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What Is an Average GPA in America?

Your grade point is the average of your scores, resulting from your hard work in high school. A GPA is very crucial for any student who is looking forward to applying for the college of their dreams.

This article will walk you through all you need to know about a GPA – from what is a GPA America’s GPA you should pay attention to. Let’s get rolling. 

A Grade Point Average

What is a GPA? 

A Grade Point Average (GPA) is a number on average of how well you scored in your high school courses or during a semester. A GPA is measured on a scale of 1.0 to 4.0, with 1.0 being the lowest and 4.0 being the highest score. Before you join any college, your GPA will be calculated to know whether you meet the set standards for a specific program or college. 

Colleges may start tracking your GPA as far as your first year in high school. Therefore, it is a good idea to start working hard right from your first year of high school.

And just to let you know, the colleges are interested to know whether you have had a steady improvement in your grades over the years. Forty percent of what universities consider when making selections is your grades, and this is why you need to take your GPA seriously. 

What is the Importance of GPA?

Even though you may know, in general, that you have excelled in your exams, your GPA will still be of significant importance when applying for college. It’s what the universities use to determine how good you are.

Importance of GPA


That said, below are a few instances when you will need a GPA: 

  • When applying for any scholarship opportunities. 
  • When you are joining a club in college. 
  • When you want to take part in any extracurricular activities at the University. 
  • When you are applying for your post-graduate program. 

From the above circumstances, you can see that a GPA plays a significant role in your life. It can unlock many lucrative opportunities for you. Organizations and colleges use it to determine what type of student you are, whether you are a hardworking student, ambitious, or dedicated student. And to get most of these fantastic opportunities, you require a higher GPA. So how does a GPA work?  

How a GPA Work?

A GPA works the same way your lecturer would grade you to help evaluate your school progress. It is the average of the efforts you put in school in terms of grades. Your percentages are converted into grades, and those grades are used to determine your GPA.

And because a GPA is an average number of your grades throughout your semester or year, you have to keep improving to balance your grades, which will change your overall GPA.

America’s Average GPA

According to a report, the average GPA for high school students was at 3.38 in 2017. However, you need to understand that GPAs have been rising over the past couple of years. For example, according to NCES, the average GPA in 2009 was 3.0, but the core classes’ GPA was 2.79. 

Your grades will play a significant role in determining your GPA. For example, if you have 2 As and 3 Bs in the classes you take, the 2 As are equivalent to 4.0s, while the Bs will translate to 3.0s. If you add the 2(4.0) + 3(3.0) and divide the answer by 5, your average GPA will be 3.4. 

How to Convert Your GPA to a 4.0 Scale?

This is just a simple example, but the chances are that your grades won’t be this simple to calculate, maybe more complex. In that case, below is a table to help you calculate your GPA quickly without a hassle.

Letter Grade  Percentage  GPA
A+ 97-100 4.0
A 93-96 4.0
A- 90-92 3.7
B+ 87-89 3.3
B 83-86 3.0
B- 80-82 2.7
C+ 77-79 2.3
C 73-76 2.0
C- 70-72 1.7
D+ 67-69 1.3
D 65-66 1.0
F Below 65 0.0


The average GPA for high school students in the United States is 3.0, and out of this, 35 percent of students don’t apply for college. That means managing to score anything above 3.0 is above average in the United States. 

Convert Your GPA

However, Colleges may need a higher GPA – between 3.5 and 4.0, which means that you will have to work on your GPA if you are aiming at a top university. For example, securing the Ivy Leagues will need 4.0 or something very close. 

Now, in as much as a GPA counts, some colleges consider GPAs of 4.0 unweighted because the traditional GPA system doesn’t take other factors, such as difficulty class levels, into consideration. This is why more colleges are now buying the idea of a weighted GPA system. 

A weighted GPA considers many factors, ensuring that the GPA is calculated to depict the standard a student achieves and measured on a scale of 5. And because admission rates usually range between 6 and 10 percent, difficult classes give you a competitive edge to securing admission in one of the Ivy Leagues, such as Havard.

