How to Calculate College GPA

Instructor: Jessica Keys
Calculating your college GPA is simple once you understand how grades work into a 4.0 scale. Keep reading to learn how to use this scale and get instructions for factoring in your credit hours so you can find your GPA and track your academic performance throughout college.

First Things First: Understanding the GPA Scale

Grade Point Average (GPA) is a useful means of standardizing letter grades or percentages, making it easier for colleges, employers or other relevant parties to interpret your academic performance. If you need to know your college GPA, make sure you first familiarize yourself with the most common 4.0 equivalency scale:

GPA Letter Equivalent
4.0 A to A+
3.7 A-
3.3 B+
3.0 B
2.7 B-
2.3 C+
2.0 C
1.7 C-
1.3 D+
1.0 D
0.7 D-
0.0 F

Again, this is the most commonly used GPA scale. Some schools may determine that an A+ is a 4.3 instead of a 4.0. In any case, be sure to check to see how your own institution scales these grades before calculating your averages.

Calculating Your Average

Now that you understand how the scale works, you can use it to figure out your GPA, whether it's for one semester or for the entire time you spent in college.

Chances are, the courses you've been taking are worth a specific number of credit hours or units. (Your school may vary in the term used.) You may have been wondering about the significance of this value. Well, wonder no more! Credit hours are also used in calculating your GPA. Here's how it works:

Example Report Card

Class Credit Hours Final Grade (Grade Points)
Composition 3 B+ (3.3)
Trigonometry 4 C (2.0)
Intermediate German 3 A (4.0)
U.S. History 4 B+ (3.3)
Jazz Appreciation 2 D- (0.7)

From the example, we can see that this student is probably not a big fan of Charlie Parker, but this report card does give us everything we need to calculate a total GPA for this semester!

1. First, multiply each class's earned grade points by its credit hours:

Class Credit Hours x Earned Grade Points Subtotal
Composition 3 x 3.3 9.9
Trigonometry 4 x 2.0 8.0
Intermediate German 3 x 4.0 12.0
U.S. History 4 x 3.3 13.2
Jazz Appreciation 2 x 0.7 1.4

2. Then, add all the numbers in the 'Subtotal' column:

9.9 + 8.0 + 12.0 + 13.2 + 1.4 = 44.5

3. Finally, divide this number by the number of credit hours taken (16):

44.5/16 = 2.78125

This results in a semester GPA of 2.78 (GPA is usually rounded to the nearest hundredth). That's a B-!

To calculate a cumulative GPA for your entire college career, calculate your GPA for each semester, then add up each GPA and divide the total by the number of semesters taken.

Improving Your GPA

As a college student, your GPA could be used to determine your scholarship eligibility and qualify you for honors courses or internship opportunities. Your GPA is also an important consideration for admission to graduate school. If you need to buck up your college GPA this semester, it's never too late to brush up on the fundamentals with's self-paced College Success course. In nine fun and informative lessons, you'll learn how to manage time, beat stress, take better notes and balance school with work, family and life.

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