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Grade Trend

Discussion in 'What Are My Chances?' started by Darkskies, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. Darkskies

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    My grades for the fall semester have been posted and my GPA for this semester is a 3.82. I got 2 A- and 1 A in 3 upper level biology courses. I also got a 4.0 in a required social science class. I posted earlier that I was finally turning towards medicine for certain and would apply myself with motivation and zeal. This is because my cumulative GPA up until this semester was a 3.12 due to poor grades in physics, orgo II, and calculus I(back in freshman year, I'm a junior now). It is now a 3.25. Next semester I will be taking 4 BCPM classes including 3 upper level bio courses again and a math class(stats) and if I get straight A's my cumulative GPA will be a 3.38. If I continue with straight A's my cumulative GPA will be a 3.53 by the end of senior year.

    I have pretty much gotten either A-'s or A's in all my nonscience classes but due to not doing stellar on gen chem and the first semester of general biology(both semesters of gen chem were B+ and 1st semester of gen bio was a B+ but 2nd semester was an A-) for simply not trying and then doing quite poorly in physics, calc I, and orgo II(orgo I was a B) which were C- both semesters for physics, C- for orgo II and C for calc I(calc II was a B) my cumulative science GPA is a 2.97. If I get 4.0s in all science classes for the next 3 semesters my cumulative science GPA will be a 3.40. Now I was also wondering about retaking physics and orgo over the summer at a local 4 year college since retaking those classes at my own school would be quite a lot of work on top of my regular classes. I was wondering if this would be a good idea.

    Assessing my own abilities I know I am weak in physics(I really hated that year and was taking orgo, physics, and bio altogether and was really unmotivated and slightly depressed) but I know that my poor performance in orgo is a fluke and that I can do much better since during sophomore year I only went to a total of around 5 orgo lectures.

    I will probably have to try hard in either case if I take both during the summer and was wondering if that would be absolutely necessary(since it is expensive). I am only considering MD and was wondering what my chances would be at low tier medical schools like New York medical college,etc. if I am able to achieve the above within the next 3 semesters and if I rock the MCAT? Do I even have a chance? Oh and one of the upper level Bio classes I took and got an A- on was anatomy and I might even retake calc I during the spring semester of senior year. What are your opinions and what more should I do? Thanks a lot,
    Darkskies
     
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  3. Mobius1985

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    Congratulations on an amazing GPA turnaround. If you stick to your plan, and get a MCAT score of about 32, NYMC should give you consideration.

    As far as your retake plans: I wouldn't worry about the C in Calc I, considering you got a B in Calc II and plan to take stats, where you'll likely get an A. With Physics, considering that you really didn't "get" the material, since you need to do well on the MCAT, I do think you should repeat both those classes. Regarding a retake of Orgo II, this is where you have some wiggle room. There is not much Orgo II on the MCAT. It is more important that you understand Orgo I well. Retaking Orgo II would help redeem your honor (my way of looking at it), but you'd do just as well by taking a semester of Biochem instead (which will also really help you in med school). You do need to thoroughly review Orgo I, but you could possibly do this on your own with a study book. If you think retaking Orgo II would be a good impetus for reviewing Orgo I concepts, then you could do it, by I don't think it's absolutely necessary. I'm sure opinions will vary. There are reportedly (here on SDN) some med schools that won't consider you if you have a C or lower in a pre-requisite, but this is not true of most med schools. You are not applying to schools with a high degree of selectivity, so I wouldn't worry about it.

    It really gives me a lift to see you succeeding in your plans. You're doing great, and are really on top of this. Keep up the good work.
     
    #2 Mobius1985, Dec 24, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2008
  4. Mobius1985

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    I found these unanswered backposts from November (when many of us were out of town for Thanksgiving week). Taking a few of the prerequisites at a CC under the above circumstances is not going to hurt you. If you are asked about it, you have a good explanation.
     
