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5 Myths About High School GPAs

The Truth About High School GPAs

Strong performance during a student’s high school years is key to a strong college application. The admissions process is competitive! Getting an acceptance letter for a top university depends on careful planning ahead of time.

Unfortunately, there’s so much misinformation floating around. Inaccurate advice can ruin a student’s preparation, even if it’s given with good intentions.

It can be hard to fact-check all of the information given to you. But don’t worry — our talented advisors at MEK Review have already looked into it!

Here are five common (and dangerous!) misconceptions about grades in high school:

Myth #1

If a student earned good grades in middle school, they will do the same in high school.

Truth: Many students who perform well in middle school will struggle with the new demands of high school.

A student’s environment changes a lot between middle school and high school. Lots of incoming freshman have issues adjusting. Adapting to the new routine can be challenging. This is especially true if the student will be attending a school known for its high performance requirements. Combined with the new pressure of maintaining a high GPA, and many students understandably struggle.

Research shows that nearly half of all students experience a drop in GPA during their freshman year​. The explanations for this are different in each case. However, it’s still important to know that a drop in grades is a possibility for every student.

Prior to starting high school, parents and children should talk about all of the possible problems they may come across. Then, come up with a plan to solve these issues — just in case. The best way to avoid a drop in GPA between the 8th and 9th grades is to prepare!

Myth #2

Students don’t need to worry about GPA until their junior year.

Truth: A student’s GPA is based on grades from all four years of high school.

A GPA is kind of like an average of all of the student’s classroom scores, from the first semester of high school all the way to the last. This means that every class counts towards the overall grade point average. If a student doesn’t make good grades in their first two years of high school, they will find it extremely difficult to increase their GPA over the course of their last two years of high school.

Students who don’t worry about their grades until the 11th grade will not suddenly find themselves getting better scores. Most juniors and seniors continue on the same path they started in the 9th grade. This leaves students frantically trying to undo years of damage to their GPA — and often without success.

Closeup of Young Woman Studying Outside

Myth #3

Student grades drop in the first year of high school because the coursework is more difficult.

Truth: Studies show that freshmen GPA decreases often have less to do with course difficulty and more to do with environmental changes.

The transition between middle school and high school is not an easy one. Students in high school have new teachers, a new campus, higher expectations (and pressure), and less individual attention than they did just months before in middle school. If a student doesn’t know how to navigate these changes, their grades may suffer.

The best way to solve this problem is to prepare for it! Again, students and parents should talk to each other about the adjustment period going from middle school to high school, and what issues they might run into. Be aware of some of the possible situations an incoming freshman may find themselves in. Then, make a plan together so these outside factors won’t affect their grades or long-term goals.

Myth #4

By 9th grade, students are solely responsible for their own grade performance.

Truth: At this age, students’ brains are still undergoing major growth, and working to develop organization and planning skills.

They need the right guidance and instruction to learn how to best study, manage time, and map long term goals. Some students even struggle with understanding the consequences of a negative grade. These skills aren’t automatically present in pre-teens and teenagers. Students often require help to understand not only how to be a good student, but why being a good student matters.

Successful students should have a strong support system of parents, teachers and other positive adult figures. This support system will help them develop the skills needed to achieve good grades. Freshmen usually need the experience and advice of adults. They also rely on role models to show them the characteristics of a successful student.

Myth #5

SAT & ACT scores are the most important factor for college applications.

Truth: While test scores are important, the most important factor that college admission officers look at is GPA.

The SAT and the ACT scores are important to a college application, but a student’s GPA tells a much longer story — one that was four years in the making, actually. Based off of the grade point average, schools can see if a student was committed to their education from day one of their freshman year! They can also tell if the student has had problems with prioritizing school. A student’s GPA gives the universities clues about attendance, and even the difficulty level of their classes.

Universities — especially top schools — care the most about a student’s commitment to their education. Since a variety of factors are taken into account with a GPA (like honors and AP courses, earned credits and the number of classes dropped), a student’s grade point average is the best way for the admissions board to pinpoint a successful student.

What’s Next

By tackling these myths head-on, students can make sure to get ready for the college admissions process as early as day one of their high school career.

As they transition from 8th grade to the 9th grade, or even from a freshman to a senior in high school, they can rely on smart solutions and tips.  Sudden changes in environment, surroundings, and expectations can be challenging. We recommend that students stay emotionally tuned in, and are open and patient with themselves throughout their time in high school.

At MEK Review, we offer several courses to help students along the way!

  • High School Honors Courses: Our seasonal program prepares students for their upcoming AP or Honors classes. We increase confidence and grades with expert strategies, key materials, and smart skills training.
  • College Test Prep: Master tough admissions tests! Increase SAT scores by 170+ points in 20 sessions or get into the top percentile by reaching 34+ on your official ACT test.
  • PSAT Core Reading and Writing: This year-around class helps 9th and 10th graders get a huge head start on mastering the PSAT/SAT, while learning to ace Honors English.
  • School Support Tutoring: This program offers one-on-one tutoring sessions to help students master their classroom subjects.

Curious and want to learn more? Contact us or call our team at 855-346-1410.

We would love to hear from you!

Katie Weisman

Katie Weisman is a driven, dedicated English teacher at MEK Review, who leads group test prep classes, as well as one-on-one sessions with students. Her passion for teaching, in-depth knowledge of test content, and use of our systematic approach to test preparation helps her guide students to high test scores, strong writing skills and their full potential.

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