GPA meaning and how to calculate it

GPA meaning and how to calculate it

Being a student is also about your GPA and the way you calculate it. If you are wondering the GPA meaning and how you can discover it, let us share all you need to know. 

What is a Grade Point Average (GPA)?

A Grade Point Average (GPA) is an average of all the grade points you have earned over the course of your degree program. Graduate students are required to have a certain number of a GPA, while sometimes the undergraduates are required to have a smaller number. 

It’s a number that indicates how well or how high you scored in your courses on average. It’s meant to score you (usually on a GPA scale between 0 and 4.0) during your studies and shows whether your overall grades have been high or low. 

If your GPA drops below the minimum, you would be considered out of compliance with university requirements and placed on Academic Warning for Low GPA. 

GPA´s use and types

The Grade Point Average (GPA) is the measure used to summarize your academic achievement. After the publication of final grades each trimester, your Program and Career GPA are calculated and will be used by the University to inform decisions, including:

  • academic progress
  • admission to advanced studies (e.g. honors)
  • eligibility for prizes, University Medal, Award for Academic Excellence and scholarships
  • accreditation and quality assurance.

Grading systems and GPA scores

There are many grading systems out there, using different scales, letters, numbers, and so on. Here are a few common ways grades are measured throughout the world:

  • A-F: in the US, Canada, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, etc.
  • 0-10: in the Netherlands, Colombia, Latvia, Israel, Spain, etc.
  • 1-5: in Germany, Austria, Russia, Slovakia, Paraguay, etc.
  • Percentage: in Kuwait, Belgium, Hungary, Poland, etc.

There are some common methods used by universities to evaluate and rank students. Yet, in order to make these grades translatable, they will often use an average score system.

In Europe, for example, universities can use the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) to help convert grades easily. This system makes education more transparent and allows students to have their academic grades recognized in different European countries.

Unweighted vs weighted GPA

GPAs are normally calculated on an unweighted scale, from 0 to 4.0. This means the difficulty of your courses will not be considered. Whether you take an A in an easy class or a more challenging one, it will always be a 4.0.

Weighted GPAs are a more accurate evaluation of your academic efforts. They also use a different scale, from 0 to 5.0. 

If you want to know how to calculate weighted GPAs, you must know that they consider the difficulty of your courses. For example, an A in an easier class will be graded as a 4.0, while an A in a more demanding course will be marked as a 5.0.

Cumulative GPA vs overall GPA

To understand the differences between cumulative GPA and overall GPA, you must first know that they both refer to the average grades of a student. The difference is that the cumulative GPA covers shorter periods, like a term or a semester.

The overall GPA refers to the average grades obtained by a student throughout his entire academic experience. This means the overall GPA includes grades from all terms and semesters.

How to calculate a GPA?

Each grade you receive, whether it’s in the numerical system, letter-grade system, or percentage system, corresponds to a quality point. A quality point is almost always on a 4.0 scale between 0 and 4 (or a multiple of 4). The highest grade you can get (A, 10, 5, 100%, and so on) will equal the highest number on that scale.

For example, in the US, an A is the highest grade you can receive in your classes. Depending on which school you attend, A is either equal to 4, or is equal to a multiple of 4 (e.g. 8 or 16). After you take a few classes, these points are added up and divided by the total amount of credits of all the courses you took. The number you get is your Grade Point Average. 

Let’s use an example to make things clear. We’ll suppose you took 3 courses: Biology (2 credits), Mathematics (2 credits) and English (3 credits). Your grades for these courses are:

  • Biology – C (C is 2.0 on the GPA scale)
  • Mathematics – B (B is 3.0 on the GPA scale)
  • English – A (A is 4.0 on the GPA scale)

If we multiply the grades you took by the number of credits for each course, we see you have 4 grade points for Biology, 6 for Mathematics, and 12 for English. In total, 22 grade points. To calculate your average GPA, we divide this number of grade points by the total number of credits of the courses you took (2+2+3=7). This is how we find out your GPA is 3.14.

Your GPA will be rounded to two decimal places for the purposes of reporting in your Academic Transcript. If, for example, your cumulative GPA score is 6.43478, it would be rounded to 6.44.

If you have been awarded a non-graded pass for a course, this will not be included in the calculation of your GPA.

What is a good GPA in college/university?

At many universities and colleges, your GPA determines your eligibility for financial aid programs, scholarships, and other support. If you fall below the minimum GPA (usually 2.0, but varies from one institution to another), you might lose the financial support.

GPAs are also used as requirements when you want to enroll in a certain club, association, or participate in extra-curricular activities. You can miss out on many opportunities if your academic efforts aren’t up to par.

Your GPA is also important if you want to continue your studies and apply for a Master’s or PhD degree

Once again, a good GPA will depend on the university and the type of programme you apply for. Some will accept students with a 2.75 GPA, others will demand minimum 3.0 or 3.5.

When you’re enrolled in a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme, your GPA is easily one of the most important numbers to keep an eye on. 

Why is the GPA so important?

Throughout your university education, your GPA is really the only metric or calculation showing how good a student you are, and whether you’ve been doing well during the degree programme. Although you will obviously know whether you’ve passed and excelled in your courses, your GPA gives a broader indication of your overall grades and scores.

During your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree programme, you will be asked to provide your GPA in certain situations. Here are a few examples: 

  • Applying for a scholarship 
  • Joining an organization or a club 
  • Doing any extra-curricular activities
  • Applying for a graduate or post-graduate programme (Master’s, PhD)

Instead of conclusion

In many ways, your GPA is the key used to unlock other exciting things during your study. When organizations want to know what kind of student you are (whether you’re a hard-working, ambitious student, or a slacker who is not excelling in his or her coursework) they rely on your GPA. 

Organizations, scholarship committees, clubs and universities want high-achieving, hard-working students. So, they want someone with a high GPA. 

Are you ready to get your best GPAs? Enroll with CIS today!