Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (2023)

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (1)

High schools may record students' GPAs as weighted or unweighted. But which type of GPA is taken more seriously in the college admissions process?

In this article, I'll provide an overview of the differences between weighted and unweighted GPAs and tell you which type is more important.

What's the Difference Between Weighted and Unweighted GPA?

First off, you should know what constitutes weighted and unweighted GPA in high school.

Traditional GPAs are unweighted, which means they're measured on a scale from 0 to 4.0. A 4.0 is an A average, a 3.0 is a B average, a 2.0 is a C average, a 1.0 is a D average, and anything below that represents a failing grade.

Unweighted GPAs do not take the levels of your classes into account. An A in an AP or honors class will translate into a 4.0 GPA, and so will an A in a low-level class. Basically, an unweighted GPA won't change based on the types of classes you're taking; it represents your grades in isolation.

Weighted GPAs are a bit more complicated. Many high schools now record weighted GPAs instead of standard unweighted GPAs. Weighted GPAs are measured on a scale that goes up higher than 4.0 to account for more difficult classes. For many schools, this means a 0-5.0 scale, but some scales go up higher (like to 6.0).

In the lowest-level classes, grades will still stand for the same numbers as they would on an unweighted GPA scale (i.e., an A is a 4.0, a B is a 3.0, etc.). However, in honors or AP classes, an A will translate into a 5.0 GPA, a B will be a 4.0, and so on. If your school has mid-level classes, an A might translate into a 4.5 GPA.

Keep in mind that these are general estimates. If your school records weighted GPAs, check its specific policies. Weighted GPAs are used in an effort to present a more accurate picture of academic abilities based on the rigor of a student's coursework.

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (2)Your A+ in Intro to Yoga will only get you so far. Do some mindful breathing to help yourself accept this.

Which GPA Do Colleges Care About?

Of course, every college is different, but in general colleges care more about your record of coursework than your GPA out of context. For this reason, I can't say that colleges necessarily care "more" about unweighted or weighted GPA. Between the two, weighted GPA provides more useful information, but they will still look closely at your transcript instead of just taking your GPA at face value.

Your GPA is an overview of how you did in high school, but every admissions department will dig deeper (unless your GPA is exceptionally low—think below 2.0) before making a blanket judgment based solely on that number, whether it's weighted or unweighted.

This is because the GPA scales of different high schools can't be compared directly. Some schools might count honors and AP classes as "high level" for weighted GPAs, and some might only count APs. Some AP classes are also easier than others. It wouldn't be fair for colleges to give a student who earned an A in a notoriously difficult class like AP Physics the same credit as a student who earned an A in AP Psychology, even if they have the same weighted GPA.

(Video) Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

Colleges want to see that you have pushed yourself to take on academic challenges and managed to grow over time. If your academic record demonstrates increasing difficulty of coursework, this will look impressive to colleges, even if your GPA isn't stellar. If you have a 4.0 but remained in all the least challenging classes in high school, colleges will be less impressed since you didn't push yourself further academically. even though you were clearly capable of doing so.

If you're getting all As in low-level classes, don't stay complacent just because you have a good GPA. It's absolutely worth it to move up a level and challenge yourself, even if it leads to a slight drop in your GPA. Colleges look at the whole picture, and they will make note of the fact that you forced yourself to leave your comfort zone and grow intellectually.

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (3)This plant is a metaphor for your brain over the course of high school.

What Do College Admissions Departments Say About GPA?

Just to make sure we're on the right track, let's check the official policies of a range of schools. Here are some quotes about GPA taken from the admissions websites for Harvard, Ithaca College, Stanford, Claremont McKenna College, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Harvard Admissions Department

According to the admissions website, here are two key questions Harvard admissions officers ask themselves when reviewing potential applicants:

"Have you reached your maximum academic and personal potential?"

"Have you been stretching yourself?"

Obviously, to get into Harvard, you'll need a great GPA. However, notice that they don't say, "Your unweighted GPA must be at least 3.8," or make any sort of concrete statement about numbers. What they want to see is that you've been constantly striving for more advanced learning opportunities and have also been pushing yourself to your limits academically.

Students who've grown a lot in high school and who were motivated to take difficult classes are probably students who will continue to do the same in college. This demonstrates my point in the previous section that colleges really want to see students who have taken challenging coursework and proved themselves to be dedicated to fulfilling their academic potential.

