What is GPA?
GPA is an acronym for Grade Point Average, which is used to track your level of success for each grading period (semester or quarter), as well as for tracking your cumulative measure of success over the course of your college education.
Since your GPA is one of the first things potential employers look for in your college transcript, it's extremely important that you work hard to maintain a high GPA. This is especially true in the early days of your college education, because the more credit hours you accumulate at lower grades, the longer it will take to raise your GPA.
How to Calculate GPA for One Grading Period
In order to calculate your grade point average for one grading period, you first need to understand the key variables that make up the formula.
Credit hours: Each class you take will have a number of credit hours assigned to it, which are usually listed in your school's course catalog. Credit hours per class typically range between 1 and 5.
Quality credit hours: Credit hours earned for classes that are taken for a letter grade versus classes taken on a Pass/No-Pass basis.
Quality point multipliers: The number of points awarded for an earned letter grade (A = 4 points, B = 3 points, etc.). The quality point multipliers can vary slightly from school to school, which is why the calculator on this page allows you to edit the default multipliers to match those of your school.
Quality points: The product of the earned quality credit hours multiplied by the letter grade's corresponding quality point multiplier. For example, if you earn an A in a 4-credit-hour class, the quality points earned would be 16 (4 credit hours x multiplier of 4 for an A = 16).
So now that you understand the terms involved, here is the formula for calculating your grade point average:
|GPA =||Total quality points earned|
|Total quality credit hours earned|
How to Calculate Cumulative GPA
Your cumulative grade point average is calculated basically the same way you calculate GPA for a single grading period, except you will be using your total quality points to-date and total quality credit hours earned to-date.
|Cumulative GPA =||Total quality points earned to date|
|Total quality credit hours earned to date|
How to Calculate Credits and Grades Needed to Raise GPA
To calculate what you need to do to raise your grade point average from your present average to a desired average, you can use one of two methods: the Straight A Method, or the Realistic Grade Method. I'll present the formulas for each separately.
The Straight A Method
This method calculates how many future credit hours you need to get straight "A"s (4.0) in to reach your target grade point average. The formula is as follows:
|Straight A Credits =||Accum. GPA Credits x (Target GPA - Accum. GPA)|
|4.0 - Target GPA|
So if your cumulative grade point average is 2.5 after 60 credits, and you want to see how many future straight A credits you need to reach a target of 3.0, here is how you would calculate the needed credits:
|Straight A Credits =||60 x (3.0 - 2.5)|
|4.0 - 3.0|
|Straight A Credits =||60 x (.5)|
|Straight A Credits =||30|
|Straight A Credits =||30|
So using this method you would need to get straight "A"s in your next 30 quality credit hours in order to raise your grade point average from 2.5 to 3.0.
The Realistic Grade Method
If getting straight "A"s is beyond your time and/or abilities, this method calculates how many future credit hours you need to get at your personal, highest realistic grade point average in order to reach your target grade point average. The formula is as follows:
|Realistic Credits =||Accum. GPA Credits x (Target GPA - Accum. GPA)|
|Realistic GPA - Target GPA|
So if your cumulative grade point average is 2.5 after 60 credits, and you believe the highest grade point average you could realistically achieve for future classes would be 3.5, here is how you would calculate how many 3.5 credits you need to reach a target of 3.0:
|Realistic Credits =||60 x (3.0 - 2.5)|
|3.5 - 3.0|
|Realistic Credits =||60 x (.5)|
|Realistic Credits =||30|
|Realistic Credits =||60|
So in order to raise your grade point average from 2.5 to 3.0 using a realistic future GPA of 3.5, you would need to average 3.5 in your next 60 quality credit hours.
How to Convert Between Semester Hours and Quarter Hours
If a portion of your earned credit hours are from a school that used different grading periods than your present school, then in order to calculate your cumulative grade point average you will need to convert the unlike credit hours to match the grading period of your present school.
Even though the calculator on this page has a built-in credit hour conversion tool, I will list the formulas used by the calculator in case you want to convert the hours manually.
|Semester Hours = Quarter Hours x 1.5|
|Quarter Hours = Semester Hours x .6675|