Weighted GPA vs. Non-Weighted GPA

Brittany has an interesting question today. If a scholarship committee asks for your GPA but doesn’t specify weighted or unweighted, which one should you give ’em?

At my high school we are currently on an honors grading scale for majority of our classes. We are given a GPA that is considered to be weighted; when applying for a scholarship should I enter my weighted or unweighted GPA?

weighted gpa
Do they still call them F's? They called them U's when I was in school (for "unsatisfactory")....

If it doesn’t ask specifically for one or the other, use the higher one, for a few reasons:

1) Higher looks better, obviously.

2) If they didn’t specify which one they wanted, then you have no reason NOT to believe they didn’t want the weighted one.

3) If they didn’t specify which one they wanted, they don’t have any right to complain later if they find out the one you provided isn’t the one they wanted.

If the scholarship you’re applying to requires transcripts be sent, then look at the appearance of your transcripts. Make sure that, if there’s a cumulative GPA section that really jumps out and is obvious, that it doesn’t have the unweighted instead of the weighted. If it does, then report both of them.

For example my weighted GPA is 3.4 while my unweighted is 2.7, am I still eligible for scholarships, which only look at students who have an accumulative GPA of 3.0?

Well, it depends on the scholarship. Each will have its own criteria for that sort of thing, but don’t be surprised if you come across many that don’t specify weighted vs. unweighted.

I’ve been judging and giving scholarships for almost 8 years now, and the whole weighted-unweighted issue still slips my mind quite a bit. So some judges and originators aren’t even going to think about weighted GPAs. In that case, give ’em your weighted GPA, by all means, and for all the reasons above.

The worst-case scenario is that they get your transcripts, see that your unadjusted GPA is below 3.0, and toss out your application. Best-case scenario, you win some serious money. So, when in doubt, applying for the scholarships definitely passes the cost-benefit analysis.

If no one asks you to specify, then I’d give ’em my highest GPA, weighted, every single time. It’s an important metric that’s used frequently enough for you to have some legit plausible deniability if someone asks you why you didn’t submit the unweighted one. And, much more often than not — no one will even notice or ask questions.

Good luck!

Readers — any thoughts? I know some of you will disagree with my me-first, ask-forgiveness-not-permission approach. 🙂  Either way, let us know in the comments below!

17 thoughts on “Weighted GPA vs. Non-Weighted GPA”

  1. this whole weighted/unweighted thing is odd, your cumulative gpa is what would be looked at imo….I don’t even think there is an area to place an unweighted/weighted GPA on a scholarship app….

    who came up with this concept…meh

  2. I don’t even know what the heck a weighted GPA is? Can someone explain it to me? I only have one GPA that I know of… is it a high school thing? (I’m old…maybe in “my day” we didn’t have them…)

    1. In high school and in college, in at least some instances, if you take honors classes, gifted classes, Advanced Placement classes, International Bacceleurate classes, or any other special honors academic classes, the grade that you get in the class counts for a point higher than does a regular academic class or in most cases an elective class. The scale goes in this manner: 0 points=F counts as 1 point, 1 point=D counts as 2 points, 2 points=C counts as 3 points, 3 points=B counts as 4 points, and 4 points=A counts as 5 points. Because of the weight given to those classes, the weighted GPA will be higher.

  3. Josh Barsh,

    As always, you inspire me.

    As an over-optimist (and maybe because of culture-influence), I nearly always think about social/group first and go with “ask permission-not forgiveness approach”

    Before reading this, I would most probably have asked first. But after giving your advice some long, hard, thought, I realized that Brittany actually would be better off with your advice.

    As some say, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world, out there”. Victors write the history, and the fit propagate their progeny. Thanks for the timely reminder and wholly practical advice: “Me. FIRST!”


  4. I think when I was in high school and applying for scholarships, I put my unweighted GPA. That was just because my weighted GPA was over 4.0 and they would have known it was weighted. A lot of the time they only let you put up to 4.0, so thats what I had to do.
    I was disappointed when I took honors classes at my community college, and they weren’t weighted.

    1. I did the same. My weighted GPA was over a 4.0 so I would simply put my unweighted GPA. However, I did have friends that would use their weighted GPA in place of their unweighted because it was much higher. With that in mind, going with the higher GPA is your best bet with the exception that your GPA is greater than a 4.0. In that case, maybe consider the fact that it will appear as weighted.

  5. I’m really impressed with your reports on academic scholarship hints. Please how can a GPA be determined, sure u have an answer on this… hope to hear from you Sir

  6. Interesting.

    I personally don’t believe in weighted GPAs – those that need to know you’re an honors student will pick it up when they see your courselist and/or your transcript. Why do a weighted GPA in the first place?

    Why not provide BOTH GPAs? Like 3.2/2.7. That might even spark some interest (you never know what might set that hook in the mind of a scholarship judge).

    If this is a bad idea, please let me know. I recently discovered a second GPA on my college transcript. It’s higher than the one I’ve been using. I have no clue what it means (we have a little labeling problem at my school) but what the hey.

  7. I agree with Judge Josh. I always use my overall GPA in my resume and any requests for acceptance/funds unless they specifically ask for something else.

    1. GPA stands for grade point average. There is a certain number of points that corresponds with the five letter grades: A, B, C, D, and F. An A is equal to 4 points, unweighted and 5 points, weighted. A B is equal to 3 points, unweighted and 4 points, weighted. A C is equal to 2 points, unweighted and 3 points, weighted. A D is equal to 1 point, unweighted and 2 points, weighted. An F is equal to 0 points, unweighted and 1 point, weighted. An A corresponds the the numerical grades of 90-100. A B corresponds to the numerical grades of 80-89. A C corresponds to the numerical grades of 70-79. A D corresponds to the numerical grades of 60-69. An F corresponds with the numerical grades of 0-59. For example, if you were taking three classes, and in the three classes, your final grades are 79, 82, and 93. The 79 would be a C, and you would get 2 points. The 82 would be a B, and you would get 3 points. The 93 would be an A, and you would get 4 points. The GPA would be calculated in this manner: (2+3+4)/3 = 3. The 3 means that you would have a B average. In classes that are some type of academic honors class, the grades would be weighted to reflect the difficulty of the courses. If you take the three grades from before as an example, then you would get 3 points, 4 points, and 5 points instead of 2 points, 3 points, and 4 points. The GPA would be calculated in this manner: (3+4+5)/3 = 4. You would have an A average.

    1. Weighted GPA is given for academic honors classes (honors, gifted, Advanced Placement, International Bacceleurate, etc.) to reflect the increased difficulty of the class. In those cases, the value of each grade in those classes would increase by one point.
      Unweighted GPA is the amount of credit given to an academic class of normal difficulty. These would be classes that might be labeled as regular college prep or technical.

  8. Counselor Buddy

    When I do letters of recommendation or fill out Counselor Reports for admissions and scholarships, I always default to a weighted GPA unless specifically asked for an unweighted GPA. The same holds true for transcripts; we have the ability to print transcripts with either GPA but we print with the weighted. If you notice your school prints an unweighted GPA, request a copy with the weighted GPA on there so it matches your application.

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