What Does Weighted & Unweighted GPA Mean?

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When applying for college, many students become concerned about how their weighted and unweighted GPAs will affect their admission prospects. In general, most colleges take both point averages into consideration. Therefore, it's important to understand exactly what weighted and unweighted GPAs refer to and how they're calculated.

What is a Weighted GPA?

A weighted GPA includes extra points for the completion of advanced placement or AP courses. AP classes are accelerated and can count for college credit. To account for the difficulty level of AP classes, many high schools alter the grade-point scale. In an AP class with weighted grading, an A is equivalent to a 5.0, a B equivalent to a 4.0, a C equivalent to a 3.0, and a D equivalent to 2.0. Thus, a student who takes only AP courses and receives all A's would have a 5.0 GPA.

What is an Unweighted GPA?

An unweighted GPA doesn't provide extra points for AP classes. Thus, both AP and regular classes follow the same standard grading scale. The standard grading scale awards a 4.0 for an A, 3.0 for a B, 2.0 for a C and 1.0 for a D. Thus, a student taking only regular classes and receiving all A's would receive a 4.0. In the same way, a student taking only AP classes would and receiving all A's would also receive a 4.0 on the unweighted scale.

Calculating Weighted GPA

To calculate your weighted GPA, assign a point value to each class that you have received a grade for, assigning more points to AP classes. For each AP class, give yourself five points for an A, four points for a B, three points for a C, two points for a D and zero points for an "F." For each regular class, assign four points for an A, three points for a B, two points for a C, one point for a D and zero points for an F. Next, add all the points together to find the total number of points you have earned. Divide this by the total number of classes you took to find your weighted GPA. Your GPA may be greater than 4.0 but not greater than 5.0.

Calculating Unweighted GPA

To calculate your unweighted GPA, assign a point value to each class that you have received a grade for, using the same scale for both regular and AP classes. Regardless of whether it's an AP or regular class, assign four points for an A, three points for a B, two points for a C, one point for a D and zero points for an F. Next, add all the points together to find the total number of points you have earned. Divide this by the total number of classes you took to find your unweighted GPA. Your GPA will not be greater than 4.0.

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