What do I Need on My Final?
A common refrain heard towards the end of a semester, figuring out what you need on the final in order to achieve a certain class grade is par for the course (pun intended). What's not so common is how exactly to accomplish this task. But not to worry, we'll take you step by step through how to calculate your class grade, and subsequently, how to calculate what you'll need on your final exam to hit your target GPA.
How to Calculate Your Class Grade
First things first, each teacher has a different way of figuring out grades, so remember this: it’s important to know how each class is calculating grades!
Now, let’s look at two different courses, and how the teacher is calculating the grade for each.
|Biology 101||Psychology 101|
|Unit Tests||10%||Unit Tests||25%|
|Final Exam||40%||Final Exam||50%|
In each of these classes, “weight” is placed on different activities of the course. For example, in Biology 101, the final exam is “weighted” or worth 40% of your grade. In Psychology 101, the final is worth 50% of the grade.
Understanding weighted grades
Both of these classes “weight” the final pretty heavily. So, if you keep your grades up throughout the semester, or school year, you’ll have a little buffer for that final exam. If you haven’t been doing your homework, or taking your quizzes or tests very seriously, you are in the hole as far as your grade goes, and it will be much harder to get a good grade, no matter how well you do on that final exam.
For example, let’s say you’re averaging a “C” grade as you are moving into the final exam. Even if you get a 100% on that final, which is probably unrealistic, the best you could earn is a “B.” Chances are, though, that you won’t do that well on the exam, and you’ll end up with a “C.”
However, if you’ve been studying hard, doing all your homework, you can coast into the final with a high average - let’s say a 95%. You only need to get a “B” on that final, and you’ll still get an “A” in class. Try keeping track of your grades using our grade calculator; it's easy to use and can help you figure out your performance over the semester (and avoid any unsavory surprises).
Calculating Your Grade
Let’s look at how you did in Psychology 101.
Homework: You rocked on your homework, earning 10/10 for every assignment. But, you forgot one, and only turned in 15 out of the 16 weekly assignments. This would give you 150 points out of 160.
Quizzes: You took all your quizzes seriously, and scored 100% on all 10. Nice job, that netted you 100 points out of 100.
Tests: You did great on your tests, and got 9/10 on each one. Really solid, 90 points out of 100.
Final: You studied hard, and earned 95 points out of 100. Awesome! That's 95 points out of 100.
Below, then, are the numbers that the teacher will use to calculate your grade:
|Homework||150 points (out of 160)|
|Quizzes||100 points (out of 100)|
|Unit Tests||90 points (out of 100)|
|Final Exam||95 points (out of 100)|
|Total||435 points (out of 450)|
Based on the weight of each part of your grade, the teacher will now multiply those totals by the percentage each activity is worth. Remember how we talked about that at the beginning of this article? We’re going to head back there for just a bit. Let’s take a look.
Here’s how Psychology 101 is weighted, showing your total points for each part, multiplied by the % each part is worth, showing your final tally.
|Homework||150 points||10%||15 (out of 16 possible)|
|Quizzes||100 points||15%||15 (out of 15 possible)|
|Unit Tests||90 points (out of 100)||25%||22.5 (out of 25 possible)|
|Final Exam||95 points (out of 100)||50%||47.5 (out of 50 possible)|
|Total||435 points||100%||100 (out of 106 possible)|
Confused? Fear not, as we've built all this complex logic into the final grade calculator above. But, it is important to understand how this works, so hang in there. Let’s continue!
Now, the instructor figures out your total percentage by dividing your total weighted points earned by total weighted points possible:
100 ÷ 106 = 0.94 (rounded to two decimal places).
In grade percentages, that’s a 94% for an “A” Great job!
How to know what grade you need for the final
Let’s first assume you want an “A” in your class, right? If we assume the final is worth 50% of your grade, how do you figure out the grade you need to get on the final to get that “A?”
Here are a couple of examples:
|Example||Final Grade Needed for an “A” (at least 93%)|
Notice how you can raise a low grade by doing great on the final. Here we have a kind of extreme example, but let’s look at something more reasonable. Let’s say you are getting a “C” in your class, and you want to raise your grade. Technically, it’s possible to get a 100% on your final, but you’re human. So, let’s just say you study really hard, and get a 95% on your final. How does that affect your final grade?
(70% + 95%) / 2 = 82.5% (“B-”)
Applying some basic math we take your starting grade, a 70% (“C”), and add it to the 95% (“A”) you scored on the final exam. Since the final is worth half of your grade we divide the result by 2 and get an overall class grade of 82.5% (“B-”).
Wow! With just one final exam, you raised your grade more than 12 percentage points, from a 70% to an 82.5%, and went from a “C” to a “B-.”
This is a very simple example, and calculating the grade needed on your final can get much more complicated, depending on how your teacher grades. Again, make sure you understand how the class is graded; how much each assignment is worth, what percentage of your grade every assignment is, etc. Once you know that, you can figure out exactly the grade you need to get on your final.
If you're trying to figure out what you need in each class to get a particular GPA, try our cumulative GPA calculator which will help you keep track of course grades and your overall GPA from one semester to another.
How Grades Factor into your Grade Point Average (GPA)
Calculating your GPA is another story, which is why we've built a couple of handy tools for doing just that: if you're in high school check out our high school GPA calculator, or if you're in college calculate your GPA with our college GPA calculator.
You know you need a high GPA to get scholarships, into colleges and universities, and sometimes even to get a job. But, how does one class factor into your GPA? Does it really matter if you get a low grade in one class if all your other grades are high?
Unfortunately, yes - one class can drag down your GPA. But, the good news is that if you continue to do well in all your classes, and work even harder after that low grade to keep your scores high, you will see that your GPA will either stay the same, or go up over time.
In other words, if you get one low grade, all is not lost. If you get two low grades, it will be a little tougher, but you can still get that GPA where you need it to be.
When those universities and colleges, scholarship committees and future employers are looking at your school transcripts, or records of your grades, are they looking at every single grade you received? Maybe. But, they generally put more emphasis on your cumulative GPA.
The “secret” is to not give up. Keep working hard. Focus on your grades. Communicate with your teacher if you’re having problems. Focus on raising your GPA and utilize every resource that's available to you. Best of luck!