Sunday, March 15, 2020
What's the Difference Weighted vs Unweighted GPA SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips Most students think a lot about their GPA in high school. ThereÃ¢â¬â¢s no doubt that GPA is one of the most important pieces of information colleges will consider in your application. However, GPA can vary drastically in the way itÃ¢â¬â¢s calculated at different schools. Some high schools use unweighted GPAs and some use weighted GPAs. IÃ¢â¬â¢ll give you an overview of the differences between the two and what each type of GPA might mean in the context of your personal experiences. Basic Differences Between Weighted and Unweighted GPAs So what are weighted and unweighted GPAs? Here are the main differences between the two. Unweighted GPA Traditionally, GPA is calculated on an unweighted scale.Unweighted GPA is measured on a scale of 0 to 4.0. It doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t take the difficulty of a studentÃ¢â¬â¢s coursework into account.An unweighted GPA represents an A as a 4.0 whether it was earned in an honors class, AP class, or lower-level class. Weighted GPA Weighted GPA is often used by high schools to better represent studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ academic accomplishments.Weighted GPA takes into account course difficulty rather than providing the same letter grade to GPA conversion for every student.Usually, weighted GPA is measured on a scale of 0 to 5.0, although some scales go higher.An A in an AP class may translate into a 5.0 weighted GPA, while an A in a regular-level class will give you a 4.0 weighted GPA. Many schools also have mid-level classes (such as honors classes) where the highest weighted GPA you can earn is a 4.5. Differences in Calculation As you might expect, unweighted and weighted GPAs are calculated differently. In this section we give an in-depth explanation of how to calculate both GPA types. Unweighted GPA Unweighted GPA is much simpler to calculate than weighted GPA.This is because you donÃ¢â¬â¢t have to consider the levels of your classes in the calculations. LetÃ¢â¬â¢s say youÃ¢â¬â¢re taking five classes, and you have As in two of them and Bs in three of them.The two As will each translate to 4.0s, and the three Bs will each translate to 3.0s.If you add 4.0 + 4.0 + 3.0 + 3.0 + 3.0 and then divide by five, youÃ¢â¬â¢ll get an unweighted GPA of 3.4. If your grades arenÃ¢â¬â¢t quite as simple as that, hereÃ¢â¬â¢s a quick letter grade and percentile to GPA conversion chart to make things easier. Letter Grade Percentile GPA A+ 97-100 4.0 A 93-96 4.0 A- 90-92 3.7 B+ 87-89 3.3 B 83-86 3.0 B- 80-82 2.7 C+ 77-79 2.3 C 73-76 2.0 C- 70-72 1.7 D+ 67-69 1.3 D 65-66 1.0 F Below 65 0.0 Most schools more or less follow this scale for unweighted GPAs. Yours may be slightly different, but it shouldnÃ¢â¬â¢t vary too much. Weighted GPA The calculations for weighted GPA can get a little more tricky because you may be taking a variety of courses at different academic levels. Going withthe example that we used for unweighted GPA, letÃ¢â¬â¢s say once again that youÃ¢â¬â¢re taking five classes and getting As in two of them and Bs in three of them.But this time letÃ¢â¬â¢s also say that one A is in a regular-level class, one A is in an honors class, two Bs are in AP classes, and one B is in an honors class. How is your weighted GPA calculated?Well, each grade has to be considered in conjunction with class level.This means using the unweighted GPA conversion scale for grades in regular-level classes, adding 0.5 to the scale for mid-level/honors classes, and adding 1.0 for high level/AP classes. This means: The A in a regular-level class would still be a 4.0 The A in an honors class would be a 4.5 The two Bs in AP classes would each be 4.0s The B in the honors class would be a 3.5 If you add 4.0 + 4.5 + 4.0 + 4.0 + 3.5 and divide by 5, you get a 4.0 weighted GPA. Remember, not all schools will use this exact weighted GPA scale, but as you can see, there can be a big difference between the numbers you get for unweighted GPA and weighted GPA based on the types of classes youÃ¢â¬â¢re taking. Even if two students have identical grades, one might have a weighted GPA thatÃ¢â¬â¢s a full point higher than the other. Let's say you have a 3.2 unweighted GPA and are taking five classes. If even two out of the five classes are honors or AP and the rest are regular-level, your GPA would get bumped up to a 3.6 on a weighted scale. A slight difference in the levels of your classes can make a big difference in your weighted GPA. Go for it! All you