FAQ

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Check out our latest feature: The BCPM GPA Calculator and Science GPA Calculator!

The calculated average of letter grades earned in high school or college is called Grade Point Average or GPA.

How do you calculate GPA?

We calculate a GPA by assigning a point value to a grade. One simple grading scale looks like this: A=4.0, B=3.0, C=2.0, D=1.0, and F=0.

To calculate a high school GPA, we add up the total points earned and then divide by the number of classes.

In college each class is assigned a unit value, usually 1 to 4. To calculate a college GPA, first we multiply the point value by the number of units for each class. Then we add up the total points earned and divide by the total units.

What is a credit or unit anyway?

The standard measure of high school education is called the “Carnegie unit.” 1 unit is equal to 120 hours of instruction. The Carnegie Foundation arrived at this number by multiplying 1 hour of academic instruction time, by 5 days per week, by 24 weeks in an academic year (1 x 5 x 24 = 120). Most high school classes are worth 1 unit for the year. Some high schools multiply the Carnegie Unit by 10 or some other value.

The standard measure of college or university education is the “credit hour.” The number of credit hours for a given class is equal to the number of hours of classroom (lecture and lab) time, per week, required to complete a course in a quarter or semester term. Keep in mind that every credit hour usually represents an additional two hours per week of preparation or study time. A typical semester course is 4 credits hours.

Keep in mind that a class with more units or credits does not mean that is harder, only that it requires a larger time investment.

What is the difference between the quarter system and the semester system (and the trimester system)?

The majority of high schools and universities use the semester system, where a full-time academic year consists of two terms. Each term lasts approximately one-half of an academic year or between 15 and 18 weeks. There is often an optional abbreviated or expedited summer term.

A smaller but still significant number of schools use the quarter system, where a full-time academic year consists of three terms. Each term lasts approximately one-fourth of the year or between 10 and 12 weeks. There is often an optional summer term.

Some institutions have very unique academic terms. Both the University of Michigan and Cal Tech use the trimester system. A trimester credit hour is calculated the same as a semester credit hour.

At Cornell College in Iowa students take one course at a time!

How do I convert between quarter hours and semester hours?

A semester unit or credit hour is one and a half times the value of a quarter unit or credit hour. For example, 4 semester units is equal to 6 quarter units (4 x 1½ = 6)

A quarter unit or hour is two-thirds the value of a semester hour. For example, 4 quarter units is equal to 2.67 semester units (4 x ⅔ = 2.67)

Why? A semester is roughly 1½ times longer in duration than a quarter! It’s that easy.

How many units or credit hours do I need to graduate?

Schools typically go by the following minimum units-required:

How do I improve or raise my GPA?

Keep in mind, the more classes you take, the harder it is to significantly raise or lower your GPA. Why? It’s a matter of math. Imagine your first term of your first year in school. If you took four classes, each course was worth a whopping 25% of your GPA. In your second term, if you take another 4 classes, each class will again be worth 25% of your GPA for the term, but only 12.5% of your cumulative GPA. By the first term of your senior year, you may have completed 32 classes. Each class is now worth only 2.8% of your cumulative GPA!

What is the average high school GPA in the United States?

The average high school GPA is slightly higher than 3.00. So the average American is a B- student in high school.

The United States Department of Education published “The Nation’s Report Card” in 2009. The Report Card pointed out a number of statistics and trends. For example, in 1990, the average GPA was only 2.68. That figure climbed rapidly for about a decade before the upward trend began to slow down. We at Afouro speculate that the average GPA today is probably just a little bit higher than 3.00.

What is Grade inflation?

Grade inflation is the tendency for the average grades of a grade level to grow higher over time despite academic performance remaining the same. For example, the average high school GPA today is greater than 3.00. In 1990, it was way down there at 2.68. What happened? Did students really get smarter? Are teachers getting soft? This is an active debate in academia. Not all schools treat grades the same.

What grading scales does Afouro use?

The "One Third" is a common high school grading scale using the A through F letter grade format and + or - variations. The + or - variations add or subtract one-third of a point from the letter grade, with the exception of A+:

     Grade: A+    A     A-    B+    B     B-    C+    C     C-    D+    D     D-    F    
    Points: 4.00  4.00  3.67  3.33  3.00  2.67  2.33  2.00  1.67  1.33  1.00  0.67  0  

"The Point 3" is a common college-level grading scale using the A through F letter grade format and + or - variations. The + or - variations add or subtract three-tenths of a point from the letter grade, with the exception of A+:

     Grade: A+   A    A-   B+   B    B-   C+   C    C-   D+   D    D-   F    
    Points: 4.0  4.0  3.7  3.3  3.0  2.7  2.3  2.0  1.7  1.3  1.0  0.7  0  

The "Half Step" is a grading scale using the A through F letter grade format and half-grades. The combination grades add or subtract one-half of a point from the letter grade:

     Grade: A    AB   B    BC   C    CD   D    DE   F    
    Points: 4.0  3.5  3.0  2.5  2.0  1.5  1.0  0.5  0  

The "1 to 5" is a grading scale that largely mimics The Point 3 scale but substitutes numbers 1 - 5 for A through F letter grades:

     Grade: 1+   1    1-   2+   2    2-   3+   3    3-   4+   4    4-   5  6    
    Points: 4.0  4.0  3.7  3.3  3.0  2.7  2.3  2.0  1.7  1.3  1.0  0.7  0  0 

The "High A+" is a grading scale using the A through F letter grade format and + or - variations. The + or - variations add or subtract one-third of a point from the letter grade, including A+:

     Grade: A+    A     A-    B+    B     B-    C+    C     C-    D+    D     D-    F    
    Points: 4.33  4.00  3.67  3.33  3.00  2.67  2.33  2.00  1.67  1.33  1.00  0.67  0  

The "10 Point Scale" is a numerical grading scale typically based on percentage scores:

     Grade   100    96    92    89    86    82    79    76    72    69    66    62    
     Range:   97    93    90    87    83    80    77    73    70    77    73    70
    Points: 4.00  4.00  3.67  3.33  3.00  2.67  2.33  2.00  1.67  1.33  1.00  0.67