Jun 17, 2013
260
25
Status
Pre-Podiatry
Hello everybody. I'm sure this is not the first time you hear this but I really need some help. I finished my first semester with a GPA of 2.4 . I'm very worried because I'm not like this, my high school GPA unweighted was a 3.8, I always excelled in my classes. I was not the type to slack off this first semester, I worked so much but I don't know what happened. I picked classes that were too difficult for me to handle, gen chem (D+ retaking), precal (B+) and applied human anatomy (C). I went to tutors, worked extra problems, watched videos, did all the homework. The problem was (mainly for anatomy and chem) when the test came around. My mind blurred for every single test, not only with nerves but I really didn't know the answer or how to get there. Please if anyone has any advice I'd appreciate it so much. I've come to the realization that I don't know how to study and I don't know how to learn. Please give me tips on how to study for this 2nd semester. I'll be taking calculus, gen chem again, and 2 other easier classes.

Is everything lost, will this extremely low GPA take away any chances at med school?

Thank you so much.
 

No Limits

I was told there'd be Cookies
Nov 3, 2013
925
1,370
Schrödinger's Box
Status
Medical Student
Hello everybody. I'm sure this is not the first time you hear this but I really need some help. I finished my first semester with a GPA of 2.4 . I'm very worried because I'm not like this, my high school GPA unweighted was a 3.8, I always excelled in my classes. I was not the type to slack off this first semester, I worked so much but I don't know what happened. I picked classes that were too difficult for me to handle, gen chem (D+ retaking), precal (B+) and applied human anatomy (C). I went to tutors, worked extra problems, watched videos, did all the homework. The problem was (mainly for anatomy and chem) when the test came around. My mind blurred for every single test, not only with nerves but I really didn't know the answer or how to get there. Please if anyone has any advice I'd appreciate it so much. I've come to the realization that I don't know how to study and I don't know how to learn. Please give me tips on how to study for this 2nd semester. I'll be taking calculus, gen chem again, and 2 other easier classes.

Is everything lost, will this extremely low GPA take away any chances at med school?

Thank you so much.
For some people, college takes some getting use to. Let this semester be a learning experience and take some time to reflect on your current study habits and how you can improve them. All is not lost at this moment but you will have to really strive for some A's in your next few semesters. Med schools love upward trends so if you are successful you should be okay (assuming the rest of your future app and mcat score is solid). Do take a lighter load until you figure out what works best for you when studying science courses. Also keep an open mind for D.O. programs, since they allow grade replacement.
 

Aerus

Elemental Alchemist
7+ Year Member
Apr 21, 2012
3,221
2,369
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Medical Student
This is not uncommon with the transition from high school to college. College is a very different environment. Generally, high school is a lot easier, less rigorous, and there is generally a large "bottom buffer" for the class. In college, the students you meet are generally smarter, harder working, and more motivated than the ones you see in the average high school.

Learn what study methods work for you. If you got a 2.4, then your current ones aren't working. You need to find and understand what method of learning works best for you and take advantage of it. Do practice problems without consulting the answer manual. Take past exams and see what you're doing wrong. Critical thinking over memorization.

Good luck!
 
May 11, 2013
7
0
Status
Pre-Medical
What does your studying consist of now?

I agree based on your description that it sounds like study method was the main problem and is probably greatly contributing to your test-taking anxiety. Unfortunately, most high schoolers don't really learn how to study for college classes, and a lot of people who breezed by in high school and suddenly overwhelmed when it comes to college.

Working extra problems and doing all the homework is good and definitely should be helpful. Be sure that your studying is always an effortful process and be honest with yourself during the process. If you don't understand something, no matter how frustrating it is, keep working at it. If you cannot explain the concepts to a friend who isn't taking the class, then you don't really understand it yourself.

Reading and highlighting notes only gets you so far. A strategy I use is to rewrite notes concisely and in my own words. This serves two purposes - First, it helps me to verify whether or not I truly understand the notes. If I can't put it into my own words, it is time to re-read the textbook or do some google searches. Second, it helps form stronger memories.

Finally, don't underestimate sleep and studying in advance. Sleep is when memories are consolidated and refined and numerous studies have shown that studying a little each day is better than cramming.
 
OP
amar314
Jun 17, 2013
260
25
Status
Pre-Podiatry
Thank you very much everyone.

