Very discouraging Physics Blunder

Hello All,
I have committed a major blunder in physics. I am in the process of taking my pre medical requirements via a postbaccalaureate program. My problem is I recieved a C+/C in physics I & II, respectively. ( I know - not good.) Although I am not using this as an excuse, I am still workig fulltime, between 50-60 hrs/wk and I am the caregiver of my 101 yo grandmother who came to live with us this past fall. Anyway,with these results, I’ve stepped back to re-evaluate my candidacy for medical school and was wondering if I should retake this course or forge ahead and show vast improvement in the remaining courses, in addition to taking a few advanced level courses. I still have to take organic chemistry, biology, and, their accompanying labs. Also, I was planning on taking the MCAT in April, but now I am thinking I should postpone the exam.
The good news is that I am reducing my workload to part-time status and I have arranged for a “visiting nurse” and an home care attendant to come in and care for my grandmother beginning in September in time for the fall semester. The best news of all, is that my brother will be returning home from Iraq by September’s end !!! (A major burden off of the brain).
Sorry for going off on a tangent, but, I welcome your advice and/or criticism. And thanks for existing!!!

It sounds like you’ve clearly identified some factors that made getting good grades difficult for you and taken major steps to correct them. If your part-time work schedule is light enough that you can take two classes at once, go for the bio and o-chem and see what happens. I think that two classes, plus part-time work, plus MCAT prep may still be too much for the spring semester, so a summer MCAT might be a better option for you…
but you’ll be in a better position to judge this after the fall semester. If you have a good conceptual understanding of the physics but just didn’t get enough practice to perform calculations well on tests, you might be okay for the MCAT without re-taking. I would suggest you go through an MCAT review book and see what you think (too early to take a practice exam in my opinion). I wouldn’t retake physics just for the grades–I vote for the forging ahead and performing brilliantly option.
But again this points at a summer MCAT so you can devote plenty of time for study.
This is not a VERY deep hole you’re in, and you seem to be well prepared to dig yourself out. Go to it!

perfect reply!

I’m curious about the GPA and retake issue myself, since I got a C- in one of my classes this spring. I have heard that osteopathic schools will replace old grades with new grades. I’m retaking that class and am hoping to do much better than a C (on track for a B+ or A-).
Why do allopathic medical schools average the two grades together? So for instance someone who got a C in organic chemistry but later retook the course and scored an A will have a “B” average.
Yet, to my mind, the person not only demonstrates tremendous dedication and marked improvement but surely has learnt the subject very well after doing it twice.
The allopathic philosophy seems to be, you only get one chance and if you blow it, you’re not physician material. Because as we all know, doctors are perfect and never make mistakes.
The osteopathic approach seems to be, you’re human, you’ll stumble occasionally, but the end product is what counts. You fell but you got up and sprinted to the finish line. You learned something, you grew, you’re a better person for it.
Am I overgeneralizing here?

I think you are overgeneralizing. If allopathic schools said, “We never admit anyone who ever got a C”, that would be a one strike and you’re out kind of thing.
Instead they keep an overall grade point average, an ongoing picture of how you’ve done ON THE WHOLE. They can also choose to look at improvement, look at GPA from year to year, etc. If you get one C or C- but then improve your overall GPA can still look pretty good.

Actually yes osteopathic schools replace old grades with new ones on a retaken class which can signifigantly bring up your GPA. Allopathic schools average in all of your marks including a previous C and then a retake A togeather.

I think you’re making unfair generalizations. Just because allopathic and osteopathic schools do something differently in their application process does not mean you should read some huge philosophical difference into it. I do not think the point among allopathic schools is to tell people that they can never have a second chance. Rather, they are just taking the entire picture into account. It isn’t really fair to say that an A the second time around is exactly the same as an A the first time around. The first time you take a class, you haven’t seen the material before. Maybe the schools are just trying to be as fair as possible.

