Your High School GPA Decoded

Question-Mark.jpgAnother week, another question. We know that many of you wonder about this one, especially since I answered it more than a few times during our Spend a Summer Day events on campus (and I am sure I wasn’t the only counselor to do so). This question is about your high school GPA:

My high school does not use the standard 4.0 grading scale – it actually grades on a [INSERT SCALE HERE, but commonly referred to options include a 5.0 scale, 100 point scale, 6.0 scale, etc.]. Will this unique grading scale have an impact on my review, since your chart of the middle 50% (the grades and test scores of the previous year’s accepted class) shows students’ GPAs based on a 4.0 scale? Is there anything I need to do to make sure my school’s grading scale is not an issue for my application?

In the United States, there are over 35,000 public and private high schools, and that doesn’t include the other educational options that students pursue, like homeschooling for example. With that many schools, there is a large variety of ways a student’s performance is evaluated. While the 4.0 grading scale might be considered the most standard scale, that is just one type of GPA that we encounter when reviewing first year applications. But, we represent the 4.0 grading scale in our middle 50% range because it is the most universally used and understood.

If your school does not use the 4.0 grading scale, don’t worry! We see transcripts with all sorts of GPAs, none of which changes the evaluation of an application. When you apply, we require your high school to send us your official transcript for our review. But, we need your help to make sure that we can review that transcript properly, and that is where our Application Counselor Form comes into play.

Upon completing the application online, you are provided with a personalized version of the Application Counselor Form to print and deliver to your school counselor. When your transcript is ready to send, your counselor will complete this form and include it with your transcript. This form is what explains your school’s grading scale, which is why we require it as part of the application – we use it to understand your unique GPA and to properly evaluate your academic performance in the context of your high school.

If you do not (or did not) print this form upon completing the online application, you can access a blank copy from this link on our website to print and provide to your school counselor:

However you have been graded over the last three years, as long as we have this form, we will be able to appropriately evaluate you for admission to Penn State.

Hope this post helped clarify any questions you had regarding your high school grading scale and how it plays a factor in the application review process. Contact us if you have any questions or need more clarification, otherwise, we will see you next week with another great question.

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