How to Calculate Cumulative GPA

There are different types of Grade Point Averages (GPA) including cumulative, weighted, unweighted, and more. But what is a cumulative GPA, and how can you calculate it? And, you might be wondering, how can you raise it? We’ll answer all these questions below.

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What is a Cumulative GPA? 

A cumulative GPA is the average of all your grades during high school or college classes. 

How Do You Calculate a Cumulative GPA?

To calculate a cumulative GPA, you first need to know how many credits the class was worth and your grades in every individual class. Once you have that information in hand, you can use this equation to arrive at your cumulative GPA:

  • Multiply the credits for every course and the grade you earned
  • Add all of your classes’ grades together. Additional points may need to be added to advanced classes in weighted GPAs
  • Add all credits together
  • Divide the total of your grades by the total of your credits
  • Round to the nearest hundredth

Most college classes are worth 3 credits, but other advanced classes can be worth 4 and a lab may only be worth 1. This means, under a cumulative GPA, that the grade in the 4-credit class can have more weight than the 3 or 1-credit courses.

How Can You Raise Your Cumulative GPA?

There are two ways you can increase your cumulative GPA: perform better in your classes and take more advanced courses.

1. Raise Your Grades

Of course, the most obvious way to increase your cumulative GPA is to do well in your classes. This could mean studying, but you may also be able to raise your grade by

  • Asking your teacher for additional help
  • Working with your teacher after class
  • Asking for extra credit work
  • Joining study groups
  • Working with a tutor
  • Talking to your teacher about your grades, concerns, and struggles
  • Discussing your class placements or academic concerns with your guidance counselor
  • Asking your parents for help

2. Take More Advanced Classes

In schools that use an unweighted GPA, you may not be able to raise your cumulative GPA by taking more advanced classes, but you can in college and in high schools that use a weighted GPA. 

Since advanced classes are worth more credits in these programs, higher grades can have a bigger impact on your cumulative GPA. However, this can also backfire if you’re not prepared for the increased coursework. While a high grade can raise your GPA, lower grades can also lower your cumulative GPA!

What is a “Good” Cumulative GPA?

The answer to this question is less clear! What a “good” GPA looks like to one student can be very different from the next. A good GPA is all about your goals and abilities, and the classes you take.

However, there’s no denying that a higher GPA can help your college admission chances, but it’s important to note that colleges will look beyond your grades, too. For instance, they will look at your academic rigor, even if you’re attending a high school that uses an unweighted GPA.

Here is an example: During high school, Sam took 2 cooking classes, 2 creative writing classes, and an elective on military history. He scored a 3.9 GPA. Attending the same school, Ryan took a cooking class and four advanced placement courses. He scored a 3.2 GPA.

While Sam technically had a higher GPA, Ryan’s schedule had more academic rigor. And your class schedule can impact your college admission chances!

Now, there’s nothing wrong with cooking, creative writing, or other “easy”  courses (I took them myself!), especially if they have to do with your goals after high school. These classes can also grant you a much-needed break from your advanced placement classes. However, a balance needs to be found. You can take those “fun” and “interesting” classes, but you should also be thinking about academic rigor. This approach will allow you to have a well-rounded high school education, while also increasing your college admission chances!

FIND YOUR COLLEGE MATCH

Your cumulative GPA in high school can impact your college acceptance chances, and your cumulative GPA in college can impact your academic standard at the school. Either way, it’s an important number and shouldn’t be ignored! Even if your school uses an unweighted GPA scale, you will want to give thought to academic rigor. All of this information should help you aim for a “good” cumulative GPA!

Understanding what colleges and universities are looking for from their students can increase your admission chances. Our College Match tool takes your goals, achievements, and needs into account to identify the best schools for you.

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