What Is the Difference Between Weighted and Unweighted GPA?

difference-between-weighted-unweighted-gpa Credit: Sydney Missionary Bible College/CC-BY 2.0

With an unweighted GPA system, often viewed as the standard grade-point scale, students are awarded the same points for a letter grade regardless of whether they take regular or accelerated courses. With a weighted GPA system, students receive higher points for letter grades in accelerated classes.

The typical unweighted GPA scale allows students to earn a maximum GPA of 4.0. An exception is when schools give 4.3 points for an A+. An unweighted "A" is typically worth 4.0 points, an unweighted "B" is worth 3.0 points, an unweighted "C" is worth 2.0 points, and an unweighted "D" is worth 1.0 points. If a student gets two A's and two B's, the GPA would be 3.5.

Under a weighted GPA scale, a student taking accelerated or honors classes would earn 5.0 points for an "A," 4.0 points for a "B," 3.0 points for a "C," and 2.0 points for a "D." A student with straight A's could earn a 5.0 GPA. Students would receive the standard grade points for taking regular classes.

The purpose of a weighted GPA scale is to show the added value of a student earning an "A" or "B" in a more challenging class. Some colleges use weighted scales to accurately assess applicants.