Crazy Curves

ShawnOne

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    Hey,

    This semester I am taking a upper level Biochemistry course (Chem 464) in preparation of D-school. I was warned by a few people that the instructor's exams were very difficult (although I am finding the class to be relatively easy) and he hardly EVER gives A's.

    So yesturday we got our first test scores back. Before he gave back the exams, he put the grading curve on the board. check this out...

    A -- 100-85
    B -- 84-68
    C -- 67-47
    D -- 46-32
    F -- under 32

    I was shocked to see this curve and ended up with a 78. At this point my grade doesnt matter, but I was pissed with my score since I knew the material inside out. The instructor definately upheld his reputation!

    Anybody else with an experience like this?
     

    Shomeda$

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      I wish. My Chem teacher sucks. She doesn't answer homework questions, doesn't even go over the homework, half the time the homework she assigns has something to do with things we haven't learned yet. On our first test this year the last problem was worht almost half the test...and it was something we ended up really covering in the next chapter. Her reasoning was that we should already know that. How the hell are we supposed to know something that is in the next chapter?!
       

      Mo007

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        Dude.

        You got a B - move on, what matters is that you know the material, and with that kind of grade everyone would agree that you do - and it will probably help you alot when you come across Biochemistry again in your 1st year of Dental School. Some teachers just enjoy treating their undergrad students like grad students.

        My Anatomy and Physiology class was full of clueless individuals - even though everyone thought I was going to end up with an "A", the teacher got a kick-out of granting partial credits on the exam questions, even if you answered it by the text-book... ended up with somewhere between the 90-93%, which is equal to "A-" in my school, some schools would look at that as an automatic "A".
         
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        dr_benj

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          I'm surprised you're shocked by this. At my school, for most science classes I take (both intro and upper level) the average is about a 68-72 on exams. I think an 85 is pretty generous for the A range. They really hate giving out A's. THey think they made it too easy if more than a few people get A's.
           

          trypmo

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            Originally posted by dr_benj
            I'm surprised you're shocked by this. At my school, for most science classes (both intro and upper level) I take the average is about a 68-72 on exams. I think an 85 is pretty generous for the A range. They really hate giving out A's. THey think they made it too easy if more than a few people get A's.

            I'm puzzled you're surprised he's shocked about this. And I'm confounded I'm puzzled you're surprised he's shocked about this. And I'm amazed I'm confounded I'm puzzled you're surprised he's shocked about this.

            And I didn't get any sleep last night.

            And it's showing. :D

            But seriously. I went to an undergrad school where grade inflation was absolutely RAMPANT, especially in the upper-level courses. If you did all the homework and made an honest effort, you got an A. However, I've noticed that Chem departments are often a little more uptight about giving As in general. What's up with that?

            I think dent schools have to take that sort of thing into account. For example, for the 2004 application cycle, UT Houston dental branch REJECTED fifteen 4.0 GPA students (I heard it straight from the director of recruitment). Yowza! :wow:

            So take heart, all ye of sub-4.0 GPAs!!
             

            UMDeeMan

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              yeah, some schools ar e just easier then others. that's why i think the DAT is the major determining factor in reagard to dschool admission. gpa's really should not be weighed as heavily as they are. granted there should be a standard, 3.0 is fine. but then if you have that all you should have is a check mark. The DAT is really the only form of comparison that is the same for all of us wannabe dentists. you may argue that a cumulative shouldn't decide whether or not a student gets into dschool or not.......but look at the increasingly popular high school graduation tests. i may be lacking on my facts, but don't most require high school seniors have to pass an extremely long standardized test to graduate now???? admissions should not be based on this high anxiety, one time test....but then again it's really the only true fair way.

              acceptance into dental school should go as follows :

