By Barry Schoenborn

Part of Math For Real Life For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Nowadays, grade point averages are a big deal, especially for college-bound students and their anxious parents. GPA is easy to calculate if you understand that it’s simply an average. To determine an average, you add up all the values in the group and then divide that total by the number of values in the group. The tricky part about GPAs, however, is that you’re working with letter grades rather than numbers. For that reason, before you can calculate a GPA, you have to do a little conversion work first.

Follow these steps to calculate a GPA:

  1. Convert the grades to numbers, using this scale:

    Letter Grade Number Value
    A 4
    B 3
    C 2
    D 1
    F 0

    Say you’re taking four courses and your grades are A, A, C, and D. The numeric equivalents are 4, 4, 2, and 1.

  2. Add the numbers up.

    When you’re calculating your GPA for a semester or quarter, the task is pretty easy because people don’t usually take a lot of courses. In the example, the total is 11. The task gets a bit more challenging when you’re calculating GPA for a larger number of classes.

  3. Divide by the number of courses.

    In this example, divide by 4 (the number of courses). The result is a number greater than 2 and less than 3. (Actually, it’s 2 with a remainder of 3, which works out to be 0.75.) Your GPA is 2.75, or about a C+.