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (4)Harvard College

Ithaca College Admissions Department

Here's what Ithaca's admissions department has to say about its admissions process:

"We are most focused on the rigor of your curriculum and the level of success you've demonstrated in your academic work. We suggest that you select the most appropriately rigorous (i.e. where you will be successful) curriculum that your school offers."

Again, the admissions department is looking for students who were engaged in their high school coursework and are interested in learning more. Though grades are important, the level of your coursework and your demonstrated academic growth will also go a long way toward impressing admissions officers.

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (5)Ithaca College

(Video) College Admissions: Weighted vs Unweighted GPAs

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (6)

Want to build the best possible college application with your GPA?

We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League.

We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in.

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (7)

Stanford Admissions Department

According to Stanford, what it values most in its applicants is as follows:

"The primary criterion for admission to Stanford is academic excellence. We look for your preparation and potential to succeed. We expect you to challenge yourself throughout high school and to do very well. ... There is no minimum GPA or test score; nor is there any specific number of AP or honors courses you must have on your transcript in order to be admitted to Stanford."

As we saw with Harvard, academic excellence is a given—you obviously need to have strong grades in order to have a solid chance at getting into Stanford.

That said, Stanford is clear that "there is no minimum GPA." Once again, the important idea here is that you're proving you have the potential to succeed and challenge yourself—not that you're necessarily getting As in every single class you take.

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (8)Stanford University

Claremont McKenna College Admissions Department

Here's what Claremont McKenna says about its admissions process:

"Competitive candidates for admission pursue the most demanding course work possible, receive strong grades, and are highly regarded by their teachers and counselors.

The minimum requirements are:

  • English: Four years.
  • Mathematics: Three years, preferably four. Candidates should recognize that mathematical skill is as important for professionals in government and economics as it is in engineering and the physical sciences.
  • Foreign Language: At least three years.
  • History: At least one year.
  • Science: At least two years required, three strongly preferred."
(Video) Do Colleges Look at Weighted GPA

This brings up a good point: many schools might not have GPA requirements, but they do require applicants to take certain classes in high school.

Once again, this emphasizes coursework over straight GPA in the admissions process. "Strong grades" are expected, but a desire for students who have pursued "the most demanding course work" is far more important.

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (9)Claremont McKenna College

University of Texas at Austin Admissions Department

Finally, UT Austin says the following on its admissions website:

"To be competitive for admission, freshman applicants must complete or be on track to complete certain high school coursework:

  • Language Arts: Four credits
  • Mathematics: Four credits
  • Science: Four credits
  • Social Studies: Four credits
  • Foreign Language: Two credits
  • Fine Arts: One credit
  • Physical Education: One credit
  • Electives: Six credits"

Like Claremont McKenna College, UT Austin requires specific coursework in high school. In fact, the school doesn't say much at all about GPA on its website, indicating that GPA alone is not a particularly important part of admissions—rather, the courses you take are important.

>Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (10)UT Austin (Stephen M. Scott/Flickr)

Conclusion: Colleges and Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

Ultimately, you shouldn't worry too much about whether colleges will look at your weighted or unweighted GPA. The value of your GPA, whether weighted or unweighted, isn't the final word on whether you've demonstrated your academic potential in high school.

Instead, focus on your coursework. Have you been consistently challenging yourself and living up to your abilities? Are you making the most of the academic opportunities your school offers?

If you can answer yes to these two questions, you're on your way to success in college admissions!

What's Next?

Worried about how your GPA will impact your chances of getting into college? Check out this list of the best colleges with less competitive GPA requirements.


Not sure whether your GPA is considered high or low? Read my article on what constitutes a good and bad GPA for college admissions.

For a complete overview of how GPA is calculated and what it means for you, take a look at this article.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (11)

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (12)

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!

Do Colleges Use Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (13)

Samantha Lindsay

About the Author

Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.

(Video) Weighted vs Unweighted GPA

Get Free Guides to Boost Your SAT/ACT


Is my weighted or unweighted GPA more important? ›

AP and IB courses are usually weighted this way such that if a student took all AP courses and got all A's, his weighted GPA would be 5.0. Conversely, that same student would have an unweighted GPA of a 4.0. So, when it comes to weighted vs unweighted GPA, a weighted GPA has the potential to be much higher.

