Compensating for low, old BCPM grades

Hi! I’m new here, and I should introduce myself, but I’ll do that in a different thread.

Here’s my situation: originally did my UG between 1990 and 1994, and dropped out, but not before saddling myself with two F’s in Calculus, a C- in Chemistry I and a C in Biology II. I have an (old) A in Biology I and a recent A in A&P plus lab.

Fastforward a decade or so, and I’m wargaming how to get myself into medical school. Even if I pull A’s in all of the basic prerequisites (Biology I and II, Chemistry I and II, ochem I and II, physics, biochem) I’m still looking at a BCPM of around 3.16 because of the lead weights from my original UG.

My question is this: what’s the best investment of my time? Should I do just the prerequisites and move onto MCAT prep, and basically try to blow the doors off the MCAT, or would it be a better investment in terms of outcome to stay in (new) undergrad for another year adding UG courses in biochemistry, A&P and so forth to pile up credits and raise the BCPM, and accept that it’s just going to take longer?

Basically, if I want to only spend three or so years doing prep, should I be spending that time trying to raise my BCPM or trying to nail the MCAT?

You are in a similar situation as me friend. I got a B in Bio I (which I may or may not retake b/c it has been 7 years), a D+ in Bio II, and a C in Chem I (which I will also retake b/c there is NO way I can do Chem II after this long of an absence).

From what I have heard, the key is to fix things, then take advanced courses in the sciences to prove that you have changed your ways and can get good grades. Its a hard fought fight but if you want it, you can make it happen.

I’m still scared to death to start, but gotta try sometime, right?

The key to admissions is giving the adcoms what they want. They want to invest in students whom they believe will pass the Steps, graduate and get into a residency.

For all we bitch about the MCAT, it is a good indicator of performance on standardized tests (aka, the Steps).

For all we bitch about getting decent grades, they are a good predictor of being able to pass courses.

So, give the adcoms what they need to see on your application. Show them that your initial poor grades were a “youthful idiscretion”. You do this by going back, completing your undergrad degree (despite all the rumors to the contrary, you really do need the undergrad degree), retake the science/math courses you did poorly in and get very good grades in them. Take the MCAT and kick it’s butt.

Your plight is a familiar one. I graduated in 1990 with a 2.37. I had a D and an F in a 4 hour calculus class, lots of Cs, including several in chemistry. I’m a second year EM resident now.

I did it by doing well in grad school, retaking all the science courses and getting As in them and doing well on the MCAT. I was able to say in my personal statement and interviews that my original college grades were not an indication of my ability, rather they were an indication of my youthful lack of motivation. The key is I had lots of evidence to support me.

Put yourself in the position of an adcom member reviewing your application. What would you need to see to convince you that the applicant would succeed in medical school. Once you’ve figured that out, you need to create that evidence. And remember that being a good, humanitarian physician comes into play only after they are assured you can actually be a doctor by passing tests.

Go back, do well in the courses and give the adcoms the evidence they’ll need to support you.

Good luck and take care,


Jeff did you do a do-it-yourself or formal post-bac? Where did you apply, etc…?

I did the do-it-yourself approach.

I took four semesters of chemistry (two inorganics during the summer and two organics during the regular semesters), two semesters of physics and one of calculus at community colleges. I did a semester of biochem at UT (painful for me as an Aggie).

I was teaching paramedics at my local community college so tuition was free. I paid out the wazoo for the one course at UT. Since most of the money was for fees, I could have taken close to a full load with little incremental costs. Damn that Texas legislature.

I applied to all the Texas schools except for Baylor and UT Southwestern. I also applied to AZCOM, CCOM, KCOM (who lost my application) and Des Moines.

I interviewed and was accepted at AZCOM, CCOM and Des Moines. I interviewed at UTMB, UT San Antonio and Texas A&M. I was accepted by UTMB in Galveston and that’s where I went. State schools are SO the way to go from my heavily in-debt perspective.

BTW, I was never asked about taking courses at a community college during any of my interviews. At two interviews, I was asked about my poor grades as an undergraduate. Both times, the interviewer actually apologized for having to ask since the answer was so apparent. Plus, I addressed the issue head on in my personal statement.

Hope that helps.

Take care and good luck,


Hello, everyone. I think this topic is a good place to introduce myself. I am leaving active duty in the Marine Corps in the summer to return to NC State and complete pre-med reqs. I also dug myself a pretty deep GPA hole about ten years ago.

My strategy is to attend full-time for four semesters, and to get a second degree in biology. My assumption is that I will have to do exceptionally well (like, 4.0-well). I know that the second degree isn’t necessary, but I felt it would be important for the ADCOMs to see that I could succeed with a full-time load.

I also decided to return to NC State rather than attending another state university near some family property where I could live for free. According to an acquaintance that was on a med school admissions board, taking the science classes at one of the well-known NC schools would mean more than taking them at a lesser known school. With that advice, I decided that taking the classes at NC State would be worth the extra living expenses I will encounter. Like most members of this organization, I am taking great career risks and giving up a lot of security by choosing this path, and it makes sense to do everything I can to make myself a good candidate. Being in Raleigh will also provide more research and/or volunteer opportunities.

Jeff698, I found your remarks to be particularly encouraging. I appreciate the fact that you have all shared your experiences.


Welcome, lanierbl. I suspect you’ve already demonstrated leadership and service with teh Marines, and if you prove yourself academically, you’ll be in a good position.

I’m another one with a poor undergrad GPA to overcome. Right now I’m working through an informal post-bacc without the intent to get a second degree; we’ll see how it all works out, eh?

I had some poor grades from ugrad many moons ago…and I used a two-pronged approach. I tok the pre-reqs to get myself into grad school and did well in grad school (and had a kick a$$ research project) and…I also went back and redid more ugrad coursework.

I am not in the application cycle, but back when it was a serious consideration, I was very encouraged by what I was told by the MD school near us.

I would suggest that it is still a numbers game and that your time would be better spent taking another year of ugrad classes and nailing them and then…nailing the mcat as well.

I’m not an admissions counselor though.