What do we understand by Grade Point Average and why is it so important?
GPA, in short, is calculated as a cumulative average of every student inclusive of all the academic periods of that particular course.
This number determines your performance in your high school or college and this is the very factor that determines how good you are in your stream of education.
The first and foremost thing any top undergraduate college does is check your GPA. Your GPA is a direct reflection of your excellence in academics throughout your education.
Now, let’s see what are the types of GPAs?
We have something called as weighted GPA( usually 5.0 GPA) and unweighted GPA( usually 4.0GPA).
Weighted GPA is a score with a maximum 5.0 grade which varies according to the difficulty level of the class.
For example, consider a low-level class, a mid-level class, and a high-level class. These are the levels of difficulties in each case.
A grade point of 1.0 is added for every high-level class, a grade point of 0.5 is added for every mid-level class and low-level class is nothing but the unweighted GPA (will be discussed further in the article).
To understand this clearly let’s take an example where a student scores B in an honors class or a high-level class. This would be a 4.0 GPA in weighted GPA scale. Similarly, A would be 5.0 GPA. For mid-level classes, if a B is 4.0 GPA, an A would only be a 4.5 GPA. For the low-level classes, the GPA is calculated based on the Unweighted scale.
Unweighted GPA is a score with a maximum 4.0 grade which does not vary according to the difficulty level of the class. It is also called the 4.0 GPA scale.
This GPA scale is the most commonly used. Majority of the schools and colleges follow the unweighted GPA scale. Because it doesn’t assign any difficulty levels it’s easier to understand.
Let’s take an example for this, If a student scores A in the class his GPA is 4.0. Similarly, if he scores B, it’s 3.0. For C, it’s 2.0. For D, it’s 1.0 and for F, it’s 0.
Certain schools are more specific of the grades in letters, so, they divide the latter grades as A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, F with the highest GPA being 4.0 for A+ and lowest being 0.0 for F.
If we can tabulate this scale we would get -
||Equivalent in Letter
Which is better? Weighted or Unweighted GPA?
Let’s start this discussion with understanding the pros and cons of each type.
Weighted GPA -
- Encourages students to take up more difficult-level courses. This directly helps in their personal development.
- It is important for competitive schools who want to raise the benchmark of difficulty.
- It shows how often do students attempt a difficult course and their individual performance in that course.
- It differentiates you clearly from a student who has attempted to take up a low-level course.
- It also challenges the teachers and raises the bar for teaching tough topics.
- Getting a lower grade in weighted class can be a drawback for you and you might have to be answerable for it.
- The work can become too rigorous with assignments, presentations, and seminars etc.
- The learning materials and become expensive and non-negotiable.
- Since a majority of the schools and universities usually prefer using an unweighted GPA, they might just consider the weighted GPA as the same and you will lose your upper hand in that case.
Unweighted GPA -
- The work on the assignments, seminars etc. is quite simpler compared to a weighted GPA course.
- There is a good potential to get an excellent score here.
- The teachers might be comfortable with the difficulty level of the topics and can explain it better.
- It is easier for the colleges to calculate the ranks of the students.
- It doesn’t specify the difficulty level at which you have attained the score.
- It doesn’t challenge you enough academically to differentiate you from the other scorers.
- The preference is always given to a good grade in Weighted GPA than a good grade in unweighted GPA.
So, how do we conclude as to which is better? Looking at the points we see that a Weighted GPA is more desirous than an Unweighted GPA but for the ease of calculation, universities will always prefer an Unweighted GPA.
How can you convert your scores to a uniform GPA?
Let's consider the unweighted GPA to be a uniform GPA -
- Percentage to 4.0 GPA
- (x/20) - 1 = GPA.
- Eg: Suppose you score 80 in History
- (80/20) - 1
- = 4.00 - 1
- = 3.00. Therefore, the GPA equivalent of 89% is 3.45.
- Refer the table above to convert letter grades to 4.0 GPA.
- Indian students can refer this table -
||10 point CGPA
||Equivalent 4.0 GPA
||US Letter Grade Equivalent
How will a good GPA help you?
- A good GPA makes you eligible to sit for all top colleges throughout the world.
- It puts you on the top of your professor’s list of good students.
- A good GPA gives you an edge over the rest of the herd.
- It increases your chances of getting a better scholarship in undergraduate colleges.
- You graduate with honors.
- Getting a good GPA is not easy, you would have learned a lot during the process and this knowledge makes you desirable by the best colleges in your country.
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