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Couple questions about Pass/No Pass

Discussion in 'Pre-Dental' started by Alpha13, Nov 23, 2005.

  1. Alpha13

    Alpha13 Member
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    I have a couple questions about the Pass/No pass system that some schools use. First is it tougher than the grade system? If so, why? I'm asking because a lot of the harder schools seem to use it. Second, how is a class ranked without grades? I'm not sure if I want to specialize yet, but I can imagine some problems arising if me and half my class are trying to get into an ortho residency, all with "passing" grades! I guess only board scores would be used for consideration then?

    Thanks
     
  2. I'mFillingFine

    I'mFillingFine Pulptastic
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    In terms of it being tougher, that varies on the school. For instance, UConn considers a "Pass" to be 85% or higher, so they might be less likely to award the pass than others (but a "fail" might only mean an area to be improved, not the need to take that entire section again). Other schools do not necessarily have a numerical estimate assigned to pass, honors pass, partial fail, fail, etc.

    Also, remember that in the highly competitive schools, a high instance of students passing may just mean that the school puts academic trust into the students' hands. They may not feel like everyone needs grades and ranking to excel, but expect students to study hard anyway, and lots of passing grades means that professors were pleased with the result. So it's often hard to tell if students are meeting a pre-determined minimum number to achieve it, if low failing is simply because the school hands out failing marks rarely, OR, because the students are naturally highly motivated and tend to do superb work. It may be a combination!

    Hope that wasn't too poorly worded :oops:

    As for going into specialties or residencies (or anything else, for that matter), many schools offer a Dean's Letter, where the student is evaluated for strengths and weaknesses so that postdoc programs can get a comprehensive idea for what to expect. Some schools assign letter grades to exams but simply never show the students (so that you would see a P/F but your transcript is compiling grades), just in case the student later requires a cumulative average.

    So no need to worry about lack of numbers for specialties to evaluate you for...by that point, fewer people apply to each school, many of the faculty know each other, and they will likely value a descriptive letter as much as tests scores.
     
  3. dat_student

    dat_student Junior Member
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    Some schools (e.g. Harvard & Columbia) give HP/P/NP (i.e. A/B/F). Some record your letter grades on major exams (~ 8 major exams per yr) but give you P/NP (e.g. UCONN). Some schools (e.g. UCLA and UCSF) write little reports.
     
  4. jk5177

    jk5177 Just Kidding
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    This seems to be the case at UCLA as well. We are on a EPR/P/MP/F system, and everyone works hard to pass, and there are those who works really hard for the EPR. Even though it is only a pass system, but I swear everyone works just as hard if not harder than grading system. This system promotes cooperation, which is highly valuable. The other thing is that, there is no curve for the most part - a 75% pass is a 75% pass. For specializing, our school's board average speaks for itself.
     
  5. dat_student

    dat_student Junior Member
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    jk5177, what is the key of success for UCLA? Does UCLA help students prepare for the board exams? UCLA students do very well on part I.

    Isn't EPR/P/MP/F the same as A/B/C/F?
     
  6. jpollei

    jpollei Senior Member
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    P/F has it's advantages, but getting into a specialty program is not necessarily one of them. True, the competition among classmates may or may not be as stiff as schools that dole out grades and everyone wants a 93%+ to get the "A". However, grades (especially the relative class rank, which is more difficult to do without an actual letter grade in each course) do matter no matter what anyone tells you when it comes time to apply. For example, the program director at each ortho program I interviewed at commented about my gpa (4.0). So in my mind it left a positive impression on them (enough that they said something about it); one that HP/P/F may not have been able to.

    Though you can't necessarily compare a 3.8 at one program to a 3.8 at another, NBDE scores also aren't the be-all-end-all to compare applicants straight up either (i.e. some schools give a month off to study, some a summer, and some only a few days...residency programs know the difference and do take that into account). Residency programs do look at a number of other things (GRE score, research/publications, leadership, other involvement, personal interests, etc) in comparing prospective residents.
     
  7. bkwash

    bkwash Senior Member
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  8. drhobie7

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    Here are a few facts about UCLA's P/NP system. Exceptional Performance Reports are given to the top 8-10 students in every class. If the average for a class is 95%, which does happen, the EPRs go to those students who got 99-100%. Frankly, I think it's harder to get EPRs than an A, because there's always going to be a curve built in and generally there are at least 15 people who get >90%. So most of the time, you have to do better than 90% to get an EPR. In theory, with letter grading, half the class can get an A. Not the case with our grading system. If you get a 93% and 10 other people got >94% you get a Pass, same as those who got 75%.

    Pass grades are determined by the instructor. Sometimes the cutoff for a pass is 70%, sometimes it's 80%, but usually it's 75%. Marginal Pass is generally 5% points less than the pass cutoff, so typically 70-74%. Non Pass is obviously anything less than Marginal Pass, so usually 0-69%. If you get a NP you also receive an EPR, but it is a negative EPR, telling you your performance was exceptionally bad. I don't know if post-grad programs understand our EPR system.

    We do not receive help for preparing for board exams. We have a 2 week summer break before the written exam but most students start studying 2-3 months before then, and some really nutty people start 6-9 months beforehand. We do so well on NBDE-I because we study really hard. Part of the credit also belongs to our curriculum as well.

    UCLA does not rank it's students. Instead, each student gets a Dean's Letter. I'm glad we don't rank because trying to stand out among 88 people who are academically outstanding is very very difficult.

    I had an additional comment about bkwash's statement. Part of the reason UCLA students do so well matching to residency spots is that we have established a reputation for ourselves as intelligent, knowledgeable, hard working people. Residency directors see the trend of quality graduates and have confidence that selecting a student from UCLA will yield the same result.

    I was talking to the director of one of our highly competitive residency programs and he said several years ago 1 student was accepted from school 'Y'. The following year another student was accepted from school 'Y' again. Both students were disappointing in terms of their expected knowledge. The residency director said he avoided accepting any students from school 'Y' for many years afterwards because he had lost faith in their pre-doctoral education.
     
  9. jk5177

    jk5177 Just Kidding
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    And this is probably the sole cause to the competition at UCLA. I'm beginning to understand how hard it is to EPR the classes. It's much more enjoyable to learn and to focus on my learning then... "what is the details that I need to know to get EPR?" That was crazy, and quite a shetty feeling.
     
  10. jpollei

    jpollei Senior Member
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    I'd be interested to see specifics on particular programs...all I'm familiar with is stories that circulate. But nonetheless, I know we (a grade-based program) had about a 95% match rate last year; fair considering the two not getting in really weren't qualified regardless of where they applied from. Can't speak for other grade-based places, though.

    And for the record, based on what drhobie wrote about EPR's at UCLA, it sounds like the equivalent (in absolute numbers given out) compared to A's at our place for most classes. That is good as it may negate a bit of the age-old complaint about grade inflation.

    The crux of the whole decision between a P/F vs. graded school should boil down to where/how you want to be trained--grading system aside. Ultimately how you are trained is the most important thing, regardless of whether general practice or a residency is in your future. You should choose the program which you feel will be the best to prepare you clinically and academically to pursue what you want to do in dentistry.
     
  11. jk5177

    jk5177 Just Kidding
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    What school is this that you are talking about? Because it seems like you guys have a good program.
     
  12. drhobie7

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    i think jpollei is at univ of north carolina. excellent school.
     

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