Average High School GPA Importance, or Lack Thereof…

Matt Larriva
Mar 24, 2021
Home » Blog » Average High School GPA Importance, or Lack Thereof…

An average high school GPA matters less throughout high school.

The longer you spend in high school, the less your average high school GPA can move.

So, as you progress through the years, shift your focus to the part of the admissions index that can shift:

…your test scores.

Your Average High School GPA is Almost Unmovable as a Senior

High School GPA Changes

Let’s use the graph to show what would happen to a senior with a 4.0 GPA who got a B instead of an A in one class in his 8th semester: his GPA would move from 4.0 to about 3.98. 

Similarly a 6th semester student who had a 4.0 who got a B instead of an A in one class would experience a decline in his GPA of 0.024 points–an inconsequential shift. 

In fact, if we run the numbers, a senior with a 4.0 who got a full semester of Bs would only see his high school GPA move by 0.14 points.

If you’d like to do a more thorough analysis, start by calculating your starting high school GPA, and build out a theoretical GPA as you progress through high school.

So What Does This Mean For Your Average High School GPA?

You should prioritize test prep once you are past your past your 5th semester.

Your standardized test scores are, unlike your GPA, always able to be increased, and actually improve in the later years of high school.

Consider this:

You only have a fixed amount of time every night, so should you spend most of your time on homework to keep your 4.0 at 4.0 (0% return on time spent), or should you spend most of your time on test prep to move your 30 to a 32 (7% return on time spent)?

Even if you spend most of your time on test prep, and you get a B instead of an A in a class, we can see that your average high school GPA will only decline by about 0.02 points (a .005% decrease) in exchange for a 2 point gain on the ACT (a 7% increase).

(By the way, you can read more about how much a 0.02 or 0.05 difference in your high school GPA will actually matter in our article about weighted vs unweighted GPA.)

Rethink Your Junior and Senior Years

This is especially important for current seniors: don’t let school work dictate your schedule. Your GPA is all but immobile at this point, but your test scores are flexible and easily shifted with focused prep.

You can drastically improve your chances of admissions to your dream school with an extra two or three points on the ACT, but you cannot drastically shift your average high school GPA at this stage with two or three extra As.

Welcome back to school!

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