What is Cumulative GPA? How Do You Calculate it?
What’s Covered:
 What Is a Cumulative GPA?
 How to Calculate Your Cumulative GPA
 My Cumulative GPA Seems Wrong – Did I Make A Mistake?
 What is a Good GPA for College Admissions?
Your GPA is an important part of your college application, so naturally, you want to know where you stand. But there’s also a lot of confusion about what it actually means and how to figure yours out.
What is a cumulative GPA? And how do you calculate yours? We’ve got your answers!
What Is a Cumulative GPA?
GPAs (Grade Point Averages) are used to express a student’s academic strength in a single numerical value. There are many kinds of GPAs: cumulative, semester, weighted, unweighted.
Your semester GPA is an average of the grades you received in a given semester. Meanwhile, your cumulative GPA is an average of all the grades you’ve received in all your courses throughout high school.
Each course is assigned a certain number of credits, with those with a higher number of credits carrying more value than those with a lower number of credits. Using the formula outlined below, a GPA is the calculated average of the corresponding numerical value of your grades (that’s why it stands for “Grade Point Average”). The standardized scale is 0.04.0, with a 4.0 equaling an A and a 0 equaling an F. For weighted GPAs, you add an extra half or fullpoint to more difficult courses.
How to Calculate Your Cumulative GPA
Briefly, to calculate your unweighted GPA, follow these steps:
 Multiply the credits for each course by the corresponding numerical grade point of the grade you earned. (See chart below for grades and their numerical values.)
Letter Grade 
Percentage Grade 
Grade Point 
A/A+ 
93100% 
4.0 
A 
9092% 
3.7 
B+ 
8789% 
3.3 
B 
8386% 
3.0 
B 
8082% 
2.7 
C+ 
7779% 
2.3 
C 
7376% 
2.0 
C 
7072% 
1.7 
D+ 
6769% 
1.3 
D 
6566% 
1.0 
F 
Below 65% 
0.0 
 Add the total grade points together.
 Add together the number of credits you earned.
 Divide the grade point total by the total number of credits, rounding to the nearest hundredth.
To calculate your weighted GPA, the only change is that in the first step, you’ll add the following to each grade point:
 0.0 for regular courses.
 0.5 for Honors, IB SL, and dual enrollment courses.
 1.0 for AP, postAP, IB HL, and college courses.
Here’s an example schedule of a student that has completed their freshman year. Let’s calculate the unweighted GPA first.
Calculating Unweighted Cumulative GPA: Example
Semester 1
Course 
Letter Grade 
Grade Point 
# of Credits 
Raw Value (Grade Point x # Credits) 
Honors English I 
A 
4.0 
3 
12 
World History 
A 
3.7 
3 
11.1 
French I 
A 
3.7 
3 
11.1 
Biology 
B+ 
3.3 
3 
9.9 
Art 
A 
4.0 
2 
8 
Honors Algebra II 
A 
3.7 
3 
11.1 
TOTAL 
17 
63.2 
So, we take the raw value and divide it by the number of credits: 63.2/17 = 3.72. This is the student’s semester 1 unweighted GPA.
Semester 2
Course 
Letter Grade 
Grade Point 
# of Credits 
Raw Value (Grade Point x # Credits) 
Honors English I 
A 
4.0 
3 
12 
World History 
A 
3.7 
3 
11.1 
French I 
A 
4.0 
3 
12 
Biology 
A 
3.7 
3 
11.1 
Financial Literacy 
A 
4.0 
2 
8 
Honors Algebra II 
A 
4.0 
3 
12 
TOTAL 
17 
66.2 
This student’s semester 2 GPA is 66.2/17 = 3.89
Their cumulative GPA would be the sum of the raw values divided by the sum of the credits.
So, this would be (63.2+66.2)/(17+17) = 3.81
Since both semesters have the same credit value, you can also just average together the semester GPAs and get the same number: (3.89+3.72)/2 = 3.81 (rounded).
If the credit values are different, however, you’ll want to sum raw values and divide them by the total number of credits.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to do this semester by semester. If you’re calculating cumulative GPA, you can just sum together the raw values for ALL of your courses, and divide them by the total number of credits. We’ve broken this up by semester to keep it simpler for this example.
Calculating Weighted Cumulative GPA: Example
So how do you calculate weighted cumulative GPA, then? We have to add the extra points for course type. Since the student has 2 honors courses, we’d add .5 to their Grade Point before multiplying it by the number of credits.
Semester 1
Course 
Letter Grade 
Grade Point 
# of Credits 
Value Added for Course Type 
Raw Value [(Grade Point + Value Added) x # Credits] 
Honors English I 
A 
4.0 
3 
0.5 
13.5 
World History 
A 
3.7 
3 
0 
11.1 
French I 
A 
3.7 
3 
0 
11.1 
Biology 
B+ 
3.3 
3 
0 
9.9 
Art 
A 
4.0 
2 
0 
8 
Honors Algebra II 
A 
3.7 
3 
0.5 
12.6 
TOTAL 
17 
66.2 
So, we take the raw value and divide it by the number of credits: 66.2/17 = 3.89. This is the student’s semester 1 weighted GPA.
