If you’ve spent time researching potential study opportunities internationally, you’ve most likely encountered the term, ‘GPA’. As an international student considering higher education abroad, it is essential to understand the basics of this grading scale and how it may affect your academic preparations.

What is GPA and CGPA?

GPA stands for Grade Point Average. It refers to the calculation of a student’s average grade over a stated period of time, such as one semester. GPA is calculated by dividing the total amount of grade points earned by the total amount of credit hours attempted.

how to calculate gpa

CGPA stands for ‘Cumulative Grade Point Average’  and refers to the average of a student’s grades over the course of their entire academic program, be it high school, undergraduate or postgraduate studies. CGPA is calculated by adding the credit hours and grade points from all semesters, and then dividing the total grade points by the total credit hours. GPA and CGPA are represented by a number rather than a letter or a percentage.

GPA Calculations Across Countries

While GPA is common to the United States, it is not the only country to use it. The GPA system is used in Canada and Australia as well, however it is calculated differently in each of these countries. In the US, GPA usually ranges from 0.0 to 4.0. Grades represented by letters and percentages can also be converted to GPA. The way this is done is that percentages are translated into letter grades, and these are then translated to GPA according to a standard scale.

For example, a mark of 95% would be an A grade which equals 4.0; a mark of 85% would be a B which equals 3.0 and so on. In Canada, the method of calculation varies from province to province; in Australia, a handful of schools use a scale of 0.0 to 7.0.

How Important is GPA?

GPA is important because it is a grading standard which is universally understood. Many schools, especially in the US, require a minimum GPA for admission into undergraduate and postgraduate programs, and employers will consider a student’s GPA as an indicator of their abilities.

If you come from a school that does not adhere to the GPA system, it is recommended that you first look carefully at the specific country and school you are interested in and familiarise yourself with their grading system. There are a number of good international grade converters online that you can also take advantage of, such as the one offered by Foreign Credits.

If you are interested in studying abroad, and especially in the US, check out our blogs on the F-1 Visa Interview, US Scholarships, and 5 (Fun) Reasons to Study Abroad.

About the Author: Kevin Holowack is a writer for SchoolApply, as well as a graduate of English Literature from the University of Alberta, Canada.  He’s had a long time interest in education, having studied in various parts of Europe, and plans to continue his journey toward understanding education systems around the world.