              1. DAT scores
              2. Interview
              3. Exposure to the field
              4. Demonstrated interest by the student in the dschool applying
              5. Letters of recommendation
              6. GPA

              that's just my philosophy. with the DAT you can't take the easy professor who makes easy tests. with the DAT you can't do a lab or paper to raise your final grade. with the DAT you can't do extra credit to improve you scores. hence, the DAT is the only common grounds for the adcom's to judge us on. i feel very deeply about this issue. i hate standardized testing more then anyone. they are high anxiety environments that tend not to adaquately represent a student's capabilities. but say you are with a patient in practice years down the road. performing a root canal or any other form of oral surgery i would assume is high anxiety. and if you can't "pass" during that "test", you can't do any extra credit to make it right. either you can do it or you can't.

              that's my theory on all these standardized tests for professional schools. sure they are a means to equate how much you now, but ultimately they are a test to see how you can recall this information under a tremendous amount of stress. god damn cortisol. i'm done for know. i hope i sparked a debate. someone should start a thread on this issue : the DAT should be the most important academic factor for adcoms.
               

              dr_benj

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                Couldn't agree with you more. Many friends I have at differetn schools have 3.8s or 3.9s but got 15-16 on their DAT. I may have a 3.1 but I got a 20 on the DAT, and it's not because I studied for it. I had learned it all in my classes. GPA isn't worth much if it can't be standardized.
                 

                Bickle

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                  Even if there was some way to standardize the GPA, how much of a factor does it really play in determining who has what it takes to be a dentist? Just because some guy can memorize the Krebs cycle inside and out doesnt mean he will be a competent dentist. Its kind of sad to see that many schools want a high gpa.
                   

                  sxr71

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                    I too feel that favoring high GPAs favors memorization over demonstrated strong thought processes in a timed environment. The other thing about GPA as we have seen in this thread is that when you have major variances in grading within a college or university, the variances between universities is simply too much for the number itself to have meaning without considering the context. Some schools may look at the undergrad instution's reputation to gauge the value of the GPA scored, but it still amounts to way too much effort to come to a conclusion about the value of the GPA number when you have thousands of schools in the nation.


                    My philosophy on this issue may be a little extreme but I believe that schools should primarily be for learning the material, and standardized tests should be the primary method of evaluation.
                     

                    UMDeeMan

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                      sr - totally agree

                      when i begin studying for the DAT in 2 years, not only will I focus on the material that is required, but i will also spend time learning how to maximize my ability to take the test itself (ie training my mind/body to overcome the anxiety associated with it). half the problem of studying for the DAT is losing focus. standardized tests are meant to be taken a certain way if you do not how to do this, all the information in the world can't help you.

                      DAT = Demonstrated Acute Thought

                      i guess it could be considered chronic, but the time restraints of the test limit the time to recall info so i just said acute. plus it matches nicely. :hardy:
                       
                      what about for people who dont' do so well on standardized tests or was having a bad day?

                      If the DATS were the most important factor in determining one's ability to get into dental school.. then why go to school?

                      why not just focus all your time studying to ace the dats?


                      GPA helps measure the student's ability to maintain high academic ability over a long period of time. DAT is short term.
                      The DATS simply standardizes people, but even then there is disparity because I know that the Canadian DAT and the American DAT are different. Canadian DAT tests less questions but has soap carving and the science questions are harder (my friend took them both).
                      If you have good GPA unless all you took was bird courses, chances are you won't do too bad on the DAT.


                      Both are needed.
                       
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                      ShawnOne

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                        My point in the original post is that some professors DO NOT like to give out A's. (which SUCKS!!)

                        Usually, teachers lecture, then give a straight forward test on that material with a normal grading scale 100-90, 90-80 etc. And no problem because i study and know the material...

                        But this guy, WOW.

                        For example,

                        The first section of the test was on the chapter on the amino acids. We talked about their acid/base properties and their pKas. We did some net charge problems in class, everything was good. On the test he asks, "why is the pka of the C-term of Glu lower than the pKa of the side group?"

                        I got it correct (because its closer to the electroneg N-term, so it stabilizes the conjugate) but the majority of the class was clueless becuase he NEVER addressed this issue , so it wasnt anticipated.

                        Ridiculous...
                         

