Entering courses on Common App - what grading system do I choose?

School supposedly has a 4.0 system, but honors courses earn 0.5 higher for each grade. In other words, a B in an honors is a 3.5. An A in an honors is a 4.5. And if there are two levels of honors (say, honors and AP), the lower honors gets an extra 0.25, and the higher honors gets an extra 0.5. FYI, there’s no class rank, but school sends out a bar graph of what percentage of the kids have GPAs above 4.0, above 3.75-4.0, etc. About 15% of the class has a GPA between 4.0-4.5 (it’s actually impossible to get a GPA over 4.4, because of certain mandatory non-honors academic classes, plus most electives are non-honors, so the more electives one takes, the lower one’s GPA, even if one never got less than an A). So there’s really no way for colleges to tell how much rarer a 4.3 is than a 4.2 or a 4.1 from this school. It’s as if the SAT were reported as ‘15% of the students score above 1200’, with no further description of percentile.

Anyway, there is no option on the Common APP for a 4.5 system. I can either choose “other”, and the over 4.0 GPA could be seen as being very good if they understand the system, or as simply a solid B student, if it were interpreted as an extra full point added for honors classes. For that reason, I think that I should choose “other” in the description of the grading system. School counselor is unavailable in time for an answer, school secretary says, “We use a 4 point system”, but she reassures me that a letter goes out with the transcript explaining the system.

So do I put down “other” or 4.0? If I choose 4.0 system, it’s giving me trouble putting in the 0.5 additions to the grades.

You mean weighted vs unweighted gpa? Generally, the colleges don’t care about the peculiarities of an individual high school’s weighting system. What you want is consistency with how (and what) the GC reports. For the colleges I think your son is aiming for, they’ll look at the transcript for courses/rigor and grades.

I hope it’s the student entering this info.

It is only one flagship state U that is requiring that the grades be entered into the Common App. All kid’s other schools just want the transcript - not that this flagship state U doesn’t want the transcript - of course, they do. It’s a total pain in the rear to do, and if it weren’t for the fact that the school has an amazing instrumental teacher for kid, I think we would have just crossed this school off the list for this reason alone.


For the courses and grades section, the grades for each course are as listed on the transcript. So if kid got a B or an 85 in English 3, then that’s the grade you enter.

D’s GC told her to put down exactly what grades were on the transcript so the common app matched exactly. Agree with Ski, that it should be a 4.0 scale.

I’m not judging, but your student should be doing their own common app entry. I guarantee you that they will only get busier in college and they need to manage even mundane tasks.