Improve Your High School GPA With These 5 Strategies

Is your profile on track for college admissions?

Our free guidance platform determines your real college chances using your current profile and provides personalized recommendations for how to improve it.

It’s a fact of life that your high school GPA is important.Whether you’re an honors student or struggling more than you’d like to be, chances are, you care about the grades that you’re getting. After all, these grades can determine the colleges you’re admitted to (or not admitted to), as well as the scholarships you earn, and eventually the jobs and opportunities you’re able to get.


This being said, GPA certainly isn’t everything in life, or even in the college admissions process. It’s not the end of the world if your grades aren’t where you want them to be—and there are always things that you could try to do in order to raise your GPA. You’ve already made an important and proactive first step by clicking on this blog post.


For tips and strategies on how to improve your high school GPA now, keep reading!



1. Be Realistic

When considering how to raise your high school GPA, the first thing you should do is take stock of where your grades are at and where you are in high school.


If you’re a 9th  or 10th grader , the good news is that you still have a decent amount of time to get your GPA up since you haven’t earned all that many grades yet!


If you’re in 11th grade, you might feel a little more pressed for time, and if you’re a senior, even more so. In fact, if you are getting close to the college admissions process and still aren’t satisfied with your numbers, then you might even be better served focusing on improving your test scores—take a look at Which Is Easier, the SAT or the ACT? or The Relationship Between Grades and Standardized Test Scores for some tips and tricks.


Think about the grades you’re getting and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Are your grades on an upward trend or have they gone steadily down since you started high school? Are you constantly getting worse grades in a particular subject? Do you tend to do better at a particular subject? What other factors (maybe extracurriculars, or maybe unfortunate circumstances such as a family emergency) have played into your GPA being what it is right now?



2. Take Easier Classes

We do not suggest that you should just “go for the easy A.” However,, if you’ve been consistently struggling in the same subject in a way that has been negatively affecting your GPA, it might be time to think about switching down a level. This way, you will already be familiar with the content of the course, since you’ve already been learning it at a higher level.


Again, you should think realistically about what your strengths and weaknesses are in terms of your grades and your GPA. You should also consider your experiences with the teachers in particular courses and how you might be able to seek more help to improve your grade.

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

3. Think About Weighting

At some schools, certain courses will be worth more points in terms of your GPA. For example, an A in some honors courses will be worth a 5.0 as opposed to 4.0. Be sure to get to know these policies at your school and think critically about how they will affect your GPA.


Are you taking any honors courses? And are you doing well in them? You might want to think about taking some 5.0-weighted courses in order to raise your GPA. It might end up being advantageous to you to take harder courses, because even if you don’t do as well in them, they will be worth more to your GPA. It’s also always a good thing to challenge yourself academically — you will learn more, and colleges will see that you are a hard worker and interested in learning at a more rigorous level!


Keep in mind, though, that honors courses will often be more challenging and might require more of a time commitment, so be sure to think about your schedule and other responsibilities or obligations that might conflict with you taking a heavier course load.



4. Increase Your Course Load

If you’re thinking about ways to get your GPA up to where you want it to be, taking more courses might give you the opportunity to do well in multiple courses and raise your GPA.


Some schools will offer a free period, study period, or early dismissal for seniors. If your school offers these benefits, you might consider taking a course in this period instead in order to raise your GPA.


Think seriously about which subjects you enjoy and do well in, and try to take one of these courses. Again, be sure that you are not just slacking off or trying for an easy A, but rather, remain realistic about what you can and can’t do academically.



5. Think About Alternatives

If you are a senior, or if getting your grades up simply isn’t working for you, then it might be time to focus in on other elements of your college applications that you can improve.


For senior year, this will most likely be your test scores — you might want to try retaking the ACT or SAT in the fall of your senior year. In some regions, you can retake the test all the way up until January.


Other things you could do include building relationships with teachers, joining extracurriculars, and taking leadership positions. You also may want to adjust your goals based on your GPA and think about which colleges will be a good fit for you. Your GPA shouldn’t be a deterrent from applying to more selective schools, as it’s certainly ok to aim high. Just remember to remain realistic and to have a plan B (and maybe even a plan C or D) for yourself in case things don’t pan out in the way that you’d want them to.


You Got This!

High school GPA is important, but it certainly isn’t everything. If you’re struggling with your GPA or want to see some improvements, you might consider taking weighted courses, dropping down to an easier level, or taking more courses. There are also things you can do aside from your GPA that will improve your chances of getting into a college that will be a good fit for you, such as building relationships with your teachers and guidance counselors and participating in extracurriculars!


Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academicschoosing coursesstandardized testsextracurricular activitiesand much more!


For more tips and tricks regarding high school grades, be sure to check out these blog posts:


It’s Not Just About Grades: Impressing Colleges With Extracurriculars

Grades and GPA

The Ins and Outs of Weighted Grades (and Why You Should Consider More Than Weight When Choosing Courses)

The Relationship Between Grades and Standardized Test Scores


Want to know how your GPA impacts your chances of acceptance to your dream schools? Our free Chancing Engine will not only help you predict your odds, but also let you know how you stack up against other applicants, and which aspects of your profile to improve. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to gain access to our Chancing Engine and get a jumpstart on your college strategy!

Want more tips on improving your academic profile?

We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.

Devin Barricklow
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Devin Barricklow is a Political Science and Creative Writing double major at Columbia University. She’s really excited to be able to share her expertise about the college process with students who need advice. When she isn’t writing for CollegeVine, she enjoys reading the poems of Mary Oliver, going to concerts in the city, or cooking (preferably something with lots of bok choy and ginger).