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How to calculate GPA? Convert your GPA to a 4.0 scale

The basic formula for calculating GPA or Grade point average is to divide the total points earned in a program by the total number of credits attempted. US colleges commonly follow GPA on a 4.0 scale, and if you are planning to apply to colleges located there, you need to understand how to calculate GPA and the relevance of the same.

How to calculate GPA?

In this article, we will learn how to calculate GPA on a 4.0 scale and whether it is required for you to convert your grades to the same.

What is GPA? 

There are various types of grading systems followed depending upon your country and college, such as the numbering system, percentage system, or letter–grade system. GPA is a type of grading system followed in the US, which tells you how well you have scored in your course on an average as compared to other students.

Your GPA is calculated on a scale between 0 to 4.0 and showcases if your grades have been high or low as compared to your class. Moreover, GPA is calculated over a period, i.e., first semester/term.

Cumulative Grade Point Average

Another popular term that you will come across is CGPA, which stands for “Cumulative Grade Point Average.” It helps in calculating the overall average performance of a student throughout their academic program.

Let us now move on to calculating GPA.

Read about the Importance of GPA in MBA admissions.

How to calculate GPA?

The Grade point average (GPA) is calculated by dividing the total amount of grade points earned by the total amount of credit points gained. To calculate the total amount of grade points, you need to know the numeric value (GPA) associated with each grade in a particular course and then multiply it with the credit points for each course.

A credit point is mostly on a scale between 0 and 4 or is a multiple of 4. Thus, the highest grade that you score, whether it’s an A or 100% or 10 points, will be equal to the highest number on the scale, i.e., 4.

Depending on your college, you will be following a particular grading system. No matter which grading system your college supports, they have a corresponding credit point against the grades.

Here is a step-by-step process you can follow to calculate your GPA:

  1. Know the GPA value assigned to your grades
  2. Multiply the GPA value with credit points for each course
  3. Derive your total grade point
  4. Calculate your Average GPA

Let’s understand the above steps in detail.

Step 1: Know the GPA value assigned to your grades

Let’s assume that for the A-F grading scale, in one semester, you have three modules, and you scored:

ModulesGrade
Business developmentA
EconomicsB+
StatisticsC

To calculate the GPA value assigned to the above grades, we have taken the points allocation done by Columbia University, which is only applicable to schools that use the standard A-F grading scale. Based on the table below, we found out the GPA value assigned to each grade, for the three modules:

  • Business development: A, which is equal to 4.0 on a GPA scale
  • Economics: B+, which is equal to 3.33 on a GPA scale
  • Statistics: C, which is similar to 2.0 on a GPA scale

For your reference, here is the table from which we derived the GPA value for each grade:

GradesGPA Scale
A+4.33
A4
A-3.67
B+3.33
B3
B-2.67
C+2.33
C2
C-1.67
D+1.33
D1
D-0.67
F0
Calculate GPA - Step 1

Step 2: Multiply the GPA value with credit points for each course

As mentioned earlier, no matter which grading system your college supports, they have a corresponding credit point against the grades. To calculate GPA for this instance, we have assigned 3 credit points to business development and economics, and 2 credit points to statistics.

Now, if we multiply the grades with the credit score, we will get:

Module GPA Value Credit points GPA * Credit points = Grade point
Business Development 4312
Economics 3.3339.99
Statistics 224
Calculate GPA - Step 2

Step 3: Derive your total grade point

The next step is to add the grade point for each module that we derived in the previous step to get the total grade point.

Calculate GPA - step 3

Step 4: Calculate your Average GPA

Once you have your total grade point, to calculate your average GPA, you will divide the total grade points by the total number of credits (3+3+2=8), giving us a 3.24 GPA. 

Calculate GPA - Step 4

So that’s how you calculate your GPA.

Calculate GPA for Indian Students: Converting percentage to GPA on a 4.0 scale

In India, most of the colleges have a percentage grading system that is out of 100%. To Calculate GPA from percentage is simple as 100% is nothing but 100 points. Thus, 25 points in percentage are equivalent to 1 point in GPA System. To convert the percentage to GPA, use the below formula:

Convert GPA to 4.0 scale

For Instance,

If you scored 85%, then your GPA will be (85/100) *4 = 3.4

NOTE: The above instances are the general ways to calculate and are not official. Each university has its own way of calculating GPA. Once you enter a rough value of GPA in college application, they will calculate the same based on your scores in the transcripts.

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What is the relevance of converting GPA on a 4.0 scale?

