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How to Build a Very High CGPA in Tertiary Institution

On this expository article, we shall look at how to build a very high CGPA in tertiary institutions. So this promises to help students in Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education. It will also be valuable to those in secondary and high schools who desire to be informed early enough. You will learn virtually everything about the CGPA grading system in Nigeria and how to calculate your GPA. And much more…

UNIJOS College of Medicine student writing exams

In order to do justice to this discourse, we are going to start with definition of terms. These terms may be strange but when they are understood, every other thing becomes easy.

Grade Points

Grade points are numerical equivalents to every letter grade a student receives in a course. Usually, the points are assigned as follows:

Note that grade and grade points may vary by country. So what you have in your country’s system may be the same or vary slightly with what we have in the table above.

For example, what you have above is based on the 5-point system. There is also the 4-point system.

Under the four-point system, scores are graded as shown in the table below using letter grades and grade points.

These grade points are multiplied by the number of credit unit loads for the course in question and used to compute a grade point average (GPA).

What is GPA?

GPA is the acronym for Grade Point Average. As the name implies, it is an average of all the grade points you have earned in a semester. However, this may be calculated over a session or over the course of your degree program.

What is CGPA?

CGPA is the acronym for Cumulative Grade Point Average. As the name also implies, it is the cumulative of all the student’s GPA from matriculation till graduation. In other words, CGPA is an average of all the final grade points individual students earned from their first examination in the school till their final year examination.

The Difference Between GPA and CGPA

From the above definitions, it is very easy to spot the differences between GPA and CGPA. The differences are very simple.

  • GPA is calculated over a short duration e.g. a term or semester. Whereas CGPA spans over a longer period of time e.g. the entire degree programme or course duration. In other words, CGPA covers all the semesters in all the academic sessions in the programme.
  • Another important difference between GPA and CGPA is in the interest of international universities. International universities emphasize more on GPA as it helps to evaluate the consistency in students academic performance throughout a course. So they tend to emphasize less on CGPA.

Importance of GPA and CGPA

Some students have asked, “Which is more important, GPA or CGPA.?”

Now the truth of the matter is that both GPA and CGPA are very important. They are important both for your immediate academic journey through school and your future career prospects.

GPA and CGPA are inseparably linked together. You should strive to get a high GPA every semester in order to obtain a corresponding high CGPA in your degree programme.

So, if your GPA is not consistently high across the semesters, you will not graduate with a high CGPA at the end of the course.

In addition, GPA and CGPA influence your chances for scholarships, study-abroad opportunities and job placements. Too often, students fall short of the criteria by simple decimal numbers. That’s actually how important it is. So you must ensure that you strive for consistent GPAs across the semesters and an impressive CGPA at the end of the programme.

The CGPA Grading System in Nigeria

In 2017, the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) approved a new grading system for all Nigerian Universities. So, instead of the 5-point CGPA Grading System for classification of degrees, NUC directed all universities to adopt the 4-point scale.

Consequently, the GPA requirements for graduation was increased and the ‘PASS’ class of degrees was eliminated.

But later in the 2018/2019 academic session, the vice chancellors were directed to revert back to the 5-point grading system. The NUC opined that the 4-point grading system made it easier for students to graduate with first class, among other issues.

The Highest CGPA Obtainable in Nigerian Universities

Since the 5-point grading system in Nigerian universities was restored by the NUC, the highest CGPA obtainable in a Nigerian university remains 5.00.

Classes of Degrees in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the classification of degrees is what is used to give a picture of the overall performance of students throughout their duration of study. It is very relevant for consideration of students for scholarships and employment of graduates. Furthermore, it plays a role in determining future career prospects.

The classes of degree awarded by Nigerian universities are ranked as below;

  • First Class.
  • Second Class Upper.
  • Second Class Lower.
  • Third Class.
  • Pass.

First Class CGPA in Nigeria

The first class degree is the highest class of degree obtainable from Nigerian universities under the NUC. It requires an awful lot of discipline, self denial and hard work to graduate with a first class degree.

What CGPA is First Class in Nigeria?

The CGPA for first class in Nigeria is 4.50 – 5.00.

Second Class Upper CGPA in Nigeria

Immediately coming after the first class degree is the second class degree (upper division). This is where many Nigerian students really strive to be. Because they believe they can attain it while maintaining their normal social life. For such students, you hear them asking questions like, “Is 3.5 CGPA a second class upper?” Once they get a YES, they reassure themselves that there’s nothing that will stop them from attaining a 3.5 CGPA at least.

Alas! They graduate disappointed most of the times.

What CGPA is Second Class Upper in Nigeria?

The CGPA for second class upper in Nigeria is 3.5 – 4.49.