Spring semester begins Jan 6th. I had not considered D.O programs, but am taking a look at it now. I'm mainly worried for chemistry now. For each exam, I reviewed the notes from the tutor and did the practice problems then watched videos on the solutions for each one, I did problems that the professor supplied and tried to really understand the concepts. I must have done around 300 problems for each exam, literally. I studied around 6-10 hours every single day at the library with no interruptions. I know I have the intelligence but my methods of studying must be incredibly terrible. I will not be paying for those tutors this semester, but I also am not sure how to understand these classes because I've exhausted so many possible ways of studying. I mainly woke up early and went to sleep around 11-12 because I'm nowhere near a night owl so I wasn't that sleep deprived.

When I was doing all these problems, I really got most of them right. I redid the ones I got wrong multiple times. However, when the test came around, the question obviously wasn't phrased in the same way and they seemed so much harder, I just didn't get it.
 

No Limits

I was told there'd be Cookies
Nov 3, 2013
925
1,370
Schrödinger's Box
Status
Medical Student
Thank you very much everyone.

Spring semester begins Jan 6th. I had not considered D.O programs, but am taking a look at it now. I'm mainly worried for chemistry now. For each exam, I reviewed the notes from the tutor and did the practice problems then watched videos on the solutions for each one, I did problems that the professor supplied and tried to really understand the concepts. I must have done around 300 problems for each exam, literally. I studied around 6-10 hours every single day at the library with no interruptions. I know I have the intelligence but my methods of studying must be incredibly terrible. I will not be paying for those tutors this semester, but I also am not sure how to understand these classes because I've exhausted so many possible ways of studying. I mainly woke up early and went to sleep around 11-12 because I'm nowhere near a night owl so I wasn't that sleep deprived.
Honestly, my chem professor wasn't that great. Youtube taught me chemistry and was free compared to paying for a tutor. I did a bunch of practice problems and ended up doing pretty well. Have you tried watching videos?
 
OP
amar314
Jun 17, 2013
260
25
Status
Pre-Podiatry
I watched a couple but didn't really stick with it. Do you have anyone in specific that helped you?
 

MDOnlyWillDo

Diet Dew = elixir of life
5+ Year Member
Sep 22, 2009
193
76
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Pre-Medical
It won't take away your chances for med school as long as this was a once-only thing. What I learned in college and grad school is that you cannot study the same for each subject. You'll need to figure out what each class is teaching, and use appropriate study methods. For me, videos only helped if I was just looking for another explanation that may clarify something, I couldn't use them for initial instruction. This is what worked for me:

1) Math-based chemistry (which is essentially all gen chem): there is a critical thinking aspect and a math component. Do any and all problems that you can get your hands on (which you've done, but you didn't apparently know how to read them critically). Do a problem and compare your answer- is it right? Great- know *why* it is right. Is it wrong? That's ok, what didn't you consider? Then go to the next one and follow the same pattern. Knowing exactly how and why the answer is calculated that way is essential for success- understand why you use a particular formula and not a different one. Recognize how to pick through the information given in a word problem and choose the important details and the superfluous ones.

2) Anatomy: there are potentially two different types of information being given here- rote memorization (anatomy) and critical thinking (if physiology is involved). If your anatomy is purely anatomical structures, that is flash-card and mnemonic time, over and over and over again. Memorization needs time to settle in- this is something you do while riding the bus, waiting in line, or during commercials.

3) Calculus: I have no advice. I took my calculus classes three times and still didn't learn a damned thing.

For chemistry, I found that truly understanding the set-up of the periodic table was key. By looking at the table I could tell if elements were covalently bonded, ionic bonds, which would be reduced, oxidized, what their valence shells were, how that dictated bonding, acidic compounds vs basic, which would be cations or anions, properties based on row, column, etc. From there, I would look at the formulas and understand how each piece of the formula was affected in extreme cases and then think about real-life scenarios. This was usually enough information to where I could muddle my way through most problems.
 

No Limits

I was told there'd be Cookies
Nov 3, 2013
925
1,370
Schrödinger's Box
Status
Medical Student
I watched a couple but didn't really stick with it. Do you have anyone in specific that helped you?
Its been some time since taking chem 1 so I no longer have those bookmarked. However, just doing a quick search on youtube, I found Khan Academy and Getchemistryhelp. They have some pretty basic stuff that can help strengthen your foundation in chem.
 
