A recent study, by College Board and University of Georgia researchers, shows that high school grades have inflated over the years.
The average GPA has gone up from 3.27 to 3.38 from 1998 to 2016. The reason seems to be grade inflation as opposed to kids becoming smarter since the average SAT score (adjusted across different test formats -- new, old, pre-2005) has moved down a smidgeon from 1,026 to 1,002.
The inflation has come as a result of more ‘A’ grades. The percentage of A’s has gone up from 38.9% to 47% from 1998 to 2016. The increase in A grades has meant a corresponding decrease in B and C grades.
The study found that grade inflation was greater in more affluent schools. These same schools often employed rank suppression as a way to further obfuscate the real performance of students (i.e. they do not disclose their student’s rank).
This is all awesome data, but what does it mean to you? Here’s some takeaways if you find yourself in a school that engages in grade inflation:
Try your best to get an ‘A’: If the average number of students getting an ‘A’ is 47%, and if you think the number is even higher at your school, getting B’s and C’s will set you back.
Take standardized tests seriously: These same schools that perform grade inflation, might also engage in letter-of-recommendation inflation. So one of the few objective ways for the admissions officer to know where you stand is SAT/ACT.
Differentiate yourself: If an admission officer sees a sea of A’s from your school, you need to have activities that make you pop-out. Often times college admissions officers know about grade inflation at your school. This is especially true if they see a pattern of divergence between your school’s GPA and SAT/ACT scores. The fact that admissions officers might be catching on makes it especially important to focus on SAT/ACT and other non-GPA related college admissions factors.
In summary, a lot of schools in the US, especially the ones in affluent areas, engage in grade inflation. If you are in one such school, the last thing you want to do is to be complacent. Not sure how to proceed next? Contact us or request our 1-hour consultation.