Unweighted vs Weighted GPA

Calculating an unweighted GPA is the same as the example given above, calculated on a scale of 0 to 4.0. In other words, the calculation of your GPA will not consider how difficult your classes were. It doesn’t matter whether you got an A in an easy course or a challenging class. The GPA will still be 4.0 for an A. 

Weighted GPAs are slightly different from unweighted GPAs because they are calculated on a scale of 5. Additionally, a weighted GPA considers the difficulty of classes. For example, an A in an easy course will be graded as 4.0, while an A in a more challenging class will be graded 5.0. 

This means that taking more challenging courses can give you a competitive advantage, especially when looking forward to joining one of the Ivy Leagues.

Cumulative GPA vs Overall GPA

To understand the differences between cumulative GPA and overall GPA, you must first know that they both refer to the average grades. The difference is that the cumulative GPA covers shorter periods, like a term or a semester.

Before I set out the difference, you need to understand that both overall and cumulative GPA refers to a student’s average grades. The difference lies in the periods. For example, cumulative GPA takes shorter periods, such as semesters or terms. 

On the other hand, the overall GPA is the average of what students attain throughout their academic life. In simple terms, this is like saying that your overall GPA is the average of all the terms and semesters you have had in school. 

What is a Good GPA?

A common question we often get asked – what is a good GPA? Well, to know what is a good GPA, you have to consider the level of education. For instance, getting a good GPA in high school can be a bit straightforward than in college. So let’s look at both contexts – what’s considered a good GPA in high school and college.

What is a Good GPA in High School?

The quality of your GPA depends on the college you want to join. High-level colleges will always require students to attain a GPA of 3.5 or better to secure a place. However, other colleges will demand a lower GPA for students to secure a place. So it all boils down to the college you want to apply to. 

Whether a high school GPA is good or bad will determine whether a weighted or unweighted system calculated the GPA. Most colleges will prefer to enroll students who have GPAs based on weighted GPA systems. That means that students who take more complex classes will have an advantage over easy courses. 

That said, you need to balance the classes you take so that you don’t end up just taking easy classes. Blend the easy classes with some challenging courses to boost your overall GPA if you want to join some of the top tier colleges or call them the Ivy Leagues. 

What is a Good GPA in College?

As opposed to high school, where a GPA will be critical to secure one of the top colleges, a college GPA is used to determine a student’s eligibility to qualify for financial support. Usually, students who fall below a 2.0 GPA will most likely not qualify for any financial aid. However, this may differ from different institutions. 

GPAs can also play a role when you want to participate in any association, extracurricular activities, or any club. Getting these opportunities will require your academic excellence to be above the ranks, and that’s through your GPA. 

Your GPA will also be critical if you want to further your studies to a Master’s or Ph.D. level. Again, the GPA a college will need to enroll you for any of these programs depends on every institution. Some colleges will be willing to enroll students with GPAs of 2.75, while others will raise the standards to 3.0 or 3.5. 

America’s GPA Worth Paying Attention To 

While GPA is an essential consideration for bigger colleges, you should also be paying attention to some of the factors colleges use to enroll students. For example, some colleges also consider the test scores, such as SAT and ACT scores. To determine if a specific college is a good fit or not, check their website and see the test scores of the students they recently enrolled.

How to Maintain a High GPA

Keeping a high GPA is a daunting task, and raising your GPA may also not be a ride in the park, especially if you get a lower GPA at the start. That said, the only sure-fire way to maintain your GPA is by continuously improving on the courses you take; however little it can be. 

Bottom Line

Don’t throw in the towel just yet if you don’t have a good GPA; it’s not the end of the road. Employers will ask about your GPA and your CV, writing samples, recommendation letters, and more. That means that not all the opportunities are gone – you still have a chance to prove yourself to employers.

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About Sonia Kukreja

I am a mother of a lovely kid, and an avid fan technology, computing and management related topics. I hold a degree in MBA from well known management college in India. After completing my post graduation I thought to start a website where I can share management related concepts with rest of the people.