How important is grading system when picking schools?

md-2020

The Immaculate Catch
2+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2015
2,298
3,007
Status
Medical Student
So I know that pretty much every med school out there uses a slightly different system to grade its students/submit letters to residency programs, and I'm wondering how important the type of system that a certain school uses should be when picking which school to attend.

Types of grading I'm aware of:
1. True P/F for pre-clinicals, no rank
2. P/F for clinicals, students get ranked (quartile, quintile, etc)
3. H/P/F or some combination of H/HP/P/F etc w/ a rank
4. True grading A/B/C/F w/ rank

Obviously there will be some differences in stress/time management and P/F rocks, but should the type of grading be a foremost consideration?
 

Cyberdyne 101

It's a dry heat
5+ Year Member
Sep 16, 2013
4,658
5,950
Under the Bay Bridge
Status
Pre-Medical
I think you should consider this after you get your acceptances. For example a school with pre-clinical grades and/or ranking may give you more $ than a true P/F school. :shrug:
 
  • Like
Reactions: md-2020

sovereign0

2+ Year Member
Dec 22, 2014
509
723
Status
Medical Student
Building off of this, how do residency programs select between applicants with the variety in grading schemes? This might be a moot question but could a student with straight A's from a letter-grading school have an advantage over a student from a P/F school? Are step exam scores the great equalizer?

I don't see why the grading scheme shouldn't play some role in choosing between multiple acceptances. I feel like being graded vs. being P/F would have a pretty big impact on my happiness and stress levels throughout med school. Not to mention the effect on the degree of competition/collaboration within the class.
 

nwts

2+ Year Member
Jun 9, 2015
1,093
668
Status
Pre-Medical
Building off of this, how do residency programs select between applicants with the variety in grading schemes? This might be a moot question but could a student with straight A's from a letter-grading school have an advantage over a student from a P/F school? Are step exam scores the great equalizer?

I don't see why the grading scheme shouldn't play some role in choosing between multiple acceptances. I feel like being graded vs. being P/F would have a pretty big impact on my happiness and stress levels throughout med school. Not to mention the effect on the degree of competition/collaboration within the class.
I'm just another pre-med, so I don't really know what I'm talking about, but I've heard that pre-clinical grades are one of the less important factors in residency matching.
 
  • Like
Reactions: avgn and DokterMom

TheLionheart

PGY-1
5+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2014
392
616
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Building off of this, how do residency programs select between applicants with the variety in grading schemes? This might be a moot question but could a student with straight A's from a letter-grading school have an advantage over a student from a P/F school? Are step exam scores the great equalizer?

I don't see why the grading scheme shouldn't play some role in choosing between multiple acceptances. I feel like being graded vs. being P/F would have a pretty big impact on my happiness and stress levels throughout med school. Not to mention the effect on the degree of competition/collaboration within the class.
Many schools are pass fail--many. If you were a residency director, how many qualified applicants would you screen out because they went to a school with the foresight to make it pass fail? Tons.

Step scores, research, and clinical grades are far, far more important.
 

Lawper

cat in a box
Gold Donor
5+ Year Member
SDN Ambassador
Jun 17, 2014
36,450
107,640
space chat

WedgeDawg

not actually a dog
Staff member
Administrator
7+ Year Member
Mar 22, 2012
7,633
12,396
Status
Resident [Any Field]
So I'm only a couple of days into medical school, but right now I'm so happy that we have P/F unranked. None of us are giving less than our best (we're definitely putting in our hours), but it takes away any semblance of competition (people share notes and resources with the entire class, everyone is teaching each other things, etc). It also means we don't have to care whether we get a 95 or a 72, because we all move on and don't need to look back. It also means that for those of us wanting to go into competitive specialties or programs (ie most of us), we don't feel bad about doing something other than studying once in a while if we know the material. I honestly think I would be 5x as stressed as I am right now if we were not P/F unranked.

Also, it's certainly not coasting when people are studying 10-15 hours each day. Med school is many times harder than anything I've ever done. Stamina and efficiency are of the utmost importance. I don't know why I ever complained about studying in undergrad because I've never in my life studied as hard as I have these past few days. However, I take solace in the fact that even if I fall short of some (or many) of my more brilliant classmates, it won't matter as long as I hit that P.

Obviously I haven't taken a test yet, but if this comes up in a couple weeks again, I'll post my thoughts then.
 

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
So I'm only a couple of days into medical school, but right now I'm so happy that we have P/F unranked. None of us are giving less than our best (we're definitely putting in our hours), but it takes away any semblance of competition (people share notes and resources with the entire class, everyone is teaching each other things, etc).
You really think people wouldn't do that if things were graded? I thought doing so was an integral part of going to school, period. Heck, explaining things to other people is half of how I learn!

I'm going to stand my ground from the last time this was put forth: I think I will learn more at a school with grades. I hope I get to go to one, but they seem to be getting rarer and rarer, which is a shame. It isn't important enough to me to trump other factors in making my decision, but I would love an A/B/C/F scale.

