How easy is it to compare high school GPAs?

I am new to this website. Appreciate the wealth of information available here.

How do colleges compare GPAs from different high schools? Clearly all high schools are not the same. For example, it may be easier to score a 4.0 in school A vs a 3.75 in school B.

I would appreciate any clarity on this topic.

It’s not easy, which is why Admissions Officers are paid to read through hundreds to thousands of applications every year. It’s a combination of familiarity with the school (such as the top public and private schools,) referencing the highest GPA and class rank (if available,) and looking at the actual courses that those grades were gotten in (APs/IBs/Honors/Dual-Credit etc.)

School profiles can help to some extent. Our school lists the weighted and unweighted GPA range, high, low, median, 10%, and 25%. As well as the number of AP courses, number of students taking AP courses, average ACT/SAT scores, and other information.

And an admissions officer’s job is typically to focus on a specific area of the country and know all they can about the academic rigor and competitiveness of the schools in that region. As well as the performance of students previously admitted from the schools.

There’s never going to be a clear-cut answer to the question, but that’s true of many college admissions factors.

Right. But they don’t spend much time comparing. You’re viewed as an individual first, in the context of your school.

These decisions don’t rest on GPA. Depending on the tier, adcoms look at your transcript for the actual classes/rigor and grades. (Cores matter more and those related to your potential major. Not everything that makes up a cum GPA.)

A B grade in an AP or IB class isn’t going to be viewed as an A just becuase one hs is more challenging than another. They can respect the difficulty of some high schools, but still expect top performance.

If you are in California as your user name implies, then the state universities recalculate GPA to eliminate differences in high schools’ GPA calculation methods. See .

Of course, there could also be differences in grade inflation between high schools. At least one study found that high schools in affluent areas tend to have higher grade inflation.

At our local public high school, a 97 counts as an A+, but is 3.7 in the weighted GPA scale. You need a 98 to get a 4.0. Back when my daughters were applying for universities I ran into a parent from a different state whose daughter had an unweighted 4.0, I said “it is impressive that she has never had any grade less than a 98”, and found out that at her school a 90 is counted as a 4.0.

High schools in the US calculate GPA very, very differently. This makes it almost impossible to compare.

Universities will look at your actual grades.

Your first sentence is correct. But the school profiles make it possible to compare grades from different schools. My S21 goes to a school like your kids did with the same grading scale, but the profile explains this. Universities look at grades AND school profile.

And AO’s know schools in their areas. My kid attends a school where the average grade is a B-. Yep. So, when kids have mostly A’s they are the top of their class.

Not all high schools provide an extensively detailed School Report. But there are usually other sorts of reports districts do provide to their states and ade public.

This GPA comparison among high schools really isn’t what it’s about.

And even within one hs, some teachers will be easier graders than others. Depending on the school itself, even average grades can be misleading. Not all kids are headed to college.

As noted above, I think the question is less about calculating GPA differently and more about the difficulty/ease of getting grades at a school.

Grade inflation affects schools differently. It’s certainly possible for the exact same student to earn an A at one school and a B at a different school. Even with different teachers. (I bet if you ask your HS student, they could tell you from which English teacher it’s easy to get an A.)

This is more difficult to account for than just GPA math.

The same question has been asked about colleges, particularly in the context of pre-med or pre-law. But the answer is almost always that the college where the answering person is a student has “grade deflation” (even though almost all colleges have grade inflation, though some have more than others).

So many responses over night! Thank you all for your responses. This is very helpful.

I havent been too plugged in into my daughter’s education and now its time to apply for colleges! Trying to get up to speed on the college application process.