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What Should You Do If You Have a B Average GPA?


It's important to be aware of the constraints your grades in high school might place on you in the college application process. If you have a B average, you're doing fairly well, but you might consider making some changes to your academic strategies to have a better shot at reaching your goals.

In this article, I'll go over what a B average is and what you should do if you have one depending on where you are in your high school career.


What Is a B Average, and Can It Get You into College?

A B average corresponds to a 3.0 GPA, which is about average for a high school student. Keep in mind that this is the average for ALL high school students, not just students who plan on attending college. Measured against other students who are applying to college, a 3.0 GPA is lower than average. According to our database, only 21.3 percent of colleges have average GPAs for admitted students that are lower than a 3.0.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll have trouble finding a school that will accept you, but it does mean you’ll have to target less selective options. If you’re hoping to get into a competitive college program, you may want to work on improving your GPA. I’ll go over some strategies for this in the next section.


How Can You Improve Your Chances of College Admission If You Have a B Average?

If you’re still a freshman or sophomore, you have time to raise your GPA, so you should think about adopting better study habits if you want to attend a more selective college. If you’re a junior or senior, you don’t have much time to improve your grades. In this case, focus on other aspects of your college application like standardized test scores. Here’s some advice for each of these scenarios:


If You Have Time to Raise Your Grades:

Study Smarter

Using effective study strategies is critical for improving your grades. Tests are stressful, and if you aren’t totally comfortable with the material you might get anxious and end up with a grade that doesn't reflect your true abilities. The best way to avoid this is to spread out your studying over a longer period of time so that you can fully absorb the information.

The goal is for the material to be embedded deeply in your mind rather than floating perilously on the edge of your memory (which is what happens when you cram!). Try studying for an hour every night during the week before a test rather than studying for five hours the night before. You should also make sure you’re getting the most out of your study sessions, which means enlisting someone else to quiz you after you've reviewed everything on your own. 

As someone with a B average, you're already doing something right with your study strategies. You probably know most of the material fairly well before each test, but you're not pushing yourself to the point of complete understanding. In order to take your grades from good to great, you will have to be vigilant about filling small gaps in your knowledge. The difference between a B and an A is your performance on the most complex aspects of a test or assignment. You may need to add an extra hour or two to your studying to give yourself enough time to reach that higher level. 


body_icecreammmAnd if you need to eat some ice cream to get through the extra studying, so be it.


Avoid Procrastination

If you’re working on raising your grades, procrastination is the enemy. Waiting until the last minute to complete assignments means that you don't have time to edit or polish your work, and you’ll probably turn in a final product that doesn't accurately reflect your abilities.

I’d recommend making a timeline with checkpoints for completing portions of long term projects to keep yourself on schedule. Try to finish all the most labor-intensive parts of a project a week before it’s due so that you have a significant amount of time to reassess your work and see if you need to make any adjustments. Don't forget to read directions carefully, and be sure to include everything you need to earn the most credit (and extra credit if available!). This final effort is often the difference between B-quality work and A-quality work.


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Step Up in Class

This is the one of the most fundamental tips I can give you. Make a point of paying attention in class and asking and answering questions whenever possible. This will help to reinforce your knowledge of the subject and make studying much less of a pain.

If you pay close attention in class, you will already have a better understanding of the material that’s on your next test. When you study, you’ll be starting from a more informed position, and the whole process will be less stressful. Some things that you thought you had to study might already be ingrained in your memory because you were listening when your teacher went over them in class.

If you're already someone who pays attention and participates in class, which many B students are, you might think about taking this a step further. It can be really helpful to start taking detailed notes in your classes, especially in subjects where there's a lot of information to remember. If you take notes, you'll get dual reinforcement of the information from both auditory and visual sources. This might be the extra push you need to get the most out of your time in class, especially if you're more of a visual learner. 

If you can raise your GPA to a 3.2 (which is a very manageable goal!), you will be a competitive applicant at more than double the number of schools you were competitive for at a 3.0. On the flip side, if you let your grades slip and end up with a 2.8 GPA, you will be competitive for less than half the number of schools than with a 3.0. Don’t let that happen!


body_downloadingsuccessDon't freeze on me now...


If You Don’t Have Time to Raise Your Grades:

Study for the SAT and ACT

Standardized test scores contribute strongly to your chances of admission at most colleges. In many cases, they are nearly as important as your GPA. If it’s too late in the game for you to improve your grades, raising your standardized test scores is the best way to impress colleges. Check out some of our other articles for advice on how to formulate a study plan and improve your scores significantly before the next test date.


Plan Out Your Application Essays

Another way to improve your chances of admission is to make sure that your college essays are well-thought-out and meaningful. I would recommend that you start planning your essays well in advance if possible, ideally at the beginning of the summer before senior year. This will give you more time to brainstorm what makes you unique and how you’ll contribute positively to a college community.

Colleges are looking for students who are passionate about academic subjects and extracurricular activities. If you have a special perspective that you can offer on something that’s important to you, make sure you showcase it in your essay.


body_typewriter-1It would be cool if you could just set up an adorably quaint workspace like this and your essay would write itself.


What Other Options Do You Have for College With a B Average?

If you know that it’s too late to do much to improve your grades before you apply to college, you have a few options. A 3.0 GPA means that you'll be a competitive applicant at many colleges, though you may have to lower your expectations to accommodate less selective institutions. See our information page on what colleges you can get into with a 3.0 GPA for a better idea of where you stand. College is definitely within reach, so you shouldn't worry about being universally rejected if you choose your schools responsibly. 

Another option that many students don’t think about is going to a community college for a year and then transferring out to a more selective institution. Your grades are high enough to get into a regular four-year college, but you could potentially earn a degree from an even better school and graduate with less debt if you go the community college route initially. If you get good grades during your time in community college, you could leverage them into a transfer spot at a more competitive school. This strategy will benefit both your wallet and your ultimate job prospects if you’re willing to put in the hard work during your first year of college and take initiative in the transfer application process.  


body_money-7You'll save a whole suitcase of money if you go to community college for a year. Probably. It depends on the denominations.


If you have a B average in high school, you'll be able to get into a number of less selective institutions. However, if you want to improve your chances of admission at competitive schools, you should work on raising your GPA.

If it’s too late for you to make changes to your GPA, work on raising your standardized test scores and crafting a great application essay instead. You might consider going to community college for a year and then transferring to a more selective school to finish up your degree, but you can also apply to less selective four-year colleges. 

If you’re still a freshman or sophomore, keep working hard to improve your grades! Even a small improvement can make a big difference in the college admissions process. The wider your range of college options, the more likely it is that you’ll find a school that’s perfect for you.


What's Next?

Check out our list ofawesome colleges for B students.

Still working on choosing your classes for the upcoming year or semester? Read our expert guide on which classes you should take in high school.

Have there been significant changes in your grades from year to year? Find out which year of high school is most important when it comes to college applications.

What do colleges actually look at when it comes to your GPA? Read this article to learn more about weighted and unweighted GPAs in the college application process.


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Samantha Lindsay
About the Author

Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.

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