have to do is believe! (and study more, but mostly believe!) What Does All of This Mean for You? Whether your school uses weighted or unweighted GPA can impact your class rank and experiences in the college admissions process. If Your School Uses Unweighted GPAsÃ¢â¬ ¦ Admissions committees look at your coursework in conjunction with your GPA to reach conclusions about your academic potential.They understand that some schools do not take the difficulty of studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ classes into consideration when calculating GPA.If you challenge yourself in your classes but donÃ¢â¬â¢t have a perfect GPA, you will look better in the college admissions process than someone in regular-level classes who has a 4.0. It may be harder to stand out from your classmates with your GPA because more students will have GPAs that are at the same level when class difficulty is not a factor in the calculation.If class rank is based purely on unweighted GPA, your class rank may not reflect the effort you expended.Students with a lot of AP classes can have lower unweighted GPAs than students who took less difficult classes despite being more academically driven. DonÃ¢â¬â¢t worry too much though. College admissions officers are aware of the limits of the unweighted system, and they will look closely at your course record to determine whether your GPA is an accurate reflection of your academic potential. If Your School Uses Weighted GPAsÃ¢â¬ ¦ First off, you should know that having a 4.0 weighted GPA doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t mean you can get into any college.A 4.0 may be the commonly accepted gold standard, but with weighted GPAs everything shifts upward.A truly elite GPA under the weighted system will actually be close to a 5.0, so you will need to make sure you adapt your concept of what constitutes a high GPA to fit this model. With a weighted GPA, your class rank is more likely to reflect your academic drive and ability because your GPA is a reflection of both your grades and the levels of the classes in which you earned them.YouÃ¢â¬â¢ll have a higher rank than someone who earns the same grades as you in lower level classes. Weighted GPAs mean that you need to be careful because they can be deceptive. A lot of the advice that's out there is targeted towards unweighted GPAs, so you'll need to adjust your thinking to account for the size of the GPA scale at your school. The bottom line is that colleges will look deeper than the raw numbers when evaluating your high school academic record regardless of whether your GPA is weighted or unweighted. Admissions officers willbe able to tell which classes you took and how much you pushed yourself, so your GPA by itself becomes only one part of a much larger picture. You will also be required to lift the weight of your GPA times 40 in order to walk at graduation, so start training. Why do you think valedictorians are always so ripped? Do Colleges Look at Weighted or Unweighted GPAs? So, which do colleges care more about then, your weighted or unweighted GPA? The short answer is that most colleges care somewhat more about weighted GPAs because they do a better job showing the difficulty of the classes you took. However, colleges care more about your entire record of coursework than just your GPA out of context. They'll look to see which classes you took, how difficult those classes typically are, and what your class rank is. All of these factors are going to give them a better understanding of your GPA. So, when you're wondering which GPA is more important, the real answer is that colleges will look at all the information they're given to get the best idea of your academic skills. They won't just glance at your GPA and decide whether it's a good number or not without looking at other factors. If your transcript shows increasing difficulty in your coursework, this will look impressive to colleges, even if your GPA isnÃ¢â¬â¢t perfect.If you have a 4.0 GPA but took all the least challenging classes in high school, colleges will be less impressed since you didnÃ¢â¬â¢t push yourself academically.This means you should continue working on taking difficult classes and getting high grades in them in order to be as impressive as possible. Summary Your high school GPA may be measured on either an unweighted or weighted scale.The main difference between the two is that weighted GPAs take into account the difficulty of your coursework and unweighted GPAs donÃ¢â¬â¢t.Most unweighted GPAs are recorded on a scale of 0 to 4.0, and most weighted GPAs are