How to Calculate Elementary Grade-Point Average

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Whether you're in high school or college, your grade-point average, or GPA, is important for your future. You need a minimum GPA for admission to top-level universities, and once you've started your degree, you may need to maintain a minimum GPA to continue your studies. An elementary GPA, as opposed to a weighted one, takes into account the grades you have received in each of the classes you have completed, regardless of the number of credits the class earns you. It's a simple average of all your grades.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

The elementary grade-point average is a simple sum of the grades received in all classes divided by the number of classes. Unlike a weighted GPA, it doesn't count the number of credits each class is worth.

Translating Letter Grades to Numerical Ones

The GPA has a perfect score of 4.0, but grades are usually letters ranging from A to F. In the simplest version of this system, an A counts for 4 points, a B for 3, a C for 2 and a D for 1. E grades aren't assigned, and an F is a failing grade that counts for 0.

Some schools use a more sophisticated system that includes plus and minus grades. In such cases, the conversion from letter grade to numerical one looks something like this:

  • A = 4.00; A - = 3.67
  • B + = 3.33; B = 3.00; B - = 2.67
  • C + = 2.33; C = 2.00; C - = 1.67
  • D + = 1.33; D = 1.00; D - = 0.67
  • F = 0.00

Calculating Elementary GPA

As long as you're not interested in a weighted result, all you have to do to calculate your GPA is add up the grades for all of your classes and divide by the number of classes. If your school uses a semester or trimester system, calculate your GPA every semester or trimester to avoid having to multiply the grade by 1/2 (for one-semester courses) or 1/3 (for courses that last one trimester). At the end of the school year, calculate your GPA for the year by averaging your two single-semester or three single-trimester scores.

GPA Examples

A student receives 3 As, 2 Bs and 3 Cs and a D at the end of the semester. What is the elementary GPA?

The three As count for 12.0, the two Bs for 6.0, the three Cs for 6.0 and the D for 1.0. The total is 23.0, and since the number of classes is 9, the elementary GPA for the semester is 23.0 ÷ 9 = 2.56.

At the end of the school year in a school that uses the trimester system, a student's GPAs for the three trimesters are 3.70, 3.60 and 3.90. What is the GPA for the school year?

Add the scores to get 11.20 and divide by 3. The elementary GPA for the year is 3.73.


About the Author

Chris Deziel holds a Bachelor's degree in physics and a Master's degree in Humanities, He has taught science, math and English at the university level, both in his native Canada and in Japan. He began writing online in 2010, offering information in scientific, cultural and practical topics. His writing covers science, math and home improvement and design, as well as religion and the oriental healing arts.