Also, the H/HP/P/F scale isn't fooling anyone. They should be embarrassed, and just change back to a normal A/B/C/F if they're going to grade like one anyway.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DokterMom

ElCapone

Don't Lawyer Me
7+ Year Member
Apr 24, 2011
3,397
1,313
Status
Medical Student
Also, it's certainly not coasting when people are studying 10-15 hours each day. Med school is many times harder than anything I've ever done. Stamina and efficiency are of the utmost importance. I don't know why I ever complained about studying in undergrad because I've never in my life studied as hard as I have these past few days. However, I take solace in the fact that even if I fall short of some (or many) of my more brilliant classmates, it won't matter as long as I hit that P.

Obviously I haven't taken a test yet, but if this comes up in a couple weeks again, I'll post my thoughts then.
How is that even possible?!?
 

mr.mkitty

2+ Year Member
Jul 4, 2015
374
307
Status
Medical Student
I saw UW madison has P/F for the first year.. but then an A/B/C/F grading system for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year.. do a lot of schools do this?
 

Banco

2+ Year Member
May 28, 2014
1,221
1,074
Status
Medical Student
So I'm only a couple of days into medical school, but right now I'm so happy that we have P/F unranked. None of us are giving less than our best (we're definitely putting in our hours), but it takes away any semblance of competition (people share notes and resources with the entire class, everyone is teaching each other things, etc). It also means we don't have to care whether we get a 95 or a 72, because we all move on and don't need to look back. It also means that for those of us wanting to go into competitive specialties or programs (ie most of us), we don't feel bad about doing something other than studying once in a while if we know the material. I honestly think I would be 5x as stressed as I am right now if we were not P/F unranked.

Also, it's certainly not coasting when people are studying 10-15 hours each day. Med school is many times harder than anything I've ever done. Stamina and efficiency are of the utmost importance. I don't know why I ever complained about studying in undergrad because I've never in my life studied as hard as I have these past few days. However, I take solace in the fact that even if I fall short of some (or many) of my more brilliant classmates, it won't matter as long as I hit that P.

Obviously I haven't taken a test yet, but if this comes up in a couple weeks again, I'll post my thoughts then.
You're studying 10-15 hrs a day already?!
 

nwts

2+ Year Member
Jun 9, 2015
1,093
668
Status
Pre-Medical
You really think people wouldn't do that if things were graded? I thought doing so was an integral part of going to school, period. Heck, explaining things to other people is half of how I learn!
I agree with you; collaboration is very important to me also. Medical school may be different, but I have found that in undergrad whether or not people collaborate is heavily dependent upon the school and its culture. My school is very collaborative, but one of the schools I was accepted to was really not. I was told by a student at that school that if you were sitting in class taking notes, didn't hear the professor, and leaned over to your classmate to ask what the professor said, your classmate probably would refuse to tell you. I chose not to go to that school because that kind of atmosphere is just not for me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mehc012

Banco

2+ Year Member
May 28, 2014
1,221
1,074
Status
Medical Student
P/F is legit; even if ranked for AOA or something.

But you can't get picky until you get accepted.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DokterMom
OP
md-2020

md-2020

The Immaculate Catch
2+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2015
2,298
3,007
Status
Medical Student
P/F is legit; even if ranked for AOA or something.

But you can't get picky until you get accepted.
100% agree, was just wondering ahead of time!
 
Apr 2, 2015
364
391
29
Topeka, Kansas
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
You really think people wouldn't do that if things were graded?
Of they would! Theres no way a med student would do something like shredding library books or setting off the library fire alarms the night before an exam. Collaboration and teamwork always come first.:rofl:

I can't find the eyeroll emoticon.
 

WedgeDawg

not actually a dog
Staff member
Administrator
7+ Year Member
Mar 22, 2012
7,633
12,396
Status
Resident [Any Field]
You really think people wouldn't do that if things were graded? I thought doing so was an integral part of going to school, period. Heck, explaining things to other people is half of how I learn!

I'm going to stand my ground from the last time this was put forth: I think I will learn more at a school with grades. I hope I get to go to one, but they seem to be getting rarer and rarer, which is a shame. It isn't important enough to me to trump other factors in making my decision, but I would love an A/B/C/F scale.

Also, the H/HP/P/F scale isn't fooling anyone. They should be embarrassed, and just change back to a normal A/B/C/F if they're going to grade like one anyway.
Of course to each their own, but remember when you're teaching or learning, it takes at least two. You might be completely honorable and have good intentions, but there's more incentive for someone else to screw you over.

This is not saying I am not trying my best, but if I try my best and get a 78 instead of an 85, I'm not going to beat myself up over it because it doesn't matter at all, whereas I might be frustrated I didn't get HP/H or whatever if my school had that. It's both a mental and a pragmatic thing.

How is that even possible?!?
My typical schedule is class 8-12, lunch 12-1, class 1-2, gym 2-3, study 3-7, dinner 7-8, study 8-12. So that's 4+1+4+4= 13. It can very based on my schedule that day. And yes, class counts as study time, otherwise you may as well not go.