Dec 3, 2011
1,071
93
"The Library"
Status
Pre-Medical
If you struggled that much with gen chem, get a tutor, and spend as MUCH time as you can in office hours, making sure you're studying the right things. It can be hard to figure out exactly what to focus on when you get to a relatively overwhelming course like genchem your first semester of college, so checking in with the professor or a TA is helpful. Khan Academy videos have been a lifesaver for me, both for gen chem and organic.

Unfortunately, when you retake a course, adcoms expect you to get an A the second time around, so you need to go in with that determination to get an A. Make sure when you retake gen chem that you do so at a time where you aren't taking a ton of other difficult courses (such as physics) and that any and all distractions are pushed aside. If that means not volunteering for a semester, or pushing clubs/other ECs aside, then do it. Also make sure your study skills are solid and you've worked out any and all issues that might have caused you to get a D. The classes only get harder from here.

Your institution might have a learning specialist or someone who focuses on helping students study/learn effectively. I'd stop in at the beginning of the semester, let them know what's been happening, and see how they can help. Your problem is not uncommon (from what I've heard) but considering that much of your future from here on out is going to be determined by high-stakes testing, you have to learn how to pull yourself together for a test and bust out a kick-a** score.
 
OP
amar314
Jun 17, 2013
260
25
Status
Pre-Podiatry
My goal would be to get an A, however it's very difficult, I'd have to get only 3 wrong on every exam and then about 6 wrong on the final.
Here's how grading works: Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 3.01.01 PM.png

I'll be taking a look at the chem videos and hopefully they help.

Thanks a lot MDOnlyWillDo, plumhill, No Limits, and everyone else!
 
Aug 8, 2013
1,395
903
Michigan
Status
Medical Student
Also, try and adopt the following mindset: if you aren't getting 100% correct, you are doing something wrong. So if you do set of 5 practice problems on a topic, and you get 4 right when you check them, you feel pretty good. But that 4/5 is the 80% that keeps you in low B/high C territory. If you didn't get 100% right, figure out exactly what you did wrong and the redo the problem over, ten minutes later, with nothing but a blank sheet of paper in front of you. If you struggle, even for a tiny bit, when trying to do the problem ten minutes after looking it over, it's a clear sign that you aren't solid on the concepts and need to go back to the material.
 
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OP
amar314
Jun 17, 2013
260
25
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Pre-Podiatry
Thank you.

Just wanted to know, I didn't do any ECs in the Fall, and I'm now not too sure that I'll do any in the Spring because my focus should be on getting straight As. How bad will it look that I have no ECs the first year?
 

487806

Life of the Party!
Aug 9, 2012
15,231
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Inside a black hole
Thank you.

Just wanted to know, I didn't do any ECs in the Fall, and I'm now not too sure that I'll do any in the Spring because my focus should be on getting straight As. How bad will it look that I have no ECs the first year?
You'll be fine. Focus on improving your GPA. This is your highest priority.
 
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Nov 2, 2013
35
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Pre-Medical
Take only 1 or 2 med school pre req science classes per semester; then saturate your course load with easy pure science classes like botany, environmental studies, statistics and astronomy (which you can count as physics in the BCPM). Then focus all your studying in your pre req class, while keeping up with the other classes.

I got a C- in Physics 1 and Chem 1, and a B- in Physics 2 and Chem 2 freshman year and still managed to graduate with an ok GPA
 
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May 23, 2013
266
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OP I was precisely in your shoes after my first semester of college. 3.05 overall GPA and 9 science credits with a 2.4 science GPA. Ended up retaking Gen Chem II the summer after my junior year. I never went to the library and didn't understand how to learn the material. Showing up to class wasn't enough. I also spent too much time socializing with friends and tried to manage a long distance relationship my whole first year. Take a few less credits next semester and really read the textbooks. Don't simply do practice problems with the goal of getting the right answer. I spent too much time trying to regurgitate information like I did in high school. That doesn't work in college. The tests are designed to check if I truly understood the material. Honestly, you just gotta figure out what works for you. The key is to not get discouraged, but don't be afraid to do a little introspection and give an honest, critical evaluation of yourself and what needs to be improved. You can recover from this and then talk about what you learned from that first semester in future interviews. I talked a lot about personal growth and how to deal with failure for the first time in my life. Worked well enough for me to get into one of my IS med schools.
 
