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Episode 21: A Deep Dive Into GPA Calculation

July 26, 2021

They're the three letters on the mind of pretty much every college-bound high school student: G, P and A.

But understanding how colleges and universities will interpret your grade-point average isn't so simple.

Some institutions recalculate applicants' GPAs using their own scale. Some only count certain core classes in their calculations, meaning electives don't factor in to the final number. Some universities even look at how an applicant's GPA might have improved over time.

GPA calculation was on the mind of College Admissions Insider listener Marile Borden recently. Marile is a parent from Massachusetts whose daughter is in her senior year of high school.

Marile wrote in to ask, "Have you considered an episode around GPAs? I'd love to hear if and how you recalculate GPA, as well as your thoughts on the age-old question: 'is it better to get a B in a harder class or an A in an easier class?'"

She also says it's tough to know if a certain GPA is in the ballpark because every school seems to calculate grade point averages a little differently.

In this episode of College Admissions Insider, we'll answer those questions and more as we take a deep dive into GPA calculation. Our guest is Kevin Mathes '07, Bucknell's dean of Admissions.

If you have a question, comment or idea for a future episode, email

Episode 21 Transcript