What Is Unweighted GPA?
College GPA

What Is Unweighted GPA?

An unweighted GPA, or Grade Point Average, is a critical measure of academic performance in schools across the United States. This article aims to break down what an unweighted GPA is, how it’s calculated, and why it’s important to your pursuit of higher education. 

How is an Unweighted GPA Calculated?

An unweighted GPA is calculated on a scale of 0 to 4.0. It does not consider the difficulty level of classes. Rather, it assigns a numerical value to letter grades and averages them out over a school year and then throughout a high school career.

The Importance of Unweighted GPA

An unweighted GPA plays a significant role in multiple aspects of an academic career.

In High School

In high school, your unweighted GPA is a key indicator of your academic performance. It’s a number that teachers and administrators use to track your progress, identify areas of improvement, and guide curriculum decisions.

In College Applications

When applying for colleges, your unweighted GPA is one of the first things admissions officers look at. It’s a simple measure of your academic capability, giving them a good idea of how well you could handle the rigors of college coursework.

In Job Applications

Though not as commonly, some employers may also look at your unweighted GPA, especially for entry-level positions. This is more common in industries that are highly competitive or specialized.

Difference Between Weighted and Unweighted GPA

Unlike the unweighted GPA, the weighted GPA does consider the difficulty of the courses. Honors, AP, and IB courses typically carry more weight and therefore can contribute to a higher GPA on a scale that often goes up to 5.0.

Pros and Cons of Each

While an unweighted GPA is a more straightforward calculation and provides a level playing field, a weighted GPA can reward students for taking more challenging courses. However, this can also mean more pressure and workload for students.

Improving Your Unweighted GPA

Academic Habits to Adopt

Studying regularly, staying organized, seeking help when needed, and staying focused in class are key habits to adopt if you want to improve your unweighted GPA.

Extracurricular Activities to Consider

While not directly related to GPA, extracurricular activities can demonstrate your commitment, time management skills, and well-roundedness, which can indirectly impact your academic performance and therefore your GPA.

GPA Conversion

Conversion Scale

While the 4.0 scale is commonly used in the US, other countries may use different scales. Some common conversions include a 7-point scale in Australia and a 20-point scale in France.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I convert my unweighted GPA to a weighted GPA?

The conversion of an unweighted GPA to a weighted GPA isn’t typically possible. This is because weighted GPAs consider the difficulty of the courses you’ve taken (such as honors, AP, or IB courses). If this information isn’t factored into your original GPA, it can’t be added retrospectively. If you want to showcase your academic rigor, consider presenting both GPAs (if your school calculates both) to give a complete picture of your academic achievements.

2. Does every college consider an unweighted GPA?

While most colleges consider unweighted GPAs as it gives them a straightforward understanding of a student’s academic performance, they also often consider weighted GPAs, class rank, and the rigor of the courses taken. However, it’s worth noting that the importance of an unweighted GPA may vary between institutions, so it’s best to check the specific admissions criteria of the colleges you’re interested in.

3. How does unweighted GPA affect scholarship opportunities?

Unweighted GPA can significantly affect scholarship opportunities. Many scholarships have a GPA cut-off as part of their eligibility criteria. Generally, the higher your GPA, the more scholarship opportunities are available to you. However, different scholarships have different criteria, so it’s important to research specific scholarships you’re interested in to understand their exact requirements.

4. Does unweighted GPA include elective courses?

Yes, typically, your unweighted GPA includes all courses you’ve taken, including electives, core subjects, and any additional courses. The grades you receive in these classes are averaged to determine your unweighted GPA. It’s worth noting, however, that the way GPAs are calculated can vary from school to school, so for the most accurate information, you should consult your school’s guidance counselor or academic advisor.

5. Can I improve my unweighted GPA in my final year of high school?

It’s possible to improve your unweighted GPA in your final year of high school, but the degree of impact depends on your previous grades. If you consistently perform well in your final year, you can raise your overall GPA. However, remember that each year’s grades affect the total GPA, so improvements in your final year will have less impact than if the improvements were spread out over multiple years. Regardless, striving for good grades in your final year can showcase an upward academic trend, which colleges often look favorably upon.


Understanding and monitoring your unweighted GPA is vital to your academic journey. Remember, while it’s an important measure, it’s not the sole determinant of your capabilities or future success. 

If you’re keen on understanding exceptional academic achievement, read our blog about a Magna Cum Laude’s GPA at Go Degree today.

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