What Is The Highest GPA You Can Get In High School
When thinking about your next steps after high school, GPA is equally as important as SAT Testing, extracurriculars, and volunteer work. Colleges will be particularly interested in this one number because your GPA reflects your dedication to your coursework. Many top universities primarily accept students who are in the top percent of their class and have very high GPAs.
While GPA is very important, many students aren’t sure how their GPA ranks compared to their peers. Keep reading to learn how GPA works and find tips for how to maximize your GPA.
What Exactly Is GPA, And How Do You Calculate It?
If you’re not quite sure what GPA means or why it’s so important, you’re not alone – this part of your transcript is tricky to understand! Check out five common questions about GPA below.
What Does GPA Stand For?
GPA stands for grade point average. Your GPA is a numerical representation of your letter grades across all of high school, and allows colleges to evaluate the level you’re consistently performing at.
What Is A Weighted Vs. Unweighted GPA?
A GPA on the weighted scale takes into account the difficulty of a given course, and moves from 0.0 to 5.3. In this system, earning an A+ in an AP class would count for 5.3 points, whereas earning an A+ in a regular class would only count for 4.3 points.
By contrast, unweighted GPA doesn’t take course difficulty into account, instead operating on a 0.0 to 4.3 scale. 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’s A Good GPA?
Because GPA simply reflects your average classwork performance throughout high school, a ‘good’ GPA would indicate that you’re a student achieving A’s and B’s – basically, that you’re working hard to earn good grades.
On the weighted scale, a strong GPA could range from a 4.0 to a 5.3 – indicating to colleges that you’re taking challenging courses (Advanced Placement, Dual Enrolled, etc.) and keeping up A’s and B’s. On the unweighted scale, a good GPA could range from a 3.0 to a 4.3, which spans the A/B average values.
Do I Need A Perfect GPA To Get Into College?
If you’ve already earned a few B’s or C’s in high school, don’t worry! Very few colleges would expect an applicant to have a perfect GPA. However, having a high GPA from taking advanced and honors classes and/or earning A’s will show colleges that you’re a hardworking student who is willing to embrace a challenge.
How Do I Find Out My GPA?
Typically, your GPA is located on your end-of-year transcript, but your school office (academic advisor/college counselor) should be able to share your current GPA. If you want an estimation of your GPA before the semester/year has ended, you can calculate it using the chart below.
|A+||5.3 (5.0)||4.3 (4.0)|
Be sure to find out if your school uses a weighted or unweighted system, and determine if an A+ is an extra .3 value!
Next, add together your grade values for each class and divide by the total number of classes.
|Sample Letter Grades: A (5.0) in AP Bio, B+ (4.3) in APUSH, A (4.0) in Regular Chemistry, B (4.0) in AP Statistics, A+ (4.3) in Band, A (4.0) in Regular Spanish 4, B- (2.7) in AP European History, C+ (2.3) in Regular Econ.|
|ADD: 5.0 + 4.3 + 4.0 + 4.0 + 4.3 + 4.0+ 3.7 + 2.3 = 31.6|
|DIVIDE: 31.6 ÷ 8 (total # of classes) = 3.95|
|On this scale, the model grades would make your total GPA a 3.95, with a 5.30 being the highest possible GPA.|
|Sample Letter Grades: A (4.0) in AP Bio, B+ (3.3) in APUSH, A (4.0) in Regular Chemistry, B (3.0) in AP Statistics, A+ (4.3) in Band, A (4.0) in Regular Spanish 4, B- (2.7) in AP European History, C+ (2.3) in Regular Econ.|
|ADD: 4.0 + 3.3 + 4.0 + 3.0 + 4.3 + 4.0 + 2.7 + 2.3 = 27.6|
|DIVIDE: 27.6 ÷ 8 (total # of classes)= 3.45|
|On this scale, the model grades would make your total GPA a 3.45, with a 4.30 being the highest possible GPA.|
What Is The Highest GPA You Can Earn On The Weighted Scale
As the chart above demonstrates, a 5.3 (or a 5.0 at some schools) is the best GPA score you can earn on the weighted scale. Keep in mind, however, that a 5.3 requires taking only advanced classes, which is not possible at many schools.
To earn a perfect GPA on the weighted scale, a student must take all Advanced Placement or Dual Enrolled courses and earn an A+ in every class.
Given that many schools require Regular Economics and/or several years of Regular Gym/P.E., a perfect 5.3 GPA may not be possible for you. Likewise, some schools have limited options for taking AP/DE courses, further hindering students from achieving this perfect GPA.
Remember that colleges are looking at your GPA compared to your peers’ GPAs for this very reason — colleges want to see you taking advantage of the courses that have been offered to you, and excelling in that context.
What Is The Highest GPA You Can Earn On The Unweighted Scale
Likewise, a 4.3 (or a 4.0 at some schools) is the best GPA score you can earn on the unweighted scale. Unlike at schools with weighted GPA, this means you can achieve a perfect GPA regardless of your course difficulty by earning an A+ (or an A at some schools) in each of your classes.
That being said, colleges do want to see you challenging yourself, so a perfect unweighted GPA made up of regular classes may not excite an admissions office the same way an imperfect GPA made up of advanced and honors courses would. Pick your courses wisely, and do challenge yourself!
Is Getting A Perfect GPA Possible
On the unweighted scale: absolutely!