    #3 Mobius1985, Dec 24, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2008
  5. Darkskies

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    Thanks a lot Mobius for the support. You don't know how much I appreciate your reply! Just another question though. Although I plan to and will strive to get a 4.0 GPA for the next three semesters I was just wondering if it would be all right if I got another A- or two here and there since some of these upper level biology courses are quite difficult to get A's in I hear(like Molecular bio). Oh and you're sure that most schools don't require that I have above a C in all my pre-requisites right? If that's the case I think I will just retake physics I and II over the summer and just review orgo I hardcore. I'm actually taking biochem next semester so it's good to know that it's a useful class for med school. Also when do you think would be the best time for me to prepare for and take the MCAT? I am of the understanding that the MCAT score is viable for 3 years? I'm fine with waiting a year after I graduate to apply to medical schools.

    I was also wondering about possible EC's. I'm on a special interest floor and I was something akin to an RA(but lesser) for a year. I have applied to volunteer at various hospitals around my home town and will be interviewed in the summer. However for one of the hospitals I'm actually having an interview this friday and might even be able to volunteer there for the 3 weeks I am home for. I have applied to a clinical program at my university town as well and will be interviewed at the beginning of spring semester(if accepted, I will be volunteering there the entire semester). Should I be involved in research as well(Does independent research count?)? What about shadowing? Thanks in advance.
     
    #4 Darkskies, Dec 24, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2008
  6. alibai3ah

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    Good job on the GPA turnaround. Make sure you get A's and A-'s in the upper division biology classes that you take. A strong junior/senior year can do wonders. As for the MCAT I'd say aim for 32ish, with 11+ on both the sciences. I believe strong MCAT science scores can help a bit with lower undergrad science courses. As for your MCAT, since you are a junior (but would like to take the year off), I would take the MCAT August/September of 2009. This way you have the entire summer to study for it without any courseload to worry about. Once you do well on that, continue your 4.0 (or close to it) your senior year. With your year off, try to improve your EC's.....or do a year long program (Americorps, Go Abroad, a variety of opportunities). Good luck
     
  7. Mobius1985

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    1) I would be amazed if you got straight As (but I'm willing to be amazed), so don't worry if an A- comes your way. It is still helping to improve your cGPA.


    2) One of the reasons you'll commonly see the recommendation here on SDN to "apply broadly" is because every school has it's own policy about coursework expectations. I don't know the policy of schools outside the midwest where I applied, but get my information from others' comments on this forum. To the best of my knowledge, I have advised you correctly. You won't know the exact policy of each school you apply to without doing extensive research on their attitude toward Cs in prerequisites, and I recommend you do so (taking the advice of strangers is not always wise). If you apply broadly, you are likely to pick schools who permit redemption via the "get an A in a higher-level course" approach. I believe you will be fine with the plan you've chosen, if . . . . "you apply broadly".

    3) Your MCAT score is generally viable for 2-3 years, depending on the school. Take the test when you've completed all the prerequisites, have at least two months to study for it (ideally with a formal prep course, if you can afford it), and are consistently getting your target score on practice tests.

    4) RA is an excellent EC, which is a leadership experience. Clinical volunteering accomplishes two things: face-to-face interaction with sick people, and the demonstration of your service-minded mentality, both of which are essential for your application to succeed. Don't work in the gift shop, as it won't help you.

    5) A research experience of some sort is desirable, but not essential. If you have one, more schools are willing to consider you. I recommend it. I'd also suggest you have a research mentor who can write you a letter of recommendation after you complete the experience.

    6) I also recommend you shadow a few types of specialists (who you will meet when volunteering in a clinical setting) to get a good idea of what practicing medicine is all about, and to convince adcomms that you know what you're getting yourself into.
     
  8. Darkskies

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    While ruminating about the next steps I have to take, some more questions have surfaced. First of all is it possible for me to get LORs from professors early and save them until I apply to schools or would I have to get them around the time I am completing my applications? The reason I ask is that since my GPA won't exactly be presentable until the end of my senior year, I would probably have to apply after I graduate and by then I don't know if I'd still be able to get LORs from past professors. Also regarding the LORs, is the general requirement two LORs from science professors and one from a nonscience? I also read that the other option is to get an LOR from the university's premed council and that will cover all the academic LORs one needs. Would I need LORs or some sort of "proof" from clinical volunteering and other ECs?

