Before I answer, I want to explain the differences between the two numbers. The traditional method to calculate an unweighted GPA is to assign 4.0 points for an A, 3.0 points for a B, 2.0 points for a C and 1.0 point for a D. Using this calculation, a student earning all A’s would have a 4.0 GPA.
However, with the onset and popularity of AP classes, high schools began rewarding students who took more rigorous classes. As such, high schools assigned higher points for AP classes and sometimes even honors classes. However, there is no uniform method for weighting grades. Some high schools give one extra point for an AP class. Some schools do not weight honors classes at all. Other schools give one point for an honors class but two points for an AP class. For example, an A in an honors class could now be worth 5.0 points rather than the traditional 4.0. Or an A in an AP class could now be worth 6.0.
So you can imagine how difficult the task when a college is trying to compare a weighted GPA from one high school to a weighted or unweighted GPA from another high school. As a result, many colleges are now relying on an unweighted GPA where a 4.0 is the highest standard. Some colleges will even recalculate unweighted GPAs and strip out any soft electives such as art, music, physical education, etc.
So which GPA is important?
Well, both. . . I tell my high school clients that an unweighted GPA shows their performance in their chosen classes, but their weighted GPA speaks to the difficulty of their classes. So between a student’s unweighted GPA, weighted GPA, and the rigor of classes listed on the high school transcript, colleges can obtain a complete picture of the student’s academic performance in high school.
Contact Mears College Consulting LLC today for professional guidance with the college admissions process.