Academic success throughout high school is certainly important, as is working hard and doing your best. However, individual student scores compared to other students' scores are an important factor in college and graduate school acceptance and sometimes job placement.

Students often know their grades. However, it’s important to know how to calculate a high school cumulative average to a grade point average. The college admissions process is complex and multifaceted, which is why it is important for students to understand their cumulative average as well as their cumulative GPA. It is also important to understand what these calculations mean and how they can positively and negatively affect your prospects.

Calculating Cumulative Average

The mean of any set of numbers is the average. The mean, or average, is calculated by adding up all of the numbers and dividing that by how many numbers you added up. In other words:

Average = total sum of the numbers / number of items

To determine your cumulative numerical grade in a specific class, you would apply this formula using all of your scores. For example, if your scores are 85, 96, 93, 89 and 90, your cumulative numerical grade could be calculated as follows:

85+96+93+89+90 = 453/5 = 91

Based on these scores, the cumulative numerical grade for this class would be 91.

Calculating the GPA

A student’s GPA is a mathematical formula of the grades earned for each course taken. In its simplest form, GPA is calculated by adding up the value of each grade earned (A = 4, B = 3, C= 2, D = 1, F = 0), multiplying by the number of credit hours and dividing that by the number of total credits taken. For example, if a student completed four 3-hour classes and earned three A's and one B, the GPA would be calculated as follows:

15 x 3 = 45/12 = 3.75

However, to calculate weighted GPA, which considers the amount of credit earned for the course, an additional step is added. A weighted formula can be calculated by multiplying the grade earned (A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, F = 0) by the credits of the course, divided by total credits. Here’s the formula:

(grade x credit) / total credits taken = weighted GPA

This formula is important for advanced placement courses or honors classes that may count for more credit than a traditional course. In this case, each grade earned would be multiplied by the credit value of the course. To expand on the example above, if a student completed two 3-hour classes and two 4-hour classes and earned two A's and two B's respectively, the GPA would be calculated as:

8 x 3 = 24; 6 x 4 = 24 therefore 48/14 = 3.4

Cumulative Average to GPA

To convert your average scores into a GPA, you will apply the formulas above. First, you need to understand the grading scale of your school. Many institutions use a 10-point scale. However, many also use 7 points.

On a 10-point scale, this means that scores ranging from 90 to 100 equate to an A. Similarly, on a 7-point scale, grades ranging from 93 to 100 equate to an A.

Let’s say the average scores in your classes are 91, 95, 87, 93 and 86. Using a 10-point grading scale, this would equate to A, A, B, A and B. Applying the formula from above, the calculation would look like this:

4+4+3+4+3 = 18/5 = 3.6

Based on the cumulative averages of your scores in class and converting the averages, your GPA would be 3.6, which is a high B.

Raising Your GPA

There are many ways to raise your GPA. The best way to get your score up is to:

  • Attend class regularly
  • Complete all assignments
  • Be well-prepared for all tests
  • Complete bonus assignments
  • Go for the extra credit when the opportunity arises

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About the Author

Melanie Forstall has a doctorate in education and has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. She has been a teacher, grant writer, program director, and higher education instructor. She is a freelance writer specializing in education, and education related content. She writes for We Are Teachers, School Leaders Now, Classroom, Pocket Sense, local parenting magazines, and other professional academic outlets. Additionally, she has co-authored book chapters specializing in providing services for students with disabilities.