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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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Understanding GPA: How Does the U.S. Scale Work?

Quick question—as someone from an international school, I'm trying to wrap my head around the GPA scales here in America. Can someone break it down for me? And how much does it really affect my college application prospects?

14 days ago

Sure, I'm happy to explain GPA to you! So the GPA, or Grade Point Average, is a system used in the United States to standardize the representation of academic achievement across different schools and grading scales. It generally ranges from 0 (poorest) to 4.0 (best), indicating a student's average performance in their high school classes.

At a high level, the conversion is typically as follows:

- A (90-100%): 4.0

- B (80-89%): 3.0

- C (70-79%): 2.0

- D (60-69%): 1.0

- F (Below 60%): 0.0

Many high schools in the U.S. operate on a weighted GPA scale, where advanced classes like honors, AP (Advanced Placement), or IB (International Baccalaureate) courses are given an extra point. Thus, it's possible to achieve a GPA above 4.0. For example, an 'A' in an honors class might be worth 5.0 points instead of the standard 4.0.

Calculating GPA involves adding up all the converted grade points and dividing by the total number of classes.

As to how much it affects your college application prospects—it's a significant factor, because it's one of the few quantitative metrics that colleges have to compare applicants. A high GPA suggests consistent academic effort and success in coursework. However, it's certainly not the only factor. Colleges also consider standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, essays, and more as part of their holistic review process.

A final note: When applying from an international school, colleges understand that grading systems vary worldwide. While your school may not use the GPA system, admissions officers are experienced in interpreting a variety of grading systems and will evaluate your academic performance in the context of your school's system. So don't worry too much - just focus on doing your best in your classes, whatever the system.

14 days ago

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