(19AA) Yes, not a head turner. Here are my reflections and advice. I could use some advice too.

FireandIce128

2+ Year Member
May 6, 2014
59
25
Status
Pre-Dental
Well, I walked in thinking I was going to get below a 17AA, but at least I didn't.

PAT - 21
QR - 16 :bang:
RC - 21
BIO - 19
GC - 18
OC - 19
TS - 19
AA - 19

So according to statistics, getting a 19-20 places you at the 75th percentile of all DAT test takers. So yeah, that made me feel at ease. I left the test center feeling happy, and it's okay to smile. At least I didn't do as bad as I expected.
Though of course, statistics for dental school acceptances are different. That is where a 19 AA may not seem so great at all. It is definitely not like to 20+AAs you would commonly see here on SDN. Needless to say, yes I'm insecure lol.

Materials used:
Cliffs AP Biology - 3rd Edition
Feralis Notes
Chad's Videos
DAT Bootcamp
DAT Destroyer

Why did I think I was going to do bad? Why couldn't I get a 20AA or above? Let me tell you.

I started studying since May. Yes 3 months of studying. Usually four days a week (I worked the other three days). Here's the thing, I told myself I would try to study 7 and a half hours a day. Nope, I only amounted to 4-5 hours a day, some days are so bad that I only studied 3. It was rare that I got to study 7 hours.

Please be careful of that!

The thing is, when I started studying, it was so easy to slack off. The test was three months away, so when I slacked off a day, I figured "Hey, at least I can make it up the next day. I have three months" The thing is, when I missed the goals I tried to achieve on one day, I try to make up for it the next day, then when I don't achieve the goals for that day, I try to achieve it the next day and on and on. It's a chain reaction, and not a good one. There are time when I found myself too focused on biology and not the others, and there are time when I found myself too focused on chemistry and not the others.
As you can see, lack of organization took place. I tried to follow Ari's study plan, but when I didn't achieve my goals, I fell out of that plan. Yep, that sure took a messy turn. My lack of motivation ruined it for me.

And that's the thing. Sometimes the hardest thing about studying the DAT is not exactly the study materials itself, but having discipline. It is hard for me to sit still for 7-8 hours straight. That is why it is good to take breaks.
But here's the thing, when I told myself I would just do a 15 min break, that 15 min break could become a 30 min break so fast, and that 30 min break could become an hour. There were times when I definitely took too much "breaks." I'm the type of guy who could never sit still and is so active, and it is that type of mentality that steered me away from studying. Because of that, I was easily prone to distraction.

And guess what? It bit me hard. The 3 months passed by fast, in a similar fashion to how hours in a day passed by fast.
I didn't get to finish General Chemistry on the DAT destroyer, barely touched the Math Destroyer, and didn't finish some Bootcamp practice exams. As you can see, I didn't get enough time to study math. I even barely had enough time to study some of the many flash cards I made. It was a shame, and that's when I knew I wasn't going to do good on the exam. When you start to look at yourself as a failure, it gets even harder to study.
It's crazy, I felt like studying the DAT made my summer pass by really quick. Time is fast, and I wish I utilized it!

Now, if I'm scaring any of you guys about getting a low DAT score, please don't worry! I just want to tell you guys about how I screwed up, and I want to warn those who are yet to study for the DAT. Because it may seem so easy to tell yourself, "Oh yeah, of course, I'm going to spend x amount of hours to study for this." It might be harder than it sounds.
Chances are, a lot of you guys are probably more disciplined than me, but there could still be many others out there who could run into my situation, so I want to warn you guys to utilize any hour you have. Because time passes by too fast, and next thing you know, the DAT is around the corner.

I should've had the motivation. This is my career, and I should've done anything I could to achieve my goals. I should've looked for locations where I can focus better (library, cafe, etc), I should've set alarms to wake me up at a proper times, I should've gone to bed earlier, I should've refrained from taking excessive amounts of long breaks, etc. I should've told myself that this is my career, and I won't let any distractions stop me from focusing. I gave so much excuses for myself that are just bull. Seriously, you don't want to go to bed ashamed of yourself for not finishing your plans. I had quite an amount of those nights, and it's not healthy.

