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I am going to apply for graduate school a year later. My institution is adapting an GPA algorithm which take all course grades record in to GPA calculation. But there is a consequence I think is unfavorable to students.

For example, I got a 1.0/4.0 for my calculus course in freshman which is a 6 credit course in freshman year(not because I mastered it poorly, in fact I mastered the material quite well by the time, it is because e.g. tiny numeric calculation errors in big point problems can ruin the whole final exam which is 70% of GPA in my school, and yes, enough to make it down to 1.0).I retake it and get a 4.0 a year later to prove that in fact I am well versed in this area. But the net effect for GPA calculation is that the two grades are all included and it is identical to (1.0+4.0)/2=2.5 GPA for 12 credits which is still of negative effect. I have a small number of courses but with huge credits badly screwed up and I find it difficult to pull my GPA up in this circumstance.

So, is this algorithm used widely among universities? If it is, how to overcome the downsides or the only way is to face it directly? How would admission offices in, e.g. US graduate schools, view this?

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    How can we know how any admissions department will assess grades? All we know for sure is that they will, as part of the application... So score better in your remaining courses... – Solar Mike Mar 15 at 5:40
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    There is a reasonable argument that the effect you describe is actually desirable. Especially for graduate school, what people are looking for in your grades is not mastery of calculus but rather success in mastering new material. By that standard, a student who gets an A in calculus on their first attempt has a stronger record than a student who got a D the first time and an A the second time. (I don't really agree with this argument, in part because I don't think GPA is really that important-but-fragile. Grad schools won't care about one D in a freshman calculus class.) – JeffE Mar 15 at 9:04
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My university has the same (default) GPA policy.

There is a reasonable argument that the effect you describe is actually desirable. Especially for graduate school, what people are looking for in your grades is not mastery of calculus but rather success in mastering new material. By that standard, a student who gets an A in calculus on their first attempt has a stronger record than a student who gets a D the first time and an A the second time.

I don't really agree with this argument, in part because I don't think GPA is either so important or so fragile that a single bad grade is actually dangerous. Grad schools won't care about one D in a freshman calculus class, and your improved grade on a second attempt is good evidence of your ability to recover from setbacks.

  • I am uncertain which argument you are disagreeing with. That a student has a better record if they get the A on the first attempt? – Tobias Kildetoft Mar 15 at 12:07
  • I don't agree that the effect on GPA is desirable. – JeffE Mar 15 at 13:30
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Graduate schools generally don't worry as much about your GPA as about the actual grades in the courses that are relevant to your course of study.

Let's take the example of a math graduate admissions committee. They will see applicants who get A or A+ in every math course they take, and get Bs in other courses. These applicants may have a lower GPA than other applicants who have a number of math courses with A- or B+, but the graduate admissions committee will greatly prefer the first set of applicants.

So the actual algorithm the school uses for calculating your GPA has a relatively low impact on your chance of admission.

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    They could, of course, calculate "their" version of a GPA based on the courses considered relevant to the program applied to... – Solar Mike Mar 15 at 10:27
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In my experience, this is fairly common. There is generally an overall gpa feature that averages grades from all courses, regardless of repeated classes. Departmental gpa does this same thing, but on a smaller scale (general education classes are calculated separate from your major and minor). These should be designated separately on your transcript.

A low gpa is difficult (but not impossible) to overcome. Grad school applications generally involve transcripts, test scores, a statement of purpose (SoP), and letters of recommendation. Focus on the things that you are able to change. Overall gpa can only be helped with doing better in future classes, but your concern over improvement between individual classes will track on a transcript.

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