Whether you’re applying for colleges or are simply curious, learning how to figure out GPA is a helpful skill to have. For as much as we talk about GPAs when we discuss college applications, we don’t really talk about how to figure out GPA! Keep reading to learn what a GPA is, the differences between a weighted and unweighted GPA, and how to figure out GPA.

What is a GPA?

Before we start getting into how to figure out GPA, let’s talk about what a GPA actually is. When you receive grades in high school, you typically get letter grades like an A or a B. Sometimes, you’ll be given a percentage like 90 or 79 out of 100.

A grade point average, or GPA, takes those letter grades or percentages and converts them into numbers. These numbers are then averaged together to create your GPA. When you’re applying to colleges, your GPA is one of the most important pieces of information considered by admissions committees. Colleges use your GPA to evaluate your work ethic, your ability to handle coursework, and your dedication to your studies.

But a GPA doesn’t just help admissions committees evaluate your academic performance, it allows colleges to compare you to other students from your school and other applicants being evaluated in a non-biased way. Some colleges will admit you solely based on your GPA, others will offer you merit-based scholarships.

Because of this, knowing how to figure out GPA helps you determine what colleges you can easily get into and if you’ll need to make your application stronger in other areas to offset a GPA that may not normally impress the colleges you’re applying to.

Do You Have a Weighted or an Unweighted GPA?

Another question you might be hearing about when people talk about your GPA is whether it’s weighted or unweighted. So what are they and what’s the difference?

Basically, a weighted GPA gives a higher value on honors, AP, and IB classes, but an unweighted GPA does not. A weighted GPA uses the scale 0.0 to 5.0 and an unweighted GPA uses the scale 0.0 to 4.0 when calculating grades.

It’s important to find out your high school’s policy on GPA and advanced classes. Having that extra boost for taking harder classes is helpful when application time rolls around. It’s also important to know when you’re learning how to figure out GPA.

How to Figure Out GPA

Now that we’ve covered what a GPA is and the differences between a weighted and unweighted GPA, we can dive into how to figure out GPA.

If you have an unweighted GPA, use the chart below to figure out what your letter grades and percentages convert to in terms of grade points.

Letter Grade Percentage GPA
A+ 97-100 4.0
A 93-96 4.0
A- 90-92 3.7
B+ 87-89 3.3
B 83-86 3.0
B- 80-82 2.7
C+ 77-79 2.3
C 73-76 2.0
C- 70-72 1.7
D+ 67-69 1.3
D 65-66 1.0
D- 60-64 0.7
F Below 60 0.0

If you have a weighted GPA, use this chart to convert your letter grades or percentages into grade points.

Letter Grade Percentage Honors AP/IB
A+ 97-100 4.5 5
A 93-96 4.5 5
A- 90-92 4.2 4.7
B+ 87-89 3.8 4.3
B 83-86 3.5 4
B- 80-82 3.2 3.7
C+ 77-79 2.8 3.3
C 73-76 2.5 3
C- 70-72 2.2 2.7
D+ 67-69 1.8 2.3
D 65-66 1.5 2
D- 60-64 1.2 1.7
F Below 60 0 0

When you have all the grade points, add them together and divide it by the number of classes you’ve taken. The number you have is your GPA.

Let’s take a look at a more detailed example.

Let’s say your schedule looks like this:

Class Grade
I.B. English, Year 1 B+
Chemistry A-
A.P. Calculus A
I.B. World History B
A.P. European History C+
Spanish V C

If you have an unweighted GPA, the points will look like this:

Class Grade Points
I.B. English, Year 1 B+ 3.3
Chemistry A- 3.7
A.P. Calculus A 4
I.B. World History B 3
A.P. European History C+ 2.3
Honors Spanish V C 2
Total: 18.3

Your total grade points are 18.3. When you divide that number by 6, you get your GPA of 3.05.

Now, if your GPA is weighted, your numbers come out at bit different:

Class Grade Points
I.B. English, Year 1 B+ 4.3
Chemistry A- 4.7
A.P. Calculus A 5
I.B. World History B 4
A.P. European History C+ 3.3
Honors Spanish V C 3
Total: 24.3

This time, you have a total of 24.3 grade points. Divide that by 6, and you have a GPA of 4.05. As you can see, a weighted GPA and an unweighted GPA can be very different.

Can You Boost Your GPA?

One of the questions my students ask me all the time is if they can increase their GPA and how to do it. The truth is working with an academic coach or an online tutor is one of the surest ways to improve your grades and boost your overall GPA. It’s also important that you develop strong study habits so you can master the material being taught and show off your knowledge on tests and in class discussions. If you work hard and stay focused, boosting your GPA is completely doable.

Because of how important your GPA is to your future, it’s important that you keep it in good shape and knowing how to figure out GPA is one of the easiest ways you can take control of your high school education. Now you know the differences between a weighted and unweighted GPA, and even how to boost your GPA if you need to.

Do you have any more questions about your GPA? Did this article help you figure out your next steps in high school? Let us know in the comments below!