Are B's F's?

Dear old premeds (and old meds),
It’s been instilled in my head that I MUST get straight A’s in my sciences to get into the schools I want to attend. After doing well in college as a lit major, I’m (relatively) struggling in my postbac premed classes, and feel like I could slip down into a B. Why do I equate B’s with F’s? Telling myself I “must” get A’s is obviously unhealthy, and irrational. For folks aiming toward a career in taking care of others, isn’t it ironic that we put so much detrimental pressure on ourselves. Or perhaps I should take it as a sign that I just have to work even harder. Always more to learn…
Any words of encouragement (or even discouragement) is appreciated.
- Jake

Hi Jake,
You might want to focus on mastery of the material in your classes as opposed to grade. Aiming to do the best that you can do with mastery of the material presented with probably get you further than focusing on a particular grade, which as you state, may be “irrational”. In the end, you need to do the best that you can to apply the information that is in your coursework. This will serve you well both in your pre-medical studies and later on in medical school. When you are out there taking care of patients, it really won’t matter too much, what your grades were but rather, what can you do to get your patient back to health. While it is very difficult to see how your pre-med studies are related to patient care, the process that you have to go through to get to where you want to be, is practice for the transitions that you will have to make in order to become a practicing physician. If you master the material, the grades will come. It always adds more pressure to feel “compelled” to achieve a particular grade at a point when you don’t need any additional pressures if you are doing both school and work.
Good luck and keep plugging away. It is the day to day success of mastery of material that builds up to mastery of your class that will bring the grades that you seek and long term success. Remember that this is a journey that will continue for the rest of your life.

I agree completely. Thank you kindly for the thoughtful response.

the comment on focussing on mastery rather than grade is well put. I am living proof that B’s are not F’s when it comes to med school. It’s true, the better your grades, the more doors will be open to you. But I graduated with a “B” average and, while some schools rejected my application, others saw strengths in “the whole person”.
Schools do look at more than just your grades, esp when considering older students who have a little life experience.
Steve Y. MS 4 – UNECOM

Excellent points above! I’m in my 3rd year of medical school, and I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had been less concerned with grades in undergrad, and more concerned with mastering the materials. Unforutnately, someitmes those are competing priorities.
I’m sure that to someone, somewhere, “B = F”, but I don’t know of any. Personally, I was confused by the whole B = F concept, so I decided to play it safe and have a larger sampling of the alphabet on my transcript and covered A through F. However, with the benefit of hindsight, I would not recommend going past “B” on too many occassions.
Good luck!

In theory I agree absolutely with Nat. In practice I added to that noble set of ideas the general idea that the people ahead of me in the curve were out to get me and stop me from my dreams and that they had to be crushed.

But in the end it is all about trying to find something to love about the material and really trying to get it. Even if the something to love is only the fact that you can do something difficult.