You're studying 10-15 hrs a day already?!
Med school is hard dude. We have so much material already.
 

Pastamahn

2+ Year Member
May 29, 2015
1,188
852
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
My typical schedule is class 8-12, lunch 12-1, class 1-2, gym 2-3, study 3-7, dinner 7-8, study 8-12. So that's 4+1+4+4= 13. It can very based on my schedule that day. And yes, class counts as study time, otherwise you may as well not go.
Ahhh that makes sense. I never really count or consider class towards "hours of studying" but also glad that's what you meant instead of somehow trucking through 10+ hours of studying outside of class.
 

Pastamahn

2+ Year Member
May 29, 2015
1,188
852
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I saw UW madison has P/F for the first year.. but then an A/B/C/F grading system for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year.. do a lot of schools do this?
Madison is near the top of my list and slightly annoyed only first year is P/F. I saw a couple mention on here they were switching it to the first two years, but apparently that isn't a thing.
 

Spector1

Orbis non Sufficit
5+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2011
1,808
1,907
Status
Pre-Medical
get into med school first then nitpick about grading systems.
 

MMADoc

5+ Year Member
Dec 21, 2009
92
13
Status
Medical Student
So I am a M4 at a A/B/C/F school...though the "C' is really a conditional pass and if you get too many of them then there is a chance you will be asked to remediate courses or even repeat the year.

Looking back (N=1), I don't think having actual letter grades affected my class's culture at all in a negative sense. Of course, you always will have your gunners gunning but most people want each other to do well and will help one another. If you are interested in the academic side of things before you matriculate, I might suggest asking about the Step 1/2 averages for the schools of interest. Of course, somehow, every school is "above" the national mean and I don't think most schools provide medians so you really have to take the data with a grain of salt.
 

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
Of course to each their own, but remember when you're teaching or learning, it takes at least two. You might be completely honorable and have good intentions, but there's more incentive for someone else to screw you over.
I can't think of any opportunity a classmate has ever had to screw me over. You get out of school what you put in, not what your classmates do.
This is not saying I am not trying my best, but if I try my best and get a 78 instead of an 85, I'm not going to beat myself up over it because it doesn't matter at all, whereas I might be frustrated I didn't get HP/H or whatever if my school had that. It's both a mental and a pragmatic thing.
I spent 4yrs 'caring about learning, not grades' and then a few years caring about both. As much as the old me would hate to admit it, I learned far more when I was getting the solid grades. I don't beat myself up over spilt milk (getting a 78 vs 85), but you can bet that I will be trying harder if doing so is reflected in better grades than if everything just gets me a P. Maybe other people are different; I know I used to think that I was different, but I was wrong. I really do try harder when I'm aiming for a better grade.

I want to get the most out of med school, and in my experience, I will get more out of a graded system.
I'm not really concerned about that ruining the culture. It didn't ruin the culture of undergrad, and besides...I'm typically the one offering to help, and I will still be in control of whether or not I do so.
 
Last edited:

WedgeDawg

not actually a dog
Staff member
Administrator
7+ Year Member
Mar 22, 2012
7,633
12,396
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I can't think of any opportunity a classmate has ever had to screw me over. You get out of school what you put in, not what your classmates do.
I spent 4yrs 'caring about learning, not grades' and then a few years caring about both. As much as the old me would hate to admit it, I learned far more when I was getting the solid grades. I don't beat myself up over spilt milk (getting a 78 vs 85), but you can bet that I will be trying harder if doing so is reflected in better grades than if everything just gets me a P. Maybe other people are different; I know I used to think that I was different, but I was wrong. I really do try harder when I'm aiming for a better grade.

I want to get the most out of med school, and in my experience, I will get more out of a graded system.
I'm not really concerned about that ruining the culture. It didn't ruin the culture of undergrad, and besides...I'm typically the one offering to help, and I will still be in control of whether or not I do so.
Again, to each his own. I'm just detailing my own experiences and thoughts. If you think you would do better at a graded school, then go for it!
 

Banco

2+ Year Member
May 28, 2014
1,221
1,074
Status
Medical Student
Med school is hard dude. We have so much material already.
Yeah I'm swamped as well.

I think I'm putting in like 4-6 hrs + 5 hrs of class time so far. I thought you meant straight up 15 hrs of studying on top of classes.
 

TheLionheart

PGY-1
5+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2014
392
616
Status
Resident [Any Field]
You really think people wouldn't do that if things were graded? I thought doing so was an integral part of going to school, period. Heck, explaining things to other people is half of how I learn!

I'm going to stand my ground from the last time this was put forth: I think I will learn more at a school with grades. I hope I get to go to one, but they seem to be getting rarer and rarer, which is a shame. It isn't important enough to me to trump other factors in making my decision, but I would love an A/B/C/F scale.

