If you currently have a 4.0 and are researching what this means to your academic future, this page has resources which will cover the following.
A 4.0 is the highest possible GPA on the unweighted 4.0 scale and is far above the national high school average of 3.0. It indicates you've achieved straight A's throughout your high school career. Earning a 4.0 demonstrates exceptional academic performance an mastery of all of the classes you've taken. This outstanding achievement reflects a strong work ethic, dedication, and mastery of the subject matter. A 4.0 puts you in an excellent position for acceptance at the most selective colleges in the U.S including the Ivy League. A 4.0 GPA is also highly beneficial towards you chances in receiving a merit based scholarship.
A 4.0 grade point average is a numerical representation of your course letter grades on a 4.0 scale. Your 4.0 GPA indicates you averaged A/A+ grades in your classes and delivered perfect performance. The percent equivalent of a 4.0 grade point average is 93-100% on the percentage grading scale. This means that you scored an average of 93-100% on tests and assignments. At most high schools and colleges, an A or A+ are both worth 4.0 grade points. A student with a 4.0 may have a mix of A+'s or A's. Any grade below an A, including an A-, will result in not achieving a 4.0. Learn more about what the A/A+ letter grade signifies.
A 4.0 is considered "perfect" as it can only be earned if you earn all A's or A+'s in every class you take. If you get any A-'s or lower grades your GPA will drop below a 4.0 and can never be recovered to a 4.0. You cannot have a 4.0 with any B grades. This is true for the unweighted 4.0 grade scale. If using a weighted scale, it's possible to get a B+ in an AP class and still have a 4.0.
A 4.0 unweighted can definitely get you into Harvard or any Ivy League school. However you will need more than a perfect GPA to stand out. These elite colleges take a comprehensive look at at each applicant factoring in SAT, ACT, high school class load, extracurricular activities, volunteer work and essays. Competition is so intense that even a 4.0 usually doesn't cut it.
Here are the average GPAs and estimated chances for admission with a 4.0 at Ivy League and other prestigious colleges and universities.
The Latin phrase "summa cum laude" means "with highest honors" and is a distinction awarded to class graduates with the highest academic performance. The exact range for summa cum laude varies by college or high school but is generally between a 3.8 and 4.0 GPA. Thus a 4.0 GPA is typically eligible for the summa cum laude distinction.
By examining the average high school GPA for students who were admitted to 1,352 selective four-year colleges, we can see how a 4.0 compares when applying to college. As you can see, a 4.0 is higher than the average accepted GPA for virtually every college in the U.S.
Here are 288 selective four year colleges where the average high school grades for incoming freshman is in the 4.0 range (+/- 0.2). You have a competitive chance getting into all of these schools with a 4.0. Some popular colleges are...
There are 43 reach colleges where you can possibly get in with a 4.0 GPA. Acceptance may be more difficult because your grades are a bit lower than their average or competition for acceptance is very high.
Additionally, you should keep in mind these 1,438 safety schools where their average GPA is either lower . You are likely to get into these colleges so they are a good backup plan.
Conversion table of the unweighted 4.0 grade point scale with letter grade and percentage equivalents. This unweighted GPA scale is used my most U.S. high schools and colleges.