How Does GPA Work in College? [2024 Guide]

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How does GPA work in college? You might be wondering about this as you prepare for your next educational steps.

How Does GPA Work in College

Understanding a college grading scale can help you evaluate your academic performance. Your grade point average (GPA) gives you an idea of your overall academic standing, and it can also give you some insight into where you can improve.

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Let’s take a look at how a college GPA scale works so that you can be ready to study and succeed!

How Does GPA Work in College?

College students in group study

GPA points are calculated based on the grades you receive in each of your college courses. As the name implies, a grade point average is the average of all of your grades in all of your classes.

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While high school or college preparatory schools frequently use their own grading system, a college grading scale is typically based on a 4.0 scale:

  • A is worth 4 points
  • B is worth 3 points
  • C is worth 2 points
  • D is worth 1 point
  • F receives no points

The weight of each grade in relation to your GPA depends on how many credits each course is worth. For example, getting an A in a 3 credit course will add more points to your GPA than receiving an A in a 1 credit course.

Your grade point average will reflect all of your grades in all of your courses throughout your undergraduate career.

What Is a GPA?

College students working on their project

A grade point average (GPA) is a measure of your academic performance in college. Many schools ask students to maintain a certain GPA in order to remain enrolled. Plus, financial aid opportunities often require students to carry a specific GPA throughout their college education in order to continue to receive the award.

Some majors even ask that students have a certain GPA average from only the courses in that program to qualify for graduation with that major. Your college GPA may also demonstrate your capability in your chosen field to future employers and graduate school admissions committees.

How Is GPA Calculated in College?

College students discussing about their lesson

In high school, you may have encountered a variety of grading scales, such as weighted scales for Advanced Placement (AP) courses. You may have even wondered, “what GPA do colleges look at for admission?” But how does college GPA work?

The good news is that many college GPA scales are based on the 4 point system, where each letter grade corresponds to a number of points. To determine your GPA in college, you’ll add the total points you earned across all of your classes.

You’ll also add up all of the total credits you took. You’ll want to check your course catalogue to determine how many credits each course you’ve taken is worth. Then, you divide the points you’ve earned by the number of credits in your courses. The result is your grade point average (GPA).

What Is a Good GPA in College?

College students headed to their classroom

Each college and university will establish their own requirements for a GPA that meets their academic standards, both across all classes and in your major. Failure to meet that GPA can result in disciplinary action or can impact your financial aid.

Generally speaking, many experts recommend at least a B average, which translates into a 3.0 GPA. If you are dissatisfied with your GPA, many colleges provide resources to help you improve your academic performance.

Does Your GPA Reset Every Year?

College students going home together after class

As an incoming student, your college grade point average starts at 0. This gives you a clean slate to start accumulating points based strictly on your college performance.

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As you continue your education, your cumulative GPA will track all of your points and average them among all of your attempted courses. Performing badly in any course will impact your overall GPA. A common option is to take easy college classes to boost your GPA. In addition, some schools offer programs that allow students who have lower GPAs to essentially “start over” with a clean GPA.

Another way to reset your GPA is to transfer schools, as you’ll be a new incoming student once again. When researching potential colleges, you’ll come across accredited colleges with low GPA score requirements, including colleges that accept 2.0 GPA for admission.

Calculating Your GPA in College

College students studying for their exam

Knowing how your GPA works in college can help you keep track of your overall academic performance.

By calculating your GPA based on your current grades, you’ll know where you may want to improve or concentrate your studies. It’s helpful to check out all of your chosen school’s requirements surrounding GPA. You can also consider the number of credits of each course you take to determine how much a poor grade would impact your overall GPA.

Your college GPA can be beneficial to your academic and professional success, so it’s helpful to keep an eye on this number as you continue your college journey.

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Jason Collins
WRITTEN BY
Jason earned his bachelor's degree in English Literature from Loyola Marymount University with a minor in history. A life-long learner with a love of philosophy, history, and science, Jason works in professional development, career enrichment, and improved business practices.