I’m a junior majoring in biochemistry. My GPA after my sophomore year is a 2.908. My freshman year was really good but I screwed up my sophomore year due to personal issues. I am doing much better my first semester of junior year. and I plan to stay and graduate a little longer. what are my chances of getting into medical school? And I’m studying my butt off for the MCAT (not taking it until my GPA is good). so…I need advice: how can i raise my GPA? and do med schools look at how many times you repeat a class and how many repeats you’ve done?
Med schools will see how many times you’ve taken a class. Also, although repeating a class and doing well will fix your GPA at your institution, in the AMCAS appplication (application for MD med schools), ALL your grades are averaged…there is no grade replacement. So, your calculated GPA may be quite a bit different from your institutional GPA.
Having said that, in your personal statement, you can address what caused a drop in grades during sophomore year. If you demonstrate a consistent academic performance henceforth, you can overcome some of the negative impact of those grades.
In the AACOMAS application (for DO medical schools), they use grade replacement in calculating GPA. So the previous low grade is replaced by the MOST RECENT (not highest) grade - I think I’m right with this… So do well
You can raise your GPA by doing well in your remaining classes. I think this will show the med schools you will apply to that your sophomore year was a fluke.
Try to get as many As as possible while you finish your degree requirements, especially in your science classes. The key is to show a strong upward trend.
If your GPA isn’t up to par once you finish your degree requirements, hold off on graduating to boost your GPA. To do this take more upper division science courses as a 5th year senior.
Make sure to prepare well for the MCAT. The key is to understand the concepts you learned in the subjects tested well and to do tons of practice tests.
Most importantly, do not rush this process, apply when you know that you have the strongest application you can put forth: good GPA (~3.5 or above), good MCAT score (~30 or above), good clinical experience/exposure and non-clinical volunteering, research experience (only if you are actually interested in it) and great LORs.
If you take your course work seriously and put the required effort in, you will put yourself in a good position. Take your time, do well and you will surely get to where you want to be.
docrobust gave you what I think is an excellent advice. I couldn’t agree more with what he/she said.
Thank you very much for your input, honestly I appreciate it. :)I guess the biggest problem in my sophomore year was organic chemistry, which I am currently repeating. I have another question, when speaking of upper level science courses, are we speaking of mainly biology upper level courses or chemistry and physics as well?
Typically BIO prefix courses, such as cell biology, microbiology, anatomy/physiology. However, many also like to see biochemistry. Depending on where you take it/your professor, your understanding of organic may need to be MCAT-prep level to perform well in such a class, or it can be superficial because the professor will review the relevant topics.
For now, focus on doing well in your classes and achieving understanding. Invest in tutors - many universities provide them free to students, but you may benefit from a paid, personal tutor - and spend time mastering the material that you’ll be seeing again on the MCAT. It will make studying for the MCAT less stressful if you’re not trying to conquer lack of comprehension 2 years down the line.
Finally, I endorse a fifth year of studies. Can really pull up your GPA and show you were focused on improving your grades.
I pretty much would echo what everyone else has been saying. Keep trucking along. The semester I got married was abysmal at best. I bombed a couple of classes. I had to retake one class and pretty prayed that schools would ignore the other bad grade, but in order to get them to ignore it I made sure I killed a few classes in the semesters that followed.
Good luck. And just like the others have said. DON’T RUSH, just make sure you work hard in the time you have.
Rule 1: Take a Breath.
Just some comments following up on everyone else
- Kate429 Said:
That is correct. In AMCAS/MD every grade you ever got is averaged in. Also, science GPA is BCMP (Bio, Chem, Math, Physics). All other courses are average together in the cleverly name AO (all other category).
In AACOMAS/DO, all grades are reported but only the LAST grade in a course is averaged into GPA. Also science GPA DOES NOT include math
- docorbust Said:
The key is to show a strong upward trend.
Upward trend is definitely the key. If you have one bad year, it is much easier to deal with in your PS/Narrative on an application.
- docorbust Said:
That is likely easiest way to do it, though each additional course has less impact on your GPA.
