Do Colleges Look at Weighted or Unweighted GPA?

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Empowerly Team
Empowerly Team

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What is the difference between your weighted and unweighted GPA in high school? It may seem complicated, but we’re here to help you sort it out.

Many high schools give students a boost in GPA for taking honors and AP/IB courses. The weighted GPA is the GPA that reflects course choices involving honors and AP/IB courses and is given out of 5.0. 

  • An A in a honors/AP/IB course is worth 5.0
  • A B in a honors/AP/IB course is worth 4.0
  • A C in a honors/AP/IB course is worth 3.0
  • A D in a honors/AP/IB course is worth 2.0
  • An F in a honors/AP/IB course is worth 1.0

On the other hand, the unweighted GPA considers all courses as equal, so an AP U.S. History course is considered equal to a general U.S. History course. The unweighted GPA is out of 4.0. 

Do colleges look at weighted or unweighted GPA? Since every school offers different numbers of AP/IB/honors courses and calculates GPA differently, how do colleges standardize all applicants?

In general, colleges unweigh GPAs and then reweigh individually. As a high school student applying for college, the key is to focus on unweighted GPA to determine your overall competitiveness.

With a few exceptions (such as University of California schools), schools use unweighted GPA in college admissions decisions. Colleges still consider the rigor of an applicant’s course load, but colleges will do so separately from the GPA. Some college admissions departments (such as Cal State University) even recalculate your GPA using your transcript and their guidelines.

For instance, the University of California (UC) schools do not count freshman grades and consider honors/AP/IB courses in their own way.

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