GPA Weighting


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Dec 17, 2008
I'm now finished applying to the USAFA and have received my nomination , but the one thing I have been worried about is my GPA. It currently stands at at a 3.42 and will likely stay about the same after first semester. I get the feeling that it is lower than the average for the Academy. All my extracurriculars are fine, I am an eagle scout, I've received the Mitchell Award (CAP), I am a co-captain on the XC team and I have soloed a plane. I am interested in how they will compare the GPA to other factors. Here are a few things I've been wondering about as far as the selection panel's consideration when analyzing the academic component. In particular I am curious about how these things compare with the importance of the GPA and Class rank.

1. Course Composition: I've stayed in almost entirely advanced courses throughout highschool, and I'll be taking 7 AP tests at the end of the year.
In our school these grades are unweighted and students will typically have to be taking no sports or major extracurriculars to be able to pull straight A's with a heavy course load.

2. Competitiveness of the High School: Our school is ranked highly nationwide as far as who gets into what colleges and the average testing scores of students. I'm assuming this info gets put in the high school profile that is sent with the secondary school report. I know that our school does not usually release class rank due to the unusually competitive environment and that they gave a special release for Academy purposes and said I was in the top 30%.

3. Standardized Test Scores: Will the academy be less critical of a lower GPA if they notice above average (for the Academy) test scores in supplement with the difficult classes. My SAT scores were Critical Reading: 670 Math: 720 Writing: 620.

Thank you for your Input.
Is this your school GPA or the one that shows on your application, I ask b/c you state courses are UW and that may make your gpa higher according to the AFA
If you get great sat/act scores (which those are great although if you can bump up the writing a little it would be even better) then your lower gpa wont effect you as much, because if you get lower grades than others but do better on the tests that usually means that your classes are more advanced and challenging. Colleges always take this into consideration.
Is this your school GPA or the one that shows on your application, I ask b/c you state courses are UW and that may make your gpa higher according to the AFA

My high school GPA and the one reported on the online App. are the same despite the lack of weighting in our school. Should I contact the academy about this or sit on it? I would consider this fact both because I feel moderate adjustment would be justified and because I've heard of others who had a non-weighted GPA but saw a configured GPA on their App. With 5 AP's completed so far and a significant amount of honors courses, the weighting would help alot. My HS is a 3.42 and I see it reported as a 3.42 so I don't know if that is what the panel will see or if they have their own private adjustment system. If theirs anyone who knows about how the panel treats this, your input would be a great help
Leave it alone. They have their formula and you can jump up and down, but that is still going to be the number. I would suggest when your mid term grades come in, to submit them b/c it can change your score, esp. if you are Acing them

The Panel sees the grade that your application shows....i.e. DS's gpa was different than his HS. You are reviewed on their official record. It is up to you to make sure that the transcript is correct. It will also be up to you keep your military record correct as and AD
Our experience with ref to your questions.

1. When we visited two years ago, we spoke to the director of admissions (prevous to Col. Cleaves) who said they had their "own formula" and to take the hardest course load -- that a B in an AP course was better than an A in a non-AP course -- where your school had both options. He said this was especially important in math and science. He indicated they looked at the options and then looked at what YOU chose. So you're on the right track. Consequently, my son chose his course load based on that conversation. His re-configured USAFA gpa was more than a half-point higher than his un-weighted school gpa, but lower than his weighted school gpa. Why the difference? Can't say, but we speculate they gave more weight to AP's rather than honors, or less weight to honors than the school did. The school does send their "how we weight" formula along with the official transcript (but, like your school, don't rank students within the class). By the way, his "submitted GPA" showed on the website as he submitted it for a long time - then one day it "just changed" to his re-configured GPA.

2. Competitiveness - we live in fly-over country yet this same colonel seemed familiar with my son's high school and its ranking within our state (the high school sends kids to the SA's pretty regularly). He indicated that they - USAFA - not only use the school profile but seemed to imply they used other information and "not to worry" because they had ways to compare candidates from schools with no or few AP/honors courses with those schools that have many of those courses. Have you asked your counselor for a copy of the school profile? Most are available to a parent if they are reluctant to give it to you.

3. As to 3, who knows? While the numbers all are important, there is no formula that predicts a certain outcome. As you'll hear many times, it's the whole package they look at. Pm me if you want more info.

Good questions, and good luck!
Thank you for the response, that really answered a lot. I am glad to hear that they look well upon a difficult course curriculum. I actually heard from an Alumni a while back that course difficulty was important to the academy; a fact which helped motivate me to keep up a heavy course load. I will keep checking up on the application to see if they modify the GPA. I don't know what the time frame is for those profile changes but I completed the application fully about a week and a half ago so we shall see what comes of it. I will also look into getting a copy of this years profile; I am sure it won't be a problem.

Thanks for the input :)
We had the same experience as RaptorDad with the admissions department adjusting son's GPA. Our son's weighted GPA was a 3.89, and when it showed on the website it had been adjusted up to a 4.0. When we asked his ALO about it, we were told it was adjusted up based on the amount of AP courses he took.

