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Author Topic: Grade point average
Atrax the Robust.
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This is just one of those idle fact finding missions I sometimes indulge in. The problem is that American television doesn't come with cross cultural notes for those watching in other countries, so I admit to being a bit confused on a number of points (steam coming out of the ground in NYC, mass gun ownership, reparing aortic aneurysms in ED that sort of thing). One of the many things I have always wondered about it what a grade point average is. How does one calculate a GPA? What is a good GPA? Since I am now way past caring about TERs, ASATs and other Australian equivalents, I feel I can ask with a degree of emotional detachment.
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Cool Hand Luke
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Here's the explanation from the university I work for:

Grade Point Average: The cumulative grade point average is obtained by dividing grade points by the number of credit hours attempted. In computing grade point averages all hours attempted (graded A, B, C, D, F) are included even though, because of repetition of work, some of them may be considered canceled.

A = 4.0 grade points
B = 3.0 grade points
C = 2.0 grade points
D = 1.0 grade points
F = 0.0 grade points

Explanation
3 cr A = 12 gpts
2 cr C = 4 gpts
1 cr D = 1 gpts
6 17

17 divided by 6 = 2.833

Obviously the best you can get is a 4.0 GPA.

Cool "Never got close" Hand Luke


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abbubmah
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quote:
Originally posted by Atrax the Robust.:
One of the many things I have always wondered about it what a grade point average is. How does one calculate a GPA? What is a good GPA?

Hm. Never considered that cultural. Prepare to be enlightened. Grade point average is letter grades given a numeric value, then averaged, typically:

4 - A
3 - B
2 - C
1 - D
0 - F

Our list above would be a GPA of (4+3+2+1+0)/5 or 10/5. This is "2". It's often related back as a "C" average.

The question of what is a good one is vague. Anything above 0 is technically passing. Schools may require that no more than a certain number of classes be failed to advance to the next grade. High school and college are similar. "Good" may mean the minimum required GPA to obtain a scholarship, or a job, highly objective system.

Uncle "I did have a GPA!" Bubba

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abbubmah
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Drat, you beat me to it! Regarding the 4.0, some schools let you take extra credit, which can bring your average above 4.0. Seems like an unfair and arbitrary scheme, doesn't it? Some poor dweeb who can't afford extra classes does all he can and gets a 4.0, and is beat out by someone else with extra bucks and nothing better to do, with a 4.5 or so.

Uncle "money doesn't make the world go 'round, but it greases the bearings" Bubba

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Brad from Georgia
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That's the way the University System of Georgia does it, too. As for a "good" GPA, our college puts folks who have an overall GPA of 3.5 AND a total number of semester hours of 20 or over on an honors list. The Dean's List, though, is reserved for those with a GPA of 3.8 to 4.0.

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Chava
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My kid's high school adds an extra point for grades in advanced placement classes. So an A is worth 5 and a B is worth 4. So you could have more than 4.0 GPA.

Chava


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Melandry
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Additionally, at my college an A- was only a 3.8, a B+ was worse more than a B, etc. If you want the whole scheme I'd have to look it up, it just made things more complicated.
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nobody
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quote:
Originally posted by Melandry:
Additionally, at my college an A- was only a 3.8, a B+ was worse more than a B, etc. If you want the whole scheme I'd have to look it up, it just made things more complicated.

I've had a few high school courses with this grading scheme, which has also caused a furious debate in college. It goes something like this:














A,A+4.0
A-3.7
B+3.3
B3.0
B-2.7
C+2.3
C2.0
C-1.7
D+1.3
D1.0
D-0.7
F+0.3
F,F-0.0

[EDIT: Cleaned up for your reading pleasure]

It doesn't necessarily produce different results unless you're a straight-A student (in which case it sucks to be you) and is basically a whole lot of work for nothing.

no "everyone who's going to be valedictorian this year step forward... not so fast, [INSERT NAME HERE]" body


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Atrax the Robust.
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I take it from the absence of E that F is for fail, and not an alphabetic grade.
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Melandry
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by nobody:

It doesn't necessarily produce different results unless you're a straight-A student (in which case it sucks to be you)

Hey, I resemble that remark!

Mel"Only reason I remembered the school's GPA system"andry


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Spooky All Year Round
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That's funny. Down here we usually get a mark as a percentage which is then sometimes mapped to a grade (A, B, C etc, or Distinction, Credit, Pass, etc.) The equivalent to a GPA down here is sometimes called a Weighted Average Mark, or WAM, and is a fairly new thing in many Universities and/or Faculties. I only had one for the last year of my studies at Sydney Uni in 1995, and it made no difference whatsoever to my degree since it was not applied retroactively. I can't remember what the top possible WAM was. When we worked it out, though, I'd run at least a Distinction average all the way through my Uni career.

Some scholarships were starting to take note of WAMs. Note though that scholarships are not as wide-spread here as they are in the US since Universities are more-or-less free and students are paid a "living allowance" by the government if their families are too poor to support them.

Spooky


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Gold-Toes
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My high school actually had a seven point GPA system. We had four levels of classes, "phases" 4,5,6, and 7, seven being "advanced placement" and "honors" level classes. An "A" in phase seven was worth 7 GPA points, while an "A" in phase 6 was worth six points. A "B" in phase seven was worth six points.

This way someone who got straight A's in a phase 4 (below average) class could not have the same GPA as someone in all honors levels classes. The colleges I applied to loved the scale, LOL, as it was easier to see exactly how you compared to your class. The school did calculate it to a weighted 4 point scale for some other purposes (state comparisons and stuff), but it was still a cool system, IMO


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Chava
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Wow. So in that 7-point system, getting a D in AP English is the same as getting an A in regular English.

Regular English must be more or less equivalent to remedial 4th grade reading.