Also, the H/HP/P/F scale isn't fooling anyone. They should be embarrassed, and just change back to a normal A/B/C/F if they're going to grade like one anyway.
You are wrong. You will not have anywhere near the same level of collaboration, support, and camaraderie that we have in our class. I can guarantee it.

How much you learn is dependent on you. No one in our class aims for a 70. We study hard and help each other at every opportunity. But if we do dip in to the 70s on the occasional exam, it's not the end of the world. To give you a frame of reference, our first exam average was an 84%. People try, but pass fail is the ultimate stress reliever in what would otherwise be (and still kinda is, for different reasons) a high stress environment.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WedgeDawg

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
You are wrong. You will not have anywhere near the same level of collaboration, support, and camaraderie that we have in our class. I can guarantee it.

How much you learn is dependent on you. No one in our class aims for a 70. We study hard and help each other at every opportunity. But if we do dip in to the 70s on the occasional exam, it's not the end of the world. To give you a frame of reference, our first exam average was an 84%. People try, but pass fail is the ultimate stress reliever in what would otherwise be (and still kinda is, for different reasons) a high stress environment.
Posts by members who actually attend graded schools contradict your guarantee. Not every one, sure, but enough that your guarantee is meaningless.

I am well aware that how much I learn is dependent on me. I always do study hard, and have always collaborated with my peers, even at graded institutions. I don't see why that would have to change in med school.
I already don't feel like it's the end of the world if my grade dips...my undergrad gpa is a good indicator of that. Sure, I care more now than I did before, but I have never been one to stress too much about grades. I perform better with a concrete goal, yes...but goals are targets in the future, not things to beat yourself up about in the past. I want grades because I like having something to aim for. If I can get a 70% without repercussions, I guarantee you my average will be lower over the semester than if there is some form of feedback for getting an 85 or a 90%. I may not get the 'A', but aiming for it will keep me closer to that mark than otherwise.
 

TheLionheart

PGY-1
5+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2014
392
616
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Posts by members who actually attend graded schools contradict your guarantee. Not every one, sure, but enough that your guarantee is meaningless.

I am well aware that how much I learn is dependent on me. I always do study hard, and have always collaborated with my peers, even at graded institutions. I don't see why that would have to change in med school.
I already don't feel like it's the end of the world if my grade dips...my undergrad gpa is a good indicator of that. Sure, I care more now than I did before, but I have never been one to stress too much about grades. I perform better with a concrete goal, yes...but goals are targets in the future, not things to beat yourself up about in the past. I want grades because I like having something to aim for. If I can get a 70% without repercussions, I guarantee you my average will be lower over the semester than if there is some form of feedback for getting an 85 or a 90%. I may not get the 'A', but aiming for it will keep me closer to that mark than otherwise.
Members who attend graded schools likely exhibit some collaboration, sure. Not everyone in the class will be driven to that level of competition. What I said was it will not be on the same level, not that it's nonexistent. I make these statements based on interviewing at several schools with differing grading systems and speaking with the students, speaking with friends at other institutions, and comparing that to what I have experienced in a true pass fail system.

You're free to do whatever you wish, of course, but there's a reason many of the best schools in this country have adopted pass fail, and several of them true pass fail. Undergrad isn't medical school. Our 2nd exam, which was about 2 weeks worth of lecture, covered more material than any test I had ever taken previously. And now Anatomy has started up, as well. Think what you will, but you have essentially zero medical school experience related to grading systems, workload, and the associated work-life balance.
 

WedgeDawg

not actually a dog
Staff member
Administrator
7+ Year Member
Mar 22, 2012
7,633
12,396
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Posts by members who actually attend graded schools contradict your guarantee. Not every one, sure, but enough that your guarantee is meaningless.

I am well aware that how much I learn is dependent on me. I always do study hard, and have always collaborated with my peers, even at graded institutions. I don't see why that would have to change in med school.
I already don't feel like it's the end of the world if my grade dips...my undergrad gpa is a good indicator of that. Sure, I care more now than I did before, but I have never been one to stress too much about grades. I perform better with a concrete goal, yes...but goals are targets in the future, not things to beat yourself up about in the past. I want grades because I like having something to aim for. If I can get a 70% without repercussions, I guarantee you my average will be lower over the semester than if there is some form of feedback for getting an 85 or a 90%. I may not get the 'A', but aiming for it will keep me closer to that mark than otherwise.
Grades are by definition extrinsic motivators. There's no reason you should lose that drive with P/F unless your main motivation is extrinsic. Why not just aim for a 100% and then be happy with any pass? I'm not saying you're wrong to want grades in medical school, I'm just saying that your rationale doesn't make sense. Why can't you aim for your best without grades? Do you need that level of structure to motivate yourself? If so, that's fine, but again, keep in mind that a lot of other people don't, and therefore would thrive in a P/F system.