Had I had the motivation, had I had the discipline, I would have done what I needed to do.
I would've finished all my practice tests and destroyer. Better, I would've done destroyer twice or three times.
That way, I would've walked into the test center with HOPE that I could get at least a 20AA.

Despite me not achieving the goals I wanted to achieve, I still walked into the test center with confidence. Confidence is key. Even though my studying was inadequate, being in a good mood during your test will definitely play a huge factor. It is always good to stay positive no matter what. That's probably why I didn't get below an 18.

This all my seem like basic advice, but you know what? When the time comes, it could be much harder than it actually seems. So I wanted to warn you guys to keep pushing!!! When the first day of studying starts, take it seriously! Get a proper schedule and give yourself adequate breaks. Take it seriously starting on day one, but don't drive yourself insane. BE CAREFUL of distractions, because studying this thing may be soooo boring, but remember, you WANT TO BECOME A DENTIST.

----------------------

A small background about me: My first year of college was a wreck. My overall GPA was a 2.89, and yes that included low grades on classes like general chemistry and biology. (Therefore, it was harder for me to study for the DAT). But after first year, I told myself that I can't be like that anymore.

Now, my overall GPA is a 3.5, and I have one year left of college to see how much I can increase it.

Now, what can you guys say to help me out?
Should I retake, or should I try applying?
I know my QR is so low, and many dental schools have cutoffs right? Would a 16 on QR hurt me that badly?

Of course, I don't want to have to retake it again (who does though right?). These three months have been torture, but if I have to retake then I have to. I'm going to talk with my advisor, but I want to hear what you guys think.

I'm taking 18 credits this semester, handling 3 club leadership positions, have a part-time job, and thinking if I should still volunteer at the hospital. Not to mention that I have to focus on getting LOCs, my PS, and more hours of shadowing. (I'm taking a gap year, but I'm hoping to apply early next year, I hope). So yeah, it will definitely be hard for me to study during the school year if I choose to retake. I would have to study next summer, but I'm afraid that it will cause me to apply to schools much later and I could forget a lot of stuff. Not to mention that I'm also afraid of doing worse on particular subjects.

What are some thoughts and suggestions you guys have?

At first I was embarrassed about sharing this, but I noticed that you guys here on SDN are so friendly, and many of you have been so kind in responding to my messages about suggestions toward studying.

Thank you guys, and of course, thanks to anyone who is able to read this long post! :laugh:
 
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LuckBloodandSweat

2+ Year Member
May 26, 2015
1,368
835
Status
Dental Student
I think a 19 is more along the lines of ~80% and 20 like ~85-90 ish? So you're not that bad. That being said, the average accepted DAT is just gonna keep going up. You must've had a damn good upwards trend to go to a 3.5 from a 2.89. You're clearly intelligent and a lack of focus was the issue. To be honest, in my 6 weeks I did have some lapses in judgment. There were days I barely studied but I told myself I can't allow this to continue or I'd possibly do worse than my first attempt. You know I don't want to have a soliloquy here but you remind me of myself. I'm also very insecure and had a atrocious start to freshman year (~3.1 ogpa and 2.85 sgpa). I NEVER had a set schedule studying for this. Weird huh? I just told myself I'd get through as much as I could and pushed through it. There are more of us out there that don't necessarily like sticking to schedules and want to study at our own pace. That's fine but we should all have a general idea of what we're actually focusing on at the very least. There were some days that I only studied 1-3 hours instead of my planned 7+. It's not always easy and you're right about not falling into the trap of feeling like a failure. Forgive yourself for that one day; move on and use that as motivation to do better the next day. Another question I'd like to ask you is does your first DAT attempt haunt you? Do you know you have the potential to do so much better if you just put in the time (4 weeks wasn't enough; I was exhausted from constantly studying to finally have my first good semester, I choked, etc. etc. etc. xd)? I certainly felt that way and it was a big factor in my retake. Your ECs and upwards trend definitely look nice and you have a chance to boost your grades some more. You're certainly right about confidence being key. No one should downplay how important it is to actually believe in yourself when taking this monster of a test.
 
