Calculating a high school GPA

Once your student reaches high school, you’ll want to start learning about GPA.  These letters stand for “Grade Point Average” which is what is used to indicate a student’s score at the end of a semester, or an academic year.   Homeschoolers use GPA on high school transcripts just like everyone else. So, you’ll need to know how to calculate it, too.

(GPA is also used in college, and a future post will have examples of college courses and GPA.  Though the process is the same, this particular post talks only about high school.)

Calculating GPA isn’t as hard as everyone thinks.  First, we’ll look at how to calculate it yourself, manually. Later in this post, you’ll find links to online tools that will do it for you.

Manual Method

If a high school student took five courses and earned these grades,

Class               Letter Grade

English A
Math A
Science B
History B
Spanish B


you would need to assign each course a numeric grade instead of a letter grade. 

Use this as your guide:  A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1

For the example shown above, the grades would now look like this:

Class               Numeric Grade

English 4
Math 4
Science 3
History 3
Spanish 3


In high school, most courses are offered for one “credit” each.  That is, each of the courses counts as a credit toward high school graduation.

Continuing the example, the number of credits has been added to the table, below:

Class               Numeric Grade      Credits

English 4 1
Math 4 1
Science 3 1
History 3 1
Spanish 3 1


As you can see, this student completed a total number of 5 credits.

To calculate the GPA…

  • Multiply each numeric grade by its corresponding number of credits, yielding these results, shown in the Product column:

Class               Numeric Grade      Credits                 Product

English 4 1 4
Math 4 1 4
Science 3 1 3
History 3 1 3
Spanish 3 1 3


  • Add up all of the numbers in the products column: 4 + 4 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 17
  • Divide that sum by the total by the number of credits taken: 17 / 5 = 3.4

This example would yield a GPA of 3.4 for this particular student.

Classes offered for 1/2 credit will work, too.  Simply use the number 0.5 instead of a 1 when computing the products.

Note – There is a slightly different calculation for “weighted” courses, such as honors classes, courses taken on college campuses, AP classes, and so on.  Since these course are more rigorous, they have a greater GPA value than other high school classes and receive a 1-point increase in their numeric value.  Simply use the higher value for that course, and then calculate the GPA as usual.

In this example, if Spanish was an “Honors” course, instead of using a 3 for the numeric grade equivalent of B, use a 4 instead (B=3, plus the additional 1-point bonus, which equals 4).  Remember, this is only for advanced coursework that merits the “weighted” score.

Online Method

If this all still seems confusing, not to worry.  You’ll find dozens of online tools to help calculate GPA.

Try these, or find some on your own:

GPA Calculator

GPA Calculate

Donna Young’s GPA Calculating Spreadsheet

When using a GPA calculator for weighted courses, make sure that the calculator takes the increased point value into account.



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