Rules for calculating GPA
The University of California has a specific way of determining high school GPA for admissions on a scale from 0 to 4, where an A receives 4 points. The GPA is calculated as the average of all grades received.
- Only academic (a.k.a. "A-G") courses count toward your GPA. This includes things like history and theater, but not things like gym. If you're a California student, you can look up the list of A-G courses for your school using hs-articulation.ucop.edu/agcourselist.
- Pluses and minuses do not matter. An grade of A+ or A- also counts as an A.
- Only count courses taken after the 9th grade. If you took a summer class before 10th grade, you should count that.
- When deciding between semesters, quarters, and trimesters, do NOT include summer school as a term. For example, a trimester system should consist of a Fall trimester, Winter trimester, and Spring trimester. A quarter system should consist of 2 Fall quarters and 2 Spring quarters. A semester system should consist of 1 Fall semester and 1 Spring semester.
- Honors courses for California students: Get a list of UC honors courses for your high school by going to hs-articulation.ucop.edu/agcourselist and searching for your high school’s name.
- Honors courses for out of state students: AP courses and IB Higher Level courses are counted as UC honors courses. See more detailed rules on this page.
- The weighted GPA includes 1 extra point for each grade received in a UC approved honors course.
- The weighted and capped GPA also includes 1 extra point for each honors grade. However, only up to 8 semesters of honors courses will be awarded honors points. If you have more than 8 semesters of honors grades, then the excess grades will be treated as regular courses. The 8-semester cap is equivalent to 16 quarters or 12 trimesters. Additionally, no more than 4 semesters worth of honors points can be from courses taken in the 10th grade.
- Do not count honors points for failing grades (D or F).
- A maximum of 4 honors points can be counted for courses taken in the 10th grade.
- If you took a-g courses at a community college, include them in your GPA. You should also count community college courses as honors courses if they are eligble for transfer credit. Use this site to look up transfer elibility for California community colleges.
Is there a disadvantage to taking more courses?
Based on the formula for the weighted and capped GPA, you may have noticed that you can achieve a higher GPA by taking fewer total courses. Conversely, taking more courses appears to lower your GPA. This phenomenon is caused by the limit of 8 semesters worth of honors courses. In reality, admissions are based on your entire transcript and not just your GPA. The purpose of the 8 semester cap is to reduce statistical variance in the GPA, not to punish applicants for taking more courses.