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What Does GPA Stand For?

GPA stands for Grand Point Average. It is one cumulative number that represents a student's overall academic performance in high school or college. GPA is one of the most important factors that colleges consider when reviewing applicants. Identifying schools with an average GPA that is close to your actual GPA is a great way to find schools to apply to. These schools might be reach, match or safety schools, depending on your test scores, extracurriculars and other qualifications. See a college that looks like a fit? Click the heart icon to save it to your college list.

Search Colleges by GPA

What is a good GPA?

There is no cutoff for a "good" or "bad" GPA. The definition of a good GPA depends on your goals, the colleges you plan to apply to, and your other qualifications. At the most selective colleges, like the Ivy League schools and other top colleges, the average GPA for admitted students is usually around 3.8 or 3.9. The majority of students admitted to these prestigious colleges had a GPA in the top 10 percent of their graduating class.

But not everyone graduates with a 3.9 GPA or is valedictorian of their class. There are many excellent colleges and universities that accept students with every GPA. Choose a GPA below to see a list of schools where that is the average GPA for admitted students.

How is GPA calculated?

GPA is calculated by adding up all course grades and then dividing by the total number of credits. All letter grades must first be converted to a number and then multiplied by the number of credits the course was worth. Then, the total of all grades x credits earned is divided by the total number of credits earned.

For example, in his first semester, James took four classes that were three-credits each. He earned an A in Math and Biology, and a B in Spanish and History. Since James' attends a school that uses an unweighted GPA scale, an A is equal to a 4.0 and a B is equal to a 3.0.

James scored 12 for Math and Biology (4.0 x 3) and 9 for History and Spanish (3.0 x 3), for a total score of 44. GPA is then calculated by dividing this total score of 44 by 12, which was the total number of credits James earned.

James' first-semester GPA is 3.7. His GPA will continue to update each term, as James accumulates more grades and credits.

For instance, if James had taken a two-credit Gym class and gotten a C, his GPA would be a bit lower.

  • Math: A= 4.0 x 3 = 12
  • Biology: A = 4.0 x 3 = 12
  • History: B = 3.0 x 3 = 9
  • Spanish: B = 3.0 x 3 = 9
  • Gym: C = 2.0 x 2 = 4
  • Score of 48 / 14 credits = 3.43

Which is more important: GPA or class rank?

Colleges usually consider GPA more important for admissions than class rank. GPA is a more objective measure of academic performance, while class rank is heavily influenced by the size and type of high school that a student attends. Many colleges do not even consider class rank when evaluating applications anymore, though all colleges look at GPA, except those with open admissions.

Read On For The Dean's Advice On More Common GPA Questions