Aug 17, 2011
89
50
Status
Dental Student
I was worse off than you are. Had an absolutely horrendous GPA first semester of college even though I graduated in the top 1% of my high school class. Do not let that get you down. Think of it like a tournament, in high school all the slackers and lazy students are weeded and like above posters said, you are now competing with peers that are hard working. You seem like you studied a lot, but failed to study "smart." I can completely understand how disappointing it must have been to study that much and still not do well.

1) Find a study partner! Sometimes, it's incredibly helpful to have a new perspective on material "two heads are better than one." But this is where you have to put away your ego. I see you said that you've realized that you don't "know how to study." This is an excellent start. College was an extremely humbling experience for me because it was where I learned that my "acclaimed" high school rank meant absolutely nothing. Take this idea of you "excelling in high school," tie it to a rock, and fling it deep into the sea. You're starting off on a brand new slate where you'll have to work to regain that rank. It's 95% about working smart and 5% intellect IMHO. Find someone of the same, or preferrably higher mental caliber than you and have them explain to you concepts you're struggling with. Give each other problems similar to the test and fill in each others' weaknesses. Plus, if you befriend someone, studying is more fun!

2) Find old tests! Different professors test different things and practice tests are an excellent way to gage the complexity of the material to be tested. Make friends with upper classmen who usually have old tests which they'll be happy to share and sometimes even professors post old tests as study resources. I think this is an extremely important tool in doing well in college classes. Practicing old tests forces you to think how your professor wants you to think.

3) Don't just go to tutoring, but go to test taking workshops. Colleges have a plethora of resources that students pay thousands of dollars for in their student fees, but never take advantage of. My college has studying workshops like "How to Manage Time, Overcoming Test Anxiety, Deep Breathing Relaxation Techniques, etc." I'm from an Asian background and I guess it's because of our culture that I previously regarded these types of things as "useless." THEY ARE NOT. Deep breathing is the one thing that keeps me from having major test anxiety and panic attacks during tests. Your brain shouldn't have to worry about keeping your heart rate down, it should be focused on getting the right answer. Seriously. Deep breathing. It's awesome.

4) Give yourself a break! It's only your first semester, and if you keep going at this rate you will burn yourself out. 6-10 hours a day with no interruptions is absurd. (No offense :p) Make friends, hang out with them, reward yourself! It will be way more efficient if you break that block of time and squeeze in spare time to hang out, exercise, etc.
 
Nov 6, 2013
35
5
Curious how much time you have spent actually reading the textbook? Reading critically (slowly) and thinking deeply (stopping to understand) about concepts is one of the best ways of gaining flexibility in your knowledge. Practicing the same problem over and over again might just lead to rigidity, especially if you don't understand the concepts. All the notes from your tutors and stuff like that sounds like incomplete knowledge to me.

In the future, I would recommend reading the textbook before lecture and then just paying attention during class. When I work this way, it's so easy to pick apart stuff I already know from the reading from extra material that I should write in my notes.

Not saying that this is EVERYTHING you should do, but add it to the list if you are not already doing it.

Edit: Just to add, if you read the textbook it helps you to ask good questions in class. This also gets you brownie points and makes the professor more happy to work with you in office hours.
 
Last edited:
OP
amar314
Jun 17, 2013
260
25
Status
Pre-Podiatry
OP I was precisely in your shoes after my first semester of college. 3.05 overall GPA and 9 science credits with a 2.4 science GPA. Ended up retaking Gen Chem II the summer after my junior year. I never went to the library and didn't understand how to learn the material. Showing up to class wasn't enough. I also spent too much time socializing with friends and tried to manage a long distance relationship my whole first year. Take a few less credits next semester and really read the textbooks. Don't simply do practice problems with the goal of getting the right answer. I spent too much time trying to regurgitate information like I did in high school. That doesn't work in college. The tests are designed to check if I truly understood the material. Honestly, you just gotta figure out what works for you. The key is to not get discouraged, but don't be afraid to do a little introspection and give an honest, critical evaluation of yourself and what needs to be improved. You can recover from this and then talk about what you learned from that first semester in future interviews. I talked a lot about personal growth and how to deal with failure for the first time in my life. Worked well enough for me to get into one of my IS med schools.
Thanks! I can relate a lot to you then because it's the first time that I've had to deal with failure in school and I have learned a lot about being more modest for sure, which is one of the biggest positives coming from all that's happened. Thanks for the tip, I know it'll help me come application time :)
 
OP
amar314
Jun 17, 2013
260
25
Status
Pre-Podiatry
I was worse off than you are. Had an absolutely horrendous GPA first semester of college even though I graduated in the top 1% of my high school class. Do not let that get you down. Think of it like a tournament, in high school all the slackers and lazy students are weeded and like above posters said, you are now competing with peers that are hard working. You seem like you studied a lot, but failed to study "smart." I can completely understand how disappointing it must have been to study that much and still not do well.

