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GPA conversion from Australian Universities

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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Posts: 24
GPA conversion from Australian Universities [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jul 2008, 07:23
Hello fellow GMATclubbers

This is my first post, hopefully the first of many, but if the following situation is not favourably resolved, then it might be my last (as it would put me out of contention for any decent business school in the US).


I have undergraduate degrees in both commerce and law from a university in Australia. The business school and the law school are both respectively regarded as top 3 or 4 in the country. The university is part of the 'Group of 8' (code for top 8 universities in Australia). I came out with a 'Distinction' average in both degrees (more about how that is calculated below).

Specific queries

- How do grades from Australian universities get converted / calculated / considered by top business schools in the US?

- In the US, what percentage of people in any given graduating cohort in any given degree get a 4.0, 3.7, 3.5 GPA etc?

- The 'World Education Services' website has conversion schema from Australian grades to US grades (but not US GPAs). Can anyone verify or shed light into the following schema, including whether the US business schools rely on World Education Services: (click on Australia)

High Distinction = A+
Distinction = A
Credit = B
Pass = C
Conceded, Conditional or Compensatory Pass = D
Failure = F

- What do A+s, As, and Bs convert to in terms of GPA? I assume it's 4.0, 4.0 and 3.0 respectively.

Background to concerns

Historically, Australian universities didn't use GPAs. My university uses a Weighted Average Mark (WAM). As its name suggests, it is a weighted average of the marks you got for your degree (and obviously some subjects are weighted differently from others).

On a subject by subject basis, we get a score out of 100, and are assigned the following 'grades':

- 85+ is a High Distinction, and is the highest grade possible - only a few people per subject get this grade. Eg, I got a 87 in one subject and received the prize for the top mark. Generally, no one comes out with a 'High Distinction' average. The person who came first in law overall in my year got very close.

- 75-84 is a Distinction - people with 75+ WAM in law are generally considered competitive enough to get an interview at a top tier law firm for a summer clerkship.

- 65 - 74 is a Credit - it's an 'OK' mark and people with a 65+ WAM average are generally considered competitive enough to get into a Big 4 accounting firm (PWC, Deloitte, EY, KPMG).

- 50-64 is a Pass.

Recently, there has been a shift to the introduction of GPAs. Some Australian universities are applying quite absurd conversion schema. One of them, the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) is applying it in the following way:

- High Distinction = 4
- Distinction = 3
- Credit = 2
- Pass = 1
- Fail = 0

This is the same university that awards its law students 'First Class Honours' for anyone that attains a 75+ WAM and submits a research essay.

You could have a situation where say, Johnny, a UTS law student, does four law subjects of equal weight (let's just say that four subjects is all it takes for a UTS law degree). He gets 89 (HD), 75(D), 73(C) and 70(C). His WAM is 76.75, which is quite respectable. He does his research essay and leaves with First Class Honours in Law. His GPA however is (4+3+2+2)/4 = 2.75.

Isn't that a strange thing? 2.75 GPA, yet Johnny has a First Class Honours in Law and has no trouble getting into a top tier law firm.

At the same time, and here's the funny part, the UTS MBA program now requires either a GMAT of 550 or a GPA of 2.75! So Johnny would struggle just to get into the UTS MBA program notwithstanding that he's got a First Class Honours in Law from the same institution! On the other hand he could probably sit the GMAT and get 550 in his sleep.

Under the World Education Services schema (and assuming both A+ and A = 4.0 and B = 3.0), Johnny would have (4+4+3+3)/4 = 3.5. That's more like it.


- I have a 75+ WAM (Distinction average) in both of my degrees. If the US business schools convert my marks the way UTS converts it, then I would be swimming around the 3.0s. If the US business schools convert my marks the way World Education Services converts it, then I should be sweet.

- Because basically no one has a 85+ average, basically no one in Australia is walking around with a 4.0 GPA (if converted the same way UTS converts it). Most people, including those competitive enough to get a job at a top tier law firm would have something around 3.0 or less, and others who are working at a Big 4 accounting firm would have something like a 2.0 or less. It just doesn't seem right.

Thank you for your time and hope to dive into this GMAT thing once this situation is sorted.
Joined: 28 Dec 2005
Posts: 919
Re: GPA conversion from Australian Universities [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jul 2008, 07:31

This has actually been asked many times. You can do a search for "GPA Conversion" using the search functionality on the top right. Also, use the Knowledge vault which has links to many frequently asked questions. kyzaak has done a great job of managing that section.


To answer your question there is no need to convert - universities in the US are well aware of the different international systems. I am from India and submitted my applications with undergrad GPA in percentage.

Hope this helps.

P.S: Kry - actually, I do not see a link in the knowledge vault under the GPA section for questions about conversion. May be you can add this, or others if they are more informative?
Re: GPA conversion from Australian Universities   [#permalink] 24 Jul 2008, 07:31
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