Again, whatever floats your boat. Do you. It's a personal decision and you don't need to justify yourself, even if we disagree.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Taco Time

Taco Time

5+ Year Member
Feb 20, 2013
140
250
Status
Medical Student
I go to an ultra-collaborative, P/F allopathic school and people are kicking butt. Lol it's not like the school says "hey bro you passed, but we won't tell you the percentage you got". They release our percentages, and we can gage our results as we please. I'm motivated to do well, and it seems like everyone else in my class is as well. I don't need the anxiety of freaking out over a 89 vs 90, and thinking I jibbed myself between an A/H vs. B/HP. Also, step 1 far supersedes the influence of pre-clinical grades for residency. Some don't like the weight that step 1 carries, but that's a different story.

Anyway, different strokes for different folks. I'm glad with the grading criteria in place at my school and don't envy those at schools that aren't true P/F.

And like TheLionheart has stated, the workload of medical school is no slight task. You'll have to work your hardest to seemingly get by.
 

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
Grades are by definition extrinsic motivators. There's no reason you should losie that drive with P/F unless your main motivation is extrinsic. Why not just aim for a 100% and then be happy with any pass? I'm not saying you're wrong to want grades in medical school, I'm just saying that your rationale doesn't make sense. Why can't you aim for your best without grades? Do you need that level of structure to motivate yourself? If so, that's fine, but again, keep in mind that a lot of other people don't, and therefore would thrive in a P/F system.

Again, whatever floats your boat. Do you. It's a personal decision and you don't need to justify yourself, even if we disagree.
Because if I'm happy with any pass, I'll know I'd be happy with any pass, so I won't continue to push myself once I reach the point where I will achieve that pass. Why would I put in effort beyond what's needed to make me happy?

I feel WAYYY happier when I aim high and succeed at it than when I aim low and succeed at it. I don't feel anything from the latter, whereas the former is awesome! I'm not as excited to go somewhere where I give up all opportunities to really aim high.

I wonder if anyone has ever actually studied the in-class test scores in graded vs pass/fail environments? I don't think it matters, since the in-class grades for P/F places don't affect anything, but I'm still curious. Step scores don't seem like a great stand-in since everyone has to do a certain amount of self-study for that (and it is a great external motivator, as you put it).
 

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
I go to an ultra-collaborative, P/F allopathic school and people are kicking butt. Lol it's not like the school says "hey bro you passed, but we won't tell you the percentage you got". They release our percentages, and we can gage our results as we please. I'm motivated to do well, and it seems like everyone else in my class is as well. I don't need the anxiety of freaking out over a 89 vs 90, and thinking I jibbed myself between an A/H vs. B/HP. Also, step 1 far supersedes the influence of pre-clinical grades for residency. Some don't like the weight that step 1 carries, but that's a different story.

Anyway, different strokes for different folks. I'm glad with the grading criteria in place at my school and don't envy those at schools that aren't true P/F.

And like TheLionheart has stated, the workload of medical school is no slight task. You'll have to work your hardest to seemingly get by.
I've never freaked out over an 89 vs a 90. But if I could get away with aiming for a 70, I would...and I don't want to see myself do that.
I don't stress over grades once I get them, just beforehand. Thus, aiming for a 90 is different than aiming for an 80 is different than aiming for a 70...but getting an 89 isn't really much different than getting a 90. I don't know if I'm explaining that well.

Also, sorry, but I plan to do well and I want to get credit for doing well. I know that sounds egotistic, but yeah, I find that mindset more motivating than "No one will know whether you do great or OK."

Also, I love it when people overemphasize standardized tests...they're by far my biggest strength.
 

Taco Time

5+ Year Member
Feb 20, 2013
140
250
Status
Medical Student
Medical school is humbling. I'd worry about getting in and then choosing between schools based off of whatever grading schematic you'd prefer when/if you have that luxury. Good job with success on standardized tests up to this point, which [SHOCKER!] is also the case with the majority of US medical students.

Every medical school is filled with brilliant, incredibly smart individuals. It's naive to act as if A/B/C/F = AOA/recognition for your smarts. Learn the material well during med school to have the tools needed to treat patients and to do well on step.

About that 89 = HP/B and 90 = H/A, there is no real distinction between the two, which is the point I was trying to make, but at a school that has ranking etc. this does matter. Imagine this happens in 2 courses in a student's pre-clinical years, and he/she then drops an entire quartile/out of AOA/or just descends in the overall ranking--observable, measurable difference in outcome based off of nearly nothing. I also did not say that students at a P/F should or will end up aiming for a 70. I'm disagreeing with you because you're making this broad, blanket statement. I guarantee you the guy at an Ivy, P/F med school is probably gonna aim for the 90+ just as much as the middle of the pack guy at the middle of the pack school. Again, if you feel that the non P/F, ranked pre-clinical years will motivate you that much more to do well, then so be it and more power to you.
 

Taco Time

5+ Year Member
Feb 20, 2013
140
250
Status
Medical Student
Medical school is humbling. I'd worry about getting in and then choosing between schools based off of whatever grading schematic you'd prefer when/if you have that luxury. Good job with success on standardized tests up to this point, which [SHOCKER!] is also the case with the majority of US medical students.
Every medical school is filled with brilliant, incredibly smart individuals. It's naive to act as if A/B/C/F = AOA/recognition for your smarts. Learn the material well during med school to have the tools needed to treat patients and to do well on step.