Excuse me stealth but how many AP classes did your son take? I have a 3.8 weighted GPA but the academy hasn't used that...they have used the 3.4 or something on the application for me. I have had AP Calc 1 and 2 AP Chem 1 and 2 in AP Bio 1 now, and AP Bio 2 and AP Lit next semester... THANKS!
The weighting system is definitely something that I know WHAT is being done, but I have yet to figure out HOW it is done. I've had counselors, ALOs, etc... explain it. It still doesn't make sense. It almost comes down to what actual classes. AP by itself isn't the only factor. I.e. AP Art History or AP Studio Art isn't weighed comparatively as much as AP Physics or AP Calc is to a "Normal" physics or calc class. Also; my son never took 1 AP class at all because he was in the IB program. Debating which one is better is for another topic; however, if you are in the IB Program, and not just taking IB classes; then your schedule is pretty much stacked. He basically had 2 electives per semester that he could take. However, when he's taking IB Calc, it makes no sense to turn around in the same semester and take AP Calc. While the air force academy was very high on his priorities; I FORCED him to maintain a balanced life. Which meant taking some "FUN" electives; doing sports and clubs; etc... The IB program forced him to do volunteer and other areas. The point is; they weighted all of those classes differently than even how AP classes are weighted. So basically; each class is weighted individually based on what classes are available, the difficulty of the classes, and the grade received. With so many school districts with different standards around the country, comparing a school in Idaho that has absolutely no AP or IB classes to a school in Suburbia Dallas with 30 AP classes and the entire IB program, is quite difficult. Anyway, it's a difficult process weighting all of that. If your records have been reviewed; check with your ALO and see if they can find out your Academic composite score. It's not normally available, but sometimes they can find out. It will be a number in the high hundreds. E.g. 675, 750, 785, 801, etc... That is supposedly the composite academic score which includes your gpa, class ranking, ACT/SAT/ etc.... and their scoring. Can't promise the ALO can get it or tell you, but if you can, that's cool. At least you'd sort of know where you are. FWIW (I can't quite remember exactly) I think the highest score for the academic portion is like 801 or 805. Something around there. later.... mike.....
i've been a "candidate" for almost two months now, and my gpa is still:

"4.12 (Your GPA listed may be refigured by USAFA and may not match the GPA reported by your school.)"

I figured they still haven't gotten around to changing that, or maybe they have and it has come to be the same as my school's? when the academy refigures your gGPA, do they write anything special next to it that would tell you that they have calculated it themselves?
This is very refigured GPA is the same as what I submitted...maybe they haven't "refigured it yet". Even though they have my transcript and have had it for months---some clarification on refiguring notification would be great.
It's quite possible that based on the classes, difficulty, grades, etc... that the grade that you received is the grade they calculated. Our high school doesn't weight classes at all. Kind of sucks. My son's gpa was exactly the same as what the academy posted on the online application. Exactly. later... mike....
But the difference from a 3.8 weighted and 3.3/4ish unweighted is pretty significant. I would think they would boost it up some since I have had 20 honors level and AP classes.

Our son had 5 AP classes. One of the things that our son's ALO also said, in line with what Christcorp said, is that every high school had a sort of "difficulty" rating. (Our son's high school was a Catholic college prep school known for difficult classes and no grade inflation.) The ALO said that the schools rating had an effect on how the Academy adjusted his grades. Of course, that is just going by what the ALO said, I really have no way of knowing exactly how everything is done.
Thats strange because my school is very competitive too and I have a 3.8 weighted with over 5 ap classes so far. Thanks for the explanation though!
A few things to remember. A lot of schools consider themselves "Competitive". That is why the academy and most colleges requests a school profile. Saying the classes offered, the average gpa, where most of the graduates go to college, etc... Seems like most schools like to call themselves competitive. Not saying yours isn't. But what really varies from school to school is the gpa when the weight the classes. We had one poster on here who's school had a weighting system that took the score actually above a 5. Some only weight as high as the mid 4's. Then, compare that to a school that doesn't weight at all. So, in all reality, a weighted 3.8 to an unweighted 3.4 isn't that significant.

Now; this is where is gets tricky. That is just your gpa. Do NOT READ MORE INTO IT. That's all that is. You know I love math, so imagine something for me. Imagine that the highest score in the academic section of the academy application is 800 points. Each gpa is times 100. So, you have 340 points so far towards the max of 800. (3.4 gpa times 100 = 340). Then, averaging 7 classes per semester times 4 years, that equals 56 classes. You get 10 points for every advanced AP/IB class you took. So, assuming 20 classes were AP, that's another 200 points. Now you have 540 points of a max of 800. Then, they find a common denominator to compare ACT tests to SAT test. So, lets say you get 10% for each SAT test score. You got a 650 and 660. Thats 65 and 66 points. That's another 131 points. Now you are at 671 points. Then you get 50 points if in the top 10% class ranking. 40 points if in the top 20%. So, we'll give 50 points for this. Now you are at 721 points out of 800 max.

Now; all of these points are fictitious but hopefully you understand the concept. It's this type of formula that they use to develop the max academic scores. Of course, there are other variables used to compensate for other difference. e.g. Home schooled; School without AP or IB classes available; etc... So. the point is; don't worry about how they marked your gpa. Yes, everyone would love if there's was a 4.0. Obviously, the only ones that will be probably a 4.0 are those that have a 4.0 unweighted to begin with or have the max weighted gpa available. The point is, relax. The gpa is part of a total academic package that includes gpa, sat/act, class rank, course difficulty, and school profile. Best of luck to you. later... mike....
Hey thanks alot Mike, that post clears up alot! Very informative.
Thanks Christcorp............... my brain is now mush... LOL....

my D's school doesnt weight the gpa's... I am so happy.. to much to figure out
My son's high school didn't weigh gpa's either. Which is a little tough when "In theory" the #1 class ranked student could theoretically had the mandatory basic math, english, etc... and had all wood shop, band, and weight lifting for the rest of their classes. Fortunately for my son, he didn't have to worry about that scenario affecting him. However, I am sure there were some kids in the IB program who's class rank may have been a little lower because they weren't weighted and a Basket Weaving student was ranked higher than they were. Probably not a problem for most students, but possibly for some. later... mike....