Wondering how to calculate your GPA from marks or percentage grade in India for your US uni’s application? Here’s a complete guide to GPA conversions.
Hey everyone. I’ve been receiving this question often from Harvard applicants, about how to calculate your GPA from Indian grading system of percentages or marks. Today I answer this question, and also explain if you even need to do this conversion.
How to Calculate Your GPA from Indian Grading System
Here’s the short answer if you’re asking how to how to calculate your GPA from your percentage score:
When you’re applying to American universities, you’ll see that the application form asks you to fill in your GPA. However, in most cases, it’s not necessary to actually enter a GPA out of 4.0. For the top universities, ivy league schools such as Harvard, they’ll just as well accept your percentage score out of 100.
You should never convert your percentage from Indian grading system to 4.0 scale GPA, because all conversion systems work differently, and a simple calculation will represent your score wrongly. If you earn 50% marks in an Indian college, that doesn’t equate to a 2.0 GPA, because this isn’t how GPA is calculated.
Some conversion scales will convert anything above 70% to a 4.0 GPA. This is commonly used, but still isn’t accurate, because this doesn’t differentiate someone who received a 90% score (outstanding) with someone who received 70% (above average). Moreover, while 50% marks may be the minimum passing marks in some Indian colleges , many US colleges need a 2.75 GPA to graduate.
I know this may be getting confusing, so let me explain my reasoning for this:
Indian Percentage System
Indian schools and colleges use a grading system which gives marks or grades, which we then convert into a cumulative percentage. This is especially true for schools, wherein from junior to high school, students receive marks out of 100 for each subject and then they calculate their average percentage grade.
In some colleges, students receive marks out of 100, however that depends on subject, degree or college. For example, in my college, certain subjects had marks out of 30, others had out of 180, and so on. And together, we added up all the marks to calculate a total cumulative score out of 1000. I know!
Colleges in India also look at these marks or percentages when admitting students for bachelor’s or master’s degrees, etc., and this is why Indian students get used to this system. However, things start getting confusing for anyone applying to foreign universities, as you come to know that they use a GPA system there. When you look at US universities’ applications, chat forums, or talk to others who are applying, GPA crops up in conversations and in the beginning, it’s always confusing to find out how to calculate your GPA!
So today, I thought I’d clarify some of these concerns by talking about whether you need to calculate your GPA as an Indian student, and if so, how to convert your percentage to GPA.
Percentage Grades vs. GPA
For Indian students, marks are always very important – everyone wants to know how many marks you got and what percentage you got. And for percentages, they are easy to calculate and compare, too. So this system is actually quite useful.
In the US, schools, colleges and universities use a number calculated from the grades you earn in classes called GPA. GPA can lie anywhere between 0 to 4.0. Your highest GPA can be 4.0. Simply speaking, GPA is the cumulative average of all of a student’s grades in all their classes.
Just like in India, some colleges may require a minimum GPA for students to apply or continue. Similarly, some subjects may require a minimum GPA for students to take it up. Also, when students are applying to American (or Canadian) colleges or universities from other countries, they may encounter applications asking you to fill in your GPA.
How to Calculate GPA
GPA stands for Grade Point Average. You can calculate grade point average by dividing the total amount of grade points you earn in a class by the total amount of credit hours you applied for the class.
This chart shows how to convert letter grade or percentage points to GPA:
A = 90-100%: GPA = 4
B = 80-89%: GPA = 3
C = 70-79%: GPA = 2
D = 60-69%: GPA = 1
F = 60% or less: GPA = 0
2 Reasons Why GPA Doesn’t Work for Indian Grading System
As I mentioned before, one should ideally never convert the percentage score from Indian schools to a GPA on 4.0 scale. Here are two main reasons for that.
1. Indian Grading System Doesn’t Take Class Hours into Account
GPA also takes into account, as I mentioned above, the credits you earned in each class, which depends on how long each of the classes was. For example, some classes may be 3 hours long (3 credits) and so on.
The Indian schooling system, on the other hand, awards percentages or points to students, which are a cumulative score for the marks a student receives differently for each class, depending on the subject. For our colleges, these individual marks or grades then get converted to a total or average percentage which we calculate for every semester in college, and finally, for all the years combined.
As you can understand, this cumulative percentage doesn’t take into account exactly how long they were or how many hours we spend in each class. Therefore, any comparison would not be right.
2. Indian Grading System Works Differently When You Consider Class Averages
If you see the above table, for someone who receives a 60% average score in college, they get a 0.0 GPA. Now, for a 60% score in India is not exactly considered bad. It’s actually considered average. However, if you apply to a good American university with a 0.0 GPA, they won’t even look at your application. You’ll be rejected before they read your Indian name.
Similarly, if you received 89% marks in college and wanted to apply to an American university for master’s, you’ll convert your GPA to a 3.0. 89% marks would mean, in India, that you were among the top 5% in your class for many colleges (depending on how the college awards marks). However, with a 3.0 GPA, you’ll be considered just an above average student in the US.
As you can see, this system on how to calculate your GPA fails to really talk about how the student performed academically, and this doesn’t do justice to their marks. It’s not a fair comparison.
Should You Convert Your Percentage to GPA?
The thing you should actually be asking is, whether you even need to convert your percentage to a GPA. The simple answer is no.
When you’re filling in the application for most American colleges, you’ll see they ask your GPA and there, you can fill in how much your GPA is out of. So the easiest thing to do would be to just write your percentage there out of 100.
This will help the admissions officer to do their own calculation for their internal discussion purposes. The top ranking American universities frequently receive applications from the top Indian colleges, and therefore, their admission officers are already aware that here in India, schools and colleges don’t award GPA. In fact, they have a pretty good idea of what percentage score is good, depending on your college or degree.
So simply stating your actual marks that you received is the best idea. In fact, universities ask you to submit actual transcripts (or grade-cards) that you receive from your school or college, so they’ll know that they awarded you marks, not a GPA.
Top American Universities Specifically Ask You to Not Convert Your Grade to a GPA
Universities like Harvard, Yale, Standford, Wharton, etc. happily accept your percentage score, as they know the grading norms in India. While applying, I myself didn’t convert my percentage to GPA in most of my applications (unless a school required it).
This is evident by many statements published by universities clarifying this concern on their admissions websites:
The admission page of Yale University School of Management says, “No, if your GPA is not reported on your transcript, you should not calculate it for the application. Please report the same GPA that is listed on your transcript.”
In fact, the admissions page of Columbia Business School mentions this, too, “Applicants should report their grade point average as it appears on their transcript.”
Similarly, the Harvard Business School class profile mentions the average GPA of their accepted class of 2021 as 3.70, where they mention this is, “Based on 690 students whose schools used a 4.0 grading scale.” So they don’t compare the grades or marks for any other schools in this, as they understand the two aren’t comparable.
Also, Stanford Graduate School of Business admission page also says, “If you attended a school that reports grades on a scale other than a 4.0 numeric system, report that GPA or classification and the grading scale used.” They also mention, “Do not convert your college/university’s scale. If necessary, you may explain how you calculated your GPA in the ‘Additional Information’ section.”
How to Calculate Your GPA if Your Application Requires It?
Wondering how to convert your marks to GPA if you absolutely need to? In some cases, your college or university will require you to fill in a GPA out of 4.0. These colleges may be those who receive comparatively less applicants from foreign universities. In these cases, here’s a chart from Wikipedia that you can use, which seems to do more justice:
|Scale||U.S. Grade Equiv.||GPA Equiv.|
Hope my guide on conversions and how to calculate your GPA from marks was helpful. Have any questions? Let me know below and I’ll try to answer them.
All the best!