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Do A+ grades in college courses have any practical value?

Twoin18Twoin18 1863 replies18 threads Senior Member
I was interested to see that some colleges give A+ grades while others don't go above an A. How common is it for colleges to give A+ grades or not? Why would a college decide not to give A+s?

Also if you did get a bunch of A+ grades then would it have any practical value? Since it doesn't affect GPA, is it something you would put on a resume and is it something an employer would care about? Looking at some scholarships, I see the profiles of many winners cite the number of A+ grades as one indicator of superior performance, but does it really make a difference there? For example I see “Her transcript includes nine A+ grades“, “He has earned five A+ grades“, “She has earned 14 A+ grades”, “Her transcript includes 16 A+ grades“ (all from https://physics.osu.edu/sites/physics.osu.edu/files/2015-2016 Churchill Scholars.pdf)
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Replies to: Do A+ grades in college courses have any practical value?

  • bluebayoubluebayou 27112 replies176 threads Senior Member
    there are some colleges that count a A+ as a 4.3, such as Cornell, but those are rare.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8806 replies85 threads Senior Member
    No difference between an A and A+ at D’s college. The highest gpa is a 4.0.
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  • Data10Data10 3298 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited January 18
    bluebayou wrote: »
    there are some colleges that count a A+ as a 4.3, such as Cornell, but those are rare.
    There are quite a few others that use a A+ = 4.3/4.33 scale -- Stanford, Columbia, Williams, etc. This has implications for admission to professional school and other post-grad outcomes that expect a high GPA.

    When A+ grades influence GPA like this, then A+ grades also become key for high class rank type honors or awards. The kid in my class at Stanford who received the award for highest GPA in the engineering school actually had a B+ on his transcript, but made up for it by getting more A+ grades than other kids who did not have any Bs. At colleges that don't give A+ grades or treat A+=4.0, then grades can become concentrated at 3.9x, such that a small number of non-A grades may knock one out of contention for honors. For example, the Summa Cum Laude honors at Yale usually requires at least a 3.95 GPA. In some years, the cutoff is higher. Harvard has separate Summa Cum Laude cutoffs by concentration. I expect that some of the more leniently graded concentrations require a perfect 4.000 GPA to get SCL honors, so even a single A- knocks one out of contention.

    My experience at an A+=4.3 school was A+ grades were quite rare. The only times I received A+ grades all related to going beyond just doing well on the exams and problem set assignments. For example, I received an A+ in an intro EE class in which my exam included additional solutions that the professor hadn't considered. I received another in an intro CS class in which I won the final project competition. They all had special meaning.
    edited January 18
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80225 replies720 threads Senior Member
    Data10 wrote: »
    bluebayou wrote: »
    there are some colleges that count a A+ as a 4.3, such as Cornell, but those are rare.
    There are quite a few others that use a A+ = 4.3/4.33 scale -- Stanford, Columbia, Williams, etc. This has implications for admission to professional school and other post-grad outcomes that expect a high GPA.

    Regarding professional school admissions, note that medical and law schools recalculate college GPAs using their own scales for admission purposes. Law schools count A+ = 4.33 and A = 4.00, but medical schools count both A+ and A = 4.0 (note also that law schools and medical schools value +/- differently in recalculating college GPAs -- +/- 0.33 versus 0.3).

    A pre-law student capable of earning A+ grades in college does gain an advantage in law school admissions by attending a college that actually uses A+ grades, regardless of whether the college counts it as greater than A for its own GPA calculations.
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  • happy1happy1 23366 replies2314 threads Senior Member
    edited January 19
    All of the college transcripts I have seen show the grades that the college gives. This will allow admissions officers at grad schools to see if an A+ was a possibility at a particular college or not. It will be know if the student's GPA (if not recalculated by the grad school) is out of a 4.0 or a 4.3. This is the same idea as when HS transcripts coming with a school profile attached to allow college admission officers understand the grades on the transcript.

    FWIW neither of my kid's colleges gave A+'s and both got into outstanding grad schools. I would not lose any sleep over this.
    edited January 19
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1944 replies31 threads Senior Member
    My D has an A+ in every General Ed and minor course (I think) but it counts no more than an A. It’s a psychological boost, I suppose.