recorded on a scale of 0 to 5.0. For the most part, whether your high school uses unweighted or weighted GPA shouldnÃ¢â¬â¢t affect you in the college application process.Colleges will look at your GPA, but they will also consider the bigger picture. Their greatest concern is that youÃ¢â¬â¢ve managed to challenge yourself intellectually with your coursework. GPA is important, but proof of your determination and perseverance in the face of academic struggles is often more impressive than a 4.0. What's Next? Want more information about how to interpret your GPA in the college search process? Find out what it means to have a good or bad GPA for college. Is your GPA above average? Do you need to work on bringing it up? Learn more about the average high school GPA. Your college GPA may end up being very different from your high school GPA. Read this article about average GPAs in college to see what might be in store.
Sunday, March 8, 2020
How to Pass the ACT Expert Guide SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips ThereÃ¢â¬â¢s so much info out there about doing well on the ACT - a lot of it is really helpful when it comes to preparing for the test! But this onslaught of information can get pretty overwhelming, especially when you just want a simple answer to a simple question: how do you pass the ACT? What Does It Mean to Ã¢â¬Å"PassÃ¢â¬ the ACT? On this test, thereÃ¢â¬â¢s only a range of possible scores - what constitutes an excellent, poor, or average score will depend heavily on your frame of reference. Ultimately, what defines a passing ACT score is thatitÃ¢â¬â¢s high enough to get you into the colleges youÃ¢â¬â¢re applying to. This obviously varies widely by student. Your ACT score doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t have to be perfect for you to Ã¢â¬Å"passÃ¢â¬ (although it never, ever hurts to bring up your score) - it just has to be good enough. Now, this gets a bit complicated because your ACT score is not the only part of your college applications. If your ACT score is particularly low, however, college admissions officers may have higher expectations for other parts of your app (e.g. GPA, extracurriculars). If your score is low enough, your application may get tossed out even if the rest of your app is strong. For the sake of this post, then, IÃ¢â¬â¢m going to define a Ã¢â¬Å"passingÃ¢â¬ ACT score as one that wonÃ¢â¬â¢t get your application tossed out. Ideally, however, your ACT score will be one that helps (instead of hurts) your college applications. Keep reading to learn more about how to figure out these score benchmarks for yourself. How to Set an ACT Goal Score Before you learnhow to pass the ACT, you have to figure out what passing means for you. This requiresa bit of legwork: namely, researching what ACT scores are correlated with acceptance at the schools youÃ¢â¬â¢re interested in. HereÃ¢â¬â¢s how you do it: Make a Preliminary List of Schools This doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t have to be a final, polished list, but 8-10 schools youÃ¢â¬â¢re interested in is a good place to start. Try to select mostly Ã¢â¬Å"targetÃ¢â¬ schools - colleges where you think youÃ¢â¬â¢d have a fairly good chance of getting in. You can include 2-3 Ã¢â¬Å"safetyÃ¢â¬ schools and 2-3 Ã¢â¬Å"reachÃ¢â¬ schools as well, as long as you maintain balance here. Too many safety schools and you might set a target score thatÃ¢â¬â¢s too low. Too many reach schools and you might set a target score thatÃ¢â¬â¢s unreasonably, and discouragingly, high. The first time you do this, you may not have a good idea of what schools youÃ¢â¬â¢d identify as reach, target, and safety. ThatÃ¢â¬â¢s ok! In fact, itÃ¢â¬â¢s kind of the point of this exercise. You can repeat it as many times as necessary throughout the college process, adjusting your list of schools as you go. Look Up Each SchoolÃ¢â¬â¢s ACT Info Start by Googling Ã¢â¬Å"PrepScholar [name of school] ACT score.Ã¢â¬ The first non-ad link that comes up should be the one you want - see below for an example. The first search result here is the one you want. The page will have the average ACT score and the 25th/75th percentile scores for students accepted to that particular school. Take down these numbers for each school. 