Now that you are aware of how to calculate GPA, let us discuss the relevance of converting GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Since US colleges follow a 4.0 GPA grading system and if you are applying to any of the colleges there, you will come across GPA on a 4.0 scale a lot of times. Also, GPA on a 4.0 scale has become the standard grading scale at most of the colleges to help them to compare applicants objectively.

GPA helps in comparing applicants that belong to the same pool. So if you belong to an over-represented applicant pool, e.g., Indian engineers, etc., then GPA helps in comparing within your pool.

NOTE: You cannot compare 2 applicants from different pools directly even if they have grades on a 4.0 scale.

For Instance,

Imagine two applicants (same pool of applicants) and are from two different countries and have different grading systems.

Applicant 1: GPA = 2.5

Applicant 2: Grade B

Immediately the question arises: How will the admissions committee compare these two applicants? This is where a standardized GPA on a 4.0 scale comes into the picture!

As the grading system of both the applicants is different, comparing the grades of the above two applicants is challenging. There is no common factor to compare their grades. Thus, having a standardized grading system helps the admission committee to examine each applicant on the same level rather than comparing different types of grades.

Check out the average GPA of incoming MBA students of top 50 business schools

Calculate GPA: Do colleges ask you to convert your GPA on a 4.0 scale?

No, most of the colleges do not ask you to convert your GPA to a 4.0 scale. Even if they do, they will provide you with the steps towards converting your GPA, or they will ask you to roughly calculate it and submit the score with all your transcripts.

All you need to do is mention your grades, followed by your undergraduate university, and provide all the transcripts. After this, the admission committee will take care of it.

Should you convert your GPA?

For Instance,

Here are a few of the examples of business schools and their requirement towards converting GPA on a 4.0 scale:

  • Harvard University Director has mentioned in one of his posts saying that only your unofficial transcript (without converting or translating anything) needs to be submitted. They look through your classes, major(s), grades, and your journey through your degree(s).
  • Stanford Business School has asked the applicants to follow a few guidelines and calculate their GPA, without converting their college/university’s scale. They want you to calculate your GPA to the best of your ability, even if your institution does not list it on your transcripts. 
  • The Wharton School wants you to self- report your grades/marks and provides you with a template to do so.
  • Yale School of Management has mentioned that you need to report the GPA precisely as it appears on your transcript, maintaining the GPA scale used by your institution. If your college does not provide a GPA on your transcripts, then you need to leave those boxes blank in the form.

How to Calculate GPA: Key Takeaways

Here are some key takeaways to calculate GPA:

  • There are various types of the grading scale, i.e., percentage, grade point, letter grade, etc
  • GPA is a standardized grading system that is being followed by many business schools
  • GPA on a 4.0 scale helps the admission committee in measuring applicants on a standard scale
  • There is no need to convert your grades to a 4.0 scale unless the college you applying to mentions it
  • Most of the colleges do not ask you to convert your grades to a 4.0 GPA scale, and if they do, they will provide you with steps to do so

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How to calculate GPA – FAQs

Is GPA important for MBA Admissions?

Yes. Your GPA will help the admissions committee determine your past academic performance and will build a foundation for how well you will do in future academic areas. However, there are other components of an MBA application that are equally important such as work experience, letter of recommendations, essays, awards, and achievements.
Here is an article on the importance of GPA in MBA admissions.

What is the average GPA of MBA students at the top business schools?

The average GPA of MBA students (2014-2018) at the top 50 business schools ranges from 3.2 – 3.73.

Do colleges ask you to convert your GPA to a 4.0 scale?

No. Most colleges do not ask you to convert your GPA to a 4.0 scale. Even if they do, they will provide you with the steps to converting your GPA, or they will ask you to roughly calculate it and submit your score.

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5 thoughts on “How to calculate GPA? Convert your GPA to a 4.0 scale”

    1. GPA stands for Grade Point Average. It is a number that indicates how well or how high you scored in your course on average. GPA is used to assess whether you meet the standards and expectations set by the degree program. It is usually calculated on a scale between ) to 4.0.

  1. Does HBS calculate undergrad gpa based on all undergrad institutions I attended? My degree transcript only takes into consideration classes taken at their institution.

    1. Hi Brice,

      You need to upload all transcripts from all undergraduate academic institutions that you have attended (Full or part-time) for your HBS application. HBS will calculate your GPA based on all undergrad institutions. How do they do it? It’s an internal process and information about it very limited on their site. You can directly write to them if you want to know how they calculate your overall GPA. Rest assured, HBS understands the structure of different grading systems worldwide and does take into account where you went to school, the courses that you took, and your performance.

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