Weighted vs Unweighted GPA (Well Explained)

Weighted vs Unweighted GPA (Well Explained)5 min read

One of the most important and challenging responsibilities of a high school student is maintaining a high GPA as this is one of the essential information needed in your college application. Moreover, it is a significant determinant of you getting admitted into the college of your dreams. When it comes to comparing weighted vs unweighted GPA, your school system is the number one factor to put into consideration.

However, GPA calculation can vary at different schools as some schools use the weighted GPAs while some use the unweighted GPA scale. This can be confusing sometimes, but understanding the difference between both scales and how to calculate them as well as what each represents, can help you make the right choices to achieve your best GPA.

Differences Between Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

What is a weighted GPA?

A weighted GPA is one that accounts for the difficulty of a student’s courses or classes when calculating his or her GPA. Basically, you can measure on a scale of 0.0 – 5.0 but can vary from school to school as some schools use higher scales. Here, scoring an A in an AP class will be a GPA of 5.0, and scoring an A in a regular class will be a GPA of 4.0.

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What is an unweighted GPA?

An unweighted GPA is one that one can measure on a scale of 0.0 – 4.0 and does not take account of the difficulty of the class. Here, scoring an A is 4.0 regardless of the difficulty of the class, AP, honours or regular.

Calculating Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

Calculating an unweighted GPA is simpler than calculating a weighted GPA since you don’t have to take account of the class difficulty. The numerical values for this scale are:

A   →   4.0
B   →   3.0
C   →   2.0
D   →  1.0
F   →  0.0

How to calculate Unweighted GPA

So, let’s say you take six classes and you score A’s in three of them, B’s in two of them, and C in one of them, your GPA will be:     

4.0 + 4.0 + 4.0 + 3.0 + 3.0 + 2.0     =       20/6     =    3.33   (unweighted)   

For a weighted GPA, you have to consider the difficulty level of the classes and this makes the calculation a little bit tricky.

The trick here is, you use the unweighted GPA scale for regular classes, add 0.5 to the scale for honours classes, and add 1.0 for AP classes.

How to calculate Weighted GPA

So, going with the previous example, you take six classes and score three A’s, two B’s, and one C in them. But this time, you have an A in an AP class and two regular classes, a B in an AP class and an honours class, and a C in an honours class. Your GPA will be:

 5.0 +4.0 + 4.0 + 4.0 + 3.5 + 2.5   = 23/6 = 3.83 (weighted)

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Note: These values and scale may slightly differ from that of your school so be sure to find out what scale and values your school follows.

Weighted vs Unweighted GPA

What GPA Do Colleges look at?

This will also answer questions like: “Do colleges look at weighted GPA for scholarships?“, “What GPA Do Colleges look at?

The truth is, colleges do not have a preferred GPA scale. However, most colleges consider the weighted GPA more useful as it shows more information about the difficulty level/rigour of the student’s coursework.

They know and understand that the GPA reporting scale differs from school to school and hence have their methods and standards for determining the academic skills and potentials of students.

Colleges don’t just look at your GPA out of context. They do a thorough check on your coursework, determine the rigour, and consider your class rank. These give them a better understanding of your GPA.

So, if you’re bothered about the type of GPA colleges consider, the answer is that colleges will consider your general performance as well as every information given about your academic prowess to have a broad understanding of your potentials.

Generally, colleges just want dedicated, determined, and challenging students who strive for academic excellence, growth, and improvement.

So, while in high school, challenge yourself by taking higher-level classes and getting involved in activities that improve your intellect, and push yourself for excellence.

Is a 4.0 weighted GPA good?

A 4.0 weighted GPA is an excellent GPA. It shows that you worked extremely hard. It’s a 4.0/5.0 GPA, indicating that you made a lot of A’s, a couple of B’s, and a few Cs.

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With a 4.0 weighted GPA, you can gain scholarships for higher education like a master’s degree or any higher diploma. In comparing weighted vs unweighted GPA, a 4.0 weighted GPA is excellent, but a 4.0 unweighted GPA is super outstanding.

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Is cumulative GPA weighted or unweighted?

As a student, you calculate a cumulative GPA based on the GPA your school system is using, and the number of credits received. If you are making use of a weighted GPA, your CGPA will be a weighted GPA, similar to the unweighted GPA; if you are making use of an unweighted GPA, your CGPA will be an unweighted GPA.


Finally, whether your school uses the weighted vs unweighted GPA scale, it doesn’t affect your college application. Colleges will put every bit of information from your coursework to your GPA to your general performance. Their primary concern is your dedication, effort, and academic ability.

Don’t worry about the GPA scales, focus on improving and challenging yourself to the best of your ability.

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