Gosh you guys…this song is getting old…about osteopathy versus allopathy…neither is better or worse. To make sweeping generalizations like the above is ludicrous! I hate to tell you but when you get into medical school (osteo/allo) there are not many changes to retake classes to make up grades although yes some would love to have honors versus high-pass and get into some cush residency…Allos IMHO are just trying to level out the playing field they get thousands of applications more than most osteo schools and they do need to take into account for those that repeat courses ad nauseum to get a higher gpa. Yes, i have seen pre-meds retake to change a B to an A…so this does happen. It is kind of getting pointless to come around OPM any more…there are way to many chips on too many shoulders it seems…

Oh, everybody just calm down. It’s easy to get a little depressed in the middle of summer O-Chem. The two schools do average grades differently, but it’s not important to read too much into it, and that’s about all there is.


It is kind of getting pointless to come around OPM any more…there are way to many chips on too many shoulders it seems…

Hi efex,
Gee, I’m sorry to hear you’re so down on OPM, and it sounds like it’s something I said.
I would like you to go back and reread my posting; I very carefully said “seems to be” and “am I overgeneralizing”–I’m not passing judgement here, nor do I have any chips. I’m asking questions in the hopes that I can learn something and perhaps spark some stimulating discussion.
Thus far, the responders are telling me that, yes, I am overgeneralizing. I thank everybody for informing me on this topic.
Regarding what is a fair grade–the person who took a course twice or three times (and I know many people who have repeated orgo) or the person who took orgo at an easier school, or the person who was in a class of underachievers, with grading on a curve–who got the righteous “A” here?
A few of my classmates aced orgo, did the MCAT, and promptly forgot almost everything they had crammed and drilled for. I am finding that in repeating the course, I am developing a deeper understanding of the subject. I finally have a feel for frontier molecular orbital theory–yay! This prof was able to explain it in one session, after I spent an entire school year somehow not getting it. I’m interested now in learning even more. My prof recommended a book from Oxford University press on organic chemistry, which he feels is the best textbook out there. I have ordered and will be reading in my spare moments over the next year or two.
I continue to believe that I’d have more faith in a physician who repeated the classes he was weak in and developed a more solid foundation. Someone who studied for short term goals of high grades to get into med school–did they really get the foundation, or did they just get a credential so they could hop to the next stepping stone?

It was not anything specific that you said…just a variety of posts…anyways…there is a difference somewhat on taking a course the first time and doing well than having to take it multiple times…in medical school you just HAVE to be able to absorb enormous amount of information (think orgo on steroids and at the speed of light) from the getgo…this is medicine. There just is not enough time to be able to leisurely absorb or retake or whatnot…so hence the importance to many schools of doing well from the first time…now this does not mean that those folks that repeat courses are not intelligent/motivated and they will get in to a school regardless…but no, it is just not the same thing. Sure both folks the retakers or not deserve A’s if they get them, but it is much more difficult to get an A the first time around IMHO. The second time you have already SEEN/TAKEN/LEARNED the material (maybe not everything but a lot of it) so sure getting an A is kind of “expected”


I do not think the point among allopathic schools is to tell people that they can never have a second chance. Rather, they are just taking the entire picture into account.

Actually, I’ve been specifially told by a a few allo schools (about 2 years ago) that I could NEVER have a second chance after flunking out of premed about 19 years ago and one (Florida State) told me years ago I’d need a PhD to get into med school (i managed to get in without one). Again, there were exceptions Harvard and Howard come to mind right now, that were interested in knowing how I could have made such a strong comeback. OTOH, in conversations with DO schools, not one of the ones I spoke to (I’d guess about 5 schools) made any dispariging comments about the road I’d taken to get to the “acceptable” category.
In reference to the “debates” going on on OPM, I think its actually VERY healthy. How many times in life are we going to be in complete agreement with those around us? Plus I think the “debates” add information that those lurking in the background may not have considered. I think one of the reasons I posted so little in the years I’ve been a member is because thinking around here seemed so monolithic. Now it seems people are expressing different points of view which is a great thing for those of us now entering the “meat grinder” of becoming a doctor.
I figure as long as things don’t become nasty and immature similar what happens on that other web site, it’s all good!!!

