a sea of post-bacc B's

In a very old post, Mary Renard stated,

  • Mary Renard Said:
<span style=‘color:’#000000’’>AM I SCREWED IF I GET A C?
& lt;br>Lots of folks get into medical school with a C - or worse - somewhere on their transcript.

But it’s a different story for the new grades - they are going to look a LOT more closely at them, because they reflect your current thinking as someone who has decided to make a major career change. These grades speak volumes about you, your decision, your intention to go into medicine - they need to be GOOD. There may still be room for a C in there - but it should look pretty lonely in a sea of mostly A’s, maybe a few B’s.

Think of your new grades as a case of “put your money where your mouth is.” If I’m an AdCom member, and I’ve read your impassioned personal statement about how much you want to be a doctor, I want to see that desire backed up with good school work. If your transcript is uneven, it would be too easy for me to conclude that you may have a lot of desire, but you’re not taking this seriously enough. (I know that’s harsh, but AdCom members are reading through dozens of files at a sitting, they are making snap judgments rightly or wrongly, and that’s just the way it is.)

Ther e will always be exceptions to these breathtaking generalities, of course!

Unfortunately, my new post-bacc grades are a sea of mostly B's, a few A's, and 3 C's, two W's. This semester, I am headed to at least one definite A, one possible B, and the other course is a toss up. So, is my cause a lost one? I entered post-bacc hoping to do well, and the opposite has happened, I'm doing worse. It's not a lack of studying: all I do is study, but as I've mentioned before, I just have difficulty recalling information under test situations. For example, yesterday, we had a quiz in biochemistry: I drew reaction pathways repetitively from memory in preparation for the quiz, but once on the quiz, I could recall all but one pathway that I had practiced. So I got a C on the quiz. I'm having the same problems on the lecture exams. Today, in my microbiology class, we had a test. I could not recall clearly an experiment; I could see the image in my mind, but it was all blurry. But when the test was over I was able recall the image clearly, and was able to tell the professor the answer that I should have put down. Unfortunately, this scenario has repeated itself countless times during my post-bacc years, and no amount of practice seems to help. I realize that when AdComms are going to see my transcript they will probably think that I am not serious about school; which is incorrect. I study almost all the time; I even stopped working (I was self-employed) to devote time to school. But I know that AdComms won't see things that way. So my question is, can I overcome a sea of "B's" with a sea of A's? Or should I give up now?

I personally don’t believe in giving up but I do believe there comes a timne where you simply need to step back, regroup, and work on dealing with the issues that are causing you to faulter in school.

I would rather not give up, but I am having a hard

time finding out the root of my faltering. The inability to recall some things on an exam is the

direct cause of doing poorly, but I believe it is

not the underlying cause, but a symptom or manifestation of something more fundamental. Unfortunately, I have

not been able to pinpoint that cause. The

questions I continually ask myself are, “What am I doing wrong? What do I need to do right [correctly]?” And, I am still looking for those answers.

Honestly it sounds like you have test anxiety and although studying helps, it does not stop the panic always. I got like this last summer w/ an algebra class. I studied for HOURS only to go in and actually fail the exam. After 3 poor grades (not all were F’s) I began to convince myself I was going to do poorly. The messages we tell ourselves really do affect us. I ended up re taking it and by midterm was barely pulling a C. The anxiety levels were through the roof. I was barely pulling a B in chemistry as well. I recall one rather harried conversation w/ my chemistry professor about the inconsistancy between my homework and my tests. She started hitting me up to consider meditation. I thought it was bogus, but hey, it’s free so I started to look into it. I chose a meditation form that used a mantra. It was easier for me to focus w/ something to hear (even if it was just in my mind). My mantra is hindi for “peace” (or maybe it’s sanskrit but it flows nicely and means Peace).

As crazy as it sounds, after a few weeks of meditation, I started to calm. I went in to the next exam a bit panicked, but took the 30 seconds before the exam to refocus, chant my mantra in my mind and went to the test. I took my time. I worked each problem one at a time. I Did NOT look at the entire test. Just one question at a time. Staying in that bubble, focusing on what was at hand, studying and combining it w/ anti stress tactics actually helped me and for the first time I pulled off an A.

That semester I pulled my math grade up to a B and my chem grade all the way up to an A from a low B.

I’m not saying meditation is right for you, but you need to find what exactly has you stressed, and focus on bringing that down before you hit the next exam. You’ve studied. You’ve done the work. You know the material. You need to trust your mind to do what you have trained it to do instead of fear the end result. Good luck. With any luck it will all work itself out.


Someone once told me: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again; if you still don’t succeed, well, don’t be a damn fool about it. Fortunately a post-bac program has a definite beginning, middle, and end. You do not have to waste your whole life trying. Maybe you could just finish up, do your best, and see if you get in. Only then will you know if your efforts where successful. It sounds like if you could solve the recall under pressure problem, and make this a strong suit, you would have conquered an important physician skill, and it would make a great talking point during an interview. Good luck, I don’t advocate giving up yet.

All I can say is that I feel your pain.

I understand exactly what you are saying. I have the same problem. My grades are a sea of B’s. There is great descrepancy between my course work and my exam scores. If they graded me on my course work alone, I would have straight A’s. BUT, my downfall are the exams. I go blank. Everything I knew before I go into my exam just goes into some unknown void, only to return AFTER the fact.

To get help for this problem, I went and had a therapist friend of mine perform hypnotherapy on me. She told me that, before I go into my exams, to imagine myself in a place where I feel peaceful and calm, whether that’s a field of flowers or sitting by a waterfall, etc. I have only gone a couple of times, but I did notice a difference in my performance after those sessions. The point to all of this is that, whether it’s meditation, breathing exercises, hypnotherapy, the main theme and key is to RELAX. We psych ourselves out with our test anxieties and become our own worse enemies.

I know that it’s easier said than done, but if you could find some way to relax before you go into your exam, I think your test performance will improve.

Best wishes and good luck!


Thanks for the advice. To mathai, I have been dabbling in hypnosis and self-hypnosis for a while; I went to two hypnotherapists, but neither of their inductions have helped much even when they made tapes for me. Lately, I have tried self-hypnosis tapes from other therapists, and have had some positive results. The other day, I was able to concentrate for a full hour without getting too distracted.

I’m also exploring the ADHD route, but I am still waiting for an appointment; my former doctor retired, and my new doctor is very busy.

I am totally with you Boobs. The key for test performance is relaxation. Anxiety and stress KILL recall. We have all had those occasions where we’ve been put on the spot by someone and sat there stammering, no matter what the context. Tests and quizzes can certainly feel just as disjointed and stressful. When you are relaxed things flow more smoothly. Meditation, Yoga, Prayer, music, super hero underpants (don’t laugh they work), all of these things can help relaxation and boost confidence. Another thing that can help is ritual, we see this in sports all of the time. My favorite is Valentino Rossi a motorcycle racer, his ritual is bizarre, but it must work, the guy has won eight world championships.