Explaining poor grades - HELP!

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r1012

ex post facto
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So - I'll be interviewing in a couple days and was wondering how to explain poor grades, if asked about them. Specifically, 2 C+'s in physics 1 and 2 from soph and jr year (I got Bs in the labs).

Basically those classes fell during my 2 really awful semesters in terms of time commitments (intense extracurriculars, serious roommate and then relationship issues), and physics was never a strong subject for me.

My stats are otherwise good (Econ major, As and Bs, 35S mcat with a 12 in the PS section), and I have good extracurrics and research.

Any suggestions on how to explain these grades? Is it likely that I get asked about these?

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Here's my advice - and I promise, I had some similar grades and some worse.

1. The most important thing is to take responsibility for what you did. You can explain what was going on in your life, but in no ways should it come off as being an excuse.

2. Tell what you learned from it, and exactly how you've grown from the experience that will make sure that this will never. Happen. Again.

Those are the best things you can do, it will show that you have matured because of your struggles and show that you've persevered because what you really want to do is become a physician, especially if you have stronger grades after your two semesters of physics. So, maybe physics wasn't your thing but so long as you show you know the material on the MCAT, they'll be less likely to ding you for it in your interviews.
 
+1. Don't avoid the topic, don't come up with excuses and sound confident. Talk about how you rebounded and how that experience drove you to obtain better study habits and renewed motivation. They just want to know you are capable of being successful in med school.
 
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I highly doubt they would ask you about that. I think this would be a low yield thing to worry about.

But yes, take accountability and that you have learned and all that other b/s they like to hear.
 
So - I'll be interviewing in a couple days and was wondering how to explain poor grades, if asked about them. Specifically, 2 C+'s in physics 1 and 2 from soph and jr year (I got Bs in the labs).

Basically those classes fell during my 2 really awful semesters in terms of time commitments (intense extracurriculars, serious roommate and then relationship issues), and physics was never a strong subject for me.

My stats are otherwise good (Econ major, As and Bs, 35S mcat with a 12 in the PS section), and I have good extracurrics and research.

Any suggestions on how to explain these grades? Is it likely that I get asked about these?

I disagree with the above poster - I think there's a decent likelihood that they'll ask about these grades (though whether or not you'll be asked about these grades depends on both the school and the interviewer). Along those lines - the optimum course of action is to NOT MAKE EXCUSES - like the above posters have mentioned, take responsibility, state what you learned and most importantly how that has affected your future behavior. Good luck.
 
Agree with the above but let them know you're no idiot, you got a 12 on the PS section (not that getting a C of any kind makes a person an idiot, just saying). Follow the advice of the other posters, but I think the 12 speaks for itself. You slipped in class, you learned from the experience, you did well on those subjects on the MCAT... it's all behind you now.
 
How to answer grade questions in an easy step-wise fashion:

1) Admit responsibility. "I didn't manage my time well" is a very good explanation. You don't really need to get into specifics, but if you have a good reason you could say "relationship issues" or "I took on more than I could handle" are good excuses.

2) Say that you used it as a learning experience. "I got X bad grade because I didn't manage my time well that semester. It did, however, teach me how important time management is in school." It also helps to reinforce that you went back and mastered the material at a later date (ie: did well on the MCAT, retook the class, etc).

3) Give an example of how the lesson learned allowed you to succeed at a later date. Example, "I've made time management a priority and have gotten all good grades since then."

This is why showing an upward trend is so important. Having a random splattering of bad grades is much more difficult to explain away. The only real way I have to do this is to expand the time span the interviewer is considering so that your random spattering of bad grades becomes an upward trend.

Example: Interview asks, "I see you got bad grade X in sophmore year and bad grades Y and Z in senior year. How come?"

Your response, "I was less focused in college than I should have been. However, I have learned from these experiences and now manage my time well. You can see this from my stellar performance in grad school/insert your activity here."

Problem with this explanation is that it requires you to have done something since college (and done it well).
 
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