Figuring Out Your GPA

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I wrote recently about when you should drop a class late in the semester, and I promised a lesson on figuring out your GPA or grade point average. Some schools use the term QPA or quality point average, but no matter what you call it, you know you want a good one.

So here’s a little tutorial on how it works. I’ll use plain English and make it easy to understand. Some folks make it just too darned difficult.

Grade Points

Each letter grade is worth a certain number of points. An “A” is 4 points, “B” is 3 points, “C” is 2 points, “D” is 1 point, and you get absolutely 0 points for an “F”. Easy so far, right?

Credit Hours

This is the total number of credits you take in a semester. For example, many classes are worth 3 credits. If you’re taking five 3-credit courses, you’ve got 15 total credit hours for the semester.

Multiply Your Grade By Number of Credits

In this step, you’ll take the number of grade points per class times the number of credit hours that class is worth. Say your Biology class is 4 credit hours, as science courses often are. You’re getting a “B” in that Bio course, which, you’ll remember, is worth 3 Grade Points. Your Biology class is worth 12 total grade points.

Add Grade Points Together

Do the same with your other classes and add up all the grade points. You’ve got a “B” in Biology (4 credits), an “A” in Spanish (3 credits), a “C” in Ancient History (3 credits), and an “A” in Music Appreciation (3 credits). Here’s the breakdown.

Biology          3×4+12

Spanish          4×3=12

History           2×3=6

Music               4×3=12

Add those up for a total of 42 Grade Points

Divide By Total Number of Credits

You’ve got one 4-credit class, and three 3-credit classes. Your total number of credits for the semester is 13. Now just divide 42 by 13, and your Grade Point Average is 3.23. Not too shabby. That’s a B average.

4.0 = A

3.0 = B

2.0 = C

1.0 = D

Each institution has their own academic probation and suspension policies, but you should probably be concerned about this if you’re anywhere below a 2.0.

Here’s a link to an automated GPA calculator if you’d like to double check yourself. Yes, I know I could’ve told you that at the beginning, but I think it’s important for students to at least understand how their GPA is determined.


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