how is a GPA score calculated? study abroad counselling

How to understand your GPA

Most American universities while applying ask for GPA, Grade, and 4.0 Scale, etc. At this time, some questions that pop up in our mind are:

  • How to convert percentage to GPA 4.0 scale?
  • How to convert marks into letter grades like A, B, C, D?
  • Should I convert my marks to GPA?
  • What do US schools look? How do they convert my percentage to GPA?

It can be very frustrating when you are filling out application forms and you are not sure what to do. Let us help you understand this system including what the other best Graduate Schools in the USA have to say

Background: USA Grading system for GPA

The grading system for education in the USA is completely different from other countries. USA grading system is on a 4.0 scale and there are letter grades that are given for a particular marks or score on the test. There is a bit of calculation involved here. You should really understand how the USA grading system works.  Though some of the schools across the world are trying to embrace this, it is not very common though to have your score on GPA 4.0 scale.

Should you convert percentage to GPA 4.0 scale?

Short answer: NO, you should NOT Convert marks or percentage to GPA 4.0 scale. This is what even the top Graduate schools in US has to say. Here are the few responses from these Universities.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Do not convert it. We are familiar with the Indian grading system. Just report your overall percentage.

Stanford  University 

Stanford does not ask you to convert your GPA when you apply online. If it is not already on a 4.0 scale, then you fill in some information about your grading scale on the online application. The admission committee of the department to which you apply will see your transcript, which should have grading information. Some departments preliminarily convert the GPAs before their admission committee reviews applications – but not all do and our office does not.

Ohio State University 

Students who attend institutions outside the U.S. should enter the cumulative (total) average as provided on your academic record and indicate the scale used to calculate the result (for example, 88/100 or 9/10). If your institution does not provide the average or you attended more than one institution, please calculate your average using the following formula:

  1. Add all the numerical results for courses taken during your undergraduate study.
  2. Divide the sum total number by the number of courses taken. This is your average result.
  3. Enter this result. Do not convert this result to a 4-point scale.

Please note: Applicants who are recommended for admission will have their cumulative grade point average verified before being offered admission. A misrepresentation of information concerning cumulative average from other colleges and universities will negatively impact your admissibility.”

→ Harvard Graduate School of Design

I cannot speak for other schools, but for the GSD application, you are allowed to skip the GPA question if your school uses a grading system that cannot be converted to the typical US 4.0 system.


Why should you NOT Convert Percentage or Marks to GPA 4.0 Scale?

Simple logic, both systems are different and you should not. Example, you can only compare apples to apples. You cannot compare Apples and Oranges. Well, some may argue that why don’t we convert GPA to percentage or percentage to GPA and then compare both of them equally. Every University is different in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or any international country. Each has different standards different professors, different coursework, etc.  Some universities may give high percentages to students but some may not at all give any percentage. Some Universities are certified and some are not.

There is no General law or standard that all these different universities in other countries follow. This means their grading standards are not consistent and you cannot really use a general formula to all these. so the logic is, you should NOT convert and if you read carefully, none of the schools ask you to convert percentage to GPA 4.0 scale. They ask you send the exact mark sheets and indicate the scale. It is the job of the admission committee to decide. There might be always some exceptions depending on the university.

How do you calculate the Undergraduate GPA?

  • Add up the credits taken from all schools
  • Add up the quality points from all schools
  • Divide the total quality points by the total credits
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