How to Determine Your College Grade Point Average

How to Determine Your College Grade Point Average
  • Opening Intro -

    Your college grade point average or GPA is an important number, typically scored from 1.0 to 4.0.

    Every letter grade you get while in college will result in an equivalent number and the cumulative effect of those numbers determines your GPA.


Your GPA is important as it can make you eligible for the dean’s list or honor roll, enable you to apply for internships and raise your visibility among employers. A high GPA can also help you get into grad school, but determining your average isn’t always simple and it may be weighed differently at various schools. Please read on for some tips on how to determine your GPA.

1. Get in touch with registrar — Your college has a grade point average scale, one that should be readily available to all students. Duke University, for example, posts its scale online, but there are differences between some Duke schools or programs. Its School of Nursing counts grades the same as other undergraduate programs, but there is no passing grade below a “C” therefore you fail that class unless you meet its minimum grade requirement. Registrar can supply a GPA scale before you attend your first class.

2. Know how grades are assigned — Some colleges assign only even letter A, B, C, D and F grades. Other schools include “pluses” and some include both “plus” and “minus” grades. An “A” is equal to a 4.0; a “B” is a 3.0; a “C” is a 2.0; and a “D” is a 1.0. Fail the class and you’ll have a “0” averaged in with your grades. Interim grades can be assigned in various ways. The Duke example shows that a “B+” is counted as a 3.3 and an “A-” comes in at 3.7. If your school has pluses only, it may assign a “B+” at 3.5. Know your school’s GPA value to understand how you will be graded.

3. Tally your classes — Now, let’s take a look at how your grades this semester will result in a semester GPA, using Duke’s scale once again. Our example is a student taking 15 credits including one 4-credit lab, three 3-credit course and one 2-credit course:

Collectively, the student gains 16.03 points that when divided by 5 classes yields a GPA of 3.206 or 3.21. That number represents the semester’s GPA and would be figured in with previous semester GPAs, if any, to determine a cumulative GPA.

You can also assign a grade per credit hour to add up your GPA. For example, the Earth Science with Lab would be scored a 12.0 for four credits and the remaining four would come in at 7.00, 11.10, 10.00 and 8.00 for a total of 48.10. Divide that number by 15 credits and you’ll get the same 3.206 or 3.21 score.

Final Thoughts

If you fail a class then that “0” will pull down your GPA significantly. However, because a failed class must be made up, you have the opportunity to pass it the second time around. Most likely, your school will erase the earlier grade and adjust your GPA. At some schools classes are pass/fail. Typically, those “grades” are not figured into your GPA, but still have bearing on you graduating.

See AlsoRaise Your GPA With Summer College Courses

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Categories: Academics