What is a Good GPA?

Based on an analysis of data from the 2011-12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), more than three quarters (75.1%) of high school graduates who are enrolled in college have an A or B high school GPA. This chart shows the distribution of college students according to high school GPA. Thus, a good high school GPA for a college-bound student should be at least a B and preferably an A. Students with a lower high school GPA do get into college, but may find it more challenging.

Distribution of College Students by High School GPA, 2011-12

The distribution of college students by high school GPA differs by gender. Women tend to graduate with more A’s in high school than men, as illustrated by the next chart. Still, a good high school GPA is at least a B and preferably an A, regardless of gender.

Distribution of College Students by High School GPA and Gender, 2011-12

Minority students have a similar distribution of high school GPA as White students. Again, a good high school GPA involves at least a B and preferably an A, regardless of race or ethnicity. Slightly more than three-quarters (78%) of White students have A’s and B’s, compared with more than two-thirds (71%) of minority students.

Distribution of College Students by High School GPA and Race, 2011-12

According to The American Freshman: Fifty-Year Trends, 1966-2015, published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, the proportion of college freshmen who report having earned a high school GPA of an A or A+ has increased from 13.4% in 1985 to 31.2% in 2015. The proportion reporting an A or A+ increased from 11.6% to 27.8% for men and 15.1% to 34.1% for women.

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