The Ultimate Guide What is GPA and Why Is it Important | Amber

The Ultimate Guide What is GPA and Why Is it Important | Amber

Uploaded on
Sep 20, 2022
Last updated on
Mar 18, 2023
Uploaded on
Sep 20, 2022
Last updated on
Mar 18, 2023
GPA Guide
Score smarter, not harder - calculate your GPA with ease!

GPA or a grade point average is a figure that reflects the typical value of all combined final grades obtained over the duration of a course. Of course, the grading system wasn’t already complicated enough for students to understand that they decided to add one more point system. You must be familiar with the A, B, C, D, and F grading systems. But GPA is a whole different ball game.
However, it is essential for your "good standing" as a student, continued enrollment in your major, future financial aid eligibility, which depends on maintaining a satisfactory GPA, potential eligibility for scholarships, potential employment opportunities, eligibility for collegiate athletic teams, and more. So you might wanna have to read this carefully and clearly understand what is GPA. 

What is GPA

“Hey, how much did you get?”
“ I got 50."
”Damn! That's nice.”
“Yeah, it would’ve been if the exam was out of 50 or 60 or even a 70".
”So how much was it out of?”
“Well, how much?”
“ A hundred”
Remember when we used to discuss our marks like this, not in letters, not in points and certainly in “averages”, but numbers, simple times, huh? But well, such is the way of life that no one likes simple. Fancy and complicated is the way to go for everything, be it technology, travel, food to entertainment. So why should the grading system fall behind? Let's make that complex too. And in came the GPA system. So what is GPA exactly?
The grade point average, or GPA, as it's commonly known, is a figure that represents the average grade you have received for each of your courses. Your GPA monitors your academic achievement on a scale from 1.0 to 4.0. This figure is used to determine whether you satisfy the requirements and criteria established by the degree programme or university.
Ezra Stiles, the president of Yale, first used GPA when he established the first grading system in the country in 1785 using the terms Optimi, Second Optimi, Inferiores, and Perjores. In 1817, other universities, including William and Mary, adopted comparable strategies. Let's say you get an A+ in a subject, then the 4 points obtained from an A+ in a class during the semester count toward your cumulative GPA. The average of the grades you received over the course of a semester or academic year is your GPA.

How to calculate your GPA

informative graphic about calculating GPA

You now know what is GPA. But now stands one more question, how to calculate GPA? The basic formula for calculating GPA is dividing the total number of programme points obtained by the total number of attempted credits.
To calculate your GPA, you need to know these things:

  • Credits attempted - This is the total number of credits you've attempted for the said courses you've taken.
  • Final grades earned - You can view your final grades in all of your program's coursework by using your unofficial transcript.
  • Point values for specific grades - A point value is given to each grade. The point values for your grades are assigned like this

A = 4.0

B = 3.0

C = 2.0

D = 1.0

Now suppose you take four courses, say English, Maths, Biology and history. You manage to rack up 5, 1, 5, and 5 credit hours in them respectively. That gives you a total of 16 hours of credit attempted. Now you are graded A, B, C, and F(remember this is hypothetical) in the courses respectively. So going by the point values assigned to each of the grades, your grade points are 20, 3, 10, and 0 respectively.
That equals 33 total grade points. Now referring to the GPA calculator formula, the Total grade points earned(33) divided by the number of credits attempted(16). That gives you 2.06, which is your GPA. We know, not exactly a simple formula but hey we aren't the ones who came up with it. So until some genius comes up with an easier and smarter way to calculate GPA, this is your best bet.

Why GPA Matters

In universities and colleges, your eligibility for financial assistance programmes, scholarships, and other help is based on your average GPA. You risk losing financial assistance if your GPA drops below the required level (often 2.0, but this varies from institution to institution). Additionally, GPAs are a prerequisite for joining a particular club or organisation or participating in extracurricular activities. 
You could miss many chances if your academic efforts aren't up to grade. Your GPA is equally crucial if you wish to continue your education and apply for a Master's or PhD degree. Some schools will accept applicants with GPAs of 2.75, 3.0, or 3.5. But one thing is sure, having a good GPA certainly does more good than harm.

