Your Grade Point Average (GPA) is one of the first criteria US college admissions officers will use to determine the strength of your candidacy. At the most competitive universities, like those in the Ivy League, the average admit has a perfect GPA! It takes years to build your GPA, so it’s vital to understand its importance early in your high school career.
What is a GPA?
A high school Grade Point Average (GPA) is a score, generally on a 4-point scale, that reflects your academic performance in high school and is mostly used in the United States. While US universities don’t release official GPA criteria, they do have score expectations and may eliminate candidates with low GPAs before even looking at the rest of their application!
Since academics can account for up to 40% of your application, depending on which universities you apply to, good grades are critical — especially at the most competitive schools. And no academic component is more important than your high school GPA.
A good GPA is indicative of a dedicated, well-rounded student who can perform in a classroom environment.
Universities may track your GPA back as far as the age of 14, so it’s important to start your first year of high school with solid grades and continuously work to strengthen them. Universities also look for a steady improvement over the years and evidence that you’ve consistently worked hard to get top marks!
What is a good GPA?
The average high school GPA in the US is 3.0, which also accounts for roughly 35% of students who don’t end up applying for college. However, for college applicants, the average GPA is more likely between 3.5 and 4.0. If you’re aiming for a top university such as one in the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, or others of the same caliber, a 4.0 GPA — or close to it — is expected.
However, to make things a bit more complicated, GPAs on the traditional 4.0 scale are considered ‘unweighted’, which can be a disadvantage as it doesn’t consider different classes' difficulties.
For this reason, the most selective US universities prefer the ‘weighted’ GPA system, which provides a more accurate depiction of the standard achieved across a selection of students, and is measured on a 5-point scale.
Since admission rates at most selective universities tend to fall in the single-digit range and GPAs for admitted students hover around 4.0, taking more difficult classes is essential to bolster your GPA and get into universities like Harvard, Yale, or similarly competitive institutions.
What is a good GPA for Ivy League Schools and other top universities?
The academic expectations of Ivy League schools and other top universities are well above average; in fact, most Ivy League students graduate high school with a GPA above 4.0! This is because all the Ivy League universities take into account a weighted GPA over an unweighted one.
Average GPA (weighted) of Accepted Students at Top Schools
|University||Average GPA (weighted) of Accepted Student|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||4.15|
|University of Pennsylvania||4.10|
How to Calculate Your GPA?
A GPA converts the letters or percentages that typically represent your grades into numbers, then finds the average of those numbers. Let’s say you’re taking five classes, and you have A’s in two of them and B’s in three of them. The two A’s will each translate to 4.0, and the three B’s will each translate to 3.0. If you add 4.0 + 4.0 + 3.0 + 3.0 + 3.0 and then divide by five, you’ll get the average: a GPA of 3.4.
When applying to US universities, it's important to know how your grades line up with the university's expectations. You can use our free High School GPA Calculator or refer to the GPA conversion table below to find out your GPA!
GPA Conversion Chart
How can I improve my GPA?
Top universities don’t necessarily expect you to have good grades from the beginning. They want to see growth ambition and drive. The simple answer is to do well in school and ace all your exams, but this is often difficult for some students.
There are some steps you can take to improve your GPA. Here's a study plan to help you improve your GPA in high school:
- Set achievable goals: Determine what GPA you would like to achieve by the end of the term or semester. Set small, measurable goals that you can easily achieve, and build from there.
- Prioritize your time: Determine how much time you need to study each day, and what subjects need the most attention. Prioritize your time accordingly and create a schedule that works for you.
- Attend all your classes regularly: Attend all your classes regularly and actively participate in class discussions. This will help you understand the subject matter better and stay on top of your coursework.
- Stay organized: Keep track of your assignments, due dates, and test dates in a planner or a digital calendar. This will help you stay organized and avoid procrastination.
- Review and revise notes: Review and revise your notes regularly. Summarize and condense your notes to help you remember key concepts and facts.
- Practice active learning: Practice active learning by asking questions, summarizing what you've learned, and applying your knowledge to real-life scenarios.
- Seek help when needed: Don't hesitate to seek help when you need it. Your teachers, guidance counselors, and tutors are all there to help you succeed. If you're struggling with a particular subject, seek extra help or tutoring.
- Take practice tests: Take practice tests to help you identify areas where you need improvement. Review the questions you got wrong and focus on improving those areas.
- Stay motivated: Stay motivated by celebrating your successes, rewarding yourself for your hard work, and surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family.
Remember, consistency is key when it comes to improving your GPA. Stick to your study plan, stay organized, and stay focused on your goals. With hard work and dedication, you can achieve your academic goals.
