Everything GPA

GPA. It’s just a number, but it can make all the difference between getting into a college or not.

So what is it?

GPA stands for “Grade Point Average”. It’s a point system that averages all the grades you received during high school into two numbers: weighted GPA and unweighted GPA. These two numbers are used to measure your academic success in your high school career. It’s important for three things: college, ranks, and scholarships.

The two types of GPA: Unweighted and Weighted.

Unweighted GPA– An average of all the letter grades received in high school level courses.

Answers the question: Did you get good grades?

Weighted GPA– The same as unweighted GPA PLUS bonus points to account for taking difficult classes such as Honors classes, AP classes, Dual Enrollment, and IB or AICE classes.

Answers the question: Did you challenge yourself and take difficult classes?

Colleges look at both unweighted and weighted GPA to see how committed you were to always doing well in school. A high SAT score, alone, won’t get you admitted. Colleges want to know that you’re capable of working hard consistently for years, not just a month before a test. Don’t know what the SAT is? Click on one of the posts below!

*GPA is one of the most important factors in your college application process!

Ranks: Every school does this differently, but just about every high school uses both GPA’s to organize each graduating class in order of highest GPA to lowest. This is then used to determine who is in the top of the class to receive special honors during graduation. 

*Colleges also look at your rank

Valedictorian: highest honor of academic achievement, typically the student with the highest weighted GPA (some schools have multiple which are then co-valedictorians).

Salutatorian: second highest honor of academic achievement, typically the student with the second highest weighted GPA (some schools have multiple which are then co-salutatorians).

Summa Cum Laude: top 5% of the graduation class

Magna Cum Laude: top 6-10% of the graduating class

Cum Laude: top 11-15% of the graduating class

Scholarships usually have a minimum GPA you need in order to be eligible. Most Miami-Dade County students will apply for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program. There are two categories within this program:

-Florida Academic Scholarship (FAS) requires at least a 3.50 weighted GPA

-Florida Medallion Scholarship (FMS) requires at least a 3.00 weighted GPA

*Always make sure that your GPA meets the requirements for a scholarship you want to apply for. 

***Tip on raising your weighted GPA quickly
I have found the quickest way to doing this is through Dual Enrollment courses

These courses typically last a semester (two grading periods) or less and carry the same weight as a rigorous AP which takes much more commitment.

How do I find my GPAs?

Log in to your dadeschools.net student portal account and click on the purple “Report Card” icon.

Once you are there, click on the “GPA” tab to find both your GPA’s.

College Application tip: Don’t make the mistake of trying to cheat the system and getting a 4.0 GPA by taking the easiest classes possible. This is why weighted GPA exists. It’s better to have a relatively high unweighted GPA and a weighted GPA that shows you challenged yourself.

***Important message for middle schoolers!

If you are taking any high school classes in middle school (Ex. Algebra 1, Physical Science, etc) your grades WILL count towards your high school GPA. 

I wish I knew how important this would be when I got to high school. I’ve had to make up for it by taking more challenging classes now. Don’t make the same mistake! 

With this in mind, if you are offered a high school class, wait until you feel prepared to succeed in that class. Your GPA will thank you later.

How do Miami Dade County Public Schools generally calculate GPA? 

The following will be based on a 4.0 system.

 The standard grading scale (unweighted GPA) is based on:

4.0-A, 3.0-B, 2.0-C, 1.0-D, and 0.0-F

Regular level courses are graded on this standard scale.

For weighted GPA:

 Students enrolled in Honors Courses receive one bonus point if they earn a grade of “A,” “B,” or “C” in the course. 

5.0-A, 4.0-B, 3.0-C, 1.0-D, 0.0-F

Students enrolled in AP, IB, AICE, and Dual Enrollment courses receive two bonus points if they earn an “A” or “B” in the course and one bonus point if they earn a “C” in the course.

6.0-A, 5.0-B, 3.0-C, 1.0-D, 0.0-F

*Please see your counselor to find out what GPA calculation system your high school uses.

For more information visit http://drs.dadeschools.net/InformationCapsules/IC1209.pdf

Most colleges will recalculate your GPA and only include your academic courses! This means elective classes such as art or music, will not count towards your GPA in their calculation unless it’s an academic elective like Human Geography. 

Here is how a few Florida colleges recalculate GPA:

Florida State University (FSU)

  • only includes academic classes
  • the new system for AP, IB, AICE, and Dual Enrollment:
  • 5.0-A, 4.0-B, 3.0-C, 1.0-D, 0.0-F    (added 1 point for all grades C and up)
  • the new system for Honors, Pre-IB, and Pre-AICE:
  • 4.5-A, 3.5-B, 2.5-C, 1.0-D, 0.0-F     (added 0.5 points for all grades C and up)

University of Florida (UF)

  • only includes academic classes
  • adds bonus points for Honors, Dual-Enrollment, AICE, AP, and IB, but does not specify how much

University of Central Florida (UCF)

  • only includes academic classes
  • the new system for AP, IB, AICE, and Dual Enrollment:
  • 5.0-A, 4.0-B, 3.0-C, 1.0-D, 0.0-F    (added 1 point for all grades C and up)
  • the new system for Honors, Pre-IB, and Pre-AICE:
  • 4.5-A, 3.5-B, 2.5-C, 1.0-D, 0.0-F     (added 0.5 points for all grades C and up)

*All information is subject to change based on updates by the county and all other mentioned institutions. The School Bell Blog encourages students to consult with their counselors and do their own research to confirm the information stated above.

Please email me with any questions or requests for posts: schoolbellblog@gmail.com


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