How to Calculate and Improve High School GPA

How to Calculate and Improve High School GPA 


Co-authored by Renae Hintze

What if instead of a paper with an “A” written on the top, your teacher handed you $103,800? Wishful thinking right? 

Actually, no. Because that A on your paper is actually worth…

Your grades are potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in money toward college… and the best part about it? You don’t need to have a 4.0 GPA.

In fact as you will learn later, even an 11th grade student with a 2.6 GPA still has hope! So let’s talk about how to calculate and improve High School GPA.

How to Calculate High School GPA

Weighted GPA and Unweighted GPA

The standard formula for calculating High School GPA is this:High School GPA formulaHowever, as you may know, there are 2 different KINDS of GPA:

  1. Weighted
  2. Unweighted

Ok, so what’s the difference? Mainly, they assign different grade point values to each grade you receive. Here’s a quick, eyeball comparison of the two!Weighted GPA vs

What does this mean for how I calculate my High School GPA? 

First and foremost you need to know what your High School goes by. That will determine the GPA that shows up on your transcripts to college. THEN, you need to know what the college you’re applying to is looking for in terms of High School GPA.

Which brings me to my next point.

Using a High School GPA Calculator

There are several High School GPA calculators out there that you can use. To try one, check out CSU Mentor’s High School GPA calculator.

This particular GPA calculator calculates both your weighted AND unweighted GPA — see here?CSU Mentor High School GPA CalculatorWhen you’re calculating your High School GPA, it’s also important that you keep in mind the colleges you plan on applying to…

Because different colleges look at different things! The majority of schools look at unweighted GPA. Some schools look at both. UC Berkeley, for example, looks at both weighted and unweighted GPA in their admissions.

As a rule of thumb, you should always aim for a high unweighted GPA. But you’ll want to research the college you’re interested in.

Go to their website or call their admission’s office to ask about weighted and unweighted High School GPA for admissions.

5 Tips for How to Improve High School GPA

Remember when I said you could get $103,800 dollars to University of Alabama or a full tuition + room and board scholarship to Alfred State College in New York? 

Well these scholarships are ONLY available if you maintain a strong GPA. Lucky for you it is NEVER too late to increase your GPA.

Starting strong is always optimal but if your student is getting ready to apply to college with only a 2.6 GPA, don’t give up just yet!

Check out step 4 to learn how even they can increase their GPA in order to get a piece of that scholarship pie.

1. Start Strong

Your first 2 year of High School set the foundation for your High School GPA. To make them count, students need to:

Essentially, you want to avoid damage control (a bad grade that you have to scramble to raise). Some colleges will drop your Freshmen grades, but don’t get stuck pulling straws — put in the work NOW so you don’t have to later.

2. Get a Tutor

What's going on Baxter?This is a classic scenario with High School students their Freshman year (and one we actually experienced with Baxter Chapman!). Odds are your student may say something similar, even if their grades aren’t doing so hot.

Ok, so how do I know if my student needs tutoring? 

Look for the 6 signs that your child needs tutoring.

But if my child is smart enough, can’t they just figure it out on their own? 

Well, first-off, tutoring isn’t just for students who are struggling. Think of it this way: Even the most accomplished novelist still needs an editor to go over their work. Even the most accomplished athlete still hires a personal trainer.

How expensive is tutoring?? 

Let me show you something.

improve high school GPA


Here’s an example of what it can mean to pay for academic tutoring: With a little help, your student can boost their High School GPA and unlock hundreds of potential scholarships and college admissions.

3. Talk to your Teachers

Trust me when I say you should always, always, always talk to your teachers about how to do well in their class. It’s a no-brainer — It’s THEIR class, and THEY are the ones giving you grades for the assignments. Plus, they want you to succeed.

Here’s a few ways you can utilize this:

  • When you get a bad grade, ask them to show you what you did wrong. (Pro-tip: Use our Teacher Evaluation sheet! :))

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.23.49 AM

  • When they mention an upcoming assignment or test, stay after class to get more info — ask What can I do to receive a high grade on this?
  • If you don’t understand a concept or instructions, RAISE YOUR HAND. And if you still don’t, stay after class to sort it out

Any time your teacher says something more than once about a quiz or assignment, write it down. They’re not just talking for their health!

This goes for anytime you have something clarified or ask for further instructions from your teacher. Write it ALL down. You can reference it later if you forget it.

4. Re-Take Classes for Better Grades

Bad grades happen. If you get one, don’t give up! There are several ways for you to ditch that ugly letter and get a newer, shinier one to take it’s place:

  • Re-take classes during the school year (Talk to your counselor about fitting in a make-up class in place of an elective)
  • Make it up in summer school
  • Work with a teacher to bring up individual assignment grades

Now typically, students apply to college early in their Senior year of High School. While senior grades DO still count towards your admissions, colleges will definitely look at your GPA for Junior year.

What happens when you finish out your Junior year with a 2.6 GPA? Is all hope lost?

Not at all! Check out this miniature case study:casestudy-breakdownWondering what other automatic, merit-based scholarships are out there?

Check out the top 10 Merit-Based Scholarship schools.

5. Rack in bonus points where you can

Here’s the thing. If you took a class in Middle School that was taught at a High School level, there’s a chance you can pull that grade up to your High School GPA. But you ONLY want to do this if you got an A.

It makes no sense to pull up a B if you could try again for an A, right?

How do you do this?

First, check to see if you earned any A’s in High School level courses. If you did, talk to your counselor about pulling that bad boy up!

The Benefits of a High School GPA

Remember how I showed you that you can pay $196 a month for tutoring and receive $887 in the same month?

That’s because of the ASU Presidential Merit Scholarship that you would AUTOMATICALLY receive when you applied to Arizona State University with a High School GPA of 3.6 and at least a 1350 on the SAT.

In fact you could even earn $1,966.50 per month to the University of Alabama with a 3.5 GPA and a 1400 SAT score.

If a 3.5 sounds too high, remember that you don’t NEED a high GPA to earn scholarships. In my example above, Johnny Student only had a 2.6 GPA to start raised it to a 3.0 with some grade improvement strategies, and still received a total of $48,000 towards his college years.

Want to learn even more? Check out our free scholarship webinar here! 


To summarize, your GPA can earn you hundreds of thousands in money for college. When your teacher hands you back an assignment or quiz with an A on it, it’s like they’re handing you money. So rake in the green by using this tips for how to calculate and improve your High School GPA!!

To review, what I talked about was…

1. How to calculate High School GPA:

  • Unweighted GPA and Weighted GPA
  • How to use a High School GPA calculator

2. How to improve High School GPA:

  • Start strong (build a foundation with freshman and sophomore year)
  • Find out how your High School’s GPA is scored
  • Talk to your teachers (They want to help!)
  • Re-take classes for better grades

3. The Benefits of a High School GPA!

Want more help? Try our # 1 private tutoring program guaranteed to take away your stress and maximize your scholarships.  Click here to start today!

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help K-12th grade students create step-by-step plans to get into their dream college, earn thousands in scholarships, and be on track to reach their wildest dreams. I earned over $85,000 in scholarships, was a tutor for 7 years, hired and trained over a hundred tutors, helped create 2 SAT and 1 ACT course, became a writer for Huffington Post, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. On my free time I travel (been to 35+ countries), rock climb up big walls, and go to music festivals! Let's become friends! Friend me on Facebook and follow me via Instagram or Twitter! 🙂