To help you improve your GPA and ace your academics, we’ve created a free guide.
How can Crimson help?
For students who need a little extra help, Crimson offers online tutoring. We engage the world’s best teachers and tutors to help students get good grades and reach their university admission goals. We offer three tutoring programs in an easy-to-order offering. They include tutoring in:
- AP (Advanced Placement) & IB (International Baccalaureate)
- SAT and ACT
- Bespoke Curriculum/Subject Tutoring
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the highest GPA a student can have?
If you calculate your GPA on a 4.0 scale, you may have concluded that the highest GPA you can achieve is a 4.0. This suggests that you have gotten all A’s in all of your classes throughout high school.
Learn more about weighted vs. unweighted GPAs here.
2. What GPA is summa cum laude?
A GPA of 3.75 or higher out of 4.0 is considered summa cum laude. Magna cum laude is 3.66 or higher and cum laude is 3.5 or higher.
3. What is a cumulative GPA?
Your cumulative GPA is the score typically used for college applications or entering the workforce. It's an average of averages, combining all your semester GPAs into a single, overall GPA.
If your sights are set on the Ivy League or any top university, challenge yourself with your course choices. Universities aren't looking for perfection — they're looking for students who challenged themselves academically and will continue to do so after high school.
For a more in-depth understanding of how your grades stack up, contact a Crimson Academic Advisor. They will explain what your grades and test scores mean to top universities and help you identify the best schools to apply to based on your academic candidacy and other important factors!
What Makes Crimson Different
Key Resources & Further Reading
- Join our free webinars on college applications
- Free eBooks and guides to help with the college application process
- US College Admissions Calculator
- How to get Good Grades
- How to stand out in your college application
- How to get into Ivy League Schools
What is the average high school GPA for top colleges? ›
At the most selective colleges, like the Ivy League schools and other top colleges, the average GPA for admitted students is usually around 3.8 or 3.9. The majority of students admitted to these prestigious colleges had a GPA in the top 10 percent of their graduating class.What GPA do you need for top colleges? ›
If you have your hopes set on attending a highly selective four-year university, you'll want to stand out from other applicants. A good way to achieve this is to have a GPA of around 3.8 or higher. To earn a GPA that high, you'll need to get mostly A's in your classes in high school.What is a respectable high school GPA? ›
What Is a Good GPA in High School? The average high school GPA is around 3.0, or a B average. This also happens to be the minimum requirement for many college scholarships, though a 3.5 or higher is generally preferable.Is a 3.7 HS GPA good? ›
Overall, a 3.7 GPA is impressive. As a percentage, a 3.7 GPA means you've achieved an average of 90-92% in your classes. Achieving a 3.7 GPA in high school is good, and with an excellent application, there are many schools where you have a shot at acceptance.What GPA does Ivy League accept? ›
Any lower than 3.5, however, you'll have to either have an impressive, relevant achievement or pray for a miracle to get an offer. Therefore, it is best to aspire for the maximum 4.0 to play it safe. But as long as you have at least a 3.7 GPA, you can still get a serious chance at consideration for an offer.What GPA do you need for Ivy League schools? ›
For most of the Ivy League schools, they expect as close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA as possible. However, the actual unweighted GPAs of students admitted could vary, with many around the 3.5-4.0 range. GPA alone will not make or break a student's application — but it can play a pretty influential role.What GPA does Harvard accept? ›
You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.Do top colleges care about GPA? ›
As they evaluate your academic performance throughout high school, colleges will look at both your overall GPA and the individual grades you received in your courses.What GPA do you need for a full scholarship? ›
A 4.0 Grade Point Average is not only a high GPA, it's an impressive GPA that's sure to catch the eyes of many scholarship providers. Since the minimum GPA for a full-ride scholarship is usually set at 3.5, a 4.0 is sure to always be above and beyond what's required.What GPA do colleges look at? ›
Colleges consider your unweighted or weighted high school GPA alongside other grades, including your semester GPA and cumulative GPA. Admissions officers look at your official transcripts to contextualize your GPA and understand which classes you thrived.
What is the average high school GPA for Harvard? ›
Average GPA: 4.18
This makes Harvard Extremely Competitive for GPAs. (Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA. With a GPA of 4.18, Harvard requires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants.
