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## How to Calculate Grade Point Averages

A Grade Point Average is one way to summarize a student’s performance as a single number. In a broad sense, it is an average of the marks a student has achieved in all their courses. Grade Point Averages are used as a way for educational institutions to compare the results of students from different schools.

**Grade Point Averages**

There are several ways to calculate a grade point average with secondary and tertiary schools using different methods. In general, secondary schools such as High Schools use a direct average of the grades a student has achieved, while tertiary institutions such as universities also take into account the credit points associated with each course when calculating the average.

This article is a look at how to calculate Grade Point Averages (GPA) in a secondary environment such as High School. Internationally, there is variation in the way different provinces or districts measure and record student performance, but the 4.0 scale for calculating a GPA is becoming one widely used standard. For high school students, the simplest way you can calculate a GPA is as follows.

**The mathematics**

First, each class is assigned a numerical value. For example, using the common set of letter classes of A, B, C, D and F, the value of each class is:

A = 4.0

B = 3.0

C = 2.0

D = 1.0

F = 0.0

Your school may use different grades and values, but the method used to figure out the GPA will be the same in each case. Calculating the GPA requires totaling the value of the grades and then dividing by the number of grades. This results in an average that varies between 0 and 4.0. With 4.0 was the highest GPA and 0 was the lowest.

**Unweighted GPA**

Here is a concrete example. Student Michel achieved these grades A, B, A, A, C, B, A and A for the semester. Converting those degrees to the numerical values they become 4.0, 3.0, 4.0, 4.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 4.0. Adding these (4.0 + 3.0 + 4.0 + 4.0 + 2.0 + 3.0 + 4.0 + 4.0) equals 28. Now to get the average, the total is divided by the number of grades, which is 8, and the average becomes ( 28 / 8) ) which is equal to 3.5. So the GPA for Michel is 3.5.

The steps in this calculation are simple and easy to do, but if you need to calculate the GPA for a large set of students, a computer application is recommended to save time and reduce errors. With a spreadsheet you can set up the calculations, or to save more time, a specialized application like The Gradebook Program can convert letter grades to a final GPA in one action.

A complication to consider is how the Grade Point Average is calculated if there are courses that work at an accelerated or higher level. For example, schools may have courses that are at an Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Honors level. When calculating the GPA, adjustments can be made so that students in the more advanced courses receive a higher GPA.

**Weighted GPA**

When this is done, it is called a weighted GPA. Continuing with Michel’s example with the same list of grades, if the first three grades are from Advanced Placement (AP) courses, when those three grades are converted to a numerical value, they are increased by a predetermined amount to the average of the to raise students.

By doing this, a weighted GPA takes into account that an “A” in an AP course should reflect a higher level of achievement than an “A” in a regular course. And so students are rewarded for doing the harder study. Because this is called a weighted GPA, a GPA that does not take into account the level of the courses is called an unweighted GPA.

The amount each grade is increased by will vary between schools, but for this example, the AP courses get an additional 0.20 added to each grade. This makes the values 4.2, 3.2, 4.2, 4.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 4.0 because 0.2 has been added to the first three values. So the new weighted GPA is (4.2 + 3.2 + 4.2 + 4.0 + 2.0 + 3.0 + 4.0 + 4.0) / 8 which equals 3.58 rounded to 2 decimal places. With The Gradebook Program, there is the option to weight the grades to a weight you specify, or you can let the program do an unweighted GPA.

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