When you start university, you are introduced to a whole new way, your marks are represented. Whilst in Year 12, your final ATAR was how your academic standing was calculated, in university, GPA and WAM are used. For every unit or subject you do at university, you receive a mark out of 100, a culmination of your marks from assessments, projects and exams. But to find your overall academic standing, universities use two distinct systems, GPA and WAM.
Grade point average (GPA) and weighted average mark (WAM) are the two ways that universities in Australia calculate academic standing. Universities may use GPA or WAM, and some show both on transcripts. The two systems use varying ways to show a student’s academic standing.’
GPA is calculated by averaging all the grades achieved in units that a student has passed in their course. Students are given a grade, based on their performance in a unit, of High Distinction, Distinction, Credit, Pass or Fail. The table below details the general conversion of your mark out of 100 in a unit, and the grade achieved (Universities differ slightly in their grading system):
|High Distinction (HD)||85 – 100|
|Distinction (D)||75 – 84|
|Credit (C)||65 – 74|
|Pass (P)||50 – 64|
|Fail (F)||0 – 49|
Each of these performances corresponds to a value on the GPA scale. Some universities use what is called a 4 point GPA scale whilst others use a 7 point GPA scale.
Each university has their own conversions for both of these scales, so be sure to check it, on your university’s website, however below is the general conversion:
4.0 GPA Scale
|High Distinction (HD)||4.0|
7.0 GPA Scale
|High Distinction (HD)||7.0|
Your overall GPA is calculated through the following formula:
GPA = Σ (grade value x unit credit points) ÷ Σ unit credit points
Where, Σ = Sum
WAM is the average mark achieved across all completed units in a course.
WAM is calculated through the following formula, and only relies on your mark in each unit.
WAM = Σ (grade mark x unit credit points) ÷ Σ unit credit points
Where, Σ = Sum
Why is this important to know?
Throughout your university journey, your GPA and WAM is really the only calculation to show your academic progress. Whilst, you will obviously know whether you have passed units, and whether you are doing well, your GPA and WAM give you an indication of your overall grades.
Your GPA and WAM are important in applying for postgraduate, masters or honours programs and degrees. The also form the basis of your job applications once you have graduated, however aren’t the sole factor when determining job suitability.
Your GPA and WAM can also be used to apply for scholarships, as they show your academic astuteness.
The system used differs from one university to the other. WAM allows universities to see the average mark a student has achieved, whilst GPA only recognises the effort in units that have been passed.
Make sure to check out which system your university uses!