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GPA Definitions

If you're using the GPA calculator, you may wonder what some of the terms mean. Don't worry, they aren't overly complicated. But you will want to know what they are to help you during your high school and college years.

What is GPA

GPA is an abbreviation for grade point average which is the measurement of a student's academic achievement in school. In high school each class is considered to be worth the same amount of credits. Therefore a GPA is calculated by dividing the total number of grade points you receive during the school year or semester by the total number attempted.

Some schools work on a 4.0 scale and others work on a 5.0 scale, be sure to know which one your school uses! When you finish school, you'll have a cumulative GPA for all of the years in high school or college.

Your GPA is used in some important ways. It can decide if you are eligible to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Your GPA will also help colleges determine if they would like to accept you as an incoming student. Employers descriminate highly based on GPA scores, and many will not hire a person who graduated college with less than a 3.0 GPA.

Private high schools and colleges/universities also look at GPA as a factor when deciding to award scholarships or financial aid.

What Are Credit Hours

Classes in college are distinguished by "credit Hours". A credit hour is the basic unit of measure for college credit or the number of hours a class is worth. For every class you take in college/university, you receive credits towards your degree. A class will have credit hours that relate to these credits. Generally a half-credit class will meet for 3 hours per week for formal instruction. If your class has labs (science labs or language labs for example), then it may have more credit hours associated with the course. A full credit class is typically worth 6 credit hours.

Use our GPA Calculator to keep track of your GPA score


Grades are standardized measurements of varying levels of comprehension within a subject area. Grades can be assigned as letters
A B C D or F, or as a range 1.0 to 4.0.

GPA Scale

Letter grades have a grade point assigned that is used to calculate your Grade Point Average. If a school uses a 4 point scale, then an A would be a 4.0. Getting a B would give you a 3.0. A B+ would be a 3.5. But if the school uses a 5 point scale, an A would be a 5.0. Then a B would be a 4.0. Understanding the GPA Scale of your educational institution is critical for calculating your GPA.

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Your GPA is used to measure and monitor your academic progress. It is the basis of your academic standing and determines whether you are able to continue with your studies. The GPA is calculated in three different circumstances.

Term GPA or Semester GPA

Term GPA refers to only those classes which are attempted for one semester/term only. The term GPA is used to determine your academic standing. If your GPA score is low you could be put on academic probation until you can raise your GPA to a satisfactory level to continue with your program.

A term GPA shows on your transcript. Term grades are given at the end of each 9 week term and are used to determine honor roll and eligibility for participation in extracurricular activities and sports.

If you calculate your GPA, using our GPA calculator, on a frequent basis you can stay on top of your grades and make the necessary adjustments to maximize your overall score. GPA calculator enables you to calculate, print and save your results so you can monitor your grade point average in real time. Many students watch their grades each semester carefully. Paying attention to your term GPA can help you improve your grades each semester so you can finish school with an excellent cumulative gpa.

Cumulative GPA (CGPA)

Your Cumulative GPA or Cumulative Grade Point Average is also known as your Overall GPA. This is your Grade Point Average for all of your years in high school or college, from your first semester freshman year to your final semester of senior year. Cumulative GPAs are used in high schools to determine class rank and graduation honors. Colleges use the cumulative GPA as part of the admissions criteria. Scholarship and grant providers use the cumulative GPA to award their scholarships and grants and employers may consider your GPA score when selecting future employees. So it is very important to pay attention to your GPA score throughout high school as it is the key to opening doors to your future.

Graduation GPA

When you graduate from an educational institution you are given a final overall GPA calculated by dividing the sum of all grade points achieved by the sum of all credits attempted.