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How To Get Your GPA College Ready

This article is sponsored by GPA Calculator.

There’s a lot of work that goes into putting together a college application. And if you’re like most students, you’re applying to several different universities, each with its own set of requirements, making things even more complicated.

One of the most confusing, yet most important, factors of any college application is your GPA.

This is a key part of college admissions requirements, with most schools requiring a minimum baseline for potential freshmen to meet.

With that in mind, how do you make sure your GPA is college ready? Here, we’ll go over the important steps you need to take in order to calculate your GPA and prepare it for your post-high school days.

How to Calculate Your GPA

For many of you, your GPA is likely calculated for you and is displayed right on your report card. But it’s important to know where that number is coming from if you have any chance of improving it, so it’s good to understand how to arrive at that number yourself.

Calculating your GPA is a pretty straightforward process. To start, you’ll first need to pull together all of the following information:

Class Names: The names of all the classes you’ve taken (Pre-Algebra, English Literature, Art, etc.).

Class Grades: The final letter grade you earned in each class (A, A-, B+, etc). If you only have a percentage score available, you can use a GPA scale to convert your grade into a letter.

Class Grade Points: The grade points each letter grade is worth. You can also refer to the GPA scale if you’re unsure how many points each letter grade is worth.

Class Credits: The class credits earned by completing each class. For most classes, this will be 1, but always be sure to check with your counselor!

Class Weight: Examples of class weight include regular, AP/IB, college, honors, etc. You can learn more about weighted vs. unweighted GPAs here.

Once you’re done, you should have something that looks a little like this:

Class Name Class Grade Class Grade Points Class Credits Class Weight
Class Name Calculus II
Class Grade B
Class Grade Points 3.0
Class Credits 2
Class Weight Honors
Class Name World History
Class Grade A-
Class Grade Points 3.7
Class Credits 1
Class Weight Regular
Class Name Chemistry I
Class Grade B+
Class Grade Points 3.3
Class Credits 1
Class Weight Regular
Class Name Journalism
Class Grade A
Class Grade Points 4.0
Class Credits 1
Class Weight Regular
Class Name Spanish III
Class Grade A-
Class Grade Points 3.7
Class Credits 2
Class Weight AP

Once you have all this information put together, multiply the course credits by the grade value for each course to determine your grade points.

Using our example, here’s what that would look like:

Calculus II: 2 credits * 3.0 grade points = 6.0

World History: 1 credit * 3.7 grade points = 3.7

Chemistry I: 1 credit * 3.3 grade points = 3.3

Journalism: 1 credit * 4.0 grade points = 4.0

Spanish III: 2 credits * 3.7 grade points = 7.4

Finally, total the number of credits you completed and the number of grade points; divide the total number of grade points you earned by the total number of credits. Then, round your answer to the nearest hundredth.

For example:

6.0 + 3.7 + 3.3 + 4.0 + 7.4 = 24.4 total grade points

24.4 grade points / 7 credits = 3.49

Your GPA is currently 3.49.

Alternatively, you can enter in all of the above information into an online GPA calculator and let it do the work for you.

How To Get Your GPA College Ready

Now that you know what your current GPA is, it’s time to start getting it college ready so you have the best chance possible of being accepted into your target schools.

Here are some best practices you can follow to ensure your GPA is college ready.

Start Off Strong

One of the most sure-fire ways of graduating high school with a strong GPA is to start performing at your best as early on as your freshman year.

Think about it: You have four years of high school. But technically, the grades you earn in only 3 of those years really count toward your college application. Because you start filling out applications before your senior year is over, and before you have your senior final grades, you have to lean on the grades you’ve earned as a freshman, sophomore, and junior.

Find Out Which Grade Scale Your School Uses

High schools typically use one of two grade scales: weighted or unweighted.

Weighted GPAs take into account the difficulty level of the classes you’ve taken; unweighted GPAs don’t.

While unweighted GPAs are most commonly used, many high schools use weighted GPAs to better represent the accomplishments of students who have chosen to take more challenging classes, such as AP or college-level courses.

If your school uses a weighted system and you happen to be taking some AP or honors classes, be sure to put more of your effort into those classes because they can be an important factor in boosting your GPA. Since these are often measured using a 5.0 GPA scale rather than a 4.0 scale, a B grade is still worth a 4.0, boosting your overall GPA.

