Hopkins Grading/Curve during preclinical years: clarification

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by JohnMadden, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. JohnMadden

    JohnMadden Political Refugee
    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    Messages:
    387
    Likes Received:
    2
    Will someone from Hopkins please clear this up for me.

    I know that the grading system is Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail during all four years. However, are the grades curved at all during the first and second years? In other words, are the grades determined by percentile?

    For example, are the top 10% of scores, regardless of the raw score, given honors and so on down the line?
     
  2. Note: SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. Medikit

    Medikit Plastic Bag Middle Class
    Physician 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2004
    Messages:
    3,457
    Likes Received:
    9
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Does having honors really matter if you go to Hopkins?
     
  4. eurozo

    eurozo ...
    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2005
    Messages:
    144
    Likes Received:
    0
    The grades are determined by percentile.

    I believe that the actual percentile cutoffs for each may vary based on the particular unit and teacher, but I'm not entirely sure on that point.

    Also, I think they mentioned at second look that class ranking isn't available to residency programs, so while there is some curved grading, in many ways the grading system is flatter than at many other schools because of the lack of ranking.

    Looking at the matchlist and talking to the students, I don't think it's a big deal where you finish in the class (especially in the pre-clinical years) unless you are trying to shoot the moon with residency. It seemed like students I talked to honestly didn't really care where they finished in the class. That could have just been the party line, but I found it pretty convincing.
     
  5. HopkinsOne

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    For most preclinical classes, if you are above 2 standard deviations below the mean, you pass. There are some classes (specifically anatomy) where you must also score greater than 65% on each exam. Since the test averages are in the 80s-90s, this isn't really a problem.
     
  6. Zippership

    Zippership the Burninator
    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2006
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    While they may not reveal your ranking to residency programs, I wouldn't delude yourself into thinking that they don't rank you. Most all medical schools, even those with "no grades" will lump you into general categories in the adjectives they use in the dean's letter. "Outstanding" versus "Good" in a dean's letter will tell the residency director exactly where you stand in the class without technically revealing your class rank. That said, at Hopkins it seems that even the bottom of the class does quite well with match so perhaps the Hopkins "good" is someone else's "great."
     
  7. JohnMadden

    JohnMadden Political Refugee
    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    Messages:
    387
    Likes Received:
    2
    The matchlist is good, BUT if you assume that the competitive residencies went to the top students, where did everyone else match? In my opinion, it's pretty much pointless to look at the less competitive specialties when comparing match lists.

    It may be better to compare the NUMBER of people who go into competitive specialties and then WHERE they ended up. I'm not sure that Hopkins match list is that much greater than other top ranked schools that don't grade you on the percentiles...

    Students not caring about class rank at Hopkins is a LIE. It's a passive aggressive/closet gunner tactic. I've heard this from more than a couple med students who were open enough to tell me the truth. The gunners come out from day 1 at Hopkins...

    How was second look weekend?
     
  8. JohnMadden

    JohnMadden Political Refugee
    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    Messages:
    387
    Likes Received:
    2
    Let me make sure I understand this. In theory, I could score a 95% (raw score) on an exam, but 75% of the class scored higher than me, I may only get a "Pass" instead of High Pass or Honors?
     
  9. Dookter

    Dookter Senior Member
    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,042
    Likes Received:
    3
    That is certainly how some schools do it.

    EDIT: But let's be honest-- If the class is scoring that high, they will just crank up the heat and bring those grades right back down...ha ha.
     
  10. HopkinsOne

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Since most people are concerned with *passing*, most people would not be concerned about this. Furthermore, since there are no outliers on the upper end, *nobody* will be getting an honors or a high pass (which makes sense, since clearly the test was not sufficient to differentiate among students) in your example.

    If you are demanding nothing less than Honors and High Pass from yourself (the merits of which are highly debatable), shouldn't you be aiming higher than the 25th percentile of your class? Actually, you're bringing up a philosophical debate (what should constitute Honors work) about a topic that probably doesn't merit the discussion.
     
  11. HopkinsOne

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    In general, I would say that your initial assumption will not often turn out to be true. Your evaluation criterion is a nice theoretical tool, but it probably won't give you good results when you apply it to real med schools with limited numbers of students.

    Your criterion might be useful if dozens of people were entering into each residency from each school each year, and each person used the same decision procedure to make his/her decision (e.g., assuming everyone would choose MassGen for IM over UCLA regardless of geographic preference). However, some residencies only had 1 applicant (Ob/Gyn, for example), making your ability to use statistics pretty limited. Geography (and dozens of other factors) will further ensure that interpreting a match list requires much more nuance than just looking at the number of people who matched into the competitive specialties and where they ended up.

    I do agree that it would be very helpful if there were a clear-cut way to evaluate match lists.
     
  12. eurozo

    eurozo ...
    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2005
    Messages:
    144
    Likes Received:
    0
    I enjoyed it quite a bit (aside from the financial aid award, which was rough) I met a number of really great prospectives, and I thought the med students went out of their way to make us welcome.
     
  13. HopkinsOne

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    You actually believe that, yet you are still considering coming to med school at Hopkins? :banana:
     
  14. Stolenspatulas

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,696
    Likes Received:
    7
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    there are closet gunners at all the top schools. hopkins doesnt own a monopoly over competition. we're all used to being among the best of the best. its hard to let that ego and image slide.
     
  15. Rapid Decomposition

    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2002
    Messages:
    410
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have to agree completely. In fact, NO med school is a magical land where everyone loves each other and there is zero competition - just look at the pool you are drawing from. Anywhere you go, people strive for the best grade for no other reason than because they've always gotten the best grade. But doing the best you can doesn't mean people are mean to each other or throwing away their partner's petri dishes or something. :laugh: Just do your best and learn the stuff, and you'll be fine. In general, there is a lot more certainty in applying for residency than there is in applying for med school, so grades become less important than they were in college.

    JohnMadden, the grading differs slightly in each class and for each course director. In general, yes, it's determined by percentile, and in the case that everyone does really well (as in, the test was easy), sometimes you can get a pass with 90%. Sometimes honors is 80%. If that bothers you then you may want to reconsider. Clinical grades are NOT percentile based - it is generally much easier to get HP or H and 3rd year grades are what matter anyway.
     
  16. JohnMadden

    JohnMadden Political Refugee
    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    Messages:
    387
    Likes Received:
    2
    Rapid,

    I'm just glad that someone could answer my question clearly. I'm not completely averse to the system, but I'm glad to know NOW as opposed to in the fall. I HATE surprises...
     
  17. sen

    sen Member
    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2005
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    1
    Yea Rapid is pretty much on the ball. Some of the confusion comes from the fact that the course directors rarely explicitly say how the grading works, so what you hear even from Hopkins students is often conjecture. However, what it appears is that most of the time the general breakdown is top 20% is Honors (just below the standard dev above mark), the next 20% is High Pass, and a few points above the mean ends up being the Pass mark. Generally failing a class requires being 2 standard devs below the mean. The other thing to keep in mind is that the exams are designed such that the mean (at least for our class) is almost always around an 85 and the SD is often ~8/9 (granted it varies a bit, but surprisingly little), meaning that the cut off for P/HP is often ~87/88 and the cut off for H is ~93/94, meaning there isn't a lot of room for error.
     
  18. Stolenspatulas

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,696
    Likes Received:
    7
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    I asked the identical question over at the Duke thread. The answer was a lot better: grades are based on the indvidual course's breakdown, ie, theoretically everyone in the class can get honors if they all score above _% in the block (which differs depending on the block).

    Sure you dont want to go to Duke? ;)
     

Share This Page