1) Find a study partner! Sometimes, it's incredibly helpful to have a new perspective on material "two heads are better than one." But this is where you have to put away your ego. I see you said that you've realized that you don't "know how to study." This is an excellent start. College was an extremely humbling experience for me because it was where I learned that my "acclaimed" high school rank meant absolutely nothing. Take this idea of you "excelling in high school," tie it to a rock, and fling it deep into the sea. You're starting off on a brand new slate where you'll have to work to regain that rank. It's 95% about working smart and 5% intellect IMHO. Find someone of the same, or preferrably higher mental caliber than you and have them explain to you concepts you're struggling with. Give each other problems similar to the test and fill in each others' weaknesses. Plus, if you befriend someone, studying is more fun!

2) Find old tests! Different professors test different things and practice tests are an excellent way to gage the complexity of the material to be tested. Make friends with upper classmen who usually have old tests which they'll be happy to share and sometimes even professors post old tests as study resources. I think this is an extremely important tool in doing well in college classes. Practicing old tests forces you to think how your professor wants you to think.

3) Don't just go to tutoring, but go to test taking workshops. Colleges have a plethora of resources that students pay thousands of dollars for in their student fees, but never take advantage of. My college has studying workshops like "How to Manage Time, Overcoming Test Anxiety, Deep Breathing Relaxation Techniques, etc." I'm from an Asian background and I guess it's because of our culture that I previously regarded these types of things as "useless." THEY ARE NOT. Deep breathing is the one thing that keeps me from having major test anxiety and panic attacks during tests. Your brain shouldn't have to worry about keeping your heart rate down, it should be focused on getting the right answer. Seriously. Deep breathing. It's awesome.

4) Give yourself a break! It's only your first semester, and if you keep going at this rate you will burn yourself out. 6-10 hours a day with no interruptions is absurd. (No offense :p) Make friends, hang out with them, reward yourself! It will be way more efficient if you break that block of time and squeeze in spare time to hang out, exercise, etc.
Thanks so much! I really appreciate all your advice. I did use old tests but it wasn't something I relied on completely. Thanks a lot for your idea about deep breathing...I was searching up on iTunes U "how to study" and came upon an amazing video and the professor spoke a lot about the power of deep breathing. I'll certainly be using it! I know that test anxiety is one of my biggest issues. And not only Asians think that those workshops are useless, I'm Hispanic and have always thought those were things that we all knew but I'm beginning to change my perspective.

Trust me, I really wanted to take a break and I *know* how ridiculous it is to study the whole day for months, it was awful. I just saw that I wasn't progressing and thought that I needed to study more but now I'm seeing that I just need to study more efficiently and that it's not healthy to just study.
 
OP
amar314
Jun 17, 2013
260
25
Status
Pre-Podiatry
Curious how much time you have spent actually reading the textbook? Reading critically (slowly) and thinking deeply (stopping to understand) about concepts is one of the best ways of gaining flexibility in your knowledge. Practicing the same problem over and over again might just lead to rigidity, especially if you don't understand the concepts. All the notes from your tutors and stuff like that sounds like incomplete knowledge to me.

In the future, I would recommend reading the textbook before lecture and then just paying attention during class. When I work this way, it's so easy to pick apart stuff I already know from the reading from extra material that I should write in my notes.

Not saying that this is EVERYTHING you should do, but add it to the list if you are not already doing it.

Edit: Just to add, if you read the textbook it helps you to ask good questions in class. This also gets you brownie points and makes the professor more happy to work with you in office hours.
Thank you for your advice. I actually did not use the textbook all that much. I mainly used the study guides from the tutoring program since it was 30+ pages for each exam review. But since I will not be paying for the tutor anymore I'll rely mainly on the textbook. I now see why I was having problems; I just went straight to the study guides and never grasped the bigger picture. The same thing happened to me with anatomy, I just really need to learn to read and think critically.