Trying to understand GPA (. . . Scratching my head. Awww!)

We (my parents, my sister and I) grew up with the Percentage Marking System. Whatever we obtained in exams was directly converted into percentages. For example, I would get 80% if I obtained 640 out of 800. We were happy. We were satisfied.


This year, we were introduced to a new species of marking system- the GPA (Grade Point Average). We did not know what it exactly was. During more than ten months of advertisements about the GPA, neither the government bodies said what it exactly was, nor did the journalists ask anything. (I doubt on question-asking abilities of Nepalese news journalists because of many other cases.)  We obviously asked questions to ourselves but did not know who to consult with.

The Government published following details about the GPA and corresponding Letter Grades.

GPA      :   Letter Grades
4.0-3.6:    A+
3.6-3.2:    A
3.2-2.8:    B+
2.8-2.4:    B
2.4-2.0:    C+
2.0-1.6:    C
1.6-1.2:    D+
1.2-0.8:    D
0.0-0.8:    E

One thing they did not make clear was GPA can’t give actual percentage of which we are more familiar.

If someone obtains 4.0 GPA, it does not mean that they obtained 100%. According to what I have understood until now, it means that the student has obtained “A+” in all the subjects. As “A+” ranges from 90-100, it may actually denote any number between 90 and 100; the students can not know it, however.

What our simple minds understood was that 100 marks were compressed into 4 Grade Points.

We used simple unitary method then.
If 4 points are equivalent to 100%,
    1 point is equivalent to 25%
And then we multiplied the obtained GPA with 25 to obtain percentage based on the GPA.
For example: 3.65 GPA was multiplied by 25 to obtain 91.25%.

Turns out this is technically wrong in the GPA system. Because GPAs are not true representatives of the actual marks obtained.

Suppose, you obtained 73 out of hundred (73%) in Mathematics. If you go by the simple unitary method, 73% will be equal to 2.92 Actual Grade Points. However, the under the GPA system, the obtained marks is in the range between 70 and 80 and Grade Points will be assigned accordingly. (B+ or 2.8 on the SLC of 2072 B.S.). This is the how I have understood. (Correct me, please if I have mistaken.)

That being said, can anyone who has obtained less than 4.0 GPA obtain greater percentage than the one who obtained 4.0 GPA.
Let’s see a hypothetical example.

Two students A and B obtained following marks in eight subjects.
A: 98, 91, 99, 95, 92, 91, 94, 92
B: 99, 88, 100, 96, 97, 98, 96, 99

From what we have understood in this article, A has obtained 4.0 Grade Points in each subject. The The actual percentage, however is not 100, but 94.
Let’s observe B’s marks now. B has obtained 4.0 Grade Points in all subjects except one, which has to be 3.6. The GPA is 3.95. It is less than A’s. But calculate B’s percentage. It is 96.625. B has lower GPA although B’s actual percentage is higher.

Let’s come back to reality now. We do not know actual percentages. We just know GPAs. While we are naive enough to believe that A is the highest scorer because of better GPA than B, it might actually be an injustice to B.

Our media is more whimsical than analytical. I have already seen a news on Annapurna Post that a girl is a topper because she has obtained 4.0 GPA. (Her parents and school have claimed it. And we have seen already that they could be wrong.) While I still wish that she be the topper, one cannot be sure unless the actual marks and percentages are known.

That’s it for now. Yet, I am still scratching my head. I am not yet sure this is the correct explanation. Will you help me if I am wrong? . . . Please?

2 thoughts on “Trying to understand GPA (. . . Scratching my head. Awww!)

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