Grades Information

Grades Information

The College of Letters and Science offers two grading options for undergraduates: letter grades (A through F) and passed/not passed (P/NP) grades. In addition, three grades (I, IP, and W) are assigned in certain circumstances. Further information about grades can be found in the General Catalog.

The grade-point average (or GPA) is the average grade that a student has earned in a group of letter graded courses. The following video presentation shows you how to calculate a grade point average.

The grade-point balance is a measure in grade points of how far you are over or under the minimum standard (2.0 GPA). A negative balance is often called a deficit. The following video presentation shows you how to calculate a grade point balance.

If you would like practice in calculating grade-point averages and balances, check out our online GPA and GPB calculator.

If you have failed a course you can repeat it to try to improve your grade point average or to satisfy a requirement. There are strict guidelines for repeating courses, and these are explained in the General Catalog.

Guide to Calculating your GPA

Students looking to calculate their grade point average, based on a set of given courses, units, and grades, should use the Grade Point Average and Grade Point Balance Calculator.  Alternately, for those seeking a more hands on approach, the following guide explains how GPA & GBP are calculated in detail.

To calculate your GPA, you start by using all courses completed on a letter-grade basis (A+ through F). You do NOT use courses graded P, NP, IP, W, or I. The grade you receive in a course determines how many grade points you receive for that course. For each unit in the course, you earn the grade points as shown in Table 1, below.

Table 1: Grades and Grade-point Values

A+ 4.0
A 4.0
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0
D- 0.7
F 0

Therefore, if you earn a B+ in a 4-unit course, you earn 4 x 3.3 grade points, or 13.2 grade points. If you earn a D in a 5-unit course, you earn 5 x 1.0 grade points, or 5 grade points.

Calculating your grade-point average requires relating the grade points you have earned in courses to the unit value of those courses. For example, suppose that in a quarter you receive the following grades and units:

  Units Grade
Course #1 4 B+
Course #2 3 A
Course #3 4 C
Course #4 2 P

The grade points you have earned are calculated as follows:

  Units Grade Grade Points
per Unit
Grade Points
for course
Course #1 4 B+ 3.3 13.2
Course #2 3 A 4.0 12.0
Course #3 4 C 2.0 8.0 
Course #4 2 P 0.0 0.0 

To calculate your GPA, you must divide the total number of grade points earned in your letter-graded courses by the number of letter-graded units you have attempted. Note that Course #4 does not apply to the calculation because you chose P/NP grading.

To calculate your GPA, we extract the following information from Courses 1 through 3:

  Units Grade Grade Points
per Unit
Grade Points
for course
Course #1 4 B+ 3.3 13.2
Course #2 3 A 4.0 12.0
Course #3 4 C 2.0 8.0 
Course #4 2 P 0.0 0.0 
Total 13    (11 letter-graded units) 33.2

 

GPA
=
Total Grade Points
=
33.2
=
3.01
Letter Graded Units
11

If you would like more practice in this,

Each letter grade, except C, has an impact on the grade-point balance. For each unit of letter-graded courses, the grade-point balance impact of the letter grade is found by subtracting 2.0 from the grade points you have actually earned. Table 2 summarizes this for each letter grade.

Table 2: How Grades Affect Your Grade-Point Balance

Grades Per Unit Contribution to Grade-Point Balance
A+ 2.0
A 2.0
A- 1.7
B+ 1.3
B 1.0
 B- 0.7
C+ 0.3
C 0.0
C- -0.3
D+ -0.7
D -1.0
D- -1.3
F -2.0

 

Note that that each grade above C improves the grade-point balance, each grade below C reduces it, and grades of C have no effect on the grade-point balance. Table 3 summarizes the impact on grade-point balance of courses with different unit values for each grade.