Semester 2
Course 
Letter Grade 
Grade Point 
# of Credits 
Value Added for Course Type 
Raw Value [(Grade Point + Value Added) x # Credits] 
Honors English I 
A 
4.0 
3 
0.5 
13.5 
World History 
A 
3.7 
3 
0 
11.1 
French I 
A 
4.0 
3 
0 
12 
Biology 
A 
3.7 
3 
0 
11.1 
Financial Literacy 
A 
4.0 
2 
8 

Honors Algebra II 
A 
4.0 
3 
0.5 
13.5 
TOTAL 
17 
69.2 
The student’s semester 2 weighted GPA is 69.2/17 = 4.07
Their cumulative GPA is (69.2+66.2)/(17+17) = 3.98
My Cumulative GPA Seems Wrong – Did I Make A Mistake?
When juggling a bunch of numbers and moving through several calculations, it can be easy to make a mistake. If the number you’ve arrived at seems too low, too high, or even outside the range of possibility, there are a few places you can check for common mistakes.
Forgetting a + or –
An A may still be in the Arange, or a C+ may feel so close to the Brange that it’s unimportant, but these distinctions do matter when calculating your cumulative GPA. Go through your calculations and make sure that you’ve accounted for the pluses and minuses that may be part of your grade.
Not Weighting a Class Correctly
Maybe you looked at the wrong line, or forgot to add the boost that an Honors or IB class gives you. Go through the initial weighting of each class again, and see if there’s a place you may have gotten it wrong. Remember that different subjects are weighted differently.
Forgetting to Account for Credits
If your GPA comes out unrealistically high, you may have forgotten to divide by the number of credits somewhere along the way. On the other hand, if it’s unrealistically low, you may have forgotten to multiply by the number of credits. It may seem counterintuitive, but to get your correct cumulative GPA, you need to first multiply each class by the number of credits, and then divide the number you get overall by the number of credits total.
Remember that some classes count for more credits than others. Make sure that you have the correct number for each class.
Simple Arithmetic Errors
When calculating your cumulative GPA, you’re juggling a lot of numbers, so it’s easy to make a simple arithmetic error. Rounding decimals incorrectly, copying something wrong, or even leaving out a number or adding it twice can happen if you’re trying to keep track of too much in your head. If you can’t find a place where you made the error, start again from the beginning, with a pencil and paper, and go through your calculations slowly and methodically.
What is a Good Cumulative GPA for College Admissions?
While GPAs on a 4point scale are standardized, their relative strength varies by school to school. An A at school 1 might be more comparable to a B at school 2. Similarly, a B+ in one class may be an A in another course. That means that evaluating a “good” GPA is subjective.
To better understand your GPA and how it compares to those of other applicants at your target colleges, consider factors like:
 Your school
 The average GPA in your class year
 The rigor of your schedule (measured against the courses available at your school)
 Whether your grades are weighted or unweighted
 Your target colleges
 Your demographics (the average GPA varies by ethnic group)
For example, if you’re hoping to attend Harvard, your GPA should be at or higher than the average of their incoming freshman class, which is roughly a 3.95 unweighted. Meanwhile, Temple University’s average GPA is around a 3.5, so you wouldn’t need as high a GPA if this were your target school.
If you’re just starting to create your college list, our posts about grades and GPA are a good place to start exploring once you know your cumulative GPA. Knowing your own GPA will help you figure out at which schools gaining admission might be easier or tougher. Keep in mind that admissions are holistic, so having a lower GPA doesn’t necessarily spell the end of your dream school.
Don’t worry if your school is particularly rigorous and it’s very difficult to attain a 4.0; colleges will look at you in the context of your specific class and note if you rank highly compared to your classmates. Similarly, if you come from an underrepresented or lowincome background, colleges may be more forgiving of a lower GPA.
Cumulative GPA and Scholarships
You may be considering applying for scholarships to help cover the significant costs of college. Some scholarships have GPA requirements, so researching what these are and calculating your own GPA accurately are essential steps in applying. Even for scholarships that don’t have specific GPA requirements, it’s best to aim for the highest GPA possible to improve your chances. A high GPA is always impressive, especially when applying for a selective scholarship.
How Your GPA Impacts Your College Chances
GPA does play a big role in the admissions process, as it factors into your Academic Index (AI). AI is a single number that reflects the strength of your GPA and test scores. Many selective colleges use AI to weed out applicants before even considering qualitative factors like extracurriculars and essays.
If you’re not sure whether your GPA is good enough, you can use our free chancing engine. This tool will let you know your chances of acceptance at over 1,500 colleges, and will also give you tips for improving your profile. We highly recommend testing it out to get a jumpstart on your college strategy!