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Interpreting College Grade Averages GPA

Ward, Lewis B.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Harvard University, Business Administration Education, Departments, Grade Point Average (GPA), Grade Prediction, Institutional Characteristics


The records of students attending the Graduate School of Business Administration of Harvard University illustrate the fact that students with similar undergraduate grade records from different colleges often achieve consistently different levels of academic performance in Graduate School. When based on samples of ten or more, these differences in relative performance are surprisingly stable from one four-year period to another. The substantial correlation between the size and direction of such differences and average scores of other students from these same colleges on admissions tests for law and medical schools suggests that the differences reflect characteristic institutional differences in the sampling of general academic ability which remain stable over long periods and across many different fields of interest. The common belief that grades from certain colleges predict the future graduate school performance of their students relative to each other more consistently than do grades from other colleges is not substantiated by the data where the size of sample is at least 10 per college.

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