I'm currently a college senior and I'm working on updating my resume. My GPA is a 3.46. Is it acceptable/ethical to put on my resume that my GPA is a 3.5?

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    It is frivolous. [more characters...] – paul garrett Aug 13 '14 at 0:33
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    it is about academic credentials though – RJ- Aug 13 '14 at 1:25
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    After you round up to 3.5, you should round-up again to 4. – RoboKaren Aug 13 '14 at 1:49
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    @earthling: I will overrule this—replace "resume" with "CV" and the question remains valid. Or replace "updating my resume" with "my graduate school applications." The question is relevant. – aeismail Aug 13 '14 at 4:24
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    One might argue that you should round it down to 3.00. Report it as is would be the best. – Penguin_Knight Aug 13 '14 at 12:31


Just report the GPA as it is listed on your report / certificate.

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  • What about a GPA that's reported to many more digits? 3.46251? – chmullig Apr 5 '15 at 1:10
  • I rarely have seen official reports where this happened (pretty much all reports I have seen had 2 digits). University always have some rule of "rounding" GPAs. If it is still about your CV I would still use the complete GPA, or, if you really want to round round at a position where you would round down anyway(e.i., to 3.46). However, if you have to fill a form that only allows 2 digits but your official GPA is 3.462, put 3.46 in there. If you have to use 3 digits out of your 5, I would still use 3.462 (noone will care if it is .462 or .463 anyway), except there is an instruction how to round. – The Almighty Bob Apr 5 '15 at 7:45

I agree with the other answers, which say that you shouldn't round a GPA of 3.46 to 3.5. Here's the reasoning I see behind this:

One scenario is that someone may be using a sharp cutoff (for example, a graduate fellowship that requires a 3.5 GPA). Then fine distinctions could matter, and everyone will be better off if your ineligibility is discovered early on. I consider sharp GPA cutoffs foolish, but unfortunately they are not as rare as they should be.

For anyone who is not committed to such a cutoff, there's no significant difference between 3.46 and 3.5, and logically it shouldn't really matter. On the other hand, there's a psychological difference, of the same sort as the difference between $9.99 and $10.00. The reason why rounding to 3.5 is appealing is that it crosses a psychological threshold that sounds better, but that's exactly why it's problematic. You don't want your resume to come across as manipulative, and that's what 3.5 looks like to me. I think "If your GPA were 3.52, you would report the extra digit to demonstrate that it was over 3.5, so a reported GPA of 3.5 means it's more likely something like 3.46. This candidate is probably trying to manipulate me by rounding the GPA to make it sound better." I wouldn't reject someone over GPA rounding, or consider it truly dishonest, but I wouldn't read the application as cheerfully or charitably as I might have otherwise.

For a more dramatic example, rounding 3.96 to 4.0 will look even more manipulative, since 4.0 has the special significance of meaning straight A's. I don't think anyone cares as much about 3.5 as a threshold, but it still signifies more A's than B's.

Note that rounding down is probably not in your interests either. If you round 3.44 to 3.4, then people may still assume you are rounding up from something like 3.36. It might not look as bad (since 3.4 is a less noteworthy threshold than 3.5), but you are still better off sticking with 3.44.

So how many digits should you use? If your school reports an official GPA, then I'd recommend using the same number of digits they use. Two digits is pretty standard, and I don't recall having seen more than three.

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Ethically, it is always best to round down slightly. If your GPA is 3.46251, I would specify it as 3.46. There isn't a big difference between 3.46 and 3.47, but 3.47 would be embellishing slightly, and that is not honorable.

It would be honorable to round it down to 3.4, but it has the air of fact falsification to round it up to 3.5.

The only possible case, where rounding it up to 3.5 maybe would be acceptable is the hypothetical case where you must choose from several options such as 3.0, 3.5, etc.

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