Attend Summer School

A poor grade on your transcript can really stand out, especially if it’s pulling down an otherwise strong GPA.

The good news is that there are several ways to de-emphasize, or even eliminate, the negative effects of that one bad grade. One of the best ways to do this is to take classes over the summer.

Summer classes can help you earn one or two higher grades to help cover up a poor one. Also, summer classes tend to be easier on students as they’re taking fewer classes, giving them more time to focus on the classes they’re signed up for.

Summer school can also be an opportunity to retake a class you’ve earned a poor grade in. But be sure to check with your school counselor to make sure the new, higher grade you earn will replace the old one.

Don’t Overload Your Plate

One of the biggest mistakes made by high achievers is that they tend to overload their schedules. Between classes, sports, music, after-school jobs, and just having fun with friends, it can be easy for study time to get lost in the mix.

Pay attention to everything that you’re taking on so that you can ensure you have the time you need to study and perform at your best. This means not only keeping your overall schedule balanced but keeping your class schedule balanced as well. Don’t take on too many AP or Honors classes, as it can be easy to get burned out and start performing poorly.

Exhibit Your Strengths

On a similar note, when you’re building out your schedule for the semester, it’s important to incorporate classes you’re confident you can do well in.

Now, we’re not suggesting you choose all of your classes only based on earning an Easy A. You should pick a few classes that will challenge you. However, you should balance those courses out with others that come a little more easily to you.

On another note, if you have a particular class or subject matter that has consistently been a struggle for you despite your best efforts, it might be worth asking about an easier version of that class to help you gain a better grasp over the concepts.

Build Strong Study Habits

It’s imperative that you use your time in high school to build strong study habits. Not only for the four years you’re in high school, but for college, graduate school, and any other academic opportunities you’re planning to pursue in your future.

The best time for building a study strategy is at the beginning of the semester when you’re able to plan ahead for your classes in their entirety; however, it’s never too late! This can be done during any part of the year.

Pay attention to how you focus the best. Is it while you’re alone or in a study group with others?

Do you need complete silence or does some background noise like music or the buzz of a coffee shop better help you stay focused?

Are you more productive during the early morning hours or in the evenings?

Find out what works for you and stick with it.

Learn Organization Skills

Part of building strong study habits is learning to stay organized and practice time management.

These are both key skills that will be important for you to master in high school and beyond.

At the beginning of the semester, take a little extra time to get yourself set up for a semester. A common mistake many students make is not making note of the due dates of all upcoming assignments. This is an all-too-easy way to pull down your grade.

So be sure to mark down the due date of every single upcoming assignment, as well as when you should start on each one. While you’re at it, you should also write down the dates of all tests and plan out how much time in advance you’ll need to study for them.

Stay Late After School

We know…the last thing you want to do after spending a long day at school is stay later.

But after school is the perfect time to get extra help, particularly in classes where you find yourself struggling. Sit down with your teacher and ask for his/her insight on why you may not be pulling off a top grade in the class and what you can be doing better.

This is also an excellent time to ask for extra credit opportunities that can make up for any scores that are pulling your overall grade down.

Another benefit to staying late after school is the opportunity to connect with other students in your class. Seek out the students who are doing well in the classes you aren’t and try and learn from them.

Check Out Student Resources

Today, there are more resources available to high-achieving students than ever before.

Your teachers and counselors can likely point you in the direction for resources within your school like study groups, tutors, tools on your school computers and more.

You can also check online for any tools like calculators, grammar checkers, and more. You can even find tools dedicated to specific subjects.

A few examples include:

  • Duolingo
  • Desmos
  • Khan Academy
  • GoConqr
  • Evernote
  • Quizlet
  • StudySoup
  • Marinara Timer
  • Memorize.com

Some of these tools are even offered for free!

By keeping track of where your GPA is and by following these tips, you’ll have your GPA college ready just when you need it to be.

About GPA Calculator

GPA Calculator makes understanding and calculating grade point averages fast and simple. Our suite of tools offers calculators for both the high school and college level. Additionally, students can get even more information about their academic standing by using our Cumulative GPA Calculator, Weighted GPA Calculator, and GPA Scale Calculator.

Use this tool to check in on your progress every few weeks to ensure you’re maintaining a grade range that will help secure your scholarships and financial aid. We also provide helpful guides that advise students looking to raise their GPA and the importance of calculating grades. Students can access all of this at no cost at gpacalculator.io.

Calculate your GPA right here

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