Table 3: Summary of Grade-Point Balance by Grade and Unit Value

Grade 1 Unit 2 Units 3 Units 4 Units 5 Units
A or A+ +2.0 +4.0 +6.0 +8.0 +10.0
A- +1.7 +3.4 +5.1 +6.8 +8.5
B+ +1.3 +2.6 +3.9 +5.2 +6.5
B +1.0 +2.0 +3.0 +4.0 +5.0
B- +0.7 +1.4 +2.1 +2.8 +3.5
C+ +0.3 +0.6 +0.9 +1.2 +1.5
C 0 0 0 0 0
C- -0.3 -0.6 -0.9 -1.2 -1.5
D+ -0.7 -1.4 -2.1 -2.8 -3.5
D -1.0 -2.0 -3.0 -4.0 -5.0
D- -1.3 -2.6 -3.9 -5.2 -6.5
F -2.0 -4.0 -6.0 -8.0 -10.0

Using the example above:

  Units Grade Grade Points
per Unit
Grade Point Balance
for Course
Course #1 4   B+ 3.3 5.2
Course #2 3 A 4.0 6.0
Course #3 4 C 2.0 0.0
Course #4 2 P 0.0 0.0
Total 13    (11 letter-graded units) 11.2

Again, each grade above C improves your grade-point balance, each grade below C damages it, and C grades have no effect.

The grade-point balance is particularly useful if your GPA is below 2.0, since it gives you insight into what you have to do to get into good academic standing. For example, if you have a grade-point balance of -16 (deficit of 16 grade points), you must improve your grade-point balance by achieving grades above C in an appropriate number of units. In this case, you could eliminate this negative balance (or deficit) by earning grades of B in 16 units or A in 8 units. Use Table 3 to find other combinations of grades that would eliminate this deficit.

Each letter grade, except C, has an impact on the grade-point balance. For each unit of letter-graded courses, the grade-point balance impact of the letter grade is found by subtracting 2.0 from the grade points you have actually earned. Table 2 summarizes this for each letter grade.

If you would like more practice in calculating grade-point balances, try our our GPA & GPB Calculator.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I repeat a course and what happens if I do?

 

Most courses can be taken for credit just one time, but students are allowed to repeat a course when they earn a C- or lower.   If a student repeats a course for which she/her received a grade of C- or lower, the grade for the most recent attempt the student replaces the previous grade in the UC grade calculation for up to 16 units from repeated courses.  If a student repeats a courses after repeating beyond 16 units, both the previous grade and the most recent grade are calculated into the GPA. Students must petition to repeat a course for a second time, and these petitions are almost never granted.  In addition to improving your GPA, ot can be beneficial to repeat a course if it covers information fundamental to your major or if you need a better grade as a pre-requisite for another course you need to take.  Sometimes, however, it’s best to let it go, to not repeat a course that you didn’t enjoy and don’t need.  It often makes sense to discuss it with an advisor before repeating a course.

What are the benefits of taking a course Passed/Not Passed?

Some students may choose to take a course Passed/Not Passed to maintain their high GPAs. If you are confident that you will receive at least a C in the course, but that the grade will bring down your GPA, you may wish to consider this option. Conversely, if you are absolutely certain that you will fail a course (not even a D-), a grade of NP will not affect your GPA.

What are the potential downsides of taking a course Passed/Not Passed?

  • If you are taking a course Passed/Not Passed, a grade of C- will become a grade of NP on your transcript. With a grade of NP, you may save your GPA but lose units; with a grade of C-, you will earn units but you may harm your GPA.
  • You must complete a minimum of 76 letter-graded University of California units to graduate with honors, high honors, or highest honors.
  • Pre-law students should note that the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) will calculate a grade of NP as an F when considering applicants for admission into their program.

Is there a limit to the number of Passed/Not Passed classes I take in one quarter?

No, there is no limit to the number of courses you take P/NP in a given quarter (provided that you do not intend to apply the courses to your major or minor). However, remember that at the time of graduation, at least 120 or two-thirds of your UCSB units must be on a letter-graded basis.

If I've completed everything for my major but want to take extra courses in that department, do those have to be for a letter grade too?

Students who take major or minor courses in excess of minimum major or minor requirements may elect the P/NP grading option for those courses.