About that 89 = HP/B and 90 = H/A, there is no real distinction between the two, which is the point I was trying to make, but at a school that has ranking etc. this does matter. Imagine this happens in 2 courses in a student's pre-clinical years, and he/she then drops an entire quartile/out of AOA/or just descends in the overall ranking--observable, measurable difference in outcome based off of nearly nothing. I also did not say that students at a P/F should or will end up aiming for a 70. I'm disagreeing with you because you're making this broad, blanket statement. I guarantee you the guy at an Ivy, P/F med school is probably gonna aim for the 90+ just as much as the middle of the pack guy at the middle of the pack school. Again, if you feel that the non P/F, ranked pre-clinical years will motivate you that much more to do well, then so be it and more power to you.
I've never freaked out over an 89 vs a 90. But if I could get away with aiming for a 70, I would...and I don't want to see myself do that.
I don't stress over grades once I get them, just beforehand. Thus, aiming for a 90 is different than aiming for an 80 is different than aiming for a 70...but getting an 89 isn't really much different than getting a 90. I don't know if I'm explaining that well.

Also, sorry, but I plan to do well and I want to get credit for doing well. I know that sounds egotistic, but yeah, I find that mindset more motivating than "No one will know whether you do great or OK."

Also, I love it when people overemphasize standardized tests...they're by far my biggest strength.
 

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
Medical school is humbling. I'd worry about getting in and then choosing between schools based off of whatever grading schematic you'd prefer when/if you have that luxury.
Already said it wasn't enough of a priority to be worth choosing a school over. I simply stated my preference, if I were able to choose (I likely won't even get in this cycle) and all other things were equal.
Good job with success on standardized tests up to this point, which [SHOCKER!] is also the case with the majority of US medical students.
Not really. The mean MCAT of matriculants is a 31, which is only 2 points higher than the average score including everyone who didn't get into MD schools (which would be over half of the total pool, if the 40% acceptance number is to be believed). So, yes, those with higher scores are more likely to get in, that's the nature of the game...but not all, or even most students in MD schools are particularly great at standardized tests. (That's a good thing...standardized tests are not particularly meaningful and something like the MCAT should not be able to be the single barrier to anyone seeking a particular profession.)
Every medical school is filled with brilliant, incredibly smart individuals. It's naive to act as if A/B/C/F = AOA/recognition for your smarts. Learn the material well during med school to have the tools needed to treat patients and to do well on step.
I intend to do the latter. I just happen to prefer discrete goals grade-wise. And I said nothing about AOA...getting an A/B/C/F is the recognition. If I pulled off an A grade, or a B, or hell, even if I scrape a C by the skin of my teeth, I want to have that A/B/C to show for it. To me, P/F means that if you put in the effort for an A/B, you'll get a C anyways, which feels like a waste.
About that 89 = HP/B and 90 = H/A, there is no real distinction between the two, which is the point I was trying to make, but at a school that has ranking etc. this does matter. Imagine this happens in 2 courses in a student's pre-clinical years, and he/she then drops an entire quartile/out of AOA/or just descends in the overall ranking--observable, measurable difference in outcome based off of nearly nothing. I also did not say that students at a P/F should or will end up aiming for a 70. I'm disagreeing with you because you're making this broad, blanket statement. I guarantee you the guy at an Ivy, P/F med school is probably gonna aim for the 90+ just as much as the middle of the pack guy at the middle of the pack school. Again, if you feel that the non P/F, ranked pre-clinical years will motivate you that much more to do well, then so be it and more power to you.
I don't really gaf about ranking. I don't get amped up trying to beat my peers in class. It's just not motivating to me.
The only reason I prefer grades is that if I get the same grade with a 70 as with a 90, you can bet I'll be aiming for the 70 even if I tell myself to aim higher. It won't be intentional, I'll just...not push myself once I hit the 70 threshold. I'll probably screw up occasionally and dip below a pass, which would suck. If getting a 90 earns me a better grade, sure I won't get it much (if any of the time), but I'll aim for it every time, and when I eff up, I'll probably still pass.
 
Last edited:

Taco Time

5+ Year Member
Feb 20, 2013
140
250
Status
Medical Student
The average MCAT score (with the old scale) was a 25. 30 was 80th percentile and 33-34 was 90th percentile. I'd say that the average, 31 MCAT, accepted, incoming medical student is fairly comfortable with approaching a standardized test.

AOA is entirely predicated off of pre-clinical grades vs. peers' grades. Wanting the distinct recognition of your grades in pre-clinical years doesn't do much for you unless you're compared to a batch of all your classmates who took the same courses, the same tests at the same time as you.

Best of luck going forward with getting in and making it through med school. There's no point to harp on differences of opinion. You're entitled to your's even if I can't really follow the rationale. If it pickles your pickle, so be it.

