What You Need to Know About Class Rank

teenage student Things to know about class rank!  Most high school students don’t know much about class rank, and in my opinion, most of you don’t exactly need to worry about it.  It becomes really important for a handful of students in each school–the top 10%, to be precise.  But it is interesting, and an oft’ discussed subject, so let’s cover the ins and outs of ye olde class rank.

**PLEASE DO NOT POST A COMMENT HERE ASKING ME TO DO A MATH PROBLEM FOR YOU. COME ON, PEOPLE! Divide your number by the total number of kids in your class and then if the number is 10 or less (.10, .09, .08, etc etc) THEN you are in the top ten and should report rank.  If not, do not.

Example: My rank is 145. There are 467 kids in my class. What percent am I?

145/467 = X 

145 divided by 467 = .31

31%

31% is more than 10%, so you are NOT in the top ten percent.  Do NOT report this class rank.  🙂

Example 2:

8/98

8 divided by 98 = .08

.08 = 8%

This is LESS than 10%

You ARE in the top 10%. DO LIST this class rank.

What is class rank?  Class rank is when your high school lists each student in your grade in order based upon their GPA.  This means that if you have the highest GPA you will be first, the second highest GPA makes you second in your class, etc etc.  The issue, though, gets interesting because class rank is something that some high schools do and some high schools don’t.  So what are colleges to do then?  Use it or not?  And does it mean anything to you?  I would say that in general it doesn’t tend to end up mattering to most students because only the very most competitive colleges use it, and the vast majority of students aren’t applying to places like that because they wouldn’t be happy there.   Most colleges do not use or consider class rank in admissions, so the vast majority of students don’t need to worry about it.
Some counselors do not feel that colleges should use class rank at all, since not all high schools provide it.  When high schools do it, the most competitive colleges use it.  What this means is, if you are a student applying to the most competitive colleges, and your high school does not do class rank, then you are at a disadvantage at those colleges because those are points in your evaluation that you just won’t get.  Say the college grants 10 points possible for each “category” and one of those categories is class rank; if your school doesn’t do it, you get a zero in that category.  This makes it really difficult for you to get into the most competitive colleges, so you should talk with your counselor about that.

Also, some high schools “weight” class rank and some don’t.  This means you get more points for having taken an AP or IB class.  At schools where class rank is unweighted, consider this scenario: Some student may have taken all of the easiest classes at school and earned a 4.0.  Some other student may have taken all of the hardest classes at school and earned a 4.0.  Because the school does not “weight” class rank, both of those students would be tied for first place rank in the class.  Both of those students would be Valedictorian.  Most kids feel this is unfair, even the kids who take the less rigorous courses.  It’s a pretty weird decision on the part of the school, in my humble opinion.  The most equitable solution seems to be for schools to “weight” class rank, giving more points for more challenging courses.

Another factor to consider about your class rank is pulling up classes from middle school to raise your GPA.  If you took Algebra 1, Spanish or French 1, or Biology in 8th grade, AND IF YOU GOT A’s, you can pull those classes from 8th grade up onto your high school transcript and they will PERHAPS raise your GPA.  If your high school weights GPA by giving more points to your GPA for harder classes, then be aware that these middle school classes are UNWEIGHTED and they will come in as 4.0 points, not 5.0 for an A, so they can actually bring down a GPA.  And if your high school weights class rank, then bringing up unweighted A’s from middle school will also lower your class rank, so watch out.  Know before you go.  As in, know the facts before you ask your counselor to pull up middle school grades.  Most times that decision is not reversible!

If you have a low GPA, bringing up middle school A’s can raise your GPA (B’s will just pull it toward a 3.0), so pulling them up can be good.  Besides, if you struggled with GPA, then you’re not concerned about impressing any colleges with your class rank, so truly, don’t worry about it.  If you have a really high GPA, like a 3.9, I do not recommend pulling up middle school grades because it will (ask your school) likely drop your class rank, which could be decently high, so watch out.

At the end of the day, if your class rank does actually end up putting you in the top 10% of your graduating class, be sure to list it on every possible college application because all colleges will love it.  Most won’t expect it, but hey, if someone hands you a Ferrari, you just take it, so list it.

For the vast majority of my loyal readers out there, don’t sweat your class rank.  GPA is another matter, but let’s discuss that another day, Camper.  Until then, Yay College!

PLEASE DO NOT POST A COMMENT HERE ASKING ME TO DO MATH FOR YOU. See the math examples above and DO YOUR OWN MATH. All such silly/lazy/bizarre comments will be deleted. You can use a calculator. I am not your calculator.  🙂

Comments

    1. Author

      Hi Enya! I would only list a class rank if the number put you in the top ten percent, so if there are 604 and students in your class, I would ONLY counsel kids with numbers 1-60 to report rank.
      So, skip this question on the apps and list NONE or Not Available. 🙂
      Susanna

    1. Author

      Hi Vanessa! To determine your class rank, you do the math there, so 34 divided by 306. That is 11%, which is pretty good. Typically we only list it (ie: brag about it on college apps) if you are in the top ten percent of your graduating class, but since you are so close, I would list that, especially if you took Honors/AP/IB classes. Hope this helps! Susanna

    1. Author

      Hi Paulina!

