How to Calculate a GPA

Even when you take a non-traditional path to education, you are sometimes required to grade your kid’s performance. You might find yourself giving grades on a transcript to meet a state requirement – help your teen enlist in the military – or, to open the door to college.

Calculating a high school GPA shouldn’t take a college degree. Still, you need to gather some basic information before you can begin figuring out how close your kid is to achieving a 4.0.

    1. Course Name and Content Area
      Sounds like a no-brainer, but the more eclectic approach you take to education, the more thought this may take. What exact instructional and learning experiences are you grouping together to call a course?
    1. Credit Hours
      When you complete an entire textbook, such as Algebra 2, then you can easily say the class was a “1” credit course – even if you finished the textbook in 5 months. Generally speaking, a single high school credit hour is equal to 4 to 5 hours of direct instructional time each week for a total of 30 to 32 weeks. Time spent on homework is not considered direct instructional time. High school credits can range from 2 (sometimes given for certain AP science classes that include a lab) down to a 0.25 credit class (that may be something like keyboarding).

    1. Class Grade
      You can always look at your kid’s work and say, “Yeah, that looks like an “A” to me.” But, using a rubric – a simple chart that lists how points were earned in the class – usually makes other people more comfortable in believing parent-issued grades. For example, a rubric may state that end of chapter tests make up 75% of the course grade while a research paper makes up the remaining 25%.
    1. Quality Points
      Each class must have its own Quality Points. To calculate Quality Points you need to first change your letter grade into a number grade. An “A” equals 4.0; B = 3.0; C = 2.0; and D = 1.0. Next, you multiply the converted number grade by the number of credit hourse for the class. For example, a half-credit Health class that earned a “B” will be worth 1.5 Quality Points.
  1. GPA
    Your overall Grade Point Average is the sum of all your Quality Points divided by the sum of all your Credit Hours.

Want to make calculating a GPA a breeze – especially if you want to use +/- in your grades? Check out this easy-to-use Excel GPA Calculator that does the math for you!



Alessa Giampaolo Keener, M.Ed. works with clients around the world in developing individualized learning plans that value the strengths and weaknesses of the whole child. While her focus has long been on the social-emotional needs of the gifted child, Alessa also works with governmental agencies in helping to meet the educational needs of children in foster care, as well as those involved in the juvenile justice system. Alessa lives in Maryland, where she homeschooled her kids into college. You can email Alessa at (at)