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Registered User Posts: 129 Junior Member
edited August 2007
How are letter grades calculated to the 4.0 scale? And is the 4.0 scale weighted or unweighted?

And one last question...is it hard to maintain a 3.2 at USC doing science courses?
Post edited by moomooitzpaul on

Replies to: Grade Calculation at USC

• Registered User Posts: 235 Junior Member
same questions... only, how about maintaining a 3.8? impossible?
• Registered User Posts: 1,567 Senior Member

A=4.0, A-=3.7, B+=3.3, B=3.0, B-=2.7, C+=2.3, C=2.0, C-=1.7, D+=1.3, D=1.0, D-=.7, F=0
• Registered User Posts: 616 Member
for the "is it hard to maintain" questions...depends on your major. i would say that if you work hard enough and use enough of the resources at your disposal (math tutoring is amazing, nobody should be embarrassed to use it), a 3.2 in science classes is more than feasible. 3.8...that depends...i'd say that's putting the bar a bit high though. after one year at USC i have a 3.92, which includes calc II and III, physics 151 (a notoriously difficult class for engineers...and 161 is harder), and writing 140 (a class where 2 people of 18 get A's, 3 tops). i really surprised myself, so yes, anything is possible. but i know after next year, that will go down considerably.
• Registered User Posts: 399 Member
Yep, cowtipper1 has posted the correct grade point weightings. Unlike high school, pluses and minuses DO make a difference, and there's no breaking the 4.0 barrier anymore (at least, not that I know of). Maintaining a certain GPA depends on which major you are pursuing/which courses you are taking/will take. Certain majors, such as business administration in the Marshall School of Business, have a curve that holds 3.0 (previously, 2.7) as the average standard for most of the business courses. I think the Viterbi School of Engineering also has a curve (approximately 2.7 average), as do some other schools, but other CCers will have to confirm that. Even with the same course, some professors have a reputation as being easier/more difficult.

Keep in mind that in addition to each grade weight per course, how many units the course is also contributes to the overall GPA. So, obviously a 4-unit course will weigh more heavily than a 3-unit course or below. How this shows up on the grade report is that the grade you get is multiplied by the number of units the course is. For example, let's say you got a "B" in a 4-unit course. Multiply 3.0 by 4 to get 12. Do that for all of your courses. After adding up the points, divide by the total number of units. Here's an example:

PHIL-140 (4 units) >> Grade: A- >> 3.7 x 4 = 14.8
WRIT-140 (4 units) >> Grade: A >> 4.0 x 4 = 16.0
HIST-200 (4 units) >> Grade: B+ >> 3.3 x 4 = 13.2
SPAN-220 (4 units) >> Grade: B >> 3.0 x 4 = 12.0
PHED-154 (1 unit) >> Grade: A >> 4.0 x 1 = 4.0

(14.8 + 16.0 + 13.2 + 12.0 + 4.0) / (4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 1) = 3.53 (rounded to the nearest hundredth).

If by "science courses" you mean pre-med courses, it's not impossible to maintain a 3.2, but it's definitely going to require more effort than you probably think. I started off pre-med, but quickly found out that it definitely wasn't for me. Therefore, I kind of lost motivation in the middle of my first semester and my GPA took a little dive for that semester. That said, do what you want... major in what you have a passion for. That seems like obvious advice, but it's good to make sure. There's a general curve for the pre-med courses, and as with any curved course, it can be very difficult to stand above the curve when even the average effort is demanding.

If you're an incoming freshman, I'm pretty sure WRIT-140 doesn't have a curve (I, at least, didn't notice one). For the concurrent Social Issues courses, I'm pretty sure that most of them don't have curves, but some do (usually to the benefit of the students). For example, I took PHIL-140 in the Spring 2007 semester with Professor Schroeder. The course was pretty difficult and the grades were somewhat low in the class, so the professor gave everybody a little grade boost (equivalent to one-sixth of a letter grade). True, that's not even really a boost unless you're on the high-end of a letter grade, but it's better than nothing, right? But as I said, I don't think most social issues courses have a curve.

Again, maintaining a certain GPA depends on the major/courses. I know some people who are maintaining near a 3.8 or above, so it's definitely not impossible. But, they seem to be more the exception than the rule. That being said, it can be done.

On a final note, all incoming freshmen (as well as continuing undergraduates who have not utilized the following option) should consider taking one of the GE's as Pass/No Pass. You can only do this for one of your GE's, as long as that certain GE is not counted towards your major or pre-professional emphasis. For example, if you're in pre-med and you're taking CHEM-105a (which goes under Category III), then you can't take CHEM-105a as Pass/No Pass. Most people that I have talked with seem to exercise this Pass/No Pass option for one of the science GE categories (3 or 4).

In reply to phobos... wow, you own, haha. I must slightly qualify your statement about WRIT-140 and how many people end up getting A's for the course. I would agree that 2 or 3 A's (assuming you mean a solid "A" and no "A-" grades) result by the end of the semester on average. However, it seems that some WRIT-140 teachers are more lenient than others.
• Registered User Posts: 2,252 Senior Member
Heh, 3.92... which class "did you in"? :)

edit: and no, there's no way to get greater than 4.0 :)
• Registered User Posts: 616 Member
hahaha, thanks :D...two classes actually took me down with A-'s. my Cat 6 Race and Class in Los Angeles, which kinda ticked me off because i could've sworn that was a guaranteed A haha. the other was Calc III with Ziane...i was on my way to a solid B+ (third highest homework/quiz grade in a class of 60, but a 70ish average on the two midterms...my bad haha), but i talked to Ziane and he basically said if i did well on the final--as in, be one of the top grades in the class--i will have earned an A-. haven't seen my final grade yet, but i'm guessing i did ok :D

and yeah, i second the statement that the number of A's in Writ 140 is set by merit and not a curve, and some teachers are easier than others. but for most, it tends to be that there are 2 or 3 bona fide A's in the class.
• Registered User Posts: 129 Junior Member
lol wow thanx a lot guys =D i can't believe there were so many responds in such a little time ^_^ your inputs were really helpful!
• Registered User Posts: 681 Member
You'll find out quickly in college that sometimes the work it takes to go from A- to A is not worth it. The law of diminishing returns...
• Registered User Posts: 399 Member
And that's coming from an econ major, right? Haha. :)
• Registered User Posts: 681 Member
No, from someone who went through TO. And hey, econ is not the same as business admin. ;)
This discussion has been closed.