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FireandIce128

2+ Year Member
May 6, 2014
59
25
Status
Pre-Dental
I think a 19 is more along the lines of ~80% and 20 like ~85-90 ish? So you're not that bad. That being said, the average accepted DAT is just gonna keep going up. You must've had a damn good upwards trend to go to a 3.5 from a 2.89. You're clearly intelligent and a lack of focus was the issue. To be honest, in my 6 weeks I did have some lapses in judgment. There were days I barely studied but I told myself I can't allow this to continue or I'd possibly do worse than my first attempt. You know I don't want to have a soliloquy here but you remind me of myself. I'm also very insecure and had a atrocious start to freshman year (~3.1 ogpa and 2.85 sgpa). I NEVER had a set schedule studying for this. Weird huh? I just told myself I'd get through as much as I could and pushed through it. There are more of us out there that don't necessarily like sticking to schedules and want to study at our own pace. That's fine but we should all have a general idea of what we're actually focusing on at the very least. There were some days that I only studied 1-3 hours instead of my planned 7+. It's not always easy and you're right about not falling into the trap of feeling like a failure. Forgive yourself for that one day; move on and use that as motivation to do better the next day. Another question I'd like to ask you is does your first DAT attempt haunt you? Do you know you have the potential to do so much better if you just put in the time (4 weeks wasn't enough; I was exhausted from constantly studying to finally have my first good semester, I choked, etc. etc. etc. xd)? I certainly felt that way and it was a big factor in my retake. Your ECs and upwards trend definitely look nice and you have a chance to boost your grades some more. You're certainly right about confidence being key. No one should downplay how important it is to actually believe in yourself when taking this monster of a test.
Thanks! And yes I had to make sure I didn't fall below a 3.7 and steered close to a 4.0 or on it all these semesters.
My first attempt will not haunt me, but I do believe I could have felt better if I disciplined myself and made the time. If I have to retake, my next worry is when will I find the appropriate time?
Thank you for your kind response!
 
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LuckBloodandSweat

2+ Year Member
May 26, 2015
1,368
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Thanks! And yes I had to make sure I didn't fall below a 3.7 and steered close to a 4.0 or on it all these semesters.
My first attempt will not haunt me, but I do believe I could have felt better if I disciplined myself and made the time. If I have to retake, my next worry is when will I find the appropriate time?
Thank you for your kind response!
Hey no problem. You can still try for the cycle you want to apply for. You can get up to a 3.6 or so with another year right? That'll certainly help. From the sound of it, your ECs and stuff are better than mine too. If it won't haunt you, maybe you can try to just apply with what you have and see where that takes you. I don't think you necessarily lacked motivation completely; otherwise how would you have had such a ridiculous turnaround with your college grades? You made a good point about studying for the DAT being boring at times. You're just sitting there focusing on a single test and not multiple different subjects like college is. In a way, I kind of thought that each section of the DAT was it's own separate test and an individual challenge rather than a collective one (kinda weird but it helped me out). Are you going to apply immediately after you graduate with your improved grades, LORS, etc? You could always indicate you're retaking the DAT and schedule it for late July/early August. Another option (I wouldn't recommend this or want to do this at all) is that you could delay yet another year (awful awful idea imo) and take it whenever you want as long as it's before May/June of the year after that. I personally could not put myself through a full year of only DAT studying (even if that means a possible 27+AA , not saying I would get it but with a year I'm not sure how many curveballs will be thrown if i go incredibly crazy lmfao).
 

WheatLom

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Jul 6, 2016
710
554
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You by no means did bad on the exam. Your score will allow you to be considered at a lot of schools. Id say you are right about all the things you said. Motivation and management of time can have adverse affects. In my breakdown I spoke about how I didn't study for the DAT 7 hours a day. I maybe spent 3-4 hours max a day. but the key was discipline in making sure i did do it. 2 hours in the morning and 1-2 hours at night can help ease the load and help provide repetition over time. I study psychology, and cramming for 7 hours will not really be beneficial, but doing 2 hours off an hour, 1 hour on, off for 5 and finish the day with a few more can be way better. It allows you to forget which is good, so when you return from break and reread or refresh what you covered earlier in the day you are getting repetition, and seeing if you truly retained the information. Keep your head up. Besides QR your scores a good. your extras can help topple someone with a higher DAT cause you are more diverse.

I honestly thought I was going to get a 19, I had a top goal of a 20. This created a motivation for me, as I tried to reach past what I would be content with. I actually got a 21AA. If you retake, set a goal and go for it. I would honestly have so many doubts about getting a 20, until half way through studying i changed my mindset. I think a lot in the shower, and I would doubt myself a lot. I changed "what if I don't get a 20 or 19" to "I am going to get a 20, I am going to do my best on the DAT" this sounds silly, but confidence in myself or even faking it, created real confidence and pushed me through.


Today I actually had called 20 school I am applying to to make sure I had the correct pre-reqs and LOR. Some schools asked about my dat, and I told them. Some told me they had dropped the minimum scores so it would be best to call schools and check!!
 
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You definitely didn't do bad, but you could've done a lot better. I see no reason why you should put off applying, as you have a very realistic chance at getting acceptances, even with the 16 QR
 
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Charles_Darwin

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Don't even stress about the 16 QR at all. Schools don't care. And tons of students get in with a 19AA so don't put off applying either. Remember SDN is a bad example because it's a bunch of nerds! You did great, get a good gpa and ECs and you'll be fine imo :)
 
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orgoman22

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Well, I walked in thinking I was going to get below a 17AA, but at least I didn't.

PAT - 21
QR - 16 :bang:
RC - 21
BIO - 19
GC - 18
OC - 19
TS - 19
AA - 19

So according to statistics, getting a 19-20 places you at the 75th percentile of all DAT test takers. So yeah, that made me feel at ease. I left the test center feeling happy, and it's okay to smile. At least I didn't do as bad as I expected.
Though of course, statistics for dental school acceptances are different. That is where a 19 AA may not seem so great at all. It is definitely not like to 20+AAs you would commonly see here on SDN. Needless to say, yes I'm insecure lol.

Materials used:
Cliffs AP Biology - 3rd Edition
Feralis Notes
Chad's Videos
DAT Bootcamp
DAT Destroyer

Why did I think I was going to do bad? Why couldn't I get a 20AA or above? Let me tell you.

I started studying since May. Yes 3 months of studying. Usually four days a week (I worked the other three days). Here's the thing, I told myself I would try to study 7 and a half hours a day. Nope, I only amounted to 4-5 hours a day, some days are so bad that I only studied 3. It was rare that I got to study 7 hours.

Please be careful of that!

The thing is, when I started studying, it was so easy to slack off. The test was three months away, so when I slacked off a day, I figured "Hey, at least I can make it up the next day. I have three months" The thing is, when I missed the goals I tried to achieve on one day, I try to make up for it the next day, then when I don't achieve the goals for that day, I try to achieve it the next day and on and on. It's a chain reaction, and not a good one. There are time when I found myself too focused on biology and not the others, and there are time when I found myself too focused on chemistry and not the others.
As you can see, lack of organization took place. I tried to follow Ari's study plan, but when I didn't achieve my goals, I fell out of that plan. Yep, that sure took a messy turn. My lack of motivation ruined it for me.

And that's the thing. Sometimes the hardest thing about studying the DAT is not exactly the study materials itself, but having discipline. It is hard for me to sit still for 7-8 hours straight. That is why it is good to take breaks.
But here's the thing, when I told myself I would just do a 15 min break, that 15 min break could become a 30 min break so fast, and that 30 min break could become an hour. There were times when I definitely took too much "breaks." I'm the type of guy who could never sit still and is so active, and it is that type of mentality that steered me away from studying. Because of that, I was easily prone to distraction.

And guess what? It bit me hard. The 3 months passed by fast, in a similar fashion to how hours in a day passed by fast.
I didn't get to finish General Chemistry on the DAT destroyer, barely touched the Math Destroyer, and didn't finish some Bootcamp practice exams. As you can see, I didn't get enough time to study math. I even barely had enough time to study some of the many flash cards I made. It was a shame, and that's when I knew I wasn't going to do good on the exam. When you start to look at yourself as a failure, it gets even harder to study.
It's crazy, I felt like studying the DAT made my summer pass by really quick. Time is fast, and I wish I utilized it!

Now, if I'm scaring any of you guys about getting a low DAT score, please don't worry! I just want to tell you guys about how I screwed up, and I want to warn those who are yet to study for the DAT. Because it may seem so easy to tell yourself, "Oh yeah, of course, I'm going to spend x amount of hours to study for this." It might be harder than it sounds.
Chances are, a lot of you guys are probably more disciplined than me, but there could still be many others out there who could run into my situation, so I want to warn you guys to utilize any hour you have. Because time passes by too fast, and next thing you know, the DAT is around the corner.

I should've had the motivation. This is my career, and I should've done anything I could to achieve my goals. I should've looked for locations where I can focus better (library, cafe, etc), I should've set alarms to wake me up at a proper times, I should've gone to bed earlier, I should've refrained from taking excessive amounts of long breaks, etc. I should've told myself that this is my career, and I won't let any distractions stop me from focusing. I gave so much excuses for myself that are just bull. Seriously, you don't want to go to bed ashamed of yourself for not finishing your plans. I had quite an amount of those nights, and it's not healthy.

Had I had the motivation, had I had the discipline, I would have done what I needed to do.
I would've finished all my practice tests and destroyer. Better, I would've done destroyer twice or three times.
That way, I would've walked into the test center with HOPE that I could get at least a 20AA.

Despite me not achieving the goals I wanted to achieve, I still walked into the test center with confidence. Confidence is key. Even though my studying was inadequate, being in a good mood during your test will definitely play a huge factor. It is always good to stay positive no matter what. That's probably why I didn't get below an 18.

This all my seem like basic advice, but you know what? When the time comes, it could be much harder than it actually seems. So I wanted to warn you guys to keep pushing!!! When the first day of studying starts, take it seriously! Get a proper schedule and give yourself adequate breaks. Take it seriously starting on day one, but don't drive yourself insane. BE CAREFUL of distractions, because studying this thing may be soooo boring, but remember, you WANT TO BECOME A DENTIST.

----------------------

A small background about me: My first year of college was a wreck. My overall GPA was a 2.89, and yes that included low grades on classes like general chemistry and biology. (Therefore, it was harder for me to study for the DAT). But after first year, I told myself that I can't be like that anymore.

Now, my overall GPA is a 3.5, and I have one year left of college to see how much I can increase it.

Now, what can you guys say to help me out?
Should I retake, or should I try applying?
I know my QR is so low, and many dental schools have cutoffs right? Would a 16 on QR hurt me that badly?

Of course, I don't want to have to retake it again (who does though right?). These three months have been torture, but if I have to retake then I have to. I'm going to talk with my advisor, but I want to hear what you guys think.

I'm taking 18 credits this semester, handling 3 club leadership positions, have a part-time job, and thinking if I should still volunteer at the hospital. Not to mention that I have to focus on getting LOCs, my PS, and more hours of shadowing. (I'm taking a gap year, but I'm hoping to apply early next year, I hope). So yeah, it will definitely be hard for me to study during the school year if I choose to retake. I would have to study next summer, but I'm afraid that it will cause me to apply to schools much later and I could forget a lot of stuff. Not to mention that I'm also afraid of doing worse on particular subjects.

What are some thoughts and suggestions you guys have?

At first I was embarrassed about sharing this, but I noticed that you guys here on SDN are so friendly, and many of you have been so kind in responding to my messages about suggestions toward studying.

Thank you guys, and of course, thanks to anyone who is able to read this long post! :laugh:
Congratulations! You survived the DAT. Most schools cutoffs are under 15 for QR so you need to inquire at the schools you are interested in attending. Your scores are very consistent and with a good GPA you have a good chance, but a lot depends on the school. What is your science GPA, schools do take that into consideration.

Worse case scenario you will be advised to retake the DAT and I feel confident you can raise those scores on a retake.

Wishing you the best..

Nancy
 
OP
F

FireandIce128

2+ Year Member
May 6, 2014
59
25
Status
Pre-Dental
Hey no problem. You can still try for the cycle you want to apply for. You can get up to a 3.6 or so with another year right? That'll certainly help. From the sound of it, your ECs and stuff are better than mine too. If it won't haunt you, maybe you can try to just apply with what you have and see where that takes you. I don't think you necessarily lacked motivation completely; otherwise how would you have had such a ridiculous turnaround with your college grades? You made a good point about studying for the DAT being boring at times. You're just sitting there focusing on a single test and not multiple different subjects like college is. In a way, I kind of thought that each section of the DAT was it's own separate test and an individual challenge rather than a collective one (kinda weird but it helped me out). Are you going to apply immediately after you graduate with your improved grades, LORS, etc? You could always indicate you're retaking the DAT and schedule it for late July/early August. Another option (I wouldn't recommend this or want to do this at all) is that you could delay yet another year (awful awful idea imo) and take it whenever you want as long as it's before May/June of the year after that. I personally could not put myself through a full year of only DAT studying (even if that means a possible 27+AA , not saying I would get it but with a year I'm not sure how many curveballs will be thrown if i go incredibly crazy lmfao).
Yep I'm looking to apply immediately after I graduate (assuming I don't have to retake). The earlier the better, they say. My main thing right now is getting some LORs.
As for EC's, these are my first times taking leadership positions. I've been in two of these clubs for 2+years (one of them I've been recruited), but this is my first time taking leadership roles. So I hope dental schools don't think I'm saving to the last minute.
Thanks a lot of the advice and the kind words. You seem to know what your doing as well. Definitely message me more if you want to discuss more!

You by no means did bad on the exam. Your score will allow you to be considered at a lot of schools. Id say you are right about all the things you said. Motivation and management of time can have adverse affects. In my breakdown I spoke about how I didn't study for the DAT 7 hours a day. I maybe spent 3-4 hours max a day. but the key was discipline in making sure i did do it. 2 hours in the morning and 1-2 hours at night can help ease the load and help provide repetition over time. I study psychology, and cramming for 7 hours will not really be beneficial, but doing 2 hours off an hour, 1 hour on, off for 5 and finish the day with a few more can be way better. It allows you to forget which is good, so when you return from break and reread or refresh what you covered earlier in the day you are getting repetition, and seeing if you truly retained the information. Keep your head up. Besides QR your scores a good. your extras can help topple someone with a higher DAT cause you are more diverse.

I honestly thought I was going to get a 19, I had a top goal of a 20. This created a motivation for me, as I tried to reach past what I would be content with. I actually got a 21AA. If you retake, set a goal and go for it. I would honestly have so many doubts about getting a 20, until half way through studying i changed my mindset. I think a lot in the shower, and I would doubt myself a lot. I changed "what if I don't get a 20 or 19" to "I am going to get a 20, I am going to do my best on the DAT" this sounds silly, but confidence in myself or even faking it, created real confidence and pushed me through.


Today I actually had called 20 school I am applying to to make sure I had the correct pre-reqs and LOR. Some schools asked about my dat, and I told them. Some told me they had dropped the minimum scores so it would be best to call schools and check!!
Thanks a lot! And you know what? Your very right. Sometimes a human being can learn just as much within 3-5 hours as opposed to 7-9 hours. It all depends on what you know and how you enact it. Moreover, it is also important to feel comfortable, because something as simple as discomfort and stress is enough to hinder your ability to think critically.
Thanks for sharing the tips!

Edit: I also liked how you aimed for a 20 with a min of 19. That seems like a really good push in order to aim for a higher grade.

Congratulations! You survived the DAT. Most schools cutoffs are under 15 for QR so you need to inquire at the schools you are interested in attending. Your scores are very consistent and with a good GPA you have a good chance, but a lot depends on the school. What is your science GPA, schools do take that into consideration.

Worse case scenario you will be advised to retake the DAT and I feel confident you can raise those scores on a retake.

Wishing you the best..

Nancy
Thanks a lot for your kind words, and most importantly, thank you for destroyer!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As for my science GPA , I can't login to my school account right now because I have to finish a financial aid payment, but the last time I calculated last semester, my sGPA was probably around a 3.2-3.3. Yes, needs improvement, but I'm taking some more science classes during the next 2 semesters and I hope I can make a difference.

Thanks again for the advice!
 
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