25th percentile score = 25% of students at the school have an ACT score at or below that number 75th percentile score = 75% of students at the school have an ACT score at or below that number Students with 75th percentile scores or above for a particular school usually have a good shot at getting in, barring any weaknesses or issues with other parts of their application. Students with 25th percentile scores or below usually have other strong application components (e.g. high GPA, great essays) to boost their chances. Set Your Benchmark Ã¢â¬Å"PassingÃ¢â¬ Score This step is perhaps a bit more subjective, so IÃ¢â¬â¢ll be as transparent here as possible. If you want to come to a passing ACT score, youÃ¢â¬â¢ll want to look at a schoolÃ¢â¬â¢s 25th percentile ACT scores. This is far from a safe bet, however - your chances of getting in will heavily depend on the strength of the rest of your application if your ACT score is at or around the 25th percentile. If your GPA is lower than average for a particular school, for example, your ACT score would have to be higher in order to make up for it. I think that the best target (read: ideal) ACT score lies at a schoolÃ¢â¬â¢s 75th percentile score. The 75th percentile is a sweet spot because youÃ¢â¬â¢d be more competitive (in terms of ACT scores) than Ã ¾ of students who are accepted to the school. If your typical ACT score is higher than the 75th percentile score, you might want to consider looking at more competitive schools - you want to aim as high as you reasonably can here (more competitive schools often mean better reputations, which tend to lead to better outcomes). HereÃ¢â¬â¢s how to set both ideal and Ã¢â¬Å"passingÃ¢â¬ ACT score benchmarks for yourself: Take the averages of the scores you collected for each school. First the average of the 25th percentile scores, then the average of the 75th percentile scores. The 25th percentile average is your Ã¢â¬Å"passingÃ¢â¬ goal score - the minimum you should be aiming for. The 75th percentile score is your target score - the score that has a great chance of getting you accepted to the colleges on your list. What If YouÃ¢â¬â¢re Worried About Reaching Your Target Score, or Even Your Passing Score? Perhaps these scores youÃ¢â¬â¢ve calculated seem higher than you would have expected. If your passing score in particular seems intimidatingly high, there are a few things to keep in mind: Remember that your target score (75th percentile average) is an ideal goal. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s supposed to be higher than what youÃ¢â¬â¢re scoring now (or maybe even what you think you can score). If the 25th percentile benchmark seems too high, consider re-evaluating your list of schools. You might want to look at colleges that are slightly less competitive. Conversely, if youÃ¢â¬â¢re already at or above that 75th percentile mark, consider looking at more competitive colleges. Strategies for Passing the ACT IÃ¢â¬â¢m going to split this section up into two parts meant for two different types of students: low-scorers and high-scorers. Here, IÃ¢â¬â¢m defining score parameters by the national performance standards: high scorers are at about 24 and above (75th percentile nationally), whereas low scorers are at about 16 and below (25th percentile nationally). If your performance is closer to the average (20), check out both sections and follow steps that you find most useful. Your best plan from here will depend on both where you are and where you want to be. How to Pass the ACT: Guidance for Low Scorers One problem that a lot of low-scorers have is that theyÃ¢â¬â¢re unsure of how to focus their time and energy when studying. Understanding your weaknesses is the first and most important step to tackling ACT prep. The biggest issue for low scorers is often significant gaps in content knowledge, so identifying and filling these gaps is typically a priority for ACT prep. Other mistakes may be due to: Running out of time Misunderstanding the question Running out of time Careless errors So how do you go about identifying where your issues are before taking steps to improve on them? First, youÃ¢â¬â¢ll have to invest some time in some serious self-analysis involving a baseline score. You canÃ¢â¬â¢t focus on improving before figuring out where you need to improve. Here are best practices for getting a solid baseline and gaining info on your weaknesses: Take a full, timed, diagnostic practice test Take note of which questions you got incorrect Tally the reasons for each incorrect question: Content Gap: Did you not have the information you needed to answer correctly? Timing Issue: Would you have gotten the question correct if you hadnÃ¢â¬â¢t run out of time? Question Misunderstanding: Would you have gotten the question correct if the question had been more clear? Careless Error: Would you have gotten the question correct if you had spent an extra couple of seconds checking