      To answer this, do the math. 42 divided by 269 is .15, which is 15%.

      This is not a bad class rank. Typically we only report class rank on college apps if you are in the top 10 percent, though, so I would leave this off. VERY few kids are in the top ten percent, so don’t worry about it. But only being in the top 10% helps you, so don’t give the colleges a non-required piece of info that could count against you. Leave it blank. Colleges can’t really require class rank since so many high schools are doing away with it.

      Hope this helps!
      Susanna

        1. Author

          Hi Jaybe!

          See the examples above, and download my new (free) phone app which will help you get into college by answering every single question like this. 🙂

          app.collegemapper.com

          Yay, college!
          Susanna

  1. My transcript says 43 out of 72, is that good and where do I stand?

    1. Author

      Hi Angelina!

      To answer this, do the math. 43 divided by 72 is .59, or 59%. This is not bad; it is almost right in the middle. However, I would not list this on your college apps because it is not a required piece of info. The colleges cannot require it. Listing class rank only helps the very few kids who are in the top 10%, so I tell everyone else not to list it. 🙂

      Hope this helps!
      Susanna

    1. Author

      Hi Trevor!

      GREAT job doing so well in high school! Just list top ten and the colleges will do the math. On the common app you can put exact if you want, and list 23/290, or you can put top decile, which means top ten.

      Download my new (free) phone app which will help you make sure you are doing everything possible to strengthen your apps. app.collegemapper.com

      Way to go!
      Susanna

    1. Author

      Hi Eleyana!

      See the examples above, and download my new (free) phone app which will help you get into college by answering every single question like this. 🙂

      app.collegemapper.com

      Yay, college!
      Susanna

    1. Author

      Hi Emma!

      See the examples above, and download my new (free) phone app which will help you get into college by answering every single question like this. 🙂

      app.collegemapper.com

      Yay, college!
      Susanna

  2. Author

    PLEASE DO NOT POST A COMMENT HERE ASKING ME TO DO MATH FOR YOU. See the math examples above and DO YOUR OWN MATH. All such silly/lazy/bizarre comments will be deleted. You can use a calculator. I am not your calculator.  🙂

    1. Author

      Hi Hailey!

      Use the GPA calculator on my website https://www.collegemapper.com (under Resources) and you can see exactly which grades you need to achieve this.

      Also, use my free phone app to stay on track for college admissions:

      app.collegemapper.com

      It gives you a timeline and you can check off each task as you do it.

      Yay, college!
      Susanna

    1. Author

      You’re so welcome! Glad to know it helped. 🙂
      Susanna

  3. Hello, my class rank is 31% out of 498. Is this a good class rank? I mean I have all A’s in my classes except MATH I have C…
    will still get in a good university?

    1. Author

      Hi Ray, class rank matters far less than your GPA. You will of course get into a good university because there are so many excellent schools in the US. Great job on your grades! Susanna

  4. Is it bad for kids who have smaller class sizes? Such as I am 57 out of 178 (Don’t worry I’m not asking you to figure out my percentage.) I know I’m probably not in the top 10% but would it be easier for kids in bigger schools to make it?

    1. Author

      Hi Karina! Thank you for reading my blog post. In answer to your question, since class rank is a percentage, it’s the same odds in any size crowd. You are not at a disadvantage. Only grades move you higher, not the number of students. All the best, Susanna

  5. So I am in middle school and I know this is a college mapper but I figured I should learn these types of things earlier so I am not confused when they come up, I am on here because on my report card I realized there was a “class rank” based on cumulative grades or something. I know I am supposed to do the math so since I got 11/290 I divide but it isn’t an equal percentage and I assume I round, so it would be about 3.79 percent and I assume that is good and I know school will get harder, a lot harder as I progress, but this is good right? I’m pretty sure it is but I want a second opinion. Thank you for your help in understanding this.

    1. Hi Lily,

      Thank you for your question and for being patient with us. Colleges will evaluate you based only on your high school transcript. You are doing just great, don’t worry, all will be well.

      One thing to keep in mind is that many students don’t realize that you only have three years to build your GPA for college. Because you apply to college early in your Senior year, you don’t have Senior grades yet, so you apply with your end-of-Junior-year GPA. This gives you three years to work hard for the GPA you want, to get into the colleges you hope to go to. So, my best advice is work very hard your freshman year of high school to get the best GPA you can!

      You’ll do great!

      Take care,
      Evita

Leave a Comment