How to Choose Between Weighted and Unweighted GPA

When it comes to filling out college applications, one common question many students have is whether to list their weighted or unweighted GPA on the Common App. Additionally, for students coming from schools that don’t calculate GPA, such as those following the International Baccalaureate (IB) or Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum, reporting GPA presents another challenge.

In this article, we will explore these questions and provide guidance on how to make the best decision based on Common App instructions and the preferences of college admissions officers.

Understanding the Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA Dilemma

To begin, it’s crucial to grasp the difference between weighted and unweighted GPA. While both reflect your academic performance, they are calculated in distinct ways.

A weighted GPA takes into account the difficulty of your coursework by assigning higher values to honors, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes.

On the other hand, an unweighted GPA treats all classes with equal weight, regardless of their level of difficulty.

Common App Instructions

When filling out the Common App, students are often uncertain about which GPA to include. Fortunately, the Common App offers clear instructions on this matter. According to their guidelines, if your transcript mentions both weighted and unweighted GPAs, it is recommended to list the weighted GPA.

However, it’s important to note that the choice between weighted and unweighted GPA doesn’t significantly impact your application since colleges have access to your complete transcript.

Reporting GPA for Schools Without GPA Calculation

For students attending schools that don’t calculate GPA, such as those following the IB or CBSE curriculum, the challenge lies in reporting GPA on the Common App. In such cases, it is advised to leave the GPA section blank.

College admissions officers are aware of the variations in grading systems around the world and will evaluate your academic performance within the context of your school’s curriculum.

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When completing the Common App, it’s crucial to follow the provided instructions regarding GPA reporting.

By understanding and adhering to these guidelines, you can confidently navigate the GPA section of the Common App and focus on showcasing your unique strengths and experiences to college admissions teams.

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