23 days ago
Admissions Advice

3.96 Unweighted GPA vs 4.00 Unweighted GPA

Hello, I am currently in 11th grade and am wondering how badly a 3.96 GPA will affect my chances of getting into top schools (MIT, Caltech). I unfortunately got two Bs during my freshman year, one of which was at the fault of my teacher not grading assignments; if I just took all college classes my senior year, would that help improve my chances?

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
23 days ago


In my opinion, you're doing great so keep up the good work. If you are a college admissions officer, you are not accepting or rejecting anyone based on Unweighted GPAs not being a perfect 4.00, to begin with. Rather, you are looking at the sum of the parts, not a single part of the whole.

At schools like MIT and Caltech, they do expect you to have either all As or mostly As but an equally important component is course rigor. So if you have a perfect 4.0 GPA and have poor course rigor that really looks back compared to someone with a 3.9 with amazing course rigor.

These schools expect to see AP Calc B/C, AP Physics 1/2/C, AP Chem, AP Bio, AP English (lang and lit), and AP Histories. Plus many admits have taken other higher-level Maths, or CS programming classes, or other classes that evidence their intellectual curiosity.

Hand in Glove with both Grades and Course Rigor are also high test scores. Ideally, you want about 750 EBRW/800 Math or higher or a 35 ACT composite or higher. Since SAT II subject tests are now eliminated, I don't think they count at all. (Also Caltech is TEST BLIND so neither the SAT or ACT will factor in your admissions).

Course rigor is more important than AP test scores because you won't get much credit for an AP test score. At MIT, even if you get a 5, you get zilch for CS, BIO, CHEM, MATH, ENV SCI, PHYSICS 1/2, but you get credit for AP English, AP Physics C, AP History, AP Arts if an only if you get a 5.

At Caltech it's worse. "Please note that we do not grant credit for AP, IB, A Level, Pre-U, or college courses taken prior to enrollment. Each student accepted to Caltech will take a math and physics placement exam prior to enrolling. Based on the results of these exams, you may place out of courses and be granted credit for those courses."

Hope this is useful and helpful.

23 days ago

Hi! A 3.96 vs a 4.0 is not going to be what gets you rejected from Caltech or MIT. Taking classes at a higher level such as AP or IB is a great way to show that you are capable of getting good grades while also taking rigorous classes. Both Caltech and MIT require you to take AP/IB classes in math and sciences and ideally you will take as many as you can. Check out our how to get into Caltech livestream recording to learn more about Caltech specifically, but a 3.96 gpa vs a 4.0 will probably not be what prevents someone from gaining admissions.


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