A Guide to Weighted Grades


These are grades written either as a letter or ascribed a numerical value, which emphasis is placed upon during GPA calculation. Weighted grades have usually been obtained at higher levels of education, honors, advanced placement, or even international bachelor degree modules. 

Since these types of modules are noted to be very in-depth and mentally challenging, it plays a crucial factor in deciding what the weighted grades will be. Consider it the prize for handling relatively difficult modules. 

It’s important to understand that colleges don’t overlook the context when looking at GPAs. After reviewing the GPA on a student’s high school transcript, the admission officer takes a thorough look at the listed courses. Within seconds, the admission officer is able to evaluate the rigor of the student’s coursework and instantly contextualize their GPA compared to other students’ transcripts. 

It’ll be difficult for a student who earned a 4.0 by taking all the easy courses to enter an Ivy League school. But the student, who took the most challenging courses and earned a 3.7 while balancing extracurricular commitments, will be considered a competitive candidate. 

The majority of high schools that utilize weighted GPAs also include unweighted grades on a student’s transcript. And selective colleges generally consider the unweighted number. Therefore, it may be exciting for a student to think that they will easily get admission to one of the top universities because their GPA is over 4.0. However, if the student’s unweighted GPA stands at 3.2, they may not be competitive. The fact is that a B+ average won’t be very competitive at schools like Harvard and Stanford. Most applicants to these schools have taken significant numbers of Honors and AP courses, and the admission officers will look for students with unweighted “A” grades. 

The opposite may be true when it comes to less selective colleges that find it hard to fulfill their enrollment targets. Such schools often search for reasons to admit students rather than reasons to reject them. Therefore, they often use weighted grades to help more applicants to meet minimum enrollment requirements. 

A student likely won’t get to select which GPA, whether weighted or unweighted, colleges see. The student’s high school has probably long established the type of grading system that they report to colleges. However, high schools that don’t use a weighted GPA will clearly communicate to the college admission teams that they’re following an unweighted system. 

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