GPA and the World’s Worst Grade

Grades occupy a place in privilege in the American, and really any, school system. Parents and students obsess about GPA, and for good reason. GPA remains the most important single factor in college admissions, often either opening or closing doors to elite universities before any other criterion is taken into account. The best grade in the American system, of course, is the A or the elusive A+. But what is the worst? Surely the lowest passing grade? In fact, for our money, the worst grade students can achieve is actually on the higher end of the scale: a B+.

A- or B+: Perception is Everything

In reality, a B+ is a little different from the next grade up the scale, the A-. In terms of grade points, an A- is generally a 3.7, while a B+ is generally a 3.3 In reality, however, B+s are as much lower than this difference would indicate. Part of it is psychological; an A- can still look like an A, while a B+ belongs to the next category down. In some cases, however, this perception is official. For universities like the University of California schools who do not see the minuses or pluses added on to grades, a B+ is only a B, and awarded 3-grade points to an A-’s 4.

Why B+ is the World’s Worst Grade

So what’s the big deal? Sure, there are point differences between the B+ and A-, but also between any other two grade tiers. Why the fuss? Because B+s take an immense amount of work. The amount of effort put in by A- students are only marginally higher than that of B+ students, and yet the latter group can see that effort scarcely rewarded. Imagine achieving an 89%, the usual upper range for a B+, and missing from .4 to an entire grade point just because you couldn’t eke out that last 1%! Such a student could be forgiven for thinking they just wasted an immense amount of time.

All this leads us to maintain that B+s are by far the world’s worst grade. If students are facing a B+, they should work extra hard, coordinate with teachers, and seek all possible credit to raise that grade to at least an A-. Not only will it improve their academic profile, but it will also be the reward in itself for all their initiative and drive.

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