Do colleges only look at weighted GPAs? ›

First, know that admissions committees are not fooled by weighted GPAs! Based on school reports, conversations with guidance counselors, and previous knowledge of the applicant's high school, admissions officers know whether they're looking at a weighted or unweighted GPA, and will only compare like with like.

Does Harvard look at weighted or unweighted GPA? ›

This is because all the Ivy League universities take into account a weighted GPA over an unweighted one.
Average GPA (weighted) of Accepted Students at Top Schools.
UniversityAverage GPA (weighted) of Accepted Student
Harvard University4.15
Columbia University4.14
8 more rows

What GPA scale do colleges use? ›

Search for Colleges Using Your GPA

High schools often report GPA (grade point average) on a 4.0 scale. The top grade is an A, which equals 4.0. You calculate your overall GPA by averaging the scores of all your classes. This is a common scale used at most colleges, and many high schools also use it.

Do colleges prefer weighted or unweighted? ›

Colleges will look at either weighted or unweighted GPAs in your application. They do tend to prefer weighted, because it gives more information about the difficulty of your classes, but don't worry if your school uses an unweighted scale.

Is a 3.98 unweighted GPA good? ›

To elaborate, the national average for GPA is around a 3.0, so a 3.9 puts you above average nationally.

Will one B ruin a 4.0 GPA high school? ›

The short answer is (surprisingly): No. If you have one “F” and all other grades in a 40-course program are “A” grades, your GPA will drop from a 4.0 to a 3.9. So, your existing GPA will be impacted, but will not be “ruined.”

How many B's is a 3.9 GPA? ›

What grades do you need to get a 3.9 GPA? If you are asking about the grades you need to make a 3.9, it would roughly be 9 As to every B you make.

Do colleges look at weighted or unweighted GPA for scholarships? ›

On college and scholarship applications, you will likely find questions about your GPA. Ideally, these questions will specify whether they want you to include your weighted GPA or your unweighted GPA. If the application does not specify which GPA, your default should be to list your weighted GPA as it is higher.

What is the lowest GPA accepted to Ivy League? ›

None of the Ivy League schools have a minimum GPA requirement for applications, which means anyone can apply regardless of their GPA.

What's the lowest GPA Harvard accepted? ›

You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We'll cover those details next.

What is a good unweighted GPA for Ivy League? ›

For most of the Ivy League schools, they expect as close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA as possible. However, the actual unweighted GPAs of students admitted could vary, with many around the 3.5-4.0 range.

What GPA do most colleges like? ›

Most colleges like to see unweighted GPAs of 3.0 or above, but many will accept passing GPAs of 2.0 or above (a C average). If your GPA is hovering around 2.0 or sitting below 2.0, you want to do everything you can to raise your average—or make sure that the rest of your application is stellar.

What GPA scale does Harvard use? ›

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences averages its letter grades with a 4-point scale: A = 4.00, A- = 3.67, B+ = 3.33, B = 3.00, B- = 2.67, C+ = 2.33, C = 2.00, C- = 1.67, D+ = 1.33, D = 1.00, D- = 0.67.

What grade do colleges look at the most? ›

Your junior year grades are essential: it's the grade a college will look at most, along with your senior year. Your grades predetermine your academic performance for your final year. Your GPA and the “sturdiness” of it matters.

What is a 3.7 GPA weighted to unweighted? ›

The term “unweighted” refers to the scale used for calculation. The traditional, unweighted GPA scale runs from 0 to 4.0. That's it.
Here's what educators are talking about when referring to an “unweighted GPA.”
Letter GradePercentileGPA Score
8 more rows
Dec 6, 2018

Is a weighted GPA of 3.7 good? ›

Overall, a 3.7 GPA is impressive. As a percentage, a 3.7 GPA means you've achieved an average of 90-92% in your classes. Achieving a 3.7 GPA in high school is good, and with an excellent application, there are many schools where you have a shot at acceptance.

What is a 3.8 weighted GPA to unweighted? ›

What's the Difference Between a Weighted 3.8 GPA and an Unweighted? A weighted 3.8 GPA takes the difficulty of your courses into account and is typically measured between 0 to 5.0. An unweighted GPA of 3.8 is considered “higher” because it's on a 4.0 scale.