A GPA higher than 5.0 is rare, but school point systems are occasionally structured so that students taking advanced classes can rack up bonus points. One student even managed to land a stunning 10.03 GPA by taking 17 advanced classes at a school that awarded bonus points.How many A's do you need for a 3.7 GPA? ›
Will the ivy leagues be knocking at your door? Let's take a look. A 3.7 GPA is equivalent to 92% or an A- letter grade. The national average GPA is 3.0 which means a 3.7 is well above average.What is the average GPA in America? ›
The average high school GPA in the US is 3.0, which also accounts for roughly 35% of students who don't end up applying for college. However, for college applicants, the average GPA is more likely between 3.5 and 4.0.Do colleges look at weighted or unweighted GPA? ›
Colleges will look at either weighted or unweighted GPAs in your application. They do tend to prefer weighted, because it gives more information about the difficulty of your classes, but don't worry if your school uses an unweighted scale.What is the lowest GPA accepted to Harvard? ›
Continue to work hard, take difficult classes, and show your passions outside of school! To get to Harvard your GPA has to be at least a 4.0 and even then if you get in your lucky but they require at least a 4.18 GPA only .What is the easiest Ivy League to get into? ›
1. What's the easiest Ivy League school to get into? While all Ivy League schools have a low acceptance rate, Cornell University has the highest acceptance rate among them. Cornell's acceptance rate is 11%, but try not to get too hung up on the numbers.What is the cheapest Ivy League school? ›
Average Financial Aid: $58,244
Yale offers the largest average financial aid package — $58,000 per student. This immense financial support results in equivalently low tuition rates, and Yale offers the lowest average net cost among Ivy League schools, at under $18,000 per year.
Over 80% of students and families give Crimson a perfect 5 star rating. Crimson Education's dedication to transform the education landscape by providing comprehensive, individualized, expert support to every student has resonated in reviews that see almost every student and family provide perfect score reviews.Do you need straight A's for Ivy League? ›
Yes, you can get into an Ivy League college without straight As. Not all Ivy League students had straight As during high school. It's more important to show that you took advanced courses and a strong course load in high school than to get straight As.
What GPA is needed for Yale? ›
In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Yale. That means nearly straight As in every class.What is the lowest GPA to get into Stanford? ›
There is no minimum GPA or test score, nor is there any specific number of AP or honors courses you must have on your transcript in order to have your application reviewed or be admitted to Stanford.What GPA is required for NYU? ›
Applicants must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.
A transcript with a mix of A-s and B+s will produce a grade point average in the range of 3.5, which is an important cutoff for many colleges. In general, admissions officers want to see more As than Bs, so having an unweighted GPA of above 3.5 can make a big difference.Does senior year GPA matter? ›
Your senior year grades hold weight on your overall GPA, which is one of the components, along with SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, etc., that institutions review as part of the admissions process.What college does not care about GPA? ›
Some of the top colleges that don't require GPA scores include Colorado Technical University, Regis University, Purdue University Global, and Saint Mary's University of Minnesota.How rare is a full scholarship? ›
Less than 1 percent of students get full ride scholarships, showing just how difficult it is to earn one. However, with the right background, proper planning and by knowing where to look, your chances of landing a full ride scholarship can increase.What SAT score do you need for a full scholarship? ›
So you're probably wondering, What's a good SAT score for scholarships, and how can I find them? The short answer is that you should aim for an SAT score between 1200 and 1600 if you want to secure some scholarships based on merit–and the higher within that range you score the more money you're looking at.What are the easiest college scholarships to get? ›
- $10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship.
- $2,000 Nitro College Scholarship – No Essay.
- $40,000 BigFuture Scholarships.
- $25,000 No Essay Scholarship.
- March Madness Scholarship.
- Sharpen No Essay Scholarship.
- $5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship.
- $2,000 CampusReel Virtual Tour Scholarship.
Your junior year grades are essential: it's the grade a college will look at most, along with your senior year. Your grades predetermine your academic performance for your final year. Your GPA and the “sturdiness” of it matters.
What year do colleges look at the most? ›
Your first year and sophomore year affect your cumulative GPA, which is important to most colleges. However, a solid academic record in your junior year is likely to carry more importance with an admissions committee.Which GPA is most important why? ›
As such, a weighted GPA tends to be more important in the admissions process for the simple reason that they can help communicate how challenging a student's course load is. A Weighted GPA demonstrate how many advanced classes you've taken, and your performance in them.What is the average high school GPA for Duke? ›
Average GPA: 4.13
This makes Duke Extremely Competitive for GPAs.
