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## How to Calculate Grade Point Averages

A grade point average is a way of summarizing a student’s performance as a single number. In a broad sense, it is the average of grades achieved by a student in all courses of study. Grade point averages are used for educational institutions to compare the results of students in different schools.

**Grade Point Average**

Secondary and tertiary schools have different ways of calculating grade point averages using different methods. Generally, secondary schools, such as high schools, use a direct average of the grades achieved by the student, while tertiary institutions, such as universities, also take into account the credit points associated with each course when calculating the average.

This article is a look at how to calculate a grade point average (GPA) in a secondary environment such as high school. Internationally there is variation in how different provinces or districts measure and record student performance, but the 4.0 point scale is becoming a widely used standard for calculating GPA. A simple way you can calculate GPA for high school students is as follows.

**Mathematics**

First, each grade is assigned a numerical value. For example, using the common set of letter grades A, B, C, D, and F, the value of each grade is:

A = 4.0

B = 3.0

C = 2.0

D = 1.0

F = 0.0

Your school may use different grades and values, but the method used to determine GPA will be the same in each case. Calculating GPA requires the total value of the grades and then dividing by the number of grades. This results in an average between 0 and 4.0. 4.0 has the highest GPA and 0 the lowest.

**Unweighted GPA**

Here is a concrete example. Student Michelle earned grades A, B, A, A, C, B, A, and A for the semester. Converting those grades to numerical values they become 4.0, 3.0, 4.0, 4.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 4.0. Adding these (4.0 + 3.0 + 4.0 + 4.0 + 2.0 + 3.0 + 4.0 + 4.0) equals 28. Now to get the average the total is divided by the number of grades, which is 8, and the average is (28 / 8). ) which equals 3.5. So the GPA for Michelle is 3.5.

The steps in this calculation are straightforward and easy to do, but if you need to calculate GPA for a large set of students, a computer application is recommended to save time and reduce errors. With a spreadsheet you can set up the calculations, or to save even more time a specialized application like the Gradebook program can convert letter grades to final GPA in a single operation.

A complication to consider is how the grade point average is calculated if there are courses that are accelerated or work at a higher level. For example, schools may have courses at the advanced placement, international baccalaureate, or honors level. When calculating GPA, adjustments may be made for students in more advanced courses to achieve a higher GPA.

**Weighted GPA**

When this is done it is called a weighted GPA. Continuing Michael’s example with the same list of grades, if the first three grades are from Advanced Placement (AP) courses, those three grades are increased by a predetermined amount to increase the student’s average when converted to a numerical value.

In doing so the weighted GPA takes into account that an “A” in an AP course should reflect a higher level of achievement than an “A” in a regular course. And so students are rewarded for studying harder. Since it is called a weighted GPA, a GPA that does not take into account the level of courses is called an unweighted GPA.

The amount each grade increases will vary between schools, but for this example AP courses add an additional 0.20 to each grade. This makes the values 4.2, 3.2, 4.2, 4.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 4.0 because 0.2 is added to the first three values. So the new weighted GPA is (4.2 + 3.2 + 4.2 + 4.0 + 2.0 + 3.0 + 4.0 + 4.0) / 8 which equals 3.58 when rounded to 2 decimal places. The Gradebook program has the option of weighting the grades to a weight you specify, or you can let the program do an unweighted GPA.

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