To OP and everyone else, I have no remorse for attending a P/F, truly unranked med school.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: TheLionheart

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
The average MCAT score (with the old scale) was a 25, not 31. 30 was 80th percentile and 33-34 was 90th percentile.
I was going off the mean applicant score. Which, granted, is not the best metric to use, so I'll give you that. Still, an average of 31 is fine, but not really what I meant when I said 'good at standardized tests'. I don't mean 'comfortable with'.
AOA is entirely predicated off of pre-clinical grades vs. peers' grades. Wanting the distinct recognition of your grades in pre-clinical years doesn't do much for you unless you're compared to a batch of all your classmates who took the same courses, the same tests at the same time as you.
You're still not getting my point: the grade is the recognition. If you earn an A, you get an A. If you earn a B, you get a B. If you earn a C, you get a C.
At a P/F place, if you earn an A, you get a P. If you earn a B, you get a P. If you earn a C, you get a P. That's the lack of recognition I am talking about. Idgaf about AOA or beating my peers in this particular discussion, it's not relevant to why I would prefer to go to a graded place. Competition against classmates doesn't motivate me.
I am motivated by striving to meet goals. If more effort gets me a better grade, I will put in more effort. If more effort gets me the same grade, frak putting in more effort, once I've met the threshold I'll go play frisbee instead!
Best of luck going forward with getting in and making it through med school. There's no point to harp on differences of opinion. You're entitled to your's even if I can't really follow the rationale. If it pickles your pickle, so be it.

To OP and everyone else, I have no remorse for attending a P/F, truly unranked med school.
All I'm saying is that, knowing myself and how I operate, I will probably put in less effort and get lower grades if I attend a P/F school vs a graded one. I would rather go to a graded one for that reason.
 
Last edited:
Jun 1, 2015
487
647
Status
Pre-Medical
You really think people wouldn't do that if things were graded? I thought doing so was an integral part of going to school, period. Heck, explaining things to other people is half of how I learn!

I'm going to stand my ground from the last time this was put forth: I think I will learn more at a school with grades. I hope I get to go to one, but they seem to be getting rarer and rarer, which is a shame. It isn't important enough to me to trump other factors in making my decision, but I would love an A/B/C/F scale.

Also, the H/HP/P/F scale isn't fooling anyone. They should be embarrassed, and just change back to a normal A/B/C/F if they're going to grade like one anyway.
you must live in some fantasy land. pre-meds at my school try to throw each other under the bus, give bad information, or just straight up be a dick on a daily basis. what makes you think it will be better in med school when grades are involved? i know i know, you haven't experienced it first hand so it must not exist.
 
Jun 1, 2015
487
647
Status
Pre-Medical
I was going off the mean applicant score. Which, granted, is not the best metric to use, so I'll give you that. Still, an average of 31 is fine, but not really what I meant when I said 'good at standardized tests'.
You're still not getting my point: the grade is the recognition. If you earn an A, you get an A. If you earn a B, you get a B. If you earn a C, you get a C.
At a P/F place, if you earn an A, you get a P. If you earn a B, you get a P. If you earn a C, you get a P. That's the lack of recognition I am talking about. Idgaf about AOA or beating my peers in this particular discussion, it's not relevant to why I would prefer to go to a graded place. Competition against classmates doesn't motivate me.
I am motivated by striving to meet goals. If more effort gets me a better grade, I will put in more effort. If more effort gets me the same grade, frak putting in more effort, once I've met the threshold I'll go play frisbee instead!
All I'm saying is that, knowing myself and how I operate, I will probably put in less effort and get lower grades if I attend a P/F school vs a graded one. I would rather go to a graded one for that reason.
if its just about motivating yourself then what difference does the grading system make? put in the amount of effort you want to put in because you have a desire to learn. if you feel that a p/f will take away your motivation, then it sounds like you weren't very motivated in the first place. the grading system is irrelevant when it comes to anyone's personal goal of learning. i cant think of any defense of a letter graded system other than competition with peers.
 

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
you must live in some fantasy land. pre-meds at my school try to throw each other under the bus, give bad information, or just straight up be a dick on a daily basis. what makes you think it will be better in med school when grades are involved? i know i know, you haven't experienced it first hand so it must not exist.
OK, so some people are @$$holes...but just because the premeds at your school are, doesn't mean all med students are/will be. Are you seriously going to sit here and commit the same fallacy you're accusing me of, while pointing it out to me?
 

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
if its just about motivating yourself then what difference does the grading system make? put in the amount of effort you want to put in because you have a desire to learn. if you feel that a p/f will take away your motivation, then it sounds like you weren't very motivated in the first place. the grading system is irrelevant when it comes to anyone's personal goal of learning. i cant think of any defense of a letter graded system other than competition with peers.
I aim for a target. If they move the target closer, I don't have to work as hard at aiming...so I don't.
I don't see how "I want to purposefully tackle the harder goal so that I keep working hard even when I would otherwise be able to ease up" shows a lack of motivation, but OK.
 