Can I get into Harvard with a 3.9 weighted GPA? ›

To get to Harvard your GPA has to be at least a 4.0 and even then if you get in your lucky but they require at least a 4.18 GPA only .

What is a good unweighted GPA for Harvard? ›

In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Harvard. That means nearly straight As in every class.

What is Yale's average GPA unweighted? ›

On an unweighted scale, the typical high school grade point average for a Yale student is reported to be 3.95, according to the data provided by Yale students who have provided their GPA scores as part of the application process.

What is the easiest high school year? ›

Going into high school, many students hear that freshman year is the “easiest” year. Some think that colleges don't consider it as much as they do one's sophomore, junior, and senior years. While this is typically true, it doesn't mean that students should entirely dismiss the importance of their freshman year.

Which year do colleges look at the most? ›

Your first year and sophomore year affect your cumulative GPA, which is important to most colleges. However, a solid academic record in your junior year is likely to carry more importance with an admissions committee.

How rare is a 3.8 GPA? ›

What percentile is a 3.8 GPA? A 3.8-grade point average, or A average, equates to a percentile of 93%.

How many A's do you need for a 3.9 GPA? ›

A 3.9 GPA, or Grade Point Average, is equivalent to a A- letter grade on a 4.0 GPA scale, and a percentage grade of 90–92.

How much will an F drop my GPA? ›

The failing grade will NOT calculate in your GPA, but it will still show on your transcript. On your transcript, an "E" will show to the right of your failing grade to mark the course as "Excluded". On your transcript, an "I" will show to the right of the second time you took the class, marking it as "Included".

Is a weighted GPA of 3.9 good? ›

Is a 3.9 GPA in high school considered good? Considering the highest possible GPA is 4.0, it's pretty easy to say yes, a 3.9 is a great GPA unequivocally.

How hard is it to get a 3.7 GPA in college? ›

A 3.7 GPA, or Grade Point Average, is equivalent to an A- letter grade on a 4.0 GPA scale. This means is equivalent to a 90-92%. The national average GPA is 3.0 which means a 3.7 is well above average. A 3.7 GPA can be hard to raise as it's already so high, but if you're really determined you can make it happen.

What is the easiest Ivy League to get into? ›

1. What's the easiest Ivy League school to get into? While all Ivy League schools have a low acceptance rate, Cornell University has the highest acceptance rate among them. Cornell's acceptance rate is 11%, but try not to get too hung up on the numbers.

What is the least competitive Ivy? ›

Cornell is considered the "easiest" Ivy League to get into because it has the highest Ivy League acceptance rate. While it's easier, statistically speaking, to get into Cornell, it's still challenging. It's also important to remember that students apply directly to one of Cornell's eight undergraduate colleges.

Do you need straight A's for Ivy League? ›

Yes, you can get into an Ivy League college without straight As. Not all Ivy League students had straight As during high school. It's more important to show that you took advanced courses and a strong course load in high school than to get straight As.

What is the lowest GPA Yale will accept? ›

What is the minimum GPA required for admission? We do not set a minimum GPA, nor do we attempt to re-weight GPA's to any standard other than what a school provides. An applicant's complete secondary school transcript (not just the GPA or class rank, if they are provided) is evaluated during the admissions process.

What's the lowest GPA someone got into MIT with? ›

Aim high. Even though there are no official MIT GPA requirements, you should aim for a 4.17 weighted GPA. If you're already a junior or senior figuring out how to get into MIT and your GPA is lower than 4.17, know that scores close to the average MIT SAT scores or ACT scores can counterbalance a lower GPA.

What is the lowest GPA to get into UCLA? ›

You must have a 3.0 GPA (3.4 for non-residents) or higher and no grades lower than a C in required high school courses. You can also substitute SAT subject tests for courses. If you don't meet the requirements, it is possible to gain admission with a high enough score on the ACT/SAT plus on two SAT subject tests.

Can you get into Harvard with C's? ›

There are people who have been accepted with C's on their transcripts and lower GPAs. You could certainly give Harvard a shot, but since its a tough school for almost anyone to get into, make sure to prioritize your applications to safety and target schools.

Can I get into Harvard with 2 B's? ›

Does Harvard Accept B Students? Yes, just like I mentioned above, it's completely possible to get admitted into Harvard University with B grades. Admissions are not reserved only for straight-A students.