Second Class Lower CGPA in Nigeria

Second class lower is the next lower class of degree after second class upper. People that graduate with second class lower are not as favored in the labor market as their counterparts with either first class or second class upper. However, it is still better than the next three classes of degree.

What CGPA is Second Class Lower in Nigeria?

The CGPA for second class lower in Nigeria is 2.40 – 3.49.

Third Class CGPA in Nigeria

What CGPA is Third Class in Nigeria?

The CGPA for third class in Nigeria is 1.50 – 2.39.

The Pass Degree

This is the last and the least class of degree obtainable from a Nigerian university. Some people refer to it as “Let my people go.” It is the class of degree given to students who, for one reason or the other, find it difficult to clear their courses and graduate with others.

How to Calculate CGPA in Nigerian Universities

This is not a difficult task, though you need to pay attention to some new terms.

Just like we already noted, every subject has a number of Credit Units (CU). With the credit units, you can calculate the Quality Points (QP).

However, to obtain the Quality Points (QP), you will need to multiply the Credit Units (CU) by the Grade Point (GP) for each of the courses.

Take for example, if a student scores 80% in a 3 Credit Unit course, the Quality Points for the student would be obtained by multiplying the Grade Point (A = 5) by the number of Credit Units, i.e., 3 x 5 = 15.

Once you have done this, the following is how to now derive the Grade Point Average (GPA):

Divide the Total Quality Point (TQP) by the Total Credit Unit (TCU) for the semester.

Let me illustrate this using another example.

Assuming a student earns 54 Quality Points in a semester for 18 Credit Units, the Grade Point Average (GPA) will be 54 ÷ 18 = 3.0.

From the foregoing, you see that calculating the Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) is already very simple.

Just add the Total Quality Points (TQP) for all semesters and divide it by the Total Credit Units (TCU) for all semesters.

For example, if a student earned a Quality Point of 54 in a semester for 18 credit units and a Quality Point of 62 in the second semester for 20 credit units, his CGPA will be calculated as follows:

CGPA = (54 + 62)(18 + 20)  11638 = 3.05

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How to get High CGPA in University

There is a need to teach undergraduates how to get and maintain high CGPA in school. And by undergraduates, I mean students in universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education. Many of them erroneously think that it is all about being smart. Others think that all it takes it being a bookworm, reading non-stop. But it’s far from those. The proven keys to academic success is being disciplined, consistent and efficient in your study habits.

Here are 10 tips that will help you to raise your CGPA without the usual students hassles and stress.

1. Set academic goals
2. Attend classes class regularly.
3. Be active in class.
4. Have a personal time-table.
5. Be organized.
6. Associate with smart students.
7. Take advantage of school resources.
8. Go to school during office hours.
9. Avoid all-nighters.
10. Do a weekly study review.

1. Set Academic Goals

As a student, setting academic goals for yourself is very important.  Without goals, it is almost impossible to grow. Therefore, set new targets for yourself every semester. When you set the target, pursue it will all diligence and discipline. Shun every form of distractions on your way to your goals.

However, you need to factor reward in your goal-setting equation. Although good grades are rewards in themselves, it’s not a bad idea to give yourself a little more incentive. Every time you achieve your GPA goal, try to reward yourself with something you really love.

2. Attend Classes Regularly

I know you may be like, “Who doesn’t know that it is good to attend classes regularly?” I know you know, but I still need to stress the importance here.

And that’s because many lecturers teach directly from Powerpoint. Many post the slides to the Internet after lecture. Consequent upon this, many students are tempted to skip classes since they can always download the slides online. They believe they can learn the materials on their own.

Others even tell their friends to snap the slides for them. Some would rather borrow notes and copy after the lecture.

Listen my friend, this a major cause of poor academic performance and low GPA.

While there are easy courses, there are some courses that are difficult, complex and confusing. So, by missing classes under such courses, you miss

  • out on the opportunity to directly ask questions and hear the answers proffered by other students.
  • the lecturer’s detailed verbal explanations and illustrations that may be key to understanding the material.
  • opportunities for bonus marks.

Furthermore, it is also very important to realize that skipping classes negatively impacts a student’s reputation. If you frequently miss classes, you will be perceived as a truant. When it is a matter of discretion for the professor, why should he round up that your B+ to A-? Why should he give you a benefit of doubt? Have you shown enough respect for him or his course?

Don’t skip classes.

3. Be Active in Class

So it doesn’t end with punctuality to classes. Your level of activity during classes also matters. Class participation is as important as class attendance.

If you participate in class, you make yourself visible to your lecturer and give him the impression that you are eager to learn. More so, class participation boosts your capacity to remember the materials taught in class.

