Weighted GPA vs Unweighted GPA

When your professor or school talks about unweighted and weighted GPAs, what comes to your mind? You may come to think that it’s just your ordinary grade average, but, unfortunately, there are some important differences to take note of when describing either. Knowing such gives you an idea of your school standing or how well you perform academically.

GPA is your grade point average which averages all of the student’s grades in a particular term or semester. GPAs now come in two primary forms: the weighted and unweighted GPA. So how do these two GPAs differ from each other?

First, weighted GPAs are used for weighted classes. These classes are the AP, AICE, IB, Dual enrollment, and honor-type, higher-level classes (also assumed to be more difficult) having bigger value than your regular class subjects (unweighted classes). Although the weighted classes vary from one school to another, the common denominator is that these classes offer the learner a better potential for getting a higher mark. Honors English and Advanced Trigonometry are two common weighted subjects in many institutions.

The reason why students take these classes is because they need the higher marks to boost their overall GPA because it is a good indicator of your class rank as it shows one’s rigor and thoroughness in selecting certain courses. If you take more honors or advanced classes, you’ll appear to be at a higher rank than those taking all regular course loads. However, one shouldn’t be complacent when receiving average marks in a weighted class (let’s say a “B”) thinking that it is still a big mark (i.e. equal to “B+++”) when compared side by side to its unweighted counterpart.

The weighted GPA, although not implemented in all schools, is also based on a weighted scale which may not be the same in all institutions. We at Damian SAT ACT Prep Center we recommend students taking higher level classes to evaluate with their college admission advisors the weighted GPA at the end of each semester. Commonly, the “A” mark for weighted courses has been allotted 5 points, which is 1 point higher compared to the regular “A” for unweighted courses. “B” is given 4 points while “C” and “D” are equal to 3 and 2 points respectively. The teacher can also bump the grade of the student by adding a plus (+, ++ or +++). Each of these minor steps is approximately 1/3 of a point or 0.33. The same is true with minus (-).

On the other hand, unweighted GPAs are used by institutions to compare one student to another. It is a better barometer in gauging your real school performance than weighted GPAs because an “A” mark is really an “A” for unweighted scoring. School administrators don’t put a high priority on the weighted GPAs which are, more often than not, artificially padded or inflated. It is said that the ordinary unweighted highest GPA score attainable is only 4.0 because the highest grade for a subject can only reach 4.0 max or an “A” that’s equivalent to a 4.0.


1.Unweighted GPA is a traditional grading scale that makes use of 4.0 as the highest possible grade per subject.
2.Weighted GPA is said to have a maximum grade of 5.87 while unweighted GPA has a maximum average mark of 4.0 flat.
3.The South Carolina Department of Education implemented the use of weighted GPA for weighted courses.
4.Unweighted GPA reflects one’s actual school performance while a weighted GPA reflects one’s rigor in taking more challenging courses. At Damian SAT ACT Prep Center we stress out to all our students the fact that all colleges are taking in consideration the rigor of the classes.

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