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How to Get Above a 4.0 GPA

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As you prepare to apply for college, your GPA is most likely one of the top things on your mind. But what is a good GPA anyway? And what happens to your GPA when you take weighted AP and dual enrollment classes?

In this article, our college expert, Mark Kantrowitz, answers questions about GPAs so you can leave with a good idea of where yours stacks up. You'll also learn how to get above a 4.0 GPA, so let's get started.


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How high school GPAs work

Your GPA speaks to your overall performance in high school and tends to predict your academic performance in college.

The most common GPA structure used by high schools and colleges is the 4.0 scale. On a 4.0 scale, an A equals 4.0, a B equals 3.0, a C equals 2.0, a D equals 1.0, and an F equals 0.0.

However, some high schools report student GPAs on a 5.0 scale instead. When schools use a 5.0 scale, a 4.5 GPA on a 5.0 scale is the equivalent of a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Other high schools report GPAs on a 4.0 scale but give extra grade points to students who take more challenging classes, such as honors, dual enrollment, advanced placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. For example, some high schools add 0.5 points to a student’s grade for an Honors class and 1.0 points for an AP or IB class.

Giving bonus points for taking more advanced classes disadvantages students whose high schools don’t offer Honors, AP, and IB classes. College admissions offices require copies of a student’s official high school transcripts to adjust for differences in class difficulty and grade inflation. They may also calculate two different GPAs for a student, one based on just college prep classes and one based on all classes.

How to calculate your high school GPA

To calculate your GPA, divide the total number of grade points earned by the total number of credit hours attempted. This will give you your GPA. Or you can use a GPA calculator like the one on the GPA Calculator website. It includes a full-featured GPA calculator that can calculate weighted grade point averages. 

What is a good high school GPA?

Well, as you can guess, this answer is somewhat subjective. What one student considers good might not be good for another student. So maybe the more important question is, "What is a good GPA that will get me into college?"

Here, the answer depends on the college, but most like to see unweighted GPAs of 3.0 or above. On the weighted scale, a strong GPA could range from 4.0 to 5.3, indicating to colleges that you’re taking challenging courses (Advanced Placement, Dual Enrolled, etc.) and keeping up A’s and B’s. 

If this worries you, know that 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 should do everything possible to raise your average—or ensure that the rest of your application is stellar.

For reference, you can see our extensive and up-to-date list of colleges by GPA here

How to get a GPA over 4.0

So the question everyone has now is, "How do you raise your GPA to over a 4.0?" 

There are generally two main ways to get a grade point average (GPA) greater than 4.0. But both depend on the classes your high school offers and how they calculate GPA.

Traditionally, if they're available, you can take honors classes for an additional .5 points. You can also take weighted AP and dual enrollment classes to get .1 additional points. In the latter case, if you get an A in the class, you'd end up with 5 points for the class.

As you can imagine, taking a few of these weighted classes and doing well in them can significantly boost your GPA.

Final thoughts on GPAs over 4.0

As we explained, a good GPA is really only a means to making your parents proud or getting into college. So, knowing where you stand regarding the colleges on your list is essential. 

With Appily, you can find out where you stand as you prepare to apply to college. Our college chances calculator considers your academic information, like GPA and test scores, to estimate how likely you are to be admitted to college. We also share insights into schools that are on your list. Click the button below to create a free Appily account and get started. 

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