However, participation takes a whole lot of self confidence. So if you are having self confidence issues, try to sort it out. That way, you will not be a passive observer during lectures.

4. Have a Personal Time-table

Many people have issues with personal study time-tables. They believe it is virtually impossible to keep them. But don’t forget what we said in the beginning in a hurry. We said it’s all about discipline, determination and consistency.

Hear me. Having a personal study time table will make your life organized as a student.

Work out your time table according to your daily schedules. Fix all your courses and ensure that you keep to the schedule.

Do not entertain friends, play games, watch TV or engage in any other activity when it’s study time.

5. Be organized

Beyond the issue of having a personal study time table, you need to be organized as a student. Disorganized students don’t make high CGPA. Yes, you heard me.

Actually, getting organized is one of the easiest ways to boost your academic performance and raise your CGPA. If you are organized, you reduce the amount of time and effort if would take to build your GPA.

So what are the things you need to organize?

Organize your environment, your room or hostel. Have a place for everything – notes, handouts, textbooks. Organize and manage your class schedules and study time.

Interestingly, you can also organize your information sources. Try to keep a list of proven reliable information sources including websites and web apps. This will enable you to find information the second you need them.

6. Associate with smart students

The power of association cannot be over-emphasized. If you associate with the wise, you become wise. Associate with smart people and watch the same quality develop in you.

So, you need to befriend smart students with high GPA. This is especially important when you are offering courses that involve group work or practicals. You don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of loafers and slackers. You don’t want a situation where you will be the one to do the whole group work yourself and end up with a poor grade after the stress.

In group work, the quality of your learning experience depends on the quality of the members of your group. So you need to go for smart people who can engage in intelligent discussions.

7. Take advantage of school resources

Depending on your school, there would be many resources available for you. Such resources include library and so on.

There is a well-furnished library in every department and a general school library. Those provide a conducive environment for the type of learning and research needed to build an impressive CGPA.

Therefore, you must take advantage of them.

The school hostels and dorm rooms are not conducive for study. The reason is because you can easily be distracted by your roommates or visitors. And your mind will hardly focus on reading.

So get yourself registered at the library. But beyond that, make the most of it. The more you read, the better you become academically; and the better your GPA.

8. Go to School at Office Hours

Going to school at office hours is very good. And this is regardless of whether or not you have lectures.

Some lecturers are always available to listen to students and solve their problems during school hours. So, this implies that you take take that concept you are having a hard time with to your lecturers. You can ask questions about your assignments and so on.

More so if you are consistently getting low GPA, you can politely talk to your lecturers. Don’t accuse them or say stupid things to them. You can ask for suggestions on the steps you can take to improve your GPA.

9. Avoid all-nighters

You find these students in almost all the tertiary institutions. Many (not all) of these students lack discipline and consistency. They slack throughout the semester. And when the exam time table shows up, they resort to all night “jacking”. Then, they want to squeeze a whole semester’s study into one night.

Avoid such students. Yes, they may be getting good grades especially in easier courses. But they are not hard working students.

Some all-nighters take abuse substances in their bid to stay awake and study. Obviously, such behavior can harm performance because they make you tired and stressed. More so, you’ll forget most of the things you studied immediately after the examination. Thereby making a mess of the whole value of your education.

10. Do a weekly study review

Although this is the last tip in this article, it is certainly not the least. If you want to be a successful student with consistently high GPA, you must pay attention to this.

I’m laying this emphasis here because I see many students trying to study and learn an enormous amount of material right before the final exam. This is not just wrong but the leading cause of examination stress and anxiety.

It is much easier and more productive to approach your study gradually. Learn the discipline of going through your lecture notes from beginning to end at least once every week. Become familiar your your study materials every week.

By doing a weekly review, you will find out that you are gradually memorizing the materials. This is far better and more profitable than cramming which many engage in just before final exams.

More so, investing small amount of efforts on a consistent basis will reduce the amount of studying you will need to do right before the examination.


So that’s all I have for you on this article. It’s all about GPA and CGPA. I believe you now know what it’s all about and how to calculate it. More importantly, use the 10 tips and strategies exposed above to boost and maintain your GPA till you graduate.

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Recommended: 7 Strategies to Overcome Examination Stress and Anxîety

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About Henry Divine

Henry Divine is a passionate educator and seasoned blogger with a strong commitment to providing valuable insights and resources to the education community. With over 6 years of experience in the field, Henry's articles are well-researched, authoritative, and tailored to meet the needs of teachers, students, and parents alike. Through his blog, Henry aims to empower readers with practical tips, innovative strategies, and evidence-based practices to foster lifelong learning and academic success. Follow Henry for the latest updates and expert advice on all things education.

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