What does GPA Mean and Why is it Important? | Student Reviews & University Rankings EDUopinions

What does GPA Mean and Why is it Important?


Most universities require you to submit your GPA when you apply. That is because it is a very important component of your education which provides information about your overall academic performance throughout your studies. But do you know exactly what a GPA is? In this article, EDUopinions answers several questions to help you understand how a GPA is calculated, what it means, and why it is important.

What is a GPA?

The Grade Point Average, or GPA, is a numeric value that universities use to evaluate your overall academic performance throughout your degree. Different scales exist, but the most common one uses values between 1.0 and 4.0. The latter means that your grades in various courses average to the highest academic level in your current school.

How does a GPA work?

The GPA is calculated through a simple mathematical equation to show your performance level based on all your grades. Therefore, your GPA can improve or drop if your grades get better or worse.

All universities do not use the same grading system nor GPA system. Some institution use percentages, others use 10-points scales, letter-grades, et cetera. Converting grades into a GPA enables universities to easily assess the performance of students coming from another institution with a different grading system. You can use this document from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to know the GPA equivalent of your current grades (based on the American GPA, which is the most common one).

How to calculate a GPA?

Calculate GPA

Your GPA can be calculated through a simple mathematical equation: (final grade of a course multiplied by the number of credits of the course) + (final grade of another course multiplied by the number of credits of the course) + (final grade of another course multiplied by the number of credits of the course) + … Then, you divide the sum by the total number of credits that you have acquired so far. For example let’s say that you have completed the following courses, with the following grades:

  • Introduction to Business; 5 credits; A (A translates to a 4.0 GPA)
  • Algebra; 2 credits; B (B translates to a 3.0 GPA)
  • Theatre; 3 credits; B

By multiplying the GPA value of your final grades by the number of credits obtained, we see that you received 20 points for Introduction to Business, 6 points for Algebra, and 9 points for Theatre. Thus, you have a total of 35 points. In order to calculate your current GPA, you must divide 35 by the total number of credits that you have obtained. In this case, you have obtained 10 credits (5+2+3=10). Therefore, your current GPA is 3.5.

Why is your GPA important?

Your GPA indicates your academic level based on the grades that you have obtained. Therefore, it is often used by universities to which you apply, for example for a Master’s degree, to evaluate your overall performance. Many universities require applicants to have a GPA above a given value. More competitive universities require a higher GPA to apply. Furthermore, your GPA can also help you to receive scholarships (or lose your financial aid if your grades drop below a given level of performance).

Additionally, some university clubs, extra-curricular activities, internships or even first employers will look at your GPA and take it into account when evaluating your application.

What is a good GPA?

GPA importance

What is a good GPA depends on your objectives and the institutions that you (want to) attend. If you want to apply to a school which requires you to have a 3.5 GPA, your definition of good will be different than someone applying to an institution which requires a 2.0 GPA. Generally, however, scores above 3.5 are deemed very good or excellent, whereas scores below 2.0 are considered low.

Can I get into college with a low GPA?

It is possible to get into a university with a low GPA. Some schools do not even require you to provide grades if you can show your high-school or college diploma. However, there are also many universities which will not even look at your application if your GPA is lower than their minimum requirements. Though, there are ways for you to apply with a low GPA. For example, getting amazing recommendation letters and writing brilliant application essays can help you mitigate the consequences of your lower GPA.

You should keep in mind that your GPA is important, but it should not define your entire education path. Indeed, some courses are easier than others, and some universities are harder than others.

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Conclusion about GPA Meaning and Importance

We hope that this article helped you understand what a GPA is and why it is important. Do not hesitate to check out EDUopinions blog on which you will find numerous articles with information on countless universities to help you in your application process and education choices. Additionally, you can contact one of our experts for free by clicking on one of the yellow buttons.

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Zohar Fiszman is a senior student at University College Utrecht, where he studies politics, psychology and crime. Born and raised in Belgium, his international education paths has fostered the desire to empower high-quality educational opportunities.

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