In high school and college grading systems it is common to use either a weighted or unweighted GPA scheme. A weighted GPA system is one in which advanced classes are given additional weight when calculating grades. Unweighted GPA scales treat all classes equally with respect to difficulty. Although a weighted grade calculator can be used to figure out grades, it is important to understand the basics of how weighted grades are calculated by hand.
There are two main types of grading scales used commonly in colleges and high schools. The first and more traditional method is the unweighted GPA or standard GPA. The scale for this system treats all classes equally in terms of difficulty. The same number of grade points are awarded for difficult classes as for easier classes (note that classes are still typically weighted based on credit hours).
The second type of GPA grading scale is the weighted GPA system. This grading scale awards additional points for classes that are more difficult (typically Advanced Placement and honors classes). The most common weighted GPA scale is the 5.0 scale. This is very similar to the 4.0 grading scale. The only difference is that advanced classes receive one additional grade point, for a maximum of 5.0 grade points. Non-advanced classes are graded on a traditional scale with no additional points awarded.
Calculating Weighted Grades
Once the GPA scale has been determined, the calculation is the same regardless of scale. Take the grade points awarded for each class and multiply by the number of credits for the class. Calculate this product for each class. Then sum the total of the products and divide by the total number of credits. The result is weighted grade point average. This process can be done for a single semester or for multiple terms.
Alternatively, a weighted grade calculator can be used to determine weighted GPA.
How to Use Weighted Grades
Weighted grades are commonly used in high schools to rank students. They are also used for many college admissions and scholarship applications. Each school has a slightly different take on weighted grades, so it is important to pay close attention to the GPA scale used at each school.
Weighted GPA should not be confused with unweighted GPA. Due to the number of advanced classes a student takes, there can be a vast difference between the two grading systems. Therefore, it is important to label them carefully when reporting grades.