How much is 4 points in a grade?

How much is 4 points in a grade? 4 points in a grade can make a big difference in the final letter grade a student receives. While 4 points may seem minor, they can be the difference between an A and a B, or a B and a C. Understanding how much 4 points impacts a grade is important for students, parents, and teachers.

Grading Scales

Most schools in the United States use a standard 100-point grading scale. On this scale, grades are assigned letters and a range of percentages:

A 90-100%
B 80-89%
C 70-79%
D 60-69%
F 0-59%

On this grading scale, 4 percentage points is the difference between the middle percentages of two letter grades. For example, 4 points could be the difference between an 84% (B) and an 88% (B+). Or the difference between a 79% (C) and 83% (B).

Some schools use a more nuanced 12-point grading scale. On this scale, grades are assigned pluses and minuses along with the letter:

A 93-100%
A- 90-92%
B+ 87-89%
B 83-86%
B- 80-82%
C+ 77-79%
C 73-76%
C- 70-72%
D+ 67-69%
D 63-66%
D- 60-62%
F 0-59%

On the 12-point scale, each letter grade covers a smaller percentage range. This means 4 percentage points can make an even bigger impact on a student’s final grade. For example, 4 points could be the difference between a B (83%) and a B+ (87%).

Impact of 4 Points on GPA

In addition to letter grades, most schools calculate a grade point average (GPA) for students. This numerical average across all classes summarizes a student’s academic achievement. GPAs are calculated by assigning point values to letter grades and averaging those points.

On a traditional 4.0 scale:

  • A = 4.0
  • B = 3.0
  • C = 2.0
  • D = 1.0
  • F = 0.0

In this system, 4 percentage points could be the difference between a B (3.0) and an A (4.0). Over the course of several classes, this could substantially affect a student’s overall GPA.

Some schools use a more detailed 12-point GPA scale, assigning pluses and minuses fractional values:

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
F 0.0

On this GPA scale, 4 percentage points could mean the difference between a GPA of 2.7 (B-) and 3.3 (B+). That 0.6 difference in GPA can impact eligibility for honors, scholarships, and college admissions.

Weighted Grades

Some high schools use a weighted GPA system to account for more difficult classes. In this system, grades earned in advanced classes are given extra fractional points:

Regular Class
A 4.0
B 3.0
C 2.0
D 1.0
F 0.0
Honors/AP Class
A 5.0
B 4.0
C 3.0
D 1.0
F 0.0

In a weighted system, 4 percentage points could be the difference between a B (3.0) and an A (5.0) in an advanced class. This would give a significant boost to a student’s overall GPA.

Borderline Grades

Four percentage points can also make the difference between a “borderline” grade. Borderline grades are those at the thresholds between two letter grades:

  • A/B cutoff – 89-90%
  • B/C cutoff – 79-80%
  • C/D cutoff – 69-70%

Earning 4 extra points on an assignment could push a student from one side of the border to the other, turning a B into an A, or a C into a B. This can provide a needed grade boost at the end of a marking period if a student is on the edge between two grades.

Some teachers use borderline grades as cutoff points for rounding. For example, an 89.5% might be rounded up to an A, while an 89.4% stays a B. In cases like this, 4 percentage points makes the difference between getting the higher grade or not.

Impact on Final Course Grades

While 4 points may not seem like much on a single assignment, the points can really add up over the course of an entire class. Most classes involve many assignments, exams, quizzes, and other assessments throughout the academic term. Four points here and there on all those assessments ultimately impact the final course grade.

For example, if a student earned 4 extra points on five different assignments in a class, that would give them an extra 20 points towards their final grade. This could reasonably turn a B into an A in the class.

Four points can also make the difference on larger finals exams, papers, and projects, which often account for 20-30% of the course grade. Doing 4 percentage points better on a high-value assessment can significantly lift up a final grade.

The Difference Between an A and a B

One of the most significant impacts of 4 points is potentially turning an A grade into a B. That seemingly small change can have consequences for GPAs, class rank, honor roll eligibility, and college admissions.

An A is generally viewed as an outstanding grade, reflecting mastery of the material. Colleges prefer to see mostly A grades in core academic subjects. A mix of A and B grades is less competitive for top colleges, scholarships, and other academic recognitions.

That difference also matters for class rank calculations used by some high schools. The students with the highest GPAs make up the top percentage of the class. Moving from an A to a B could drop a student several spots in the class rank standings.

For all these reasons, 4 points can be the difference between excellence and merely good grades. This seemingly minor difference can truly impact academic trajectories and opportunities.

The Difference Between a B and a C

Likewise, 4 points could transform a B into a C. While both are passing grades, a C is viewed as merely satisfactory compared to the good achievement of a B. Schools want to see students maintain B level grades or higher to show consistent, strong academic performance.

Colleges pay close attention to any grades below a B when making admissions decisions. Several C grades could put a student’s application at risk compared to those with stronger grades. C grades also look less competitive for academic scholarships.

Parents also tend to notice B and C grade patterns, since they often associate Bs with good studying habits and Cs with room for improvement. Dropping to Cs on multiple assignments could indicate larger issues to parents.

The B to C shift also impacts GPAs and class rank. A student solidly earning As and Bs will have a much higher GPA and rank than a student with more Cs mixed in. With academic recognition and college admission on the line, those 4 points make a big difference.

The Difference Between Passing and Failing

The most critical impact is when 4 percentage points make the difference between a passing or failing grade. Most schools require students to earn at least 60-70% in a class in order to receive course credit. Four points could be the reason a student passes or fails.

Failed classes must typically be retaken, keeping students from advancing to higher level courses. Failed core classes like math, science, English, and social studies could prevent students from progressing to the next grade level with their peers.

Colleges also look very closely at any failed grades, since they raise red flags about a student’s academic abilities. Multiple failing grades could ruin an otherwise strong transcript.

For these reasons, those 4 points have enormous implications. They determine whether students will advance or be left behind, a pivotal factor in their academic careers.

When 4 Points Don’t Matter

While 4 points can clearly impact letter grades, there are certain cases where they may not alter a student’s course trajectory:

  • When a student is already failing a class. For example, if a student has a 50% F, 4 more points only brings them to 54% F.
  • When a student has a very high A grade. Going from 96% to 100% A may not impact GPA.
  • When the scale is pass/fail rather than letter grades. The student still passes.
  • In classes/schools without + and – letter grade distinctions. The letter grade remains the same.
  • When the student is already set to retake a class, 4 points does not change having to repeat it.

The context matters in determining if 4 points will truly change or impact a student’s academic path. Teachers and schools should carefully consider scale thresholds, GPA impacts, and student circumstances when deciding when 4 points makes a noteworthy difference.


How much is 4 points worth in a grade? While it may seem a minor difference, 4 percentage points can have significant impacts on a student’s transcript and academic opportunities. Those few points can mean the distinction between an A or a B, a B versus a C, or a passing or failing mark. Over time, 4 points here and there build up to affect GPAs, class rank, and college prospects. In competitive academic environments, every point matters. When all the grades are tallied up, those 4 points could truly shape a student’s academic journey.

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