The other possibility is a Special Masters or other postbacc. The advantage here is that the postbacc will be reported as a separate GPA. I would however advise only if you fail on the first application
- docorbust Said:
a good MCAT will show that you can compete across the entire applicant pool. In the past cycle, applicants had an average of 3.5 GPA and 29 MCAT
Thank you everyone, you guys really calmed my nerves. Now my only problem is organic chemistry. I’m doing really well in physical chemistry but my organic chemistry is not going so well. I got a D in that terrible sophomore year, and now I’m retaking and I’m on the B-C borderline. not good I know. what if I get a C? From a D to a C? That is going to hurt me badly isn’t it? any thoughts?
Retaking organic chemistry and getting a C is not very impressive. So really try to shoot for the B. You are competing with students who have A’s in pretty much everything.
So if you can get a B, I would just stop there and focus on the MCAT. If you get a C, you should retake the course.
I think what will save you is a high MCAT score, say 35 or higher. I have a friend in my medical school class who did not do so well academically but got a 40 on the MCAT.
But if your MCAT is average and your GPA is about a 3.0 after your 4th year, you could always try applying to Caribbean medical schools if you don’t get into a DO school or enroll in a postbaccalaureate program.
Here’s my thoughts on ochem first and foremost:
What is it about the course that is stumping you?
What is it that continues to make your performance less than what you want/need?
Address that first.
Organic, in my opinion, is a decent barometer of how well a student can synthesize a volume of miscellaneous tidbits of factoids and assemble in a conjurance of multiplicity and create a product AND the right answer.
I was trying to explain to someone my thoughts on why organic has a bad reputation.
Here’s my analogy:
The US has 50 states. Each state has at least 3 different types of license plates. Each state has at least 3 different configurations of how the alpha-numeric characters can be placed on the plate and for how long. Each of those states, likewise, has transition laws - you move into this state you must do x-y-z. Now, memorize all of that, and then: move a car from Seattle to Texas without crossing water. Next, move a car from Hawaii to NJ without using any interstates.
That is organic chem. Not hard on the surface, just a bunch of mungled, logical factoids to be used to get a product (or a route to a product).
My guess, is much like med school. Nothing in med school is “hard” - it’s the sheer volume of material that is thrown at the student (that’s what I’ve been told, and what I saw on my one day shadowing a student)
Truly not exactly the same, but somewhat a barometer test.
THAT is coming from someone who struggled to get a B in the course.
Why did I struggle?
Because I did not repetitively do the work; I did long hours each and every weekend, but did nothing during the week to put that knowledge into long term memory. Once my son figured out what I was doing, he told me to fix it.
My final showed an A- whereas my grades before that had been B- (my A-/B+ overall from in-class points).
So, back to your current situation:
If you are applying to DO schools, I would not retake it. I’m not sure that I would retake for MD either. What I would do (and AM doing with a stupid, freaking B) is take another course with a higher level number on it and planning on acing that.
One, it shows you’ve learned from the past.
Two, it shows you’re capable of higher level material.
Good luck to you!
what upper level chem course are you taking? i spoke with my advisor and i pretty much have to take a lot of upper level courses.
I’m taking biochem x 2, genetics, micro biology, evolution (genetics based), physiology, immunology, pharmacology, neurology of muscle diseases (grad level), and finally, last but not least, cancer cell (grad level).
so an upper level bio course will help with the not so good o chem grade? aside from that i have to take the second half of o chem next semester. i do plan on taking similar courses after i finish my biochem requirements.
What’s going to help that ochem grade is ochem II, IF you get an A. If you do that, I suspect it will make that ochem I grade less red flaggish… again YMMV.
Here is what I would suggest:
- Start studying your org chem II now, get the syllabus if you can, and start doing the homework problems now (like really, why are you still reading my post?!?!? :P)
- Start finding old exams from the professor if possible, and start categorizing HOW the questions are asked and HOW they are evaluated for most credit
- Find out the tutor schedule and fit at least 2x a week into your schedule and unless your doctor is calling you in dead, go.
- If the book has an online quiz/mastering ochem help, buy it, use it, digest it
- Do homework all week long - never miss a day… again, unless your doctor calls you in dead, keep working
- Get into biochem next semester; don’t try to take biochem and ochem II at same time especially since your whole goal right now (Seriously, you’re still reading?!) is to get A’s.
I’m taking upper level bioc, bio, bio research, genetics, and all that other stuff because it interests me and I hope it will be like a good intro to what I may see in med school. Somewhat like learning a language in baby steps so when things get amp’d up, it’s not so bad.