Ways to Improve GPA

We hope that you don't actually need to read this section, but if by any chance you do, there is no need to worry if your GPA is lower than what you desired. It can be improved in different ways. Some ways that students can improve their GPA are:

Make sure to attend classes regularly

It seems like a no-brainer, right? You signed up for the class, so it's evident that you would attend it. But we know this is easier said than done for university/college students. You might be skipping classes for various reasons, and they might be genuine more often than not.
But you won't be helping your case if you're not regular. So be sure to attend classes regularly.

Be active in classes.

Now that you're attending classes, it's better to be active and contribute to the class than be a silent spectator. Not only does this help you retain information and remember things taught to you to the professor's notice, but it can assist you in improving your points for the particular class.

Hand in your assignments on time (before even if possible)

Assignments must be submitted by a specific date; if you miss the deadline, you will not receive credit for the project. If you're wondering how to improve your GPA, make a schedule that will give you enough time to do all of your tasks by the due date.

Choose your subjects carefully

Avoid choosing subjects that are too difficult or take up a large amount of your time. If you are not doing well in an elective, talk to your professor, and if there is an option, either change it to a class or drop it altogether. 

If you want more help regarding this, head to our blog on How to Improve GPA, which solely focuses on this aspect.

GPA requirement for US and UK Universities

In the United States, GPA (Grade Point Average) requirements for universities can vary depending on the institution and the program you are applying to. Generally speaking, most universities will look for a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale, although some highly competitive programs may require a higher GPA. However, it's important to keep in mind that GPA is just one factor that universities consider when making admissions decisions, and other factors like test scores, extracurricular activities, and essays can also play a significant role. Here's everything you need to know about the US grading system
In the United Kingdom, GPA is not typically used as a measure of academic achievement in the same way as it is in the US. Instead, universities will typically look at your overall academic record, including the grades you have earned on specific exams like the A-levels or International Baccalaureate. The specific requirements for admission will vary depending on the university and program you are applying to, so it's important to research the requirements carefully and consult with admissions staff if you have questions.

Difference between Unweighted vs weighted GPA

Unweighted GPA is calculated on a standard 4.0 scale, where each letter grade is assigned a numerical value (A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0). Your unweighted GPA is simply the average of all your grades on this scale, with no additional weight given to any particular course or assignment.
On the other hand, weighted GPA takes into account the level of difficulty of the courses you have taken. For example, if you have taken honours or Advanced Placement (AP) courses, these may be assigned a higher numerical value (such as A=5, B=4, etc.) to reflect the additional rigour and challenge of these courses. Your weighted GPA is calculated by averaging your grades on this scale, with the higher numerical values given to the more challenging courses.

Difference between Cumulative GPA vs overall GPA

To explain this in short, Cumulative GPA measures academic performance over a specific period of time, while overall GPA measures academic performance across a student's entire high school or college career. Overall GPA is often used as a key factor in college and university admissions decisions, as it provides a broad overview of a student's academic performance over time. Cumulative GPA, on the other hand, is more focused on specific periods of time and can be used by students to track their progress and identify areas where they may need to improve.

Key Takeaways for GPA

Here are some key takeaways for GPA:

  • GPA stands for Grade Point Average, which is a measure of academic achievement.
  • GPA is usually calculated on a 4.0 scale, with A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, and F=0.
  • Unweighted GPA is based on a standard 4.0 scale and reflects the average of all grades earned.
  • Weighted GPA takes into account the level of difficulty of courses and assigns higher numerical values to more challenging courses.
  • Cumulative GPA measures academic performance over a specific period of time, while overall GPA measures academic performance across a student's entire high school or college career.

So now you know that GPA is not as complicated as it seems, and moreover, why is it so important? It does seem a bit complex at first, but hopefully, we've simplified it for you. Since it's hard, to sum up, someone's background, personality, and skills in a single figure, your GPA doesn't determine who you are. It does, however, give colleges and employers a clear sense of how seriously you treated your education and how consistently you maintained your grades.