December 17, 2017

Calculating GPA – A Guide

When your student reaches high school, you will find that various organizations will begin to ask you for their GPA (Grade Point Average). Some will even ask you for a weighted and an unweighted version. Today, we’re going to go over the various grading point scales and ways to calculate the GPA for your student.

Calculating GPA

Get your calculator ready!

Most organizations are not looking for a separate GPA for each high school year. They will be asking for your cumulative GPA – based on all of the high school level courses completed to date. You may choose to put a separate GPA per year on your transcript (I don’t typically do that) but keep up with the cumulative so that you can put that number on various forms when asked for it.

In order to calculate your student’s Grade Point Average, you begin by assigning points for each letter grade. I recommend that you use the 4.0 scale. This means that for each full credit course, you assign 4 points to an A and count down from there. If the course is a half credit course, you will cut each of these numbers in half, like this:

Calculating GPA

Side note: if your student has earned a “D” in homeschool land, this means Do It Over – your student has not mastered the material.

To calculate the GPA, add up the total points and divide by the total number of credits earned. This will be your student’s unweighted GPA.

Some advanced courses may be weighted for the purpose of obtaining a grade point average. Weighting means higher point value is given per letter grade because the course content is more academically challenging. This is a way to keep the playing field even when one student takes a heavy academic load while another takes “easy” courses and gets “easy” A’s. You can choose to weight honors, Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses.

As with the 4.0 scale, there are also various weighting scales. I like to choose the lowest scale – because when I take a transcript to a college they are going to apply their own weighting scale and I’d rather see them raise the GPA than bring it down. Some institutions will give a full point higher for A’s, B’s and C’s, while others give only half-point. Therefore, I recommend using a half-point weighting scale. (You will want to make note of which scale you are using somewhere on your transcript.) These are the points you can give to these weighted courses.

Calculating GPA

Have a place on your transcript where you show both the weighted and unweighted GPAs. If you have even one weighted course in your calculations, this is your weighted GPA. To compute the unweighted version, simply remove the half-points and recalculate. (You’re going to want to set up an Excel spreadsheet to help you do this automatically.)

You can download my GPA calculation instruction sheet to help you out.

If you’re using the plus/minus system, you’ll add and take away a few more decimal places for plus and minus grades. This can get tedious and may not make that much difference – sometimes the pluses and minuses wipe each other out, other times it’s detrimental.  See my post on the University of Western Kentucky’s study – but check out this Wikihow site showing you how to calculate the GPA with the additional decimal points and how to set up an Excel spreadsheet.

~to your success!


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