Bonus Points: Courses and Programs
That Can Boost Your GPA to Above the 4.0 Scale

By: Jason Robinovitz | Last Updated: March 13, 2019

According to the most recent National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) survey,   grades-related factors constitute three of the top four things admission officers considered to be important when they were evaluating applicants in 2017. Those top four factors – and the percentage of admission officers reporting them to be of considerable or moderate influence – are



Grades in all Courses


Grades in College Prep Courses


SAT/ACT Scores


Strength of Curriculum


increasing your weighted gpaThose four were the only factors scoring above 56.9% based on the metric of considerable or moderate importance, so the influence of grades on chances of admission can’t be overstated, and it’s no coincidence that both the Common Application and the Coalition Application, which are the two most widely accepted college applications, ask for the student’s GPA and the scale – weighted or unweighted – on which it’s based.

Nothing can look a lot more impressive than an application stating that a student’s weighted GPA is 4.5 or above on a 4.0 scale. That would be achieved if, for example, a student were to get A grades on three regular, core courses and on three Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and that would demonstrate to admissions officers that the student has excelled in all three of those grade-related factors.

The courses and programs we’ll be discussing are honors, dual-enrollment (DE), Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE), all of which can contribute to above-scale, weighted GPAs as they’re typically calculated by both high schools and colleges, but please note the word “typically” because, for example, some state university systems, possibly along with other colleges, don’t recognize AICE for the purpose of weighted GPAs, as noted in our blog titled AICE vs AP & IB: The California Conundrum (and New York’s, too).

It’s important to bear in mind that different colleges view courses and programs taken via the foregoing as having differing degrees of difficulty, and they treat those courses and programs differently both when evaluating applicants and when deciding how many college credits to award for successful completion of those courses and programs, which differ in very significant ways:

  • The curricula for honors courses are created by or in the schools, themselves, and they can differ from teacher to teacher
  • Dual-enrollment courses are college courses taken while in high school and have curricula that are the province of the colleges
  • AP courses are created by The College Board (CB) and can be taught only by CB authorized teachers
  • IB is a rigorous diploma program whose courses can be taught only by authorized schools
  • AICE – aka the Cambridge AICE Diploma, because it was created by Cambridge University – is also a rigorous diploma program.

Generally speaking, high schools grade on a 4.0 scale, awarding 4.0 points for an A, 3.0 points for a B, 2.0 points for a C, 1.0 points for a D, and 0 points for a F. Honors classes increase the points awarded by 0.5 for everything except a grade of F, while AP, IB, and AICE classes increase the points awarded by 1.0 for everything except a grade of F. You can access a GPA calculator that allows for easy computation of weighted GPAs.

So which of those advanced courses or programs should you pursue? With the understanding that increasing your GPA is a very important thing, it’s far from the only important consideration in making that decision, and the number of variables to consider is nearly staggering – but helping students make those types of decision is why we exist, so call us today so we can help you decide which path best fits you and your goals


Recent Posts