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How to figure grade point average

Updated April 17, 2017

A student's grade-point average, or GPA, is a measure of her performance in the classroom. A GPA can determine a student's eligibility for an athletic team and other extra-curricular activities. The figure is one of the criteria used for determining admittance into a college or university. While a GPA involves simple math computations, it carries great weight and significance for a student's future.

Understand the terminology. A semester grade-point average includes classes for the current semester only. A cumulative grade-point average accounts for a student's entire career, either high school or college. A cumulative grade-point average includes all of a student's grades to arrive at an overall average; it is the number referred to when asked for a grade-point average.

Assign each letter grade a number. Most GPAs are based on a 4.0 system. If this is true, follow these assignments for numbers: A = 4 points, B = 3 points, C = 2 points, D = 1 point and F = 0 points.

Complete the math computations. Multiply the number of semester hours for a course by the grade received. For example, if a student took a 3-hour course and received a B, the multiplication would be 3 x 3 = 9. Add the total points and divide by the number of semester hours attempted.

Follow the example to find the grade-point average. A student has taken four 3-hour classes during one semester for a total of 12 semester hours. The grades for these classes are: A, B, C and F. Calculate the math to determine the points: 4 x 3 = 12, 3 x 3 = 9, 2 x 3 = 6, and 0 x 3 = 0. Add the following: 12 + 9 + 6 + 0 = 27. A student received 27 grade points for a semester. Divide 27 by 12, which is the number of hours taken for the semester. This equals 2.25 and is the student's GPA.

Tip

Ask your institution for its computation method so that you can have an accurate understanding of grades translated to grade points.

Warning

Not all institutions use the same computation methods. Some assign different numbers for plus and minus grades.

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About the Author

Erica Green has been a freelance journalist since 2008. She has contributed to the Atlantic Publishing Company, Texas Sports, Confessions of a Homeowner and more. Green is currently pursuing a degree in Spanish, and she tutors English Language Learner students. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas and is a certified middle school teacher.