GPA Frustrations

So I just had a sneaky little look at my results from my first year at uni again to revel in my success for a bit (hey, I’m allowed to celebrate…) and noticed my GPA had gone online (it wasn’t last time I looked).

My GPA is 3.88. Oh Noes.

You see, I really want a 4.0. I wondered why I didn’t have an average of a 4.0 though, as that’s how I’d worked it out on my calculator the other week. Then I read again how the averages were worked out and was sad.

Here’s the deal.

The GPA or Grade Point Average is an American measurement of success at university. It roughly equates to our own 1st/2nd/3rd system here in the UK. A GPA 4.0 is a 1st. A 3.5 is an upper 2nd classification, and so on. You can be awarded a GPA of between 0.0 and 4.5.

Here are my results from this year:

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 10.11.21

As you can see, I kind of sucked at the subjects that were not History of Art (Arts of Japan and Rise of the Modern World). However, that’s not the point.

When I added those marks up and averaged them out, I got 70.37%. GREAT! I thought. That puts me tentatively into a 4.0. Exactly what I wanted to get. A 4.0 opens the doors to lots of top American and International universities, giving me plenty of options if I want to take them.

So why did I get a 3.88 in my official result?

Well you see they’re sneaky and they average it in a different way. Instead of going the way I went about it, they instead go:

Give each module GPA score -> Average GPA scores.

So basically above I got 3.5, 3.5, 3.5, 3.5, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5. When averaged that means I got just 3.88. That unfortunately doesn’t take into account my extraordinarily high 80%, or the fact that I got a 69, narrowly missing out on a 4.0 for that one. It defaults to the lower end of the category – i.e. no point in working harder than 65% if you’re not actually going to get a 70.  This to me encourages the wrong attitude.

But I’ll suck up my GPA 3.88 (which isn’t a GPA 4.0) and see if I can work ultra hard to get a few more 4.5’s next year to bring up the average. That’s going to be very hard. Because just getting 4.0’s will not bring the average up enough.

Bad system. It should take account of your total average mark, not allocate individual modules a GPA score. It effectively downgrades each of your individual grades up to 4%. And when you’re working at the top, those grades are hard-earned. And 4% at the top is much harder than 4% at the bottom.

  • Tom J

    that seems a really poor way to do it. How do they work out your overall mark at the end of the degree and your GPA as part of that? Or is it that they do not actually worry much about GPA so doing this as a nominal nod towards it?

    I know at warwick their maths degree averages were worked out as a combination of marks you obtained and also how many courses you had done

    • Charlotte

      They still work out your ‘English’ classification in the traditional way – which I believe is by averaging all your marks out like I did initially.

      However this is because many universities are also awarding the American GPA in addition (it gets printed on our degree certificates) and so use their system for that mark. What I *do* like about the GPA system is that it actively counts courses that you fail. So in the English system if you fail a module is just gets ignored. The GPA counts it as an 0.0 and therefore will lower your result.