How UC’s Calculate GPA

All colleges look at an applicant’s high school GPA differently. For the most part, schools tend to take into account all four years of high school, with a slight emphasis on sophomore and junior year. However, the UC system as a whole has a very unique approach when it comes to calculating its “UC GPA” for its applicants. Notably, it looks almost exclusively at sophomore and junior year. Although there is a calculator that allows applicants to input classes to get their UC GPA  from their high school GPA, there are some key characteristics that should be noted:

  • As stated above, Freshman year is completely ignored by UC’s when it comes to calculating GPA, this does not mean that they won’t look at which courses an applicant took during freshman year, but it won’t be factored into the all-important number.  
  • When UC’s factor honor points, they will only factor in four years of it, with only two years in the tenth grade. This means for most traditional high schools only eight semesters of honors points will be taken with only during sophomore year. Honor points are awarded either through AP courses or through approved honor courses.

There are a couple of things that can be both advantageous and disadvantageous to this calculation of an applicant’s high school GPA. One huge advantage of this method is that it more or less gives an applicant a grace period for transitioning from middle school to high school. This means that if an applicant doesn’t have the greatest freshman year, he or she can still recover his or her high school GPA by performing the next two years. In addition, this allows applicants to avoid cramming harder classes than they aren’t prepared for into their freshman year and instead take those courses along the  recommended route.

In addition, only taking up to 8 semesters of honors points from AP’s and honor classes makes it so that people at schools without many AP classes won’t be put at a severe disadvantage to applicants with a lot more opportunities. This means that even if someone at a very affluent high school were to take fifteen or more AP’s, their advantage would not give them a significant edge over applicants at lower privileged schools. In a way, this method ensures a more standardized system for all students by using a standardized high school GPA.

Although it seems rather unorthodox, there is a certain rationale to what UC’s are trying to accomplish with this adjusted high school GPA. It allows for a certain amount of wiggle room when it comes to applicants taking classes during their freshman year which relieves pressure for rising sophomores who didn’t perform well in the year before. In addition, it limits the amount of honor points earned in order to make it an equal playing field between individual high schools that have high AP class discrepancy. These two factors are key in both understanding how UC’s observe GPA and encouraging those who didn’t do well freshman year.

Questions? Let us know!