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What is GPA? How to Calculate? What is Good GPA Score?

What is GPA? How to Calculate? What is Good GPA Score?

Edited By Porishmita Paul | Updated on May 29, 2024 02:36 PM IST

GPA, also known as Grade Point Average, is used to evaluate an individual's academic performance for a single term or semester. Numerous universities across the world uses GPA system, and higher GPA indicate stronger grades. GPA is calculated by taking an average of all the final scores, a candidate has achieved in the overall semester, weighted by the total credit hours. GPA plays a major role in college admission, scholarship eligibility and during placement, as various universities and recruiters candidates on the basis of their GPA. Read the complete article to learn about GPA, how to calculate it, how is GPA different from CGPA, and more.

What is GPA?

GPA full form is Grade Point Average (GPA), it is a numerical measure of a student’s average academic performance across all courses. On a scale of 1.0 to 4.0, the GPA summarizes a student’s progress throughout his/her studies. Higher numbers indicate better achievement of course learning objectives. Universities use the GPA to evaluate whether a student meets the expected academic standards for a particular degree program or not.

Why GPA is important?

The GPA is of utmost importance because it provides a comprehensive measure of a student’s academic performance throughout the course in a college/university. While passing individual courses is mandatory, the GPA provides a bigger picture of a student’s grades across all subjects, thereby quantifying his/her overall excellence as a student.

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While pursuing a Bachelor’s or Master’s program, a candidate will be asked to provide his/her average GPA for various purposes such as applying for a scholarship, participating in any extracurricular activity, or applying for a doctoral programme. The GPA can be considered as a key that opens doors to exciting opportunities during college/university. Organizations, scholarship committees, clubs, and universities prefer high-achieving and ambitious students. Thus, it becomes crucial for students to score high GPA.

What is Average GPA?

The overall grade point average is a score that reflects a candidate’s academic performance and achievement during his/her degree programme. The GPA is the average of the grades that a student has earned in all his/her subjects during a semester, term, or year. This number fluctuates throughout a candidate’s college/university career based on his/her performance. It rises when a student performs well and falls when his/her performance declines.

Grading systems and GPA scores

Grading systems in different parts of the world use a variety of scales, including letters, numbers, and more, to evaluate a student’s academic performance. Some common examples are:

  • In countries like Canada, the USA, Saudi Arabia, etc., letters from A-F are used

  • In the Netherlands, Colombia, etc., numbers from 1-10 are used

  • In Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Austria, etc., numbers from 1-5 are used

  • The Percentage method is used in various countries like Belgium, Kuwait, and Poland, to name a few.

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Universities also use other common procedures to evaluate and rank students. However, to make these grades comprehensible across countries and universities, they often use an average score system.

European universities often use the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) to convert grades. It helps in promoting education transparency and allowing students' academic grades to be recognized in different countries.

How to calculate GPA?

Each letter grade, number grade, or percentage grade that a student receives corresponds to a quality point on a 0-4 scale, where 4 is the highest possible grade and 0 is the lowest. For example, an A, 100%, or 10/10 would equal 4 quality points, while a C, 75%, or 7/10 would equal 2 quality points. This standardized quality point system allows grades across different scales to be equated.

For instance, in the United States, an A is the highest possible grade in a course. The numeric value of an A varies from school to school. It may equal 4 points or a multiple of 4, like 8 or 16. After taking a few classes, the total points earned are added up and divided by the total number of credits to determine the grade point average (GPA).

To add more clarity, let’s exemplify this elaborately. Let’s assume a student has three courses: Biology, Mathematics, and English with 2, 2, and 3 credits for each course. The student’s scored grades are:

  • C in Biology, where C is 2.0 on the GPA scale

  • B in Mathematics, where B is 3.0 on the GPA scale

  • A in English, where A is 4.0 on the GPA scale

To calculate the GPA, the grade has to be multiplied in each course by the number of credits for that course. The student earned 4-grade points for his/her 2 credits of Biology (B), 6 points for his/her 2 credits of Mathematics (B), and 12 points for his/her 3 credits of English (A).

Hence, the total grade points are 22 (4 + 6 + 12). Subsequently, the total grade points (22) have to be divided by the total number of credits (7) to get the GPA. The GPA will be 3.14.

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Difference between Unweighted and weighted GPA

To calculate an unweighted GPA, all courses are graded on a scale from 0 to 4.0, regardless of difficulty. For example, an A would equal 4.0 points whether it is earned in an easy or challenging class. The GPA is determined by the average of all course grades, without weighting grades based on course difficulty.

Weighted GPA help in getting a more accurate assessment of a student’s academic efforts, since these consider the difficulty of the courses. Unlike regular GPA which use a 4.0 scale, weighted GPA use a 0 to 5.0 scale. A in an easier class receives 4.0, while an A in a more demanding class receives 5.0. This differentiation acknowledges the additional effort required for more challenging courses.