                        mathnerd

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                          Shawnone,

                          Therein lies the beauty of college: loads of theoretical BS w/ little or no practical application. I had physical chemistry, and EVERYBODY flat-out failed the 1st exam. I'm working in a lab now and little beyond the gen chem that I learned in college has ever served me.

                          I hope we don't have the next 4 years of it in LV, brah!
                           

                          ShawnOne

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                            Nerd, :D

                            The impression I got from the UNLV interview was very positive. As I'm sure you already know, they have an open-door policy which encourages students to walk into the instructors' offices at anytime to ask questions and get help. They seem to be very focused on working with students instead of screwing with them. So I doubt we'll have the same problem.
                             

                            UMDeeMan

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                              Woodsy - i'm not saying gpa should be thrown out, but a standard of say 3.0-3.2 should be set and if an applicant is above that, then they are golden. A 3.8 shouldn't make a person a stronger candidate from a 3.3 student. anything above 3.2 is about a b/b+ average which is a good average no matter what school. I'd say 3.2 is a fair number??? yes/no???
                               

                              groundhog

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                                How about this? I saw a blip about a medical school test on TV the other night. The prof says something like: "The practice of medicine in real life can throw you some curve balls. In that spirit, todays test is a curve ball. It will not be on the material we have covered as originally announced, but rather a case base test. You will be given symptoms and then have to select the correct diagnosis." I thought that was pretty cute on the prof's part.
                                 

                                StarGirl

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                                  i remember once i had a prof at ucla that had a stardard scale for gchem where 35% (if i remember correctly since this is like 5/6 yrs ago) was passing... it was the easiest pass ever...

                                  last yr our renal exam passing was in the 40's :D sometimes the test are just hard and the averages are low...
                                   

                                  3rdMolarRoller

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                                    I didn't read all of the post, but this is what my school did for undergrad:

                                    Most professors made their exams so everyone would get a "C" (70-79).

                                    So 70% of the test questions were "C" level
                                    15% were "B" level
                                    and 15% were "A" level

                                    The theory was, a "C" student could never answer the "B" or "A" questions and the "B" students could never answer the "A" questions. But the "C" questions were enough to test to see if the students were competent in the material.

                                    Class avg was always between 70-73% for my classes and a few needed 2-3 point curves, but there were off the wall classes like orgo II (45 started the class only 9 took the final :wow: )

                                    Does this work...yes! The pre-med/dent program at my undergrad has a 92% placement rate to professional school. Also the MCAT/DAT scores are above the national avgs by a good margin
                                     
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                                    UMDeeMan

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                                      why do you think they make the tests so hard?? the professor have to have some sort of clue as what the capabilities of the students are you would think. maybe they are just searching for that one savont who can do an ochem final like it's second grade math.

                                      broncnizer - isn't that what every university does??? the worst curve i ever saw was one where grades were distributed on percentage. 5% got A's, 5% got A/B's, 10 got B's, 70 % got C's, 10% got D's, and really no one failed. the curve was horrible.
                                       

                                      3rdMolarRoller

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                                        Originally posted by UMDeeMan


                                        broncnizer - isn't that what every university does???

                                        I guess not since people are passing with 45's. If you pass with a 45 there is one or more problems:

                                        1) the professor is teaching the material the right way and exams are fair, but the school admitted too many stupid people or the school cannot attract a better pool so the class is stupid

                                        2) the professor can teach but makes exams killer bec thats what their profs did to them

                                        3) the professor can't teach worth a damn and gives hard ass exams
                                         

                                        Mo007

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                                          I know some schools who have an open-book midterms and finals on science courses - and students still get B's and C's. :rolleyes:

                                          We all came from schools with different ways of pressuring their students - chances are - if you suffered on the tough colleges :mad: - it will pay off when you end-up in the same class with people who came from cry-baby colleges.:laugh:
                                           
                                          Originally posted by UMDeeMan
                                          Woodsy - i'm not saying gpa should be thrown out, but a standard of say 3.0-3.2 should be set and if an applicant is above that, then they are golden. A 3.8 shouldn't make a person a stronger candidate from a 3.3 student. anything above 3.2 is about a b/b+ average which is a good average no matter what school. I'd say 3.2 is a fair number??? yes/no???


