I'm preparing my grad school applications (CV, letter of intent, etc) and in these I need to include my GPA. My school uses the 4.3 scale and I feel as though not including this information is misleading since my GPA will look better when compared to someone who is actually marked out of a 4.0.

But I have not seen this in any online example nor have I seen it in any of the outlines that schools give for their expected applications.

Should I include the GPA scale and if so how do I do this? Would 3.9 / 4.3 be reasonable?

Update / Solution

By the general look of the comments it is best to avoid ambiguity by stating the scale up front. So, I think the general consensus is GPA/grades should be reported along side their scales.

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    I've never included in my CV, but I did always send my diploma supplement that contains a detailed explanation of the grading system. – gerrit Jul 24 '15 at 13:08
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    In countries where GPA is unheard of, one always includes both numerator and denominator for marks. The Italian high school final exam is marked out of /100 and university degrees out of /110. You'll therefore see people writing things like 104/110. – JoErNanO Jul 24 '15 at 14:44
  • Your official transcript will almost certainly explain your institution's grading system, including the fact that the top of the scale is 4.3, not 4.0. – JeffE Jul 24 '15 at 22:56

I had the experience of sitting on a graduate admissions committee during my years in graduate school. (This was at a "top-10" school in my field, though not a "top-5".) In my experience, the raw GPA number was mainly used to make a "first cut" to weed out the fraction of applications that were almost certainly sub-par. (Things like super-low GRE scores were also used at this stage as well.) Once the applications got beyond this initial screening, committee members would read carefully through them; and at this point, the raw GPA was put aside in favor of the more detailed grade information on the transcript. Almost every transcript, especially those from US colleges or universities, had an explanation on the back about the system used to assign grades and calculate the GPA. There's enough variety in the systems used by different institutions (even within the US—foreign institutions had even more variety) that I always had to read through this information to contextualize what I saw on the transcript.

Which is to say: it's probably best to be honest about your GPA in the CV. But if you don't mention it specifically, the committee members will almost certainly still be able to figure out that your school had a 4.3 scale; and they almost certainly won't hold it against you for not mentioning it once they've figured it out.

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    "the committee members will almost certainly still be able to figure out" - seriously? As each country/discipline/university, in a given year, can have a different scale, do they put so much effort in the very initial step? While 4.3 clearly indicates a different scale what if it were 3.9 or 4.0 (out of, say, 6)? – Piotr Migdal Jul 24 '15 at 18:33
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    I can only speak to my own experience. It's possible, of course, that faulty assumptions concerning GPAs are made and never caught by any of the multiple committee members reading a given application (though the fact that multiple people read each application makes this less likely.) I'm merely saying that graduate admissions committees are aware that non-standard grading scales exist, and so they're generally on the lookout for them. – Michael Seifert Jul 24 '15 at 19:01

If your transcript doesn't include an explanation of the grading system (usually on the back?), then why not include a copy of the page in the bulletin or other official document that explains it?

I have to agree with the previous poster, having been a student rep on the admissions committee of my Ph.D. program (top-5 school), that 99% of those applying will have excellent GPAs and GRE scores. The faculty told the student reps to look for people whose statements suggested they would be a good fit for our program (i.e., knew what the program was about and spoke to that in their statement, rather than submitting a cookie-cutter statement that would serve for all ten of the programs they applied to). Indeed, that made the good candidates stand out and was the best indicator of who was ultimately admitted. The more you appeal to even an individual faculty member who thinks it would be interesting to work with you, the better your chances of admission.

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