Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by ALEX. ALEX Wonders, “What is gpa ” Thanks for WONDERing with us, ALEX!

What do you want to do with your life after you graduate from high school? If you're like many kids, you may have your sights set on attending a particular college. And if you want to go to college, then you know what you need to do in high school: get good grades!

How do you keep track of your grades? Do you count the number of As and Bs you receive? Most kids instead monitor one particular number calculated by most schools. What are we talking about? Your GPA, of course!

GPA stands for grade point average. It's one number that sums up how well you've performed academically in a particular semester (often called your term GPA) or over the course of your whole high school career (known as your cumulative GPA).

Most grade point averages are calculated on a four-point scale. That means the best possible GPA is a 4.0. To calculate your GPA, you need to add up the points you receive for each individual grade you receive and then divide by the number of classes you have.

For example, a typical scale assigns grade values as follows: A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, and F (or sometimes U) = 0. Grades with a minus or a plus are given a value above or below the corresponding letter grade. In many systems, an A- would be 3.7 points.

If you have five classes and you get an A in each class, your total points would be 20 (five As at four points each). Dividing by five (your number of classes), gives you a GPA of 4.0.

What if you don't get all As? For example, let's assume you got two As and three Bs instead. That's a total of 17 points (two As at four points each and three Bs at three points each). Dividing by five (your number of classes) gives you a GPA of 3.4.

If you think of a B as a three and an A as a four, then you can see how a 3.4 GPA accurately reflects that your grades were slightly closer to Bs than As (three Bs and two As).

Not all schools use a four-point GPA scale. Schools that use what is known as a weighted GPA system might have a five-point GPA scale. In a weighted system, honors and advanced placement (AP) classes are given higher point values to reflect that they are tougher classes.

For example, in many systems, honors classes will be given an extra half-point (0.50), whereas advanced placement classes will often be given a whole extra point (1.0). Thus, an A in an honors class would equate to a 4.50 and an A in an advanced placement class would equate to a 5.0.

Even though the maximum GPA in a weighted system would be 5.0, most students would not be able to achieve a 5.0 GPA, because not all classes are usually available as advanced placement or honors courses. When applying to colleges, many schools will calculate all student GPAs on an unweighted scale to make comparisons between students easier.

Is your GPA important? Of course, it is! Studies show higher GPAs correlate to higher future earnings. A high GPA will also open the door to many opportunities in terms of scholarships and colleges.

In the long run, though, your GPA is just one indicator of your academic performance. Work experience, extracurricular activities, community service, and many other factors can contribute to achieving your dreams for the future!

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