some schools might have a higher scale.

For example, an A in an AP coursework may be converted into a 5.0 weighted GPA, whereas an A in a regular-degree class will give a student a 4.0 weighted GPA.

Mid-level courses, such as honors, may be translated into a weighted GPA of a 4.5 for a grade mark of an A.

Comprehensively, the weighted GPA considers the course difficulty that a student is taking in their high school curriculum.

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The Difference in Calculation: Unweighted vs Weighted GPA

Now that you are aware of the core fundamental disparities between the unweighted and weighted GPA, it is essential to understand the difference in calculation between the two GPAs.

Unweighted GPA

As previously mentioned above, the unweighted GPA does not take into account or consider the levels of your classes. For this reason, the unweighted is more easily calculated than the weighted GPA.

Follow this example to understand how to calculate an unweighted GPA: you are currently a high school student taking four classes, and you have two As and two Bs in the courses.

The two As will convert into 4.0 and the two Bs will convert into 3.0 on the unweighted GPA scaling. Sum up the scores (4.0 + 4.0 + 3.0 + 3.0), then divide by four (for the four classes that you are taken), and you will receive an unweighted GPA score of 3.5.

At your convenience, we have left below a conversion chart that displays the letter grade and the percentile to GPA translation:

Majority of high schools utilizing the unweighted GPA scaling methodology will most likely be following this measurement chart, more or less. To be absolutely positive, you should be double checking with your high school prior (but the grading should not vary too much).

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Weighted GPA

Here comes the tricky part of calculations... but fear not, 7EDU is here to help.

The weighted GPA, as mentioned previously, considers the range of coursework that you are taking as a student alongside with the fact that these classes may range from academic rigor and level.

Utilizing the same example formerly in the unweighted GPA, use the following instance to practice calculating the weighted GPA: you are taking four classes and are presently receiving two As and two Bs in the courses.

However, one letter grade A course is an advanced-placement and the other A is a regular class. One of the letter grade B course is an honors and the other B is a regular-ranking class.

In order to compute the weighted GPA, you must remember that the weighted GPA measures classes hand in hand with the academic degree or level. With this in mind, you should be using the unweighted GPA conversion scale for the regular courses, incorporating a 0.5 for mid-level (or honors) classes, and adding a 1.0 for high level (or advanced-placement) classes.

The two As will convert into 4.0 and the two Bs will convert into 3.0 on the unweighted GPA scaling. Sum up the scores (4.0 + 4.0 + 3.0 + 3.0), then divide by four (for the four classes that you are taken), and you will receive an unweighted GPA score of 3.5.

As such, the example given to you would give the following:

  • The A in advanced-placement would be a 5.0

  • The A in regular-level would be a 4.0

  • The B in honors would be a 3.5

  • The B in regular-level would be a 3.0

Sum up the aforementioned weighted measurements (5.0 + 4.0 +3.5 + 3.0) and divide by four (for the four classes that you are enrolled in), and you will have a weighted GPA of 3.88.

If you compare the weighted GPA (3.88) from that of the unweighted GPA (3.5), you will be able to spot that there is a significant difference in calculations and what this will look like on your college applications.

Essentially two students given the same grades may have entirely different GPA scores depending on whether the school calculates the weighted GPA or not.

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What Do Colleges Look At: Unweighted vs Weighted GPA

As you can see, the unweighted GPA has its downfalls. Students graded on the unweighted GPA system may not properly reflect the effort that a student may have put into a more rigorous course.

Students that may be taken a lot of advanced-placement and honors coursework may have potentially lower unweighted GPA scores than those who decided to take less challenging courses, in spite of being more educationally and academically motivated.

So which do colleges look at when they are evaluating college-bound student applicants?

Typically, universities and colleges will assess the weighted GPAs more since they better represent the academic difficulty of the coursework being taken by students. Nevertheless, it is important that students and parents understand that the college admission officer will look at a candidate's application as a whole.

They consider all other potential factors when it comes to assessing your academic success and capabilities.

For students that are looking to impress the college admission office, seek to increase your coursework difficulty gradually throughout your high school career. The admissions officer will be impressed to see through your transcript the growth in academic challenges (even if your GPA may not be flawless).

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Today's article brings you an introduction to the world of GPAs, unweighted versus weighted. The common question of what are their differences as well as how to calculate them are answered.

7EDU Impact Academy offers many college preparation services including one-on-ones, counseling, and specific courses. Feel free to contact us at (408) 216-9109 or if you have any questions or comments.

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The Ultimate Guide To Weighted vs Unweighted GPA
7EDU Impact Academy 7 July, 2021
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