Jun 1, 2015
487
647
Status
Pre-Medical
OK, so some people are @$$holes...but just because the premeds at your school are, doesn't mean all med students are/will be. Are you seriously going to sit here and commit the same fallacy you're accusing me of, while pointing it out to me?
ah, you must be confused about the definition of the word "fallacy." my mention of dingus students doesn't negate the fact there are good ones. i'm just saying you are in for a rude awakening if you think everyone is as pure and altruistic as you are.
 
Jun 1, 2015
487
647
Status
Pre-Medical
I aim for a target. If they move the target closer, I don't have to work as hard at aiming...so I don't.
I don't see how "I want to purposefully tackle the harder goal so that I keep working hard even when I would otherwise be able to ease up" shows a lack of motivation, but OK.
i think that is by definition a lack of motivation. set your own goals, don't have someone set them for you. if your motivation waxes and wanes based on what is expected of you, then you aren't motivated to meet goals.
 

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
ah, you must be confused about the definition of the word "fallacy." my mention of dingus students doesn't negate the fact there are good ones. i'm just saying you are in for a rude awakening if you think everyone is as pure and altruistic as you are.
I don't think that. I just don't see why the assumption is that the majority of the class will be @sshats just because the school has grades.
 
Jun 1, 2015
487
647
Status
Pre-Medical
this is stupid. there is no reason pre-meds should even be arguing about med school grading systems. im gonna sit the rest of this one out since i know you will never concede your idiotic viewpoint.
 

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
i think that is by definition a lack of motivation. set your own goals, don't have someone set them for you. if your motivation waxes and wanes based on what is expected of you, then you aren't motivated to meet goals.
I can motivate myself...to meet a goal. But there has to be a goal.
I wanted a certain MCAT score, so I sat down and studied my ass off for it. I want an A, I'll sit down and work for it. But you don't see me cramming myself through the med school curriculum right now, when I'm not enrolled, because I'm so incredibly motivated I don't need any structure to help me pace myself and set goals. You don't see pretty much anyone doing that. If everyone else was as gorram motivated as your ideal, we wouldn't even need schools, we'd just have final exams (I'd love that world, btw). But that's not how it works, because like it or not, people need structure and targets, and schools provide that. I prefer a certain kind of target...so what?

I'll sprint all day to make a catch in the endzone, or get the ball in the net. Ask me to beat someone running in circles on a track, and...no thanks. It's the same for school.
 
Last edited:

mehc012

Big Damn Hero
7+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2012
9,323
8,340
The Black
Status
Medical Student
this is stupid. there is no reason pre-meds should even be arguing about med school grading systems. im gonna sit the rest of this one out since i know you will never concede your idiotic viewpoint.
@WedgeDawg
Sorry for overly defending myself earlier, but this is an excellent example of why I felt the need to do so...for some reason stating that I perform better in a graded environment seems to evoke this kind of response, where I'm either
- wrong (and stupid)
- dickishly competitive/gunnerish
- naïve
- lazy and unmotivated

Probably it's just me and I come across as an @$$ posting or something, but since no one else ever posts as pro-grades, and my comments in other threads don't blow up like this, I think the subject matter is at least somewhat relevant (this happens every time this discussion comes up).
 

Crayola227

The Oncoming Storm
5+ Year Member
Oct 22, 2013
15,934
17,753
All of Time & Space
Lucky you pre-meds I popped in.

Anyone that is hating in UW-Madison med school for its grading system is a total ****ing idiot. It's OK, they just don't know what they don't know.

You always apply to your in-state school, even if it's the biggest piece of **** there is.

Then you consider all other schools for which you are competitive.

You can look up the NRMP match data to see data that will literally tell you what each specialty residency program director ranks in order of importance (1, 2, 3, 4) based on a massive survey they fill out. Individual programs will obviously have their own quirks, but in general:

It will not matter to worry too much about specialty now, like half of everyone changes their mind and even with shadow experience untill you've done 3rd yr rotations you have nowhere near the exposure to decide, often not even then. There are probably specialties you've never even heard of at this moment.

Residency is a geographical game, meaning you are most likely to match in your geographical region, but this is not the rule.

General reputation, "name" or pedigree of your med school, will always matter more than ANY ****ing grading system.

Med schools can often be thought of in 4 tiers. UW Madison last I heard was like top of 2nd tier. It is very highly respected and I would not sneer on attending that med school for any reason accept for already being accepted to Harvard if that name meant a lot to you, which it shouldn't.

So worry about getting in, have a thought for geography, and realize that the schools that have prestige are not as related to location as it was for undergrad.

Some fine schools: UW Madison, Mayo (Minnesota, NO one goes to MN except for a great med school) OHSU, St. Louis, Michigan

1) getting in
2) reputation
3) location
4) likelihood you will survive it
5) likelihood you will thrive
(Which means STEP 1 BITCHES!)
6) how good the clinical rotations are (LORs and clinical grades trump preclinical, clinical curriculum plays into Step 2 scores)
7) Preclinical literally only matters for Step 1 score