Every high school has different, yet similar requirements used to determine the valedictorian. The common tools used to determine one's eligibility as valedictorian are grade point average (GPA), semesters completed, attendance records, exit exam scores and honors courses taken.
Many high schools choose to select the valedictorian strictly based on the cumulative GPA. For example, at Mount Vernon High School in Washington, the valedictorian is the student who has the highest cumulative GPA in the school. Thus, students who take and pass Advanced Placement (AP) courses with an 'A' can achieve a grade point average above the standard 4.0, since these classes are worth more than standard classes. Such requirements eliminate the majority of the student body from competing to be the valedictorian.
Other schools, such as Cajon High School in San Bernardino, Calif., use a list of stringent requirements for a student to be eligible for the honor of valedictorian. High schools may require students to be selected by a committee that reviews the top students' academic records. Schools may require students to complete some or all of their academic courses at that high school. If the state requires it, students must pass a high school exit exam to be considered eligible for valedictorian.