Do AP Courses Boost Your GPA?

Do AP Classes boost your gpa

AP courses, also known as Advanced Placement courses, have a range of benefits. These college-level classes prepare students for the rigors of higher education, as well as a chance to earn college credits. Participating in AP courses looks good on college applications since college admissions officers will see that you are willing to challenge yourself and take on more difficult classwork.

However, one of the biggest advantages of AP Courses courses is their potential to boost your GPA. It might not be immediately obvious how these classes affect your grade point average. That’s why we’ll talk more about AP courses and how they affect your GPA below. 

How Do AP Courses Boost Your GPA?

Unlike your typical high school course, AP classes can boost your GPA  above 4.0, because they are graded on a different scale. This is why some students will see a major boost to their GPA. 

In regular classes in high school, students earn a grade worth numerical value from 1 to 4. A 4 represents an A, a 3 represents a B, a 2 represents a C, and a 1 represents a D. Each grade you get from your class is added together as a number and then averaged to create your unweighted GPA.  

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Because Advanced Placement classes are typically graded on a weighted scale, students can receive a higher GPA. Instead of being graded on a scale of 1 to 4, students are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 representing an A. Your AP classes will be added together, along with your other courses, then averaged to create a weighted GPA that is usually higher than an unweighted GPA. 

How Much Can AP Courses Boost Your GPA?

If you do well in your AP courses, it’s possible that you will have a much higher GPA that goes well over 4.0. Due to their weighted scale, AP courses offer students the chance to really boost their GPA. Additionally, AP classes can also help students maintain their 4.0 or higher GPA, even if they don’t get an A. 

In rare cases, if you take all AP classes and have particularly good grades, you could end up with a 5.0 GPA during certain years of your high school career. 

Do Colleges Look At Weighted GPA or Unweighted GPA More? 

When you take Advanced Placement classes, your GPA will be categorized in two ways. You will have a weighted GPA, that can potentially go up to 5.0, and an unweighted GPA, that only goes up to 4.0. Students often wonder which GPA is looked at by college admissions officers.   

Admissions officers will look at both your weighted and unweighted GPA when you apply to schools. An unweighted GPA, along with your College Board or ACT test scores, serves as a standard of comparison for academic performance since most students list it. 

However, your weighted GPA could have a big impact as well, because your weighted GPA indicates how hard your course load is. Especially if you are applying to more prestigious schools, your weighted GPA will factor more into Admissions Officers’ decisions, because more selective schools like to see students challenging themselves with more difficult classes.

In addition, certain programs will also require a higher GPA and strong academic abilities. A weighted GPA will be considered more heavily in these situations, since this type of GPA gives a fuller picture of your academic ability and your potential in a college setting. We recommend listing your weighted and unweighted GPA on your college application.

Should You Take an Online AP Courses?

Taking online AP classes can also positively impact your GPA. Again, remember that AP courses will be more challenging. If you can’t handle these classes, you should take regular high school-level courses. 

However, if you think you are up for the challenge, online and in-person AP courses can improve your GPA. This could also be a great opportunity for students whose schools don’t have AP courses.

Do the AP Exams Have Any Impact on Your GPA?

The typical finale for an AP course is an AP exam. Many students use AP exams to earn college credits before they even apply to their chosen schools. But, will the AP exams have any impact on your GPA? Ina word, no. The only factor impacting your GPA is your final grade in your AP class.  

Though you might not be able to bring up your GPA with an AP exam, you can still earn college credit if you do well. So, we definitely recommend taking your AP exam. It can’t hurt, and can only help!

At HelloCollege, we know how difficult it can be to prepare for college and aim to make the process as simple and easy as possible. We want to help you get accepted into the university of your dreams!

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The Hello College Team

HelloCollege CEO Andrea Emmons has spent the last 15 years guiding students and families across the country on their path to college. Andrea knows the profound impact proactive college planning has on the lives of students and is passionate about mentoring families through the process.
Kevin Krebs - Founder of HelloCollege

About Our Founder

Kevin Krebs

Inspired by his parents, Kevin’s journey from a first-gen, diverse, low-income background to Northwestern University shaped him. After experiencing challenges, including student loan debt, he founded HelloCollege and has spent the last 25 years helping students successfully navigate college admissions.

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