Difference between Cumulative GPA and overall GPA

A student's cumulative GPA or CGPA and overall GPA both represent their average grades, but there is a key difference between the two. Cumulative GPA covers a shorter period, such as a semester or term, while overall GPA encompasses the student's entire academic history. An overall GPA represents the average of all grades earned by a student across his/her entire academic career, encompassing grades from every term and semester.

Difference Between GPA and CGPA

Particulars

GPA (Grade Point Average)

CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average)

Definition

It measures academic performance during a single term or semester

Measures overall academic performance throughout entire academic career

Calculation

Sum of grade points earned in courses during a term / Total credit hours in that term

Sum of all grade points earned in all courses / Total credit hours over all terms

Scope

Short-term (one term or semester)

Long-term (entire academic course)

Purpose

Evaluates performance for a specific term, used for academic requirements and job applications

Evaluates overall academic performance, used for graduation requirements, further studies, or job applications

Time Frame

One academic term or semester

All academic terms or semesters

What is a good GPA?

Before understanding what GPA is good, it is important to note that a good GPA is dependent on the level of education a candidate is undergoing. For instance, maintaining a high-grade point average (GPA) in high school is often easier than in college or university. Therefore, Grade Point Averages should be considered from an educational level perspective.

The GPA one needs to get depends on the college he/she plans to study. Highly competitive colleges may require a 3.5 GPA or higher, while less competitive colleges accept students with lower GPAs, sometimes as low as 2.0. A student’s targeted college/university admission requirements determine if his/her GPA is good enough or not.

While evaluating GPA, many universities and colleges also consider the rigour of the courses taken. A student with a 3.0 weighted GPA comprised of advanced classes may be chosen over a student with an unweighted 3.5 GPA of less challenging courses, since admission processes include analysing GPA in context and factoring in all relevant details.

Many universities and colleges require students to maintain a minimum GPA to qualify for financial aid, scholarships, and other support. Falling below the minimum, normally a 2.0 can result in the loss of financial support.

If one plans to continue his/her education in a Master's or PhD program, the GPA will also be important, as admission requirements vary by university and program. Some may accept applicants with a 2.75 GPA, while others require a minimum of 3.0 or 3.5. The higher the GPA a student scores, the more options he/she will have while applying for competitive graduate programs.

How to keep a high GPA?

Maintaining a high GPA throughout your academic journey requires dedication, effective strategies, and a commitment to learning. Instead of aiming for high scores, students must set smaller and realistic goals for themselves. Students can gradually increase the difficulty to improve their study habits. It is highly important that one should stay motivated by finding a positive study environment and maintaining a positive attitude. Here are some tips that can students to achieve their goal:

  • Actively participate in class

  • Create a dedicated study schedule

  • Review study material regularly

  • Utilize different learning method

  • Manage your time effectively

  • Take help when required

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting enough sleep, having a balanced diet, and exercising regularly

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

1. What is the highest GPA?

The highest GPA depends on the scale you are using: weighted or unweighted scale. In the case of an unweighted GPA, where a scale of 0-4 is used, the highest possible GPA is 4.0. However, weighted GPA where a scale of 0-5 scale is used, you can score more than 4.0 also.

2. Why GPA is important?

American universities commonly utilize the average GPA as a measure of a student's academic performance. The GPA, also known as Grade Point Average, is a numerical representation of the average scores achieved in courses. Ranging from 1.0 to 4.0, the GPA effectively monitors a student's progress throughout their educational journey.

3. What is a Good GPA?

It depends on the school or college you want to attend. In this regard, achieving a good GPA indicates maintaining competitiveness among your peers. For instance, while the average GPA for undergraduate students in the US stands at 3.15, Harvard University reports an average GPA of 3.65.

4. Why do you need a good GPA?

A good GPA can be an indicator of an individual’s academic performance and work ethic to potential employers. It can provide them an edge in the admission and job application process, especially for entry-level positions. The importance of good GPA can vary depending on the field of study and course requirements. Overall, a good GPA can open doors to academic and professional opportunities as it demonstrates your academic ability, work ethic, and commitment to learning.

5. What does GPA mean?

GPA meaning is Grade Point Average. It is a numerical summary of your academic performance over a set period of time, usually a semester, year, or complete degree programme. The most common GPA is 4.0. Schools and institutions may use different scales, so it's always a good idea to ask them to get a clear idea on their GPA scale. 

6. How much GPA is good?

On a scale of 4.0, a GPA of more than 2.5 is considered good. Candidates who have scored a GPA of 2.5 or more have more chances of getting accepted to the university of their choice, or are highly sought after recruiters. 

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