What Grades Do Colleges Look At?

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Every prospective college student wonders what grades they need to get into their dream school. And while the answer to that question depends on a variety of factors, most colleges do take into account your academic record when making admissions decisions. So, what grades do colleges look at? Keep reading to find out!

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Your GPA is the most critical factor in getting you into college. A high GPA indicates that you’re a hard worker who is capable of succeeding in college-level coursework. Additionally, a strong academic record shows that you’re likely to persist and graduate from college. While other factors, such as test scores and extracurricular activities, are also important, your grades give colleges the best indication of your ability to succeed in their program. As a result, it’s essential to focus on maintaining a strong GPA throughout your high school career.

Other Grades That Colleges Look At

Let us explore other grades that your dream college may look at during your application. 

9th-Grade Grades

Many high school students believe that their 9th-grade grades don’t matter. They think that colleges only look at the grades from junior and senior year when making admissions decisions. However, this isn’t the case. Colleges look at all four years of a student’s high school transcript when making admissions decisions. This is because they want to get a sense of the student’s academic trajectory. They want to see if the student is taking increasingly challenging courses and if they are maintaining a strong GPA. So, while 9th-grade grades may not be as important as junior and senior year grades, they still play a role in the college admissions process.

Junior Year Grades

When you’re in high school, you might be asking the question, “what grades do colleges look at?”. Your junior year is often seen as the most important one when it comes to college applications. That’s because colleges will look at your grades from junior year when making their decisions about whether or not to accept you. Junior year is also when you’ll take the SAT or ACT for the first time, and your scores on those tests will be a factor in the admissions process. So why is junior year so important? The simple answer is that colleges want to see how you’ve performed over an entire academic year before making a decision about your application. How you perform will demonstrate your capability of sustaining good grades and test scores over a long period of time, and that you’re likely to continue to perform well in college. So if you’re hoping to get into your dream school, make sure you put your best foot forward during junior year!

Senior Year Grades

Some colleges place more importance on grades from senior year than others. For example, the most competitive schools typically give more weight to senior year grades because they provide the most recent evidence of your academic ability. Other colleges may place less emphasis on senior year grades because they understand that seniors are often dealing with a lot of personal and extracurricular responsibilities. In the end, every college has its own admissions process, and you’ll need to research each school to see how much importance they place on senior year grades.

What Else Will Make Your Application Stand Out?

If you’re wondering what grades do colleges look at, you should also take note of other elements that the college admission board will look at besides grades.

Standardized Tests

There’s no denying that standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are important. For many colleges, your score on these tests can be the deciding factor in whether or not you’re admitted. But why are these tests so important? And do all colleges require you to take them?

The SAT and ACT are designed to measure your readiness for college. They test your knowledge in core academic subjects like reading, writing, and math. While your high school grades are also a good indicator of your readiness for college, the SAT and ACT provide a more standardized measure. That’s why colleges place so much emphasis on these tests.

However, not all colleges require you to take these tests. There are a growing number of colleges that have “test-optional” policies. This means that you can choose whether or not to submit your SAT or ACT score as part of your college application. However, even if a college is test-optional, there’s a good chance that your score will still play a role in the admissions process. For example, some colleges may use your SAT or ACT score to determine whether or not you’re eligible for certain scholarships.

Course Selection

When it comes to college applications, your course selection can be just as important as your grades. If you’re planning on studying a specific field, colleges will often give more weight to courses related to that field. For example, if you’re interested in nursing, colleges will be looking closely at your science grades. If you’re looking to study engineering, they’ll be focused on your math grades. For that reason, when answering the question what grades do colleges look at, you might need to think about your course selection. In other words, if you’re hoping to pursue a specific career path, it’s important to take the right classes in high school. This will show colleges that you’re serious about your chosen field and give you a better chance of being accepted into the program of your choice.

Extracurricular Activities

There’s no doubt that extracurricular activities can play an important role in the college admissions process. In addition to helping students stand out from the crowd, extracurriculars can also demonstrate a student’s commitment and discipline. Furthermore, research has shown that students who are involved in extracurricular activities are more likely to experience academic success than their peers who are not involved in any activities outside of school. 

While it’s true that bad grades can hurt your chances of getting into college, participating in extracurricular activities can help offset some of the damage. In other words, colleges will be more likely to overlook a few bad grades if they see that you’re actively involved in various extracurricular activities. Therefore, while it’s important to focus on your academics, don’t forget to also devote some time to your extracurricular pursuits. They just might make the difference in whether or not you get into your dream school.

Do Colleges Look at middle school grades? 

What grades do colleges look at from middle school? Most colleges do not consider middle school grades when making admissions decisions. There are a number of reasons why middle school grades may not be accurate indicators of academic ability or potential. For one thing, middle school curriculums can vary widely from district to district and even from school to school. Therefore, it can be difficult to compare students who have been raised in different educational systems. In addition, many students go through significant academic and social changes during the transition from elementary to middle school. 

As a result, early grades may not necessarily reflect a student’s true abilities or potential. However, some colleges do consider middle school grades when making admissions decisions. These schools generally believe that early grades are indicative of future academic success. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to consider middle school grades is up to each individual college or university.


In general, colleges are looking for students who have taken a rigorous course load and achieved good grades. They will also look at your standardized test scores and the types of courses you’ve selected. However, don’t forget about your extracurricular activities – these can be just as important to colleges when they are making their admissions decisions. So if you want to get into your dream school, start by considering these things and putting in the hard work necessary to achieve great results. Are you ready to take on the challenge?

How does a college look at your GPA?

Your GPA is the most important factor in getting you into college. If you have a good GPA, you’re showing the college admission board that you are a hard worker and are determined to succeed.

What grade do colleges look at the most?

Your junior & senior Year grades as well as your SATs & your overall GPA.

Do colleges look at grades or GPA?

Both grades and GPA matter when it comes to being selected for college.

What year of high school do colleges look at the most?

Your junior year. This is because it is the first time you will take standardized tests like the SATs or ACTs

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