What is the average unweighted GPA for MIT? ›

Average GPA: 4.17

With a GPA of 4.17, MIT requires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes - AP or IB courses - to show that college-level academics is a breeze.

Is a 3.8 weighted GPA good? ›

Is a 3.8 GPA in high school considered good? The average GPA of graduating high schoolers is 3.0, making 3.8 a definitively good GPA. It gives you a reasonable chance of acceptance at even competitive institutions, so reach as high as you can!

Can I get into an Ivy League with a 3.7 GPA? ›

Yes, you can get into an Ivy League with a 3.7 GPA. Though, the lower your grade, the less your chances of getting into an Ivy League, but with a strong personal statement and a properly packaged application, you can get in with a grade even less than 3.7 GPA.

How many B's is a 3.7 GPA? ›

For example, a 3.7 GPA on a 5.0 scale would be a B-. A 3.7 unweighted GPA is higher than on a weighted scale.

Do scholarships look at weighted GPA? ›

On college and scholarship applications, you will likely find questions about your GPA. Ideally, these questions will specify whether they want you to include your weighted GPA or your unweighted GPA. If the application does not specify which GPA, your default should be to list your weighted GPA as it is higher.

Can I get into UCLA with a 3.8 GPA weighted? ›

At a minimum, you must earn a 3.0 GPA or better (3.4 for nonresidents) in all college preparatory courses. No grades can be lower than a C.

Can you get into Yale with a 3.8 unweighted GPA? ›

What GPA do I need to get into Yale college admission? There is not much of a way to get around the fact that you need an unweighted grade point average of nearly 4.0 in order to pass Yale's admissions process and as part of Yale GPA and SAT requirements.

Can I get into MIT with a 3.8 unweighted GPA? ›

The school subscribes to a holistic admissions process and doesn't have minimum MIT GPA requirements. However, due to the caliber of students accepted, you should aim for a weighted GPA of over 4.17. Strong MIT essays will also be key to a successful “how to get into MIT” strategy.

Will one B ruin a 4.0 GPA? ›

One B over 4 years will not substantially affect your cumulative GPA, but a B every term will make you noncompetitive for graduate study at the top schools.

Is a 3.9 unweighted GPA good enough for Ivy League? ›

For most of the Ivy League schools, they expect as close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA as possible. However, the actual unweighted GPAs of students admitted could vary, with many around the 3.5-4.0 range. GPA alone will not make or break a student's application — but it can play a pretty influential role.

Does UC Berkeley use weighted GPA? ›

Competitive UCs like Berkeley and UCLA look at fully weighted GPA, meaning that you get an extra grade point for every UC-approved Honors, AP, IB, and community college course you take from the end of freshman year to the start of senior year (domestic out-of-state applicants will only get extra grade point for AP, IB, ...

Do UCs care more about weighted or unweighted GPA? ›

For application evaluation, the UC campuses look at the weighted and unweighted GPA (competitive UCs like Berkeley and UCLA look at FULLY weighted and unweighted GPA).

Can I get into Cornell with a 3.8 GPA? ›

Selection decisions (both on-campus and at the national level) are based on the following criteria: Academic record: Students should have a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and should have excellent analytic and communication skills.


1. How Important is My GPA for College Admissions?
2. Weighted or Unweighted GPA? (2024 Admission and Application Tips)
(HS2 Academy USA)
3. Weighted GPA
4. Weighted vs. Unweighted GPAs: Which Matters To Colleges During Application Season?
(Black Girl On Campus)
5. 3 Factors Colleges Use To Compare GPAs/ Why is GPA More Important Now? (2024 Admission Tips) Part 1
(HS2 Academy USA)
6. Your GPA Doesn’t Matter
(Gohar Khan)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Last Updated: 03/18/2023

Views: 5525

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Birthday: 2000-07-07

Address: 5050 Breitenberg Knoll, New Robert, MI 45409

Phone: +2556892639372

Job: Investor Mining Engineer

Hobby: Sketching, Cosplaying, Glassblowing, Genealogy, Crocheting, Archery, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is The Hon. Margery Christiansen, I am a bright, adorable, precious, inexpensive, gorgeous, comfortable, happy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.