school uses some sort of grading system to keep track of student progress and
evaluate how they are doing in their course work. In most U.S. schools this
system is a credit system in which each course is allotted a
specific number of credit hours. Each credit hour usually represents the number of hours
you'll spend in class each week.
A normal course
load for an undergraduate student is 12 to 15 credit hours per semester, or 4 to 5
courses. This means that you will be in the classroom between 12 and 15 hours
each week, or more if you take courses requiring labs or studio work.
The grade you receive in each class is given to
you by your professor in the form of a letter or a number. At the
end of the semester you will receive the number of credits you've earned by
completing the courses you enrolled in. Your credit hours are divided by
your grades to determine your grade point average (GPA). GPAs provide a measure
of how well you're doing against a four point scale.
Credit hours / grade points = GPA
For example, say I took a 4 credit Spanish class, a 3 credit
economics class, and a 3 credit writing class. I got an A in Spanish, a B in
economics, and a A in writing.
Spanish 4 hours of A = 12 grade points
Economics 3 hours of B = 12 grade points
Writing 3 hours of A = 12 grade points
39 points divided by 10 credit hours
means a GPA of 3.9