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How to Calculate Your Unweighted GPA

November 1, 2018
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Every high school has its own (sometimes convoluted) system for calculating students’ grade point averages. Some schools in Northern New Jersey, such as IHA and Holy Angels, use a 100-point scale; many use a weighted scale that reaches 4.8; and some even use a 12-point scale (looking at you, Delbarton). How does your child’s GPA stack up against those of students from other schools?

Colleges face this very problem and solve it quite elegantly: they re-calculate every applicant’s GPA from scratch using a consistent system for everyone. This ensures a level playing field for all applicants. But how the heck do they do it??

Knowing your unweighted GPA will give you a better sense of how you stack up against other students who have gained admission during previous years to your goal school. Below, we lay out the basic process for calculating your unweighted GPA on the 4.0 scale. Let’s get to it!

STEP 1.
Gather your child’s transcripts/final report cards for each year of high school (and pour yourself a glass of wine– this is going to get fun).

STEP 2.
Your high school typically includes easy courses (such as Health or lay-up electives) in its GPA calculation. Colleges will not. Write a column of titles of “legitimate” classes for each year. The list should include English, Foreign Language, Science, Math, and History, as well as perhaps a challenging elective (e.g., Psychology, Economics, Advanced Art/Art History, Computer Science).

STEP 3.
Write the final grade of the course next to the class title. Next to that, write the number of credits received for the course. {Hint: Half-year courses are usually 2.5 credits, Full-year courses are 5, Full-year courses with labs are 6-7.}

STEP 4.
Sip some wine.

STEP 5.
Convert each of the final grades to numbers. A/A+ = 4.0. A- = 3.67. B+ = 3.33. B = 3.0. B- = 2.67. C+ = 2.33. C = 2.0 C- = 1.67. D+ = 1.33. D = 1. Below that = 0.

STEP 6.
Multiply each class’s numerical grade by its number of credits. For example: If a student gets a B+ in a 5-credit Spanish course, he earns 3.33 points times 5 = 16.65 “value points.” Calculate the number of value points for each “legitimate” class in each school year to date. Remember not to add extra value for honors/AP classes!

STEP 7.
Add up the total value points for 9th grade. Add up the total credits of the included “legitimate” classes. Divide the first result by the second, and you get the unweighted GPA for 9th grade. Repeat for grades 10 & 11. You now have calculated your child’s GPA for each year of high school! Celebrate with a swig– you’ve earned it.

STEP 8.
To calculate your child’s overall GPA for all years of high school, add up ALL the value points from each of the 3 years, add up ALL the credits for the included classes, and divide the first by the second. Violà! You’ve got your college admissions-ready GPA!

Walk-through example:
Jenn has the following final report card:
FRESHMAN YEAR:
Spanish: B+, 5 credits. 3.33 (5) = 16.65
Algebra: B, 5 credits. 3.0 (5) = 15
Biology: A, 6 credits. 4.0 (6) = 24
History: C+, 5 credits. 2.33 (5) = 11.65
English: B+, 5 credits. 3.33 (5) = 16.65
Intro. to Economics: A-, 2.5 credits. 3.67 (2.5) = 9.175

total value points: 93.125
total included credits: 28.5
unweighted GPA for freshman year: 3.268

Now, let’s say we did the same thing for the next years and calculated:
total value points for 10th grade: 96.25
total credits: 27.5

total value points for 11th grade: 102.5
total credits: 30.75

Final GPA calculation time!!
total value points for all three years: 93.125 + 96.25 + 102.5 = 291.875.
total included credits for all three years: 28.5 + 27.5 + 30.75 = 86.75
Final GPA: 291.875 / 86.75 = 3.365

You did it!!
We hope you’ve enjoyed the calculation fun… and the wine!


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