your work? If you find that content knowledge is your biggest problem, youÃ¢â¬â¢ll want to turn to your class notes, textbooks, and ACT prep books for review - not just ACT practice materials. We also have a bunch of ACT content guides to get you started: Ultimate ACT English Study Guide Ultimate ACT Science Study Guide Ultimate ACT Math Study Guide Complete Guide to ACT Writing Once youÃ¢â¬â¢ve conquered major content problems, you can hone in on specific content areas and work on careless errors and timing issues. YouÃ¢â¬â¢ll find tips for addressing those problems in the next section. How to Pass the ACT: Guidance for High Scorers If youÃ¢â¬â¢re a relatively high scorer, you probably have a general idea of where your major strengths and weaknesses are on the ACT. YouÃ¢â¬â¢re likely pretty strong on content overall, unlike the typical low scorer. High scorers usually lose points due to three issues: Carelessness: loss of focus leading to silly mistakes Timing problems: you simply run out of time to give each question its due Content gaps: small areas of knowledge that you havenÃ¢â¬â¢t mastered 100% If you want to get close to that ideal score, youÃ¢â¬â¢ll want to attack each of these potential issues. IÃ¢â¬â¢ll address each of these problems in this section, but you may want to check out our detailed guide for high scorers for more info. Carelessness ItÃ¢â¬â¢s pretty easy to identify a question youÃ¢â¬â¢ve missed due to carelessness. You get that horrible feeling when you recognize that you would have gotten the question right, if only youÃ¢â¬â¢d paid a tiny bit more attention. Careless mistakes often occur when students arenÃ¢â¬â¢t actively reading. Start focusing your attention with these tips: Double-read each question and underline important words. Take notes on passages. In the math section, mark up diagrams with important info and write out your arithmetic. Double- check your answer before marking it down. Timing Issues Running out of time at the end of sections? First, spend less time on easy questions - just keep an eye out for those careless errors. Next, skip tough questions and come back to them later. This doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t mean you shouldnÃ¢â¬â¢t guess if youÃ¢â¬â¢re out of time (thereÃ¢â¬â¢s no guessing penalty, so you should definitely guess). If youÃ¢â¬â¢ve still got plenty of time to work through the section, though, mark the problem question and come back to it later. Timing issues can stress out pretty much everyone, but with practice, you can learn to overcome them. Filling in Content Gaps Your first task here is identifying which questions you get wrong in your practice, and more importantly, why you get them wrong. This means going over all your mistakes after each practice session. Keep a careful tally of each content area every time you identify an error (hint: most content errors happen on the math section). Use your class notes, textbooks, or reliable ACT prep book to review this content. Come back and do more practice problems in this area until youÃ¢â¬â¢re confident in your understanding. What You Must Remember About How to Pass the ACT There might not be an official ACT passing score, but that somehow seems to make things more complicated. What you might consider passing will depend on the sorts of schools you hope to get into, but I hope you think more in terms of target or goal scores than just Ã¢â¬Å"good enoughÃ¢â¬ scores. If youÃ¢â¬â¢re worried that your ACT scores arenÃ¢â¬â¢t up to par, donÃ¢â¬â¢t worry just yet - there are tons of things you can do to bring them up, no matter where you might be on the percentile charts. What matters most when setting a passing score are the goals you set for yourself. WhatÃ¢â¬â¢s Next? There are a lot of helpful materials available if youÃ¢â¬â¢re worried about Ã¢â¬Å"passingÃ¢â¬ the ACT. For an overview, read our guide with the four best tips for studying for the test. If you need a fun, refreshing way to study, learn about the five best ACT prep games. Maybe youÃ¢â¬â¢re looking for more detailed information. If thatÃ¢â¬â¢s the case, check out our 10-step ACT study plan. Want to improve your ACT score by 4 points? Check out our best-in-class online ACT prep program. We guarantee your money back if you don't improve your ACT score by 4 points or more. Our program is entirely online, and it customizes your prep program to your strengths and weaknesses. We also have expert instructors who can grade every one of your practice ACT essays, giving feedback on how to improve your score. Check out our 5-day free trial: