Can a low tier MD student with average clinical grades match general surgery?

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So for this particular one we needed an 85th percentile for honors but the thing is that the distributions were so tight that you could literally only get 2-3 more questions wrong before your score automatically drops from high pass to pass. I think we need 65th percentile for high pass but on this exam the difference between 85th and 65th was a mere 2-3 questions. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely my fault for being distracted and not putting 110% into the shelf but I think that it’s somewhat ridiculous that the shelf and clinical assessments aren’t averaged. Is this common at most schools?
That's a tight distribution for sure, and a high bar for honors. It's doable though for an above-average medical student who is willing to put in the work. The method above should get you to 85th percentile for most if not all shelf exams.

Importantly though, let's say you implement all of this, drive yourself crazy, and still score 50th percentile (or even lower like half of medical students). Take a step back and ask yourself if it's worth it. At the end of the day, you are in a class full of valedictorians and overachievers, and 85% of them will be below the Honors cutoff despite all of them trying very, very hard. If you're in that 85%, you're in good company. Knowing when to temper expectations for success in medicine is incredibly important, and driving yourself insane studying for an exam is unlikely to help you make good impressions on the wards regardless.

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