As far as the MCAT goes in my opinion it is no more or less and a weeder tactic. There are no arguments that what you learn for the MCAT has anything to do with med school or medicine for that matter. What it does do is determine 2 things:
1) See if you can handle serious volumes of information
2) Ensure that the people who get into med school really want it as evidenced by the hard work it takes to get in.
As far as your frustration about the DO v MD discussions, get used to it. You will see it over and over again in pre med forums. This is due to the fact that people really know very little about DO’s. What is wrong with people asking questions to get a better understanding.
If you goto the AACOM website it clearly states what a DO is and what is different. However, thats like asking the car salesman if the car your looking at is a good buy. Reading the website certainly suggests that only DO’s are holistic and they do manipulation regularily. Obviously this is not the case.
I use myself as an example. I am from Canada and have been in the states for over 4 years. I had never heard of a “DO” before. When i noticed they had that on their nametag (about a year after working with them), I asked what it was. From many i got the AACOM response verbatim. How was I to know that there really isnt much difference? (except for the fact that i worked with them for a year and didnt realize any practice differences).
Anyway, i know it can get as annoying as the “what are my chances” threads but I try not to forget i was once in the same place asking the exact same questions. I am lucky that i have a medical backround but the questions will be even more pointed from those with no experience.
Have a good one

It is okay to ask question about DO/MD etc…what is frustrating is when folks make “sweeping” generalizations about either one of those paths…and how much more holistic/integrative one is versus the other, that is what gets on nerves…not the health debate…just fyi.

i can understand that. I guess it is easy to be fed that line though if you have no experience.

Hi there,
The answer to your question depends on how well you know the material from your Physics coursework. If you did not do well in General Physics, I would strongly discourage you from taking an upper division course in Physics. At some point, since General Physics is a well-represented part of the MCAT, you will need to master this material for the exam.
That being said, what is your hurry? If you take and extra year and really do well i.e. greatly increasing your chances of getting into medical school, then the extra year is worth it for you. It is nice to stay on track and get on with what you want to do but make sure that you are mastering your coursework and moving closer to your goals. Many people get off track because they are in a hurry. Take your time and do well. In the end, that one year or so will not make much of a difference.
Good luck!

Post deleted by ttraub

Huh? I do not think that any of my posts I was telling how “anyone screwed up or anything like that…” I am not stressed out at all…yet. I will remove myself from this discussion.


As far as the MCAT goes in my opinion it is no more or less and a weeder tactic. There are no arguments that what you learn for the MCAT has anything to do with med school or medicine for that matter. What it does do is determine 2 things:
1) See if you can handle serious volumes of information
2) Ensure that the people who get into med school really want it as evidenced by the hard work it takes to get in.

As a veteran of both the MCAT and med school I have to disagree with this, although it is certainly a broadly-held belief including among medical students and physicians. The MCAT tests your ability to integrate your science knowledge with new information and solve problems presented in unique and challenging ways. The verbal reasoning portion of the exam is not there just for yucks - it’s part of the method of their madness in identifying people with a fairly sophisticated skill set of calling on previously learned information to solve new and unfamiliar problems.
I am not being an apologist for the MCAT. But I have heard the grousing about ‘what am I ever going to need that for’ for so long now, and it gets irksome. It’s not about WHAT ya know, it’s about what you can do with what you know. The practice of medicine is integrative and the MCAT is attempting to identify that skill set.

Hey Mary
I can see yourt point. But i guess i disagree. A one day exam that is full of more information than you will ever be responsible for without refrence material or calculators (palm pilot, books, other collegues) is not at all representative of your ability to integrate concepts. It is often representative of how well people can cram, sad but true.
I totally agree that medicine is integrative. However, i wonder how testing my ability to integrate Chem, Bio, O Chem and physics is a representation of med school? We all know that the proof behind the efficacy of standardized testing is totally suspect. Not that I have a better idea
Sure verbal shows how you can understand the overall idea of a passage. Is that helpful as a Doc? Absolutely. I agree 100% with you on that one.
have a good one!