We receive many questions from international students about how grade point average (GPA) is calculated for the WES course-by-course evaluation, the credential evaluation required by international students for graduate admissions, undergraduate transfer admissions, and professional licensing purposes. The course-by-course evaluation determines your GPA equivalent under the U.S. higher education system, which operates on the 4.0 grading scale.
One of the questions we recently received, and whose answer we are going to tackle in this blog post, is as follows:
“If I went to a prestigious school, will the GPA on my evaluation be higher?”
The converted GPA on your evaluation is determined by a variety of criteria, including the grading culture and practices of the country where you studied. However, the quality or rank of the institution where you studied does not factor into the GPA that is calculated on your credential evaluation. In other words, if you studied at a particularly prestigious or rigorous school, that doesn’t translate into a higher GPA on your course-by-course evaluation.
Keep in mind that, although the competitiveness of your school is not factored into the GPA on your credential evaluation, you can still highlight the high quality of your foreign education institution elsewhere on your school application.
How to Emphasize the Quality of Your Foreign Education on Your School Application
Most U.S. undergraduate, graduate, and PhD programs, including those in law, business, liberal arts, engineering, science, and medicine, require applicants to submit a personal statement, essay(s), letter of intent, or some other writing sample that demonstrates your written communication skills and your reason(s) for applying to the school. Your writing sample is the perfect place to:
- provide clarification or additional information regarding your prior academic performance,
- highlight the selectivity of your foreign educational institution, or
- explain any gaps in your work history (this is particularly relevant if you are applying for an MBA or other post-graduate program where work experience is highly valued)
You cannot change the GPA on your transcripts or credential evaluation, nor can you alter your TOEFL or other exam scores; however, you can decide what to write in your writing sample.
Remember: Your personal statement, letter of intent, essay, or writing sample is the one part of your application that you have complete control over.
The writing sample is typically the only part of your application where you have the opportunity to explain any weaknesses in your application, emphasize your strengths and unique skills, persuade the admissions office that you’re a highly qualified applicant, and in general, talk yourself up.
In sum, since the course-by-course credential evaluation analyzes the courses taken and the grades received at your foreign institution, it is up to you to emphasize the academic standing or prestige of your foreign university in your graduate school application and, specifically, in your writing sample.
If you’d like to calculate your U.S. GPA, try our free WES GPA Calculator. This tool provides a U.S. GPA calculated on a 4.0 scale.
Please note that the results for the WES iGPA Calculator are for informational purposes only and may not be used as a proof of courses completed or grades achieved. If you plan on continuing your education in the U.S. or Canada, we recommend using our credential evaluation service for the most accurate results.