Fandom Friday — How Class Ranking Works


By — Njeri Jackson

With all the craziness that happens in senior year, throwing in class ranks is just complicated. Class ranks can be really confusing because different schools determine how they rank students with multiple methods. Some schools don’t even do class ranks at all. With that, here is some information on what to know about class rank.

Numerical Ranking

A typical way that schools rank students is by numbers. This means that a student is given a number out of all the amount of students in that grade. The top two students are the valedictorian and salutatorian. The rank is usually based on gpa, but takes into account the level of difficulty of the courses a student is taking as well. Along with this, there is usually a percentile that each school mentions; this includes the top 1% or the top 10%. 

How to determine the percentage a student is in, and what is an excellent class rank

If a student is in the top 10%, this is usually considered an excellent class rank. If a student is wanting to get into a selective school, it is recommended that the student aims to hit the top 10%. This is how to determine what percentage a student is in:

  1. If a student is 68 in a class of 285, what percentage are they in?
    • 68/285= .24 (rounded) 
    • They are in the top 24% 
  2. If a student is 20 in a class of 450, what percentage are they in?
    • 20/450= .04 (rounded)
    • They are in the top 4%
  3. If a student is 167 in a class of 350, what percentage are they in?
    • 167/350= .48 (rounded)
    • They are in the top 48%

Cum Laude

Many schools have eliminated ranking students by number and instead do it best on an honors system called Cum Laude (or an alternative to this system) which means “with honors.” This system is ranking students with a certain honor based on their gpa and classes. Not everyone makes the honors system, and while it depends on the school, a 3.5 gpa is usually the requirement to make the honors system. Graduating with honors is Cum Laude and then there are two main categories in the system: Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude. Magna Cum Laude means “with great honors,” and Summa Cum Laude means “with highest honors.”  Usually those with Cum Laude have a gpa between 3.5-3.7, Magna Cum Laude between 3.8-3.9, and Summa Cum Laude is 4.0+. 

Ways to Raise a GPA, and How to Get a Higher Class Rank

Many students are in a situation where they are attempting to raise their gpa, whether that be to graduate, to get into the college they desire, and whatever other reason. Here are some tips on how to raise a lower gpa:

  1. Take harder classes

Taking more challenging classes like APs, DEs, or honors, can greatly help a gpa. These classes are usually more heavily weighted than regular classes, which rises a gpa higher than if a student took a regular class. APs and DEs usually have a 1.0 or higher gpa boost which means that instead of a 4.0 scale, it is on a 5.0 scale, so if a student gets an A in the class they receive five points instead of four. Honors provide a 0.5 gpa boost. This is how people are able to get a gpa higher than a 4.0. These classes can be helpful even if a student is struggling because even though they might score a B in the class, on a regular scale it would be equivalent to getting a B+ or A-. 

  1. Take on a challenge in senior year

Many seniors take that year easy or at least easier than what they took junior year. This is a great opportunity to raise class rank. If a student takes a challenging course load and does well, their class rank will naturally pass others who have chosen to take an easy senior year.

  1. Take grades from 8th grade

If a student took high school level courses in 8th grade and they want to raise their gpa, they can ask to have their 8th grade classes counted into their gpa. Only do this if the grade was an A though because it might not do anything to the current gpa, or even decrease it. For instance, if a student took Spanish l in 8th grade, it can be counted towards their gpa.

An End Note

Even though there are class ranks, honors, and a heightened importance on gpa, it must be said that gpa is not everything. Having a lower gpa is okay. It is not the end of the world to graduate without honors and it is not bad to not end up being valedictorian. Just because these students have made honors or have a high gpa does not mean they are any better than a person with lower stats.