What GPA Should I Report on the Common Application?


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Your GPA is a very telling metric about what kind of student you are in high school. Usually, on a 4.0 scale, your Grade Point Average (GPA) is a quantifiable summary of your academic performance throughout your high school career.


Your GPA is used to compare you against the other students in your grade level, creating your class rank. Colleges use both your GPA and your class rank to determine not only how well you score academically but how well you score in comparison to others who went through similar courses and high school experiences. It is one of the big indicators of academic performance in your college application. Thus, when you are reporting your GPA on your college application, you want to make sure that you are presenting it accurately and in a way that makes you look as competitive as possible.


You may be wondering how it’s possible to make a GPA look better or worse. After all, it’s one number based on your transcript data, right? Well, there are different types of GPA that you can put on your college application, and your GPA might look a little bit different depending on which one you use. Which GPA goes on your college application? Read on to find out.



If your school has only given you one GPA on your transcript, your job is very simple: report that exact figure. Make sure to double and triple check that the GPA you report on your college applications exactly matches the one on your academic transcript at least to the second decimal point. Don’t try to round up, fudge any numbers, of guesstimate in any way.


Also, make sure that your GPA is reported on a 4.0 scale. Most high schools in the United States use the 4.0 GPA scale, but some schools use a different system. If your school does not use a 4.0 scale, you’ll need to convert your existing GPA into the 4.0-scale-equivalent. In order to make sure that you accurately convert your GPA, you ought to sit down with your guidance counselor and do it together.

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Two GPA’s: Weighted and Unweighted

Some applications, like the Common App, give you a choice between putting a weighted or an unweighted GPA on your application. Unweighted GPAs don’t take the difficulty of the courses you take into consideration, whereas weighted GPAs do.


In other words, with an unweighted GPA, earning an A in an Honors’ class counts for the same amount of GPA points as an A in an on-level course. With a weighted GPA, the A in the honor’s class would be ranked with slightly higher GPA points for that class.


If you have the option to put an unweighted or a weighted GPA on your college application, you can really put either one. One is not better than the other. The only rule of thumb is to report the GPA that is higher and that makes you look like a better student. As long as you report the higher GPA accurately and make sure that you label it as the correct type of GPA (weighted vs. unweighted), you’re good to go.


A Note About GPA’s In The College Application Process

It’s important to not stress out about reporting your GPA on your college applications. Even if your GPA is lower than you would want, all you have to do is report it accurately and move on to other parts of your application.


It’s also important to note that while you should report your GPA accurately, it won’t be the number that colleges ultimately consider. Most colleges re-weight student’s GPAs based on their own internal grading scale which assigns more or fewer points depending on the types of classes that you took (academic/non-academic, advanced vs. on-level, etc).


Lastly, you need to make sure that you send in the latest and most accurate version of your high school transcript along with your GPA and the rest of your application. This way, colleges can look at your reported GPA in context of what classes you were taking and what classes were available to you. Especially if you took a lot of advanced courses, your transcript can often help you in the college admissions process.



When you’re filling out the Common Application, you need to make sure to report your academic information as accurately as possible, including your high school GPA. Misreporting your GPA in any way could seriously jeopardize your chances of acceptance to the colleges that you are applying to. Whether your GPA be weighted or unweighted, as long as you report it correctly on a 4.0 scale, you should be fine.


Have some more questions about the college application process? Perhaps these previous blog posts can help:


How Your Teen’s Personality Type Factors Into College Admissions

What Looks Good On A College Application?

Don’t Miss These College Application Deadlines

How Can I Make My College Applications Stand Out?


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Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!