What is the Average GPA in High School in 2023? The average GPA in US High Schools is 3.0. This number varies by gender – the average female GPA is 3.1 and the average male GPA is 2.9.What ACT score do you need to get into Harvard? › How do you get a 10.03 GPA? ›
For example, one student actually managed to get a 10.03 GPA score. He did this by taking 17 advanced classes at his school, which awarded him many points. The most common scale is from 0 to 4. This is also known as an unweighted scale, and it provides a more general scoring system with no numbers in between.What was the lowest valedictorian GPA? ›
The title of valedictorian is used to distinguish indivduals who have achieved the highest level of academic excellence. Students who earn an unweighted 4.0 GPA, through the seventh semester of high school, will receive valedictorian designation.What is the highest GPA in high school USA? ›
No matter what kind of coursework a student takes, the highest possible GPA in an unweighted system is a 4.3. NOTE: some schools do not differentiate between an A (5.0 weighted, 4.0 unweighted) and an A+ (5.3 weighted, 4.3 unweighted). Your school office can confirm what the highest GPA possible is for you!What majors have the lowest GPA? ›
Science majors tend to have lower GPAs on average, with chemistry being the major with the lowest average GPA. Meanwhile, education majors earn the highest GPAs on average.Is it hard to raise your GPA? ›
It can be difficult to improve your GPA quickly, especially if you're in the latter half of high school already. With your previous grades working against you, you'll have to put in even more effort to overcome lower averages.
Do colleges like 3.7 GPA? ›
A 3.7 GPA substantially clears the unofficial benchmark that most colleges use for competitive admission (3.0) and is also higher than the baseline average for more selective schools (3.5).What GPA is 100% average? ›
To convert percentages to GPA, you must assign each percentage a letter grade. Typically, 90-100% is an A. 80-89% is a B. 70-79% is a C. 60-69% is a D. 0-59% is an F. An A is worth 4 points.Is 3.5 A strong GPA? ›
Is a 3.5 GPA Good? As a top-letter grade, a B+ or A- is considered "good." A 3.5 GPA means that a student consistently performs well on homework, tests, and projects in every subject, making it a desirable GPA across the board.Do colleges look at your class rank? ›
Some colleges that used to rely on class rank now use SAT scores and GPA. Most large state universities, however, still require applicants to report class rank (as do many scholarship programs) and rely on it to help sort through the high volume of applications received.What unweighted GPA is required for Harvard? ›
In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Harvard. That means nearly straight As in every class.Does Harvard want weighted or unweighted GPA? ›
If you want to get into Harvard, you should aim for a GPA of at least 4.0. The average GPA of successful Harvard applicants is around 3.9 unweighted, which translates into a 4.15 weighted GPA. (A weighted GPA takes into account extra points for honors or Advanced Placement courses.)What is a good high school GPA for Harvard? ›
The Harvard Crimson reports that the average reported GPA of entering freshmen in the class of 2022 was 3.90 on a 4.0 unweighted scale. According to College Data, the average weighted GPA of freshmen matriculates is 4.18. This demonstrates that you need to strive to graduate in the top 5% of your class.Is a 3.5 GPA good in high school for college? ›
The national average GPA for high school graduates is 3.0, and many colleges and universities consider a 3.0 the competitive benchmark. A 3.5 GPA exceeds that number and matches the benchmark several more selective colleges use.Is a 5.0 GPA good in high school? ›
Typically, high schools that use weighted GPAs opt for the 0-5 scale that makes 5.0 the highest possible grade. A GPA higher than 5.0 is rare, but school point systems are occasionally structured so that students taking advanced classes can rack up bonus points.What GPA does Harvard look at? ›
Harvard GPA Requirements
However, unweighted GPAs are not very useful, because high schools weight GPAs differently. In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Harvard. That means nearly straight As in every class.
What is the lowest GPA accepted to Yale? ›
You should also have a 4.14 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Yale, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.What is the lowest GPA Harvard accepted? ›
Continue to work hard, take difficult classes, and show your passions outside of school! To get to Harvard your GPA has to be at least a 4.0 and even then if you get in your lucky but they require at least a 4.18 GPA only .What GPA is required for MIT? ›
There is no minimum required GPA, but competitive applicants generally have a GPA of 3.5 or above, and mostly A's in mathematics and science courses.Is a 3.3 GPA OK in college? ›
Is a 3.3 GPA Good? Because a 3.3 GPA is on the cusp of a B+ average, it is indicative of good performance in all classes with a consistently positive record on tests and homework assignments. With this in mind, a 3.3 GPA makes your application competitive at a majority of schools.What is a 7.0 GPA? ›
Your grade point average (GPA) is the average result of all your grades and is calculated on a 7-point grading scale. 7 being the highest (HD), and 0 is the lowest (fail).How many A's do you need for a 5.0 GPA? ›
A 5.0 generally indicates that a student took only 5.0-scale classes and earned only A's (and/or A+'s). Normally, all perfect straight-A grades result in a 4.0; with weighted classes, though, perfect straight-A grades could result in a 5.0 (or even higher). Sounds impressive, doesn't it?