Are you a ninth or tenth grader just waiting for summer to begin? Your friends may have told you that your final exams don’t matter for college, anyway. Only tenth- and eleventh-grade results count toward college admissions, they say.

But they’re wrong. It’s true that in some countries, such as Germany, where I live, your final grade on the Abitur is the academic result on which you are evaluated. However, if you are dreaming of college in the United States, your academic record begins with ninth grade.

Athena Advises

U.S. colleges calculate your GPA, or Grade Point Average, using your grades in ninth, tenth and eleventh grade.

“Average” means what it says: you add up your grades in your academic classes and divide by three. That means that the grades you get at the end of ninth grade count for one third of your Grade Point Average.

One third!

“What?” students cry. “What about twelfth grade?”

Well, think about it. If you apply Early Decision at the beginning of November, the grades from the first semester of twelfth grade are not yet available. They may be available for Regular Decision applications, which are generally due on January first; but what if they are not?

Yes, your GPA is evaluated in light of the difficulty of the classes you chose, or the trend (upward, we hope) of your class grades. But the basic reality is that the admissions committee is looking at three years of grades: ninth, tenth and eleventh.

See what I mean? I hope this message has inspired you to dash to your desk and do whatever you can to finish the school year in a blaze of glory.

The best of luck to you!


Dr. Marlena Corcoran
Founder and CEO