Chava


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Gold-Toes
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quote:
Originally posted by Chava:
Wow. So in that 7-point system, getting a D in AP English is the same as getting an A in regular English.

Regular English must be more or less equivalent to remedial 4th grade reading.

Chava


Actually, "regular" English would be a phase 6. Phase 5 was the "lower than average" and Phase 4 was remedial. :-)


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Bill
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11-5

Personally, I'd like to see transcripts list both someone's grade and the average grade for the class. There was recently a controversy about this in the academic community. At Harvard University (in the U.S.) there is massive grade inflation - a lot of courses give large numbers of A's, and the majority of the class each year graduates with honors. I don't think an A in a Harvard course where most students get A's is necessarily more of an achievement than a B somewhere else in a course where the average grade is a C-plus or lower.

Just a thought.

Thanks.

Bill


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Frankie_024
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It would be interesting to know the class average for a course, say the course that I am taking and doing very badly with. It could be that,in this particular class,I am not as dumb as I appear.
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Chava
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quote:
At Harvard University (in the U.S.) there is massive grade inflation - a lot of courses give large numbers of A's, and the majority of the class each year graduates with honors.

I seem to recall a piece of data from the SAT web site. The average (mode, I think) combined SAT score for students admitted to Harvard is 1600. Are you going to claim that those students should be graded on a scale so that the median grade in each class is a B-? I would think that a professor with students like that should set some absolute expectation of accomplishment, and give everyone who meets it an A. Not doing the work or learning the material should still get a low grade, but highly qualified students should not be penalized for going to school with other highly qualified students.

When I was in grad school, the expectation was that grad students would get As or Bs in graduate courses. Nobody considered it "grade inflation" if no Cs were awarded.

Chava


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Allison
Tennessee Ernie Ford


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quote:
Originally posted by Bill:
At Harvard University (in the U.S.) there is massive grade inflation - a lot of courses give large numbers of A's, and the majority of the class each year graduates with honors.

This must have happened after I graduated from Harvard. Or I just didn't take the right classes

quote:
Originally posted by Chava:

I seem to recall a piece of data from the SAT web site. The average (mode, I think) combined SAT score for students admitted to Harvard is 1600.

The highest SAT score available is 1600 (800 verbal, 800 math). The average, therefore, would have to be lower, since I am living proof that they do allow people with less than perfect SAT scores to attend Harvard.

The average is not the same as the mode - the first is the arithematic mean, found by adding all the SAT scores and dividing by the number of students. The second is the SAT score occuring the most in a given set of scores - and again I would doubt that a perfect score is the most commonly-occuring one. You also wouldn't find 1600 as the median score for Harvard, since THAT measure of central tendency is simply the middle score in a group of scores, and you'd have to have higher scores.

alli "go Crimson" son

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If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
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Baikal
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Uncle Bubba:
Regarding the 4.0, some schools let you take extra credit, which can bring your average above 4.0. Seems like an unfair and arbitrary scheme, doesn't it? Some poor dweeb who can't afford extra classes does all he can and gets a 4.0, and is beat out by someone else with extra bucks and nothing better to do, with a 4.5 or so.

In the end, it really doesn't matter--your high school transcripts reflect that "weighted" grade, but most colleges don't. It's more for your own purposes.

For example, I'm enrolled in two AP classes--both of them carry an extra grade point of weight. So, the fact that I have a 'B' in both classes (not sure how I managed to pull that off, anyway) means that I can retain a theoretical 4.0 GPA. On the other hand, when I apply to college, they'll see a high 3 rather than a 4. My cumulative GPA is a 4.2, but that's not really a valid indicator. The fact that I can get an A in an honors French course balances out the fact that I haven't been able to get higher than a B in a math class since 4th grade.

-Baikal

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I'm just a typical American boy from a typical American town.


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Bill
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11-6

quote:
Originally posted by Chava:

Are you going to claim that those students should be graded on a scale so that the median grade in each class is a B-? I would think that a professor with students like that should set some absolute expectation of accomplishment, and give everyone who meets it an A. Not doing the work or learning the material should still get a low grade, but highly qualified students should not be penalized for going to school with other highly qualified students.

Chava


Do you really think, though, that the difference is that great between the "highly qualified" Harvard student and someone else? If a roomful of Harvard students were to take the same killer exam given by a professor somewhere else where the average grade is a B-minus and there might be one A in the class, do you think that half of them would place in the A range? It's almost mathematically impossible.

Sorry, but I'm just not sold on the idea that "Ivy Leaguers are smarter than anyone else." The difference between a Harvard person and someone else might be as simple as the mood the admissions officer was in that day.

I'm jut suggesting that if the average grade for the class were on the transcript, comparing the achievements of various individuals might be fairer. If, as you seem to imply, Harvard students are so smart, the person evaluating the transcript could still take that into consideration.

Thanks.

Bill


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Chava
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quote:
The average is not the same as the mode - the first is the arithematic mean, found by adding all the SAT scores and dividing by the number of students. The second is the SAT score occuring the most in a given set of scores - and again I would doubt that a perfect score is the most commonly-occuring one. You also wouldn't find 1600 as the median score for Harvard, since THAT measure of central tendency is simply the middle score in a group of scores, and you'd have to have higher scores.

The term average is without precise mathematical meaning. The mathematical terms mean, median, and mode can all be refered to as averages. If you want to be clear, you use a mathematical term. It is true that a lot of people use "average" and "mean" as synonyms.

I was incorrect in my statement about Harvard's SAT scores. The correct information is that the middle 50% range is 700 to 780(790). But I still think that this indicates a different class of students than that attracted by, say, the University of Arizona where the corresponding score range is 480(490) to 600(620). I would be horrified if Harvard were handing out the same grade distributions in similar classes as the U of A.

Chava


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