- This is especially true if your school doesn’t distinguish between an A and an A+. Many dedicated students will be able to earn a 4.0 GPA by taking a variety of classes (regular → advanced) and earning an A in each course.
On the weighted scale: well…maybe.
- The short answer is yes – at some schools, it is possible to take exclusively advanced courses, achieve an A+ average, and earn a 5.3 on the weighted scale.
- The longer answer, as addressed earlier in this post, is that many schools that use the weighted GPA scale simply do not offer enough 5-point courses. In these circumstances, class rank is much more important than perfection – if you’re the valedictorian (the person with the highest GPA at graduation) or in the top 5-10% of your class, it’s certainly okay if your GPA is a 4.56 and not a 5.30!
How Many People Earn A Perfect GPA
You may have heard someone say something like this: “Harvard could fill their halls with high school valedictorians, but they don’t.”
A perfect GPA does not ensure admittance into your dream college, just as a perfect SAT/ACT score doesn’t guarantee your spot at a top school. The students who attend great universities have strong GPAs, earn high test scores, and prove themselves valuable members of their community.
As this post explains, GPA varies wildly from school to school, and there’s no national standard for who is earning the ‘highest GPA ever’ or how many students are graduating with perfect grade point average.
Where GPA is concerned, only compare yourself to your peers who have equal coursework opportunities and are held to the same standard. After all, comparing the GPAs of a student whose school uses a weighted scale and a student whose school uses an unweighted scale would be deceptive!
General Guidelines For How to Score The Highest GPA Possible In High School
If you’re committed to earning a high GPA, consider the guidelines below.
Avoid Classes You Don’t Need
If your school operates on the weighted scale, it’s especially important to avoid a class that might bring down your GPA even if you do earn an A+. Electives weighted at 4 points would bring down your average if you’re scoring A’s in advanced courses worth 5 points.
Go to Class Regularly And Participate
This advice may seem obvious, but the best way to learn material is to actively engage with it. If you’re challenging yourself to raise your hand at least twice every class, then you’ll be more focused and more likely to remember small details when tests come around.
As to skipping class, the trouble here is not missing “just one day,” but that you might miss learning knowledge that accumulates. Many classes (especially in STEM) build week-by-week on information learned before, and skipping just one or two sessions could be detrimental to your holistic understanding of the material.
Set Goals For Yourself
At the beginning of each semester, set academic goals for yourself in each class. Make sure your goal is realistic and constructive – don’t simply set out to earn an A+ in every class if that may not be possible for your workload and challenge level.
Instead, think about your academic strengths and weaknesses and decide where you would like to grow as a student. Having a goal written down on paper can help keep you accountable!
Make Use of Summer School
Many school districts offer courses in the summer. If possible, consider taking a dual enrollment course through a local community college, or a virtual course online. If these courses are advanced (and your school has a weighted system), you can boost your GPA over the summer!
Join A Study Group
The key to GPA is ultimately just earning good grades, so if you’re having a tough time in a class, join (or form!) a study group to make learning the material a more fun and social experience.
Support systems are essential in high school, and joining a study group made up of people in the same class is a great way to develop your support network and make new friends.
Do Your Weekly Study Review
However frustrating it may be, this workload exists to prepare you for tests or exams, and completing it (on time) will only benefit you down the road.
Go To Office Hours
When teachers are generous enough to offer study sessions and hold office hours to talk about homework or your progress in a class, make good use of that generosity!
The teacher may offer some insight into your learning style, where you’re struggling in the course, or how to best prepare for the next big test.
Likewise, going to office hours shows your teachers that you care about your work, and sometimes they might be more inclined to offer you extra credit or an extension if you’ve already demonstrated your dedication to the material.
Use Additional Educational Resources
Ask your teacher about their favorite resources for help with homework or tricky topics. There are many great resources online! A simple Google search may save you a lot of stress the night before a tough test.
Make Use Of The Library
Librarians want you to ask them questions, so don’t be afraid to head to your school/local library with a subject you need to research.
Put Extra Effort Into Assignments
Dedication can take you a long way, and going the extra mile with your assignments often proves to be the difference between a B+ and an A-. Be creative, and set aside enough time to do your best work.
Get A Tutor
Often, it’s best to get help before your grades are suffering. Consider getting a tutor to help you master foundational topics. With a personal tutor, you get 100% of your instructor’s attention, and lessons can be personalized to your specific learning style.
Quick + Easy Summary Of How To Maximize GPA
Understanding your GPA can be tricky, so take advantage of the table in this post and ask your school office for help if you still aren’t sure what your GPA may be. Remember that colleges are only interested in how your GPA compares to the other students in your high school, and want to see you embracing challenging work.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – teachers, librarians, peers, and tutors can serve as a great support system for you as you navigate high school and the college application process. By prioritizing good grades and strong study habits, you should have all the tools you need to achieve a college-ready GPA.
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If you (or your child/student) are concerned that a particularly hard class may lower your GPA, SoFlo Tutoring can help you with any school subject! SoFlo has a roster of tutors who attend top universities (Georgetown, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins) and excelled in their high school classes, receiving 5’s on AP tests and graduating in the top percent of the class.
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About the Author
Renée Flory is a student at Johns Hopkins University. She scored a 1570 on the SAT, studies professional/creative writing and English literature, and writes novels in her free time!