    An extra .33 sure would be nice to balance out the engineering grades....
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9929 replies538 threads Senior Member
    My D wishes A+ counted for more. She’s missing cum laude by .1.
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  • itsgettingreal21itsgettingreal21 232 replies5 threads Junior Member
    My D’s school does not give A+ and an A is >93 or 94. The students have been campaigning for the past couple of years to get A+ added to the grading scale. One argument has been that the lack of A+ puts them at a disadvantage for law school admissions compared to schools that have an A+, and they always reference much lower ranked schools. The administration isn’t budging. I believe law school is the only professional/grad school where it provides an advantage.

    I’m glad my D’s school does not have an A+. She already stresses about getting near perfect grades. If there were actually a reward, she’d stress even more.
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  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 1055 replies100 threads Senior Member
    edited January 20
    Undergrad GPA is most important factor for getting into top professional and graduate schools. If you don’t have it then you can’t get in as fresh graduate, must work/study for additional years to fatten up your resume in order to get accepted. However, an A- from an academically academic school always trumps A+ from a weaker school.

    No reasonable candidate boasts about number of A+ grades, that’s what transcript is for. It speaks for you.
    edited January 20
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  • itsgettingreal21itsgettingreal21 232 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @CupCakeMuffins I know you would like that to be true, but it’s not. Med and law schools don’t give bonus GPA points depending on undergrad attended. Those who believe that and graduate with lower GPA expecting a bump will be sadly disappointed.
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  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 1055 replies100 threads Senior Member
    edited January 20
    No you are right graduate colleges won’t give bonus points but if everything else is equal, rigor of undergrad school helps at coveted graduate programs. Medical schools seems pretty much GPA and MCAT based.

    Is it any different at top medical schools?
    edited January 20
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10458 replies218 threads Senior Member
    edited January 20
    Is it any different at top medical schools?

    No.

    But, medical school admissions is holistic and more focussed on achievements/accomplishments/ECs than stats once the initial MCAT/GPA screen is passed.
    edited January 20
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  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6675 replies141 threads Senior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    Data10 wrote: »
    bluebayou wrote: »
    there are some colleges that count a A+ as a 4.3, such as Cornell, but those are rare.
    There are quite a few others that use a A+ = 4.3/4.33 scale -- Stanford, Columbia, Williams, etc. This has implications for admission to professional school and other post-grad outcomes that expect a high GPA.

    Regarding professional school admissions, note that medical and law schools recalculate college GPAs using their own scales for admission purposes. Law schools count A+ = 4.33 and A = 4.00, but medical schools count both A+ and A = 4.0 (note also that law schools and medical schools value +/- differently in recalculating college GPAs -- +/- 0.33 versus 0.3).

    A pre-law student capable of earning A+ grades in college does gain an advantage in law school admissions by attending a college that actually uses A+ grades, regardless of whether the college counts it as greater than A for its own GPA calculations.

    How is it fair to compare a student with a 4.3 GPA at School XusesA+ to a student with a 4.0 GPA at School YusesA and say that the X student is better or preferable in that regard?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80225 replies720 threads Senior Member
    sylvan8798 wrote: »
    How is it fair to compare a student with a 4.3 GPA at School XusesA+ to a student with a 4.0 GPA at School YusesA and say that the X student is better or preferable in that regard?

    You have to ask LSAC why they do it that way.
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  • NhatrangNhatrang 559 replies1 threads Member
    @UCB - if med school counts A/A+ the same, how do they calculate A-?

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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80225 replies720 threads Senior Member
  • dfbdfbdfbdfb 3987 replies24 threads Senior Member
    As someone who has over my career regularly reviewed applications for graduate school admission (in the humanities, usually for MA admission but occasionally directly to the PhD), if a college awards A+ grades, then—without regard to whether there's a GPA bump or not—a handful of A+es looks good.

    On the other hand, if a college doesn't award A+ grades, then that isn't held against the applicant.
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  • chb088chb088 1086 replies32 threads Senior Member
    NCSU is another school that counts an A+ as a 4.33 for GPA purposes.
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  • monydadmonydad 7897 replies158 threads Senior Member
    edited January 21
    Grad and professional schools will do what they will, but an extra .33 can only help when reporting your GPA to employers who likely don't take their own approach to what you self-report on your resume. Assuming your own school counts it into their GPA calculation. Which mine did.

    An "A+" was very difficult to earn, however. It was not automatic that a given class/professor would give out any. It was truly for unusually outstanding achievement.
    edited January 21
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