advice on biochem?

Hi all-
I am having some serious issues with biochemistry. Generally, I understand the material, but I am having difficulty with all of the memorization. Matters were not helped by my 3 weeks of illness (pneumonia) early in the quarter. I have a prof who is due to retire (after this quarter, if rumors are to be believed), and who many people told me not to take. I scored a 60 (ave. 57) on the first test. The second test was today, and I’m afraid I bombed it - the last two pages were all things I didn’t spend much time studying, and the then I couldn’t remember the things I DID study because I was so frazzled. I am concerned that my chances for a C or better just went out the window.
I don’t know what to do at this point. I didn’t HAVE to take biochem. I am enrolled as a continuing ed student, and opted to take it because I needed courses to be considered full time, and because I thought it would help me out in medical school. I have to petition to withdraw at this point in the quarter - I have an appointment with my advisor to talk about my options.
I am worried about how this will affect my status for getting accepted (my applications are complete at 5 schools, no rejections, one interview so far). I don’t know when I will have to send them transcripts for this quarter (I am taking one prereq). I am not planning on taking any more classes. It’s possible that I could get accepted before I would need to send a transcript with the poor grade or W to the schools. All of my other course work in the prereqs are A’s.
Are there any options other than Withdrawing? Which will look worse - a W or a D or F? I can’t afford to retake this class (an option I’m sure some will suggest) - I’m out of financial aid, and I need to go back to work full time.

Hi Amy,
I am sorry to hear you were sick. If you think that may have played a part in your grade and sicne you don’t need the class, and if you don’t think you can recover your grade, then I would suggest you drop the course. A W is better than a D and maybe better than a C. If you don’t have alot of W’s, then drop the course. If you are asked about it, tell them you got very sick and weren’t able to continue.
Good luck. Hope you are feeling better now.

Withdraw immediately. A W on a transcript always looks better than a D or an F. You have the book - go back to work and spend an hour a night studying on your own.

I agree with the other recommendations that you withdraw from the course (and for the same reasons others gave). However, check with the registrar’s office about withdrawal deadlines & statuses. Some schools will allow you to withdraw late in the semester but will note a “WF” on the transcript (WF refers to “Withdrawn Failing” to indicate the students failing grade at the time of withdrawal). This might not apply to withdrawals made for medical reasons, but check to be sure.

Hi there,
At this point, withdraw from the class but continue to attend as an audit. Study the lectures and listen to the material so that you have some review for medical school Biochemistry. Your reason for withdrawal is due to illness which is understandable since you had a prolonged illness that prevented you from preparing for your exams. You probably can’t get an A or B in the class so don’t risk a D or F here. A withdrawal (W) is far better since the rest of your grades are good. Since you don’t need the GPA help, don’t let this class hurt you. You can audit and learn the material without the added pressure of having to score near perfect on every exam. Good luck!

Thanks for the advice, all. I submitted my petition for withdrawal yesterday. The committee meets tomorrow, so I won’t know until early next week if I can withdraw or not. I meet with my advisor tomorrow morning, and hopefully she can give me some options if my petition is denied. Rumor has it that if the prof is agreeable, I can switch my status from grade to audit. I’ll have to check that out.
I plan to attend the rest of the quarter. At this point, there are less than two weeks left. I have learned a lot this quarter, and no matter what the outcome, it will help me out in the future.
Hopefully, it all works out well. I will post what the outcome is.
Thanks again-

Just an update . . . I finally got to talk to an advisor today. She didn’t seem optomistic about my petition getting approved. Although I did get a letter from the medical center verifying my illness, she feels that the fact that my illness was early in the quarter and that I am not petitioning to withdraw from all of my classes will hurt my case. Honestly, the other two classes (physics and microbiology) are very undemanding. I spend very little time outside of class on them.
I guess I will work on rewriting my petition over the weekend (I found out today that I have to have an instructor’s statement submitted with my petition) and try and explain why I waited so long after my illness to drop.
It’s unfortunate that professors only have 25% of your grade completed before the drop deadline. It makes it very difficult to determine how you are going to be able to fare overall.

There are many med schools which don’t want your latest transcript until you’ve been accepted and ready to matriculate. If it is a school that doesn’t require biochem, you can explain the problem at that time if you need to.
If you can get a W, that’s the best option. It sounds as if you are trying to do this after the “withdraw” deadline?
Good luck!

Judy -
That’s good to know. I was kind of hoping that I would be able to put off sending my latest transcript as long as possible. Of course, I am currently enrolled taking pre-reqs at the school I would prefer to go to - so I imagine they could look up my grades at any time.

Well - bad news and good news on the biochem front. My petition to withdraw was denied. Since my illness was earlier in the quarter, they say I should have been able to withdraw prior to the end of the 7th week (last day to drop without petitioning). Probably justifiable. That’s the bad news.

Now the good news: The test I bombed - - everyone else did also. The class average for this test was a 41. So - with my score of a 40 and my 60 (ave 57) on the first test, I still have a nice solid C with 50% of the grade to be determined by the final.

So - over the next two weeks, I will be spending some quality time with biochem. Hopefully, I can do well enough on the final (50% comprehensive, 50% new material since last exam) to pull my grade up to a B.

Have a great thanksgiving all!!!


Hey, Amy, what a good demonstration of my firm belief that “things happen for a reason.” You will be fine for the remainder of the semester, I’m sure of it. Congrats on holding your own - that must’ve been a kick-ass test (ugh).

Amy’s situation is sort of instructive for people trying to get into medical school. Looking back on my own experience and those I have known who have got in, it takes brainpower, effort, and a good strategy all in equal measure.
Amy’s school, for instance, has a very restrictive add/drop policy. There are many schools that do not have such a restrictive add/drop policy. If you have a choice, pick one that has policies that will benefit you for your undergrad/postbacc work. Why add to the list of hoops you have to jump through an additional set of “bureaucratic” hoops to sail through?