    Regarding physics again, although I'll most probably retake both courses over the summer, is it possible to self-study for this as well(Nova/BR)? If I were to take that route and did well on the MCAT(~32) would that be enough to offset the C-s in physics if I carry on with my upward trend(mainly using upper level bio classes) at least enough to be considered? Thanks,

    Darkskies
     
  9. Mobius1985

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    1) Yes, you can get your LORs anytime. It's felt by many here on SDN that it's best if the date is within a year of application, but better a slightly older letter than none at all, and it's common to go back to the same person and ask them to reprint the old letter with a new date. If you have the opportunity for a newer, better letter, you don't have to use the older one.

    2) I found the standard of LOR types to be as you've described, but have read on SDN that some schools ask for more letters. If you have the opportunity to get a volunteerism letter, a research advisor letter, or a letter from a doctor, take it. You may not need to use it, but it's better to have it already available then to have to get one at the last minute from someone who's OOT indefinitely. If your school has a premed advisory group that writes a composite letter, you are expected to use that route, or give an explanation of why not. These advisory groups often have their own ideas of what letters you need to provide. I'd check with your pre-health office and find out if your school has one, and, if so, what they require for letters.

    3) I've seen self study for physics II successfully reported here on SDN. I do not recommend you take the chance of doing this, as you admittedly didn't understand it well in a class. I think you will need to repeat the classes and get higher than a C, no matter how high your Physical Sciences score is on the MCAT. JMO.
     
  10. Darkskies

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    All right. So I will definitely be retaking both physics courses over the summer. It's just that your last comment made me wonder. If I would need to get higher than a C in both physics classes no matter what my score is on the physical sciences section of the MCAT, is that because I would have 4 Cs on my transcript or because I would not have gotten a higher grade on an upper level physics class to offset that? If it's the second reason, doesn't that mean I would have to retake orgo II since that's also a C- and wasn't replaced by a better grade in another upper level chemistry course? I know you've already explained this before but I may have misunderstood. Thanks.
     
  11. Mobius1985

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    I suggested you retake both Physics classes, because you said you didn't really understand it, and understanding it all will be important for the MCAT. If you'd said you did understand it, but had a teacher who only gave Cs, I'd have said to just retake the second semester and get an A, or take a higher level Physics class and get an A. In your case, those are not a good idea.

    For Orgo II (which has very little on the MCAT), you said your poor performance was because you only went to five lectures. You could repeat it getting an A, or take Biochem, the higher level course. My suggestion to take the Biochem is because you don't need a good understanding of Orgo II to do well on the MCAT, because of your concern about the expense of retaking Orgo II, and because Biochem will help you in med school. Also, many med schools allow one to substitute Biochem for Orgo II.

    If you want your transcript to appeal to the most number of medical schools, and expense and time are no object, then retaking all prerequisite classes with a C or lower at a four-year university is the way to go. Since doing this would be very difficult for you, I'm suggesting reasonable alternatives that will be acceptable to most medical schools.
     
  12. Darkskies

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    I apologize for continuing to revive this thread but I feel like tacking on new questions would allow others to respond to them more accurately by reviewing my current situation since it is explained by my earlier posts. So onto my question,

    I just started the spring semester and am taking Biochemistry(classified under Biology). I noticed however that our school also offers a course called Biological Chemistry(classified under Chemistry) and students who complete either course are not allowed to take the other. Now Biochemistry is required for my major but I was wondering whether medical schools would view an A in Biochemistry as somewhat mitigating of my low grade in orgo II if the course was listed under the Biology department and most likely does not emphasize as much chemical science as the Biological Chemistry course. If that were to be the case I would have to contact my major advisor to verify that Biological Chemistry would be a replacement for the Biochemistry class that's a requisite for my major and then I'd have to somehow return the book I've already bought as well. Thanks in advance for all replies!
     
  13. Darkskies

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    I just also wanted to add that the volunteer stint I was able to work in for a day or two back at home before having to return to my University for the spring semester involved me transporting sick patients in wheelchairs to their respective rooms or areas(I am also in the process of beginning volunteering at a hospital near my University as well). I am happy to be doing this and would continue during spring break and the summertime but I also wonder if I would need better experience that would involve me doing more work than this not only as a requirement for medical school but so that I could obtain a better understanding of the practice of medicine in general. Do you think that just shadowing a doctor for a while would give me a better perspective on this? Thanks.
     

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