                                          no because it would be less competitive.

                                          3.2 is good for dental school, but having a better GPA should account for something. 3.8 will make a person a stronger candidate than a 3.3 student at least for GPA wise.
                                           

                                          marshall

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                                            A piece of information passed to me by someone important at UMDNJ is that GPA shows dedication. Your GPA is calculated over four years (usually) and you have a lot of time to show your stuff. He said that the committee values both GPA and DAT of course but they look to the GPA for trends to see what this applicant is about. Is he/she dedicated? Or did they study really hard one summer with the hopes of getting a much larger return because they weren't willing to put it in for the whole run (or couldn't?).

                                            Besides, on the really high ends of the DAT, one wrong answer can equal a point off of your score for that section.

                                            I thought this was useful advice, given to me at a time when I still had 2 years of college and my DAT ahead of me. Now I'm all done and ready to apply :)
                                             

                                            grettlin2

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                                              Unfortunately, GPA is one of the most important factor to the committee, and for some schools, they even emphasize more on it than DAT.

                                              ShawnOne. In my school, Cal State Fullerton (I am in post-bac program), the Biochem score range is
                                              A : 100-85
                                              B : 84-70
                                              C: 69-55

                                              The professor is notorious hard. However, I think the class material is easy until the first exam. The class average is 47. She only grants a certain number of As. It is really hard for all classmates, especially that many of us are looking for dental and medical schools. People would suffer if they do not do well in upper division course.

                                              Anyway, as my advisor said, I need to choose the instructor wisely before registration.
                                               

                                              mikhiel

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                                                in my Biochem class, our class averages are usually in the 50's, with a standard deviation of about 15. We get number grades, making a 55 or so a 2.8. While this basically guarantees a 4.0 for someone who gets in the 80s, it's not as easy to get that kind of score as it seems.

                                                It seems REALLY weird though, to make a test so hard that the class average is basically a failing grade. While I'm sure even those below mean understand the material, why don't some professors use this as a sign to change their testing policy a bit?

                                                and now I'm off... to study more for one of these infamous Biochem tests that's in 6.5 hours :eek:
                                                 

                                                UMDeeMan

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                                                  marshall - i agree with you on the fact that gpa shows dedication. and i agree that it is a measurement of determination over a long stretch of time. but still, if a student can present a 3.2 gpa over that 4 years shouldn't that be just as good as a 3.8 with all the variety of how classes are taught and the different types professors?? i mean there has to be some sort of standard deviation when it comes to looking at gpa's. i understand a person could sit and focus just for the DAT, but i still believe a 3.2 gpa with a DAT in the 21-24 range is more evident of a stronger student then one with a 3.8 gpa and 16-19 DAT.

                                                  one question, adcom's take into effect the course load too correct??? cause theoretically, a pre-dent could take the basic required courses, do well, then take slacker electives to get that near perfect gpa. i understand that's where the science gpa comes in, but still, the way you made it sound is that all the adcom's care about is that GPA number. if that's the case, every pre-dent should switch their major to communications and get 3.8-4.0's.
                                                   

                                                  sxr71

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                                                    ^^^

                                                    Your science GPA is more important than your overall GPA. A few people have higher science GPAs than overall GPAs and that puts them in front of people with higher overall, but lower science GPAs. A look at some of stats threads here and checking some stats on www.mdapplicants.com will confirm that.
                                                     

                                                    UMDeeMan

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                                                      still though, in theory i could just take the bare essentials like physics, chem, ochem, and calc, get A's and B's in them, and never have to take another science course. i would have a high science gpa then. why take all the extra science courses associated with a bio or chem degree then since you want to maintain that high science gpa. bottom line, there is too many what if's when weighing gpa. DAT should be the gold ticket.
                                                       

                                                      saman1

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                                                        the way it usually works out in my school is:

                                                        A-/A: score greater than or equal to class mean + standard deviation of test scores
                                                        C+/B-: class mean

                                                        Everything else falls somewhere in between.
                                                         
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