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09/11/2020 at 02:45PM

What does "GPA on a 4.0 scale" mean (weighted or unweighted)?

I've seen the term thrown around a lot on college websites, prep blogs, and common data sets. I'd have a hard time believing it isn't weighted, but particularly on the CDSs they always top out at 4.0 (but have almost everyone achieving it, particularly at more competitive schools). So which is it? It seems like a ridiculously commonly used term for it not to have an established meaning.

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1 answer

09/11/2020 at 03:03PM

I personally would assume that the typical “GPA on a 4.0 scale” is your UNWEIGHTED GPA. This is the one colleges will look at most closely to just determine baseline how good of a student you are. The 4.0 scale is the universal scale used to determine unweighted GPA. Essentially, a 4 = A, 3 = B, 2 = C, 1 = F. Even if it’s not, don’t worry too much about your weighted GPA - to make a long story short, colleges aren’t really using it anymore due to inflation and non standardized practices such as weighting in different high schools and whether colleges accept weighted credit for APs, etc. Just worry about 1) are you taking the most challenging rigor that you can (or the level of rigor that your targeted schools require of you) and 2) do you have good grades in the A range (or whatever range you are aiming for). For selective schools like T20+ I would aim for an UW GPA of 3.85 or higher out of 4. If you’re taking difficult classes such as IB/AP/H and thus your grades are a little bit lower than other students taking R, colleges understand this and this is where rigor comes into play

If your school uses a system such as the letter system (A+, or 4.33), the number system (out of 100) or even a different system for calculating GPA, you can convert it to a 4.0 scale here: The “lowest A” refers to the lowest value that would be considered an A- if you have that. Ex. on a 4.33 scale the “lowest A” is a 3.67, and on a 100 scale, the lowest A is a 90. I believe the reason it maxes out at 4.0 is because it’s literally impossible to have an UW GPA above 4.0 or a 100. What some colleges might also do is re-weight your GPA and if it’s above 4.0 they will just skip it, idrk.

Please lmk if you’re still confused and I’ll do my best to help!

Accepted Answer
@DebaterMAX09/11/2020 at 07:01PM

Some additional info while no standerized scale for weighted typically AP and IB are whatever grade let’s say an A so a 4 it would become a 5. Honors varies my school it isn’t weighted but more often than not I’d say it’s +.5 so an A would be 4.5. Also some school notably the UCs (UCLA UC Berkeley UCSC UC Irvine etc) use thier own formula to calculate weighted gpa which is what they use in admissions. If you’d like I can link the webpage that explains it