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College of Arts & Sciences

To Retake—Or Not to Retake?

(That is the Question.)

Students believe that retaking a difficult or challenging course is best postponed for later – much later. Parents may wonder whether a retake is wise or necessary, and some parents advise students against taking a course over again.

Arts & Sciences suggests sooner is the best time to retake courses.

Why Retake Courses Sooner, Not Later?

Because mathematically, the more credit hours accrued, the smaller the impact a replacement grade will have on the GPA. Therefore, the fewer the number of attempted credit hours, the BIGGER the impact retaking a course has on the GPA.  

Other Advantages for Retaking a Course ASAP

  • The student is familiar with the course content, already has class notes, a textbook, and a keener sense of how to succeed—by changing study habits, finding a tutor early, attending SI sessions, and meeting with the teacher, to name a few ways.   
  • Knowledge and experience are lost with time away.

In general, but certainly when a student has fewer than 90 credits, it is possible to improve the GPA significantly by taking courses over again.

Retaking Courses with Unsatisfactory Grades is the Best Strategy to Raise the GPA.

Scenario I: Brian’s Story      

Brian enrolls for 17 credits of graded courses.

FALL SEMESTER       Hour.           Grade      Points

HIST 121                        4                    C          9.32

ENG 151                       5                    D-        3.35

BIOL 101                        5                    D          5.0

SW 103                         3                    C-         9.0

17 attempted hours/ 21.36 grade points

GPA 1.039 (Term/ Overall)
  • Brian is placed on probation after fall semester and could be academically suspended unless he earns a 2.00 for the courses he takes spring semester. His goal is to transfer to a program that requires a 2.75 GPA. 
  • Arts &Sciences recommends retaking the two courses with D grades to quickly raise his GPA. 
  • Brian enrolls in 17 hours of new classes, certain that if he does well he will reach his 2.75 goal more quickly than if he “delays” by retaking courses.

17 hours of new courses 

SPRING SEMESTER      Hours          Grade       Points

MUS 100                           3                  B           9.00    

POLSs 150                            4                  C+        9.32  

ANTH 101                          5                  B+        16.6

AAS 150                           5                  B           15.0

17 hours attempted/ 49.97 grade points

Spring term GPA 2.939

34 hours attempted/ 71.33 grade points

Overall GPA 2.097
  • Following suggestions he found at Student Success & Support Services, Brian’s grades dramatically improve.
  • With a 2.93 for spring term Brian is saved from academic suspension. He is disappointed that even with a strong performance of mostly Bs, his overall GPA climbed only to a 2.097  
  • Hoping ONE more semester will get him to the 2.75 he needs, Brian registers for Brian enrolls for 17 hours summer semester

SUMMER SEMESTER                  Hour.  Grade   Points

POLS 150                                          4         A        16 

HIST 133                                          4         A        16

PHIL 101                                          4         A        16 

MATH 113                                       5         A          20 

17 hours attempted/68 grade points

Term GPA 4.00        

51 total attempted hours/139.33 grade points

Overall GPA 2.731

In summer semester, Brian earns 17 hours of As, but his 2.731 GPA is still short of the 2.75 goal.

Scenario II: Brian’s Story with Retakes

17 attempted hours   

FALL SEMESTER                  Hours   Grade  Points

HIST 121                                 4        C        9.32

ENG 151                                5         D       3.35

BIOL 101                                 5         D-      5.00

SW 103                                  3         C-      9.00     

17 hours attempted / 21.36 grade points   

Fall term GPA 1.039 

Overall GPA 1.039     
  • Brian is placed on probation after fall semester and could be academically suspended unless he earns a 2.00 for the courses he takes spring semester. His goal is to transfer to a program that requires a 2.75 GPA  
  • Arts &Sciences recommends retaking the two courses with D grades to quickly raise his GPA.  
  • Brian enrolls in 17 hours of classes, including the two courses he decides to take again to raise his GPA.  

17 attempted hours (10 hours retaken)

SPRING SEMESTER              Hours   Grade    Points

MUS 100                                  3         B        9.00

POLS 150                                   4         C+      9.32 

ENG 151                                    5         B+     16.65 (former grade D-)

BIOL 101                                    5         B        15.00 (former grade D)

17 hours attempted/ 49.97 grade points

Spring term GPA 2.93  

24 total hours/ 62.98 grade points 

Overall GPA 2.64

By following suggestions he found at Student Success & Support Services, Brian’s grades dramatically improve.  

  • With a 2.93 for spring term Brian is saved from academic suspension. He is pleased that with a strong performance of mostly Bs, his overall GPA climbed to a 2.64, and he is very close to the 2.75 mark he wants to achieve. 

17 attempted hours   

SUMMER SEMESTER           Hours  Grade   Points

Pols 150                                     4         B         12.00

Hist 133                                     4         B         12.00

Phil 101                                     4         B         12.00

Math 113                                  5         B         15.00

17 hours attempted/ 51 grade points

Spring term GPA 3.00 41 total hours/113.98 grade points

Overall GPA 2.78

With 17 hours of Bs, Brian earns a 2.78 GPA and surpasses his 2.75 goal in two semesters!

At Ohio University, There is a Distinct Difference Between 'Retaking' and 'Repeating' a Course.  

  • Retaking a course means enrolling with the intention of replacing the original grade with a new grade. The grades and credit hours earned previously are removed and the GPA is refigured with the new grade (even if the new grade is lower than the previous grade).
  • Repeating a course applies to courses designated as “repeatable” in the master curriculum file. These include marching band, lab experiments, special topics, etc. Additional credits or grades are earned each time a repeatable course is completed. Subsequent grades for these courses do not replace grades or credits from previously completed “repeatable” courses.

To calculate a GPA with/ without retaken courses, the University College provides this Excel GPA calculator.

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