Weighted GPA vs Unweighted GPA: Difference and Comparison

GPA is one of the most important factors colleges consider while confirming your admission. However, different high schools have different methods of calculating a student’s GPA.

Some high schools use weighted GPAs for assessment, while others use unweighted GPAs to assess your marks.

Key Takeaways

  1. A weighted GPA considers the difficulty level of courses and assigns a higher weightage to advanced courses, while an unweighted GPA treats all courses equally.
  2. Colleges and universities use weighted GPAs to assess academic performance, while high schools commonly use unweighted GPAs.
  3. A weighted GPA may result in a higher score than an unweighted GPA for advanced course students.

Weighted GPA vs Unweighted GPA

Weighted GPA is a type of GPA calculation which takes into account the difficulty level of a student’s courses and assigns higher point values to advanced or honors classes. Unweighted GPA treats all courses equally and assigns the same point values regardless of the course difficulty.

Weighted GPA vs Unweighted GPA
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Weighted GPA takes into account the different courses available at different academic levels.

A weighted GPA considers the difficulty level of your classes into consideration while calculating your final score, which means that if you opt for a more difficult subject as a choice, your GPA will be higher than the others.

Weighted GPA ranges between 0 to 5.0.

An unweighted GPA is one of the most common methods of measuring academic performance and is preferred by most high schools. An unweighted GPA ranges between 0 to 4 and does not consider the difficulty of your course while calculating.

This is the main reason behind the fact that while providing admission to a Student, a college double-checks with the high school to get an accurate picture of the student’s academic performance.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonWeighted GPAUnweighted GPA
DefinitionA weighted GPA considers the difficulty level of your classes into consideration while calculating your final score, which means that if you opt for a more difficult subject as a choice, your GPA will be higher than the others. An unweighted GPA is one of the most common methods of measuring academic performance and is preferred by most high schools. An unweighted GPA does not consider the difficulty of your course while calculating the final GPA.
PopularityLessMore
UseCompetitive institutionsNon-competitive institutions
CalculationComplex calculation procedureEasy calculation
Scale0 to 50 to 4
Admission PreferenceGiven more preferenceGiven less preference
AccuracyMore accurateLess accurate
AgeRecent methodTraditional method

What is a Weighted GPA?

Weighted GPA ranges between 0 to 5 and takes into account the different courses available at different academic levels.

A weighted GPA considers the difficulty level of your classes into consideration while calculating your final score, which means that if you opt for a more difficult subject as a choice, your GPA will be higher than the others.

A weighted GPA plays a crucial role in the application process for a college. Although the unweighted GPA scale is used more widely, the weighted GPA is better.

Even if you score a 4.0 weighted GPA, you may still be a weak student in the eyes of the college management because your GPA may be based on the fact that you scored all As in the lowest learning classes.

However, someone who scored all Bs in the highest level classes may be considered superior to you as he took more academic challenges during his/ her high school.

A weighted GPA motivates you to take up more difficult subjects as a choice without the fear of getting a low GPA.

If you score better in a subject that is ranked higher on the difficulty scale, your weighted GPA will be better, which will, in turn, have a great impact on the college that you are planning to take admission in.

What is an Unweighted GPA?

An unweighted GPA is one of the most common methods of measuring academic performance and is preferred by most high schools. An unweighted GPA ranges between 0 to 4 and does not consider the difficulty of your course while calculating.

This is the main reason behind the fact that while providing admission to a Student, a college double-checks with the high school to get an accurate picture of the student’s academic performance.

Although an unweighted GPA is a more common method of grade allotment, many colleges may not be very happy even if you score a 4 unweighted GPA in Low-level courses.

If your high school allots grades according to the unweighted GPA, you must still try to go for a little difficult course because that is how you may increase your chances of securing admission to a good college.

If you opt for slightly difficult subjects, your rank and GPA may be lower than most people in your high school, but that should not be a cause of worry for you.

When you seek admission to a college, they focus on a high GPA and the subjects you choose to reach that GPA. That’s where you can earn extra brownie points for being academically challenging.

Main Differences Between Weighted GPA and Unweighted GPA

  1. A weighted GPA considers the difficulty of your course while calculating your final GPA, while an unweighted GPA does not.
  2. Weighted GPA ranges between 0 and 5, whereas unweighted GPA ranges between 0 and 4.
  3. Calculating a weighted GPA involves more complicated steps as compared to an unweighted GPA.
  4. While seeking admission to a college, students from high schools with a weighted GPA system are given preference over those from high schools with an unweighted GPA system.
  5. Weighted GPA is a more recent method developed for calculating students’ scores, considering the difficulty of their chosen courses.
References
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/019263659107553716
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0192636514565171

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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