The American educational system provides many opportunities for high school students. From sports to extracurricular activities to AP classes, all of these opportunities increase the chances of possible enrollment into a college or university. When it comes to class options, students must understand how each class affects the total GPA.

Advanced Placement, or AP, classes enable the student to take college-level courses while still in the high school environment. According to the College Board website, the classes focus less on “facts and figures” and more on a cooperative learning environment, where the students learn to think critically. These courses end with an AP exam, which determines whether the student receives credit for the course.

AP Scoring

When calculating a GPA with AP classes, many universities (such as California State University) only use those grades that meet or exceed a C. For this reason, only include Cs, Bs and As from your AP classes into your GPA. Additionally, AP courses score on a 5.0-point system, as opposed to a normal 4.0-point system.

Totaling GPA

Write a list of all of your high school courses on a blank sheet of paper. Next to each course, write the number of credit hours per course. If your school weights all courses equally (ignores credit hours), write the number one next to each course. Next to the number of credit hours, write the grade point equivalent for each grade. For regular classes, write 4.0 for an A, 3.0 for a B, 2.0 for a C, 1.0 for a D and 0.0 for an F. For AP and Honors courses, write a 5.0 for an A, 4.0 for a B, 3.0 for a C and cross out any courses with grades of D or F. Multiply the credit hours by the score for each class and write the number next to the grade in each class. Add together the credit hour times grade products for each class and write the number at the bottom of the paper. Divide this number by the total number of credit hours attempted; this is your GPA.

Example GPA Totaling

Imagine that John Smith took four classes, two of which were AP classes. In the two regular classes, he received an A and a B, and in the two AP classes, he scored a C and an A. The school weighted each of the classes equally (the same number of credit hours). To find his GPA, add together 4.0 (A in a regular class), 3.0 (B in a regular class), 3.0 (C in an AP class) and 5.0 (A in an AP class), for a sum of 15.0. Now divide this by the total number of credits (1 for each class, or 4), to get 3.75, John Smith’s GPA.

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