Should I take refresher/"intro" courses

Like some of you out there, it has been a while since I have taken any science classes. Right now I’m taking an Intro to Chem class because I don’t remember chemistry very well (took it in HS back in 1986 ). I defintely think that I will take an Intro to Physics class just because I did so horribly in undergrad, plus I’m hoping that now that I’m older and more “mature” I’ll understand it better this time around. I remembered that I enjoyed Biology and Anatomy and Phys, but it has been 12-15 years since I’ve taken those classes.
Did any of you take “intro” classes or did you just dive into the prereqs with no refresher classes? I just hate to take all these extra classes because that means it will take me longer to get through prereqs . . . but then again, I feel like I should because I’m thinking it will help me get through my chem and physics classes. What do you think??

If I could do my “do-overs” again, this is what I would do.
1. Take a college algebra/trig refresher course, then take intro chem and physics. (Summer school, fast-paced or on-line, self-paced would be fine.)
2. Always start with intro bio courses. Stuff that’s now at the Bio 101 level was at the grad level when I took bio as an undergrad.
3. Register as a degree-seeking student rather than a post-bacc student-at-large.
4. Take advanced bio courses. I’m so grateful for biochem, microbiology and genetics, and I so wish I had taken some anatomy and histology courses. No, my undergrad courses bear very little resemblance to my med school courses. However, because my life is complicated as a non-traditional student, to have the foundation material already is a huge help - giving me confidence I know the basics really well, letting me focus limited study time on new/medical concepts, and giving me some free time to spend with my family.
One other point … many of your classmates have take AP level science classes in high school. They are seeing these topics for the second time. Even though they are intro-level, many science 101 classes are material-dense and fast-paced.
For what it’s worth…
Susan - Chicago/Minneapolis

I don’t think the intro courses hurt in the least. I didn’t take any of them other than getting my math up to speed before restarting on my bio and chem bachelor’s but I am finding that I am reminding myself of things that I took several years ago (thank goodness I didn’t throw out any of my old science books lol). If you’ve never taken chem or physics in high school or it’s just been many many years by all means take the “intro” courses to give you a head’s up. Just remember that while they will help, you’ll be going into much more detail in the actual prereq. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll remember or at least recognize after so many years though, and that it will come a lot easier to you this time around. My hs chemistry class was awful and I had a heck of a time the first time I tried it in college (ended up not finishing it) but this time around I did extremely well in it. My physics class is alg-based and our prof makes it easy for us (we get a notecard of formulas for each exam) I just haven’t been able to put the effort into it to get the A but that will be different this time around. Bio I was bored to death in the first time around so I’m going to try and hold off on retaking that one and use my recent upper division bios instead. However, I did take an “intro to genetics” class that I believe will be of great benefit to me this coming semester when I take the real genetics class. I took it 7 years ago, but the book we used is by the same authors as the book I’ll be using this semester, and I got an easy A in it back then. I’m hoping the same holds true this time around despite my class now being one of the more difficult ones for the bio majors at my school. (I think the problem-solving aspects of it all get to the traditional students. They haven’t seen this sort of thing before.)
I think the decision to take the intro courses is definitely a personal one. For me I probably would have been bored to death as they would have been just like my high school classes and I would have had difficulty holding the motivation to get through them, but I’m also a little younger than many of the OPMs (graduated hs in '92 and have bio classes between 5 and 8 years old).
Whatever you decide to do, good luck to ya!
–Jessica, UCCS

I took intro to chemisty and I am very glad I did. During general Chem I, I was fully prepared and had a good grasp of the material. I got an A and I know I wouldn’t have been able to get that A if I hadn’t taken the refresher course. There were people in my class struggling and they told me they wish they had taken the refresher.
So in my opinion, the refreshers are well worth the time.

Hi Amy,
I was just reading some posts and I was curious as to vcom,where is it? You also said you applied to MD and DO programs and you chose the DO program, is the time line for intern and residency similiar as the MD programs?
I also live in Va and was wondering where you did your preqs?

I think that you need to discuss your specific case with various medical schools to see what they are looking for. Call up the deans of admissions of several medical schools, explain your background and situation, and ask them what they think you should do based on your particular circumstances. There is no one policy; each school has its own criteria of what it wants to see in its applicants. Even the advice is incomplete.
This is the strategy that I took. Prior to starting my post-bacc search, I called up the deans of admissions of 15 medical schools and spoke to each them at length about my situation. Besides a hundred-dollar phone bill, I received invaluable advice on how to proceed. The overwhelming verdict was – given that I took my premeds two decades ago – that I should repeat these courses. Not all schools agreed with this advice; some told me that I should not repeat any lower division courses and instead take upper division science courses. Of course this puts one in a catch-22 bind: repeating lower division courses would satisfy some schools but not others. So, I must do both: repeat all lower division courses and take upper division biology courses. I was told that IF my premed classes were more recent (say within 10 years) then I should NOT repeat them, but take more advanced biomedical courses. Be aware that some schools may not give you much time to discuss your situation; on the other hand, I had top-notch treatment by other deans. For example, Dartmouth was great; their dean took the time to discuss all my options in depth and the repercussions of each option.
If I could do this research over again, I would probably use email more often and get a cell phone to avoid paying the high long distance bills. Of course, I would probably have gone premed earlier as well.
Best of luck.


Hi Amy,
I was just reading some posts and I was curious as to vcom,where is it? You also said you applied to MD and DO programs and you chose the DO program, is the time line for intern and residency similiar as the MD programs?
I also live in Va and was wondering where you did your preqs?

VCOM - Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine is in Blackbsurg, VA right next door to VA Tech. We will get the same benefits the Tech students get, ex: meal plans, work-out gyms, library access, tickets to games, etc…
The first class started this year. And yes, they have the same time line as MD schools have.
I graduated from VCU in Richmond as a Biology major. I graduated in May 2002. Are you in school in VA now or have you graduated?
Here is a link to VCOM’s web page

Hi, take the intro classes. Don’t have any pride when it comes to intro classes. I’m in my late 40’s and started all over again with adult high school classes for algebra, geometry and chemistry. I went to a local technical school for those classes and I had a blast. I’m not suggesting that you do what I did but you need a good solid foundation for the demanding pre-med classes. Just have fun in the intro classes while you’re learning and you will be so much more confident in your college level pre-med classes when you’re running with the big dogs for that A.