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How much math and statistics to take in undergrad?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by ronnicus, 05.16.14.

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  1. ronnicus

    ronnicus 2+ Year Member

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    So I'm registering for my junior year courseload, and I was thinking of taking a year long statistics course if that would help me in med school. I'm pushing the biochem genetics and physiology to senior year so I have time to study for MCAT (Nov 7th) and the material is fresh in my mind when i matriculate. Anyways, my GPA is quite low so I'd thought I'd squeeze in my GE's and some other fun classes junior year and do the hard upper division bio and chem senior year. Would taking multivariable calculus and advanced statistics be useful in medical school as regards research etc.? I can either do that or just take the 1 quarter basic stats course most pre meds at my school take.
     
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  3. gonnif

    gonnif Only 1426 Days Until Next Presidential Election Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    You take courses in undergrad to get into medical school, no so much to be useful in medical school. For example, calc may be the most useless course in medical school but still about 1/2 the schools require/recommend it.

    Many students feel Biochem, Genetics, Phys help for MCAT
     
  4. Doudline

    Doudline 2+ Year Member

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    An introduction to Calculus and Statistics should get you into 99% of school (only Harvard requires Integral Calculus IIRC).
     
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  5. Espadaleader

    Espadaleader 5+ Year Member

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    Stats is very helpful. It doesn't need to be advanced, just make sure it introduces you to SAS/SPSS?Minitab etc. and that you at that very least can run descriptive stats, crosstabs, and frequencies on anything.
     
  6. PicardAndRoll

    PicardAndRoll

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    Cal I, Stats, you'll be good.
     
  7. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    If you do go the stats route (which I strongly recommend), gaining some exposure to R will be very beneficial.
     
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  8. CardiologyPrincess

    CardiologyPrincess

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    Speaking of math... Where did you guys start at ?
     
  9. MrLogan13

    MrLogan13 2+ Year Member

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    I used to be terrible at math and hated it. I started at a community college as a non-traditional student; placed in elementary algebra. I worked my way up through calculus III in the university. I also took intro stats and then took statistics for scientific data analysis. I started to gain a true appreciation of mathematics along that journey, around the time I took College Algebra. While I am by no means a mathematician, I enjoy math very much now.

     
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  10. Wasted Energy

    Wasted Energy

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    I've never understood the love for R; although you didn't say you liked it, you said beneficial, which it is. I've always preferred more user friendly software packages, although R Studio isn't quite as bad I guess.

    Anyway, OP there are a handful of my undergraduate courses that I've actually found to be valuable and statistics is one them. The more stats the better.
     
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  11. CardiologyPrincess

    CardiologyPrincess

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    Thank you! I too am starting from the bottom!
     
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  12. Espadaleader

    Espadaleader 5+ Year Member

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    I strongly suggest SPSS. It has a readily simple and powerful GUI. Its a "point and click" program. SAS and R are much more powerful programs but they have a steep learning curve if you don't have that much experience programming. You can do most of what you will need to do on SPSS.
     
  13. seeinghowitgoes

    seeinghowitgoes 2+ Year Member

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    Agreed. Newer versions of SPSS can do a ton - most papers published could have been done with it, and it's incredibly user friendly. That being said, once you get the other packages down I've heard they can be quicker (and maybe I won't know what I've been missing until I muster up the energy to learn them haha).

    But anyway, really just commenting to suggest that, in my opinion, stats can be incredibly useful and provides a nice hard skill to be able to bring to the table (even if it's just interpreting other studies). Couple it with an understanding of research design and there is so much potential (if you like academic med, etc).
     
  14. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    It's insanely powerful, can do much more advanced analyses than SAS or SPSS, and is free and open source. It's definitely more of learning curve, but as I've gotten more comfortable with it I do like it quite a bit (and SPSS less and less). It will likely become the preferred stats software in the near future.

    Edit - I honestly like the programming aspect of R, it gives me nostalgia for DOS. There currently are graphic interface plug-ins for R which have gotten significantly better in the few years I've been using it
     
  15. MrLogan13

    MrLogan13 2+ Year Member

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    You're welcome! We all have to start somewhere.

     
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  16. Wasted Energy

    Wasted Energy

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    Ah, that's the part that tends to frustrate me. I missed the DOS era, so there's nothing for me to be nostalgic about I guess. :laugh:
    (Except maybe some Fortran classes I took awhile back)
     
  17. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    The good ol' days of Apple IIs and DOS...memories...
     
  18. ronnicus

    ronnicus 2+ Year Member

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    So more stats would not necessarily help me at all? Just the most basic stats then?
     
  19. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    IMHO, stats will be helpful for research and critically assessing the quality of journal articles based on the authors' statistical methods and analysis.
     
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  20. WhittyPsyche

    WhittyPsyche 2+ Year Member

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    Interesting. What if your Intro Stat course didn't teach you anything about SPSS? My professor demanded the by hand and calculator, memorizing formulas etc. Would only mention SPSS in passing. Like, "okay if you were doing this on a program, you would do xyz, but were not so here is what you do.." Would taking another stat class that uses programs be useful in this case?
    Didn't pay attention much to the little snipets since it was irrelevant to his tests


    I'm very important. I have many leather bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany...
     
  21. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    I took 4 semesters of stats courses and I didn't touch any software until I took a grad level stats class - everything up to that point was on paper with all work required. Learning software is pretty easy. The hard part is learning the more complex things, like bootstrapping, that require programing- but it's not that bad (honestly, programing in R is WAY easier than in SPSS or SAS).
     
  22. Essene

    Essene People don't bury nickels 2+ Year Member

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    I've taken c.Algebra, pre-calc Alg, trig, calc. Then I stopped.
     
  23. Zelda840

    Zelda840

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    I took Intermediate Algebra, the math department's version of stats, and then stats for the behavioral sciences.
     
  24. Dr. Biology

    Dr. Biology The Nerdiest Super Hero 2+ Year Member

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    stats and Calc 1 is all you need
     
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  25. PleaseCallMeDoc

    PleaseCallMeDoc Hi 2+ Year Member

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    I've taken Calc II and stats. I enjoyed Calc way more than stats, however, I feel that stats is more beneficial especially with research
     
  26. ronnicus

    ronnicus 2+ Year Member

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    how much stats do you need to do well in research? would a basic 1 quarter introduction to stats be enough, or should I take the harder 1 year probability and statistics series (generally designed for majors)
     
  27. optimistic3

    optimistic3 2+ Year Member

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    Can I ask a question to add on to this? How much work did you guys find a basic/normal (not advanced) stats class to be? I've taken calc I, II, and III and they were fine but I never took stats. I was thinking about taking it at a community college (I just graduated with my BS) in my gap year just to have it on my application. Is it difficult?
     
  28. itsthat1guy

    itsthat1guy Not that other guy 2+ Year Member

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    Math is not my strong suit and I managed to get an A- in stats with like 4 hrs of studying a week. Really not that difficult, I'm sure you will have no problems with it
     
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  29. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    General stats was a joke at my school. The most advanced topic we covered was ANOVA. As far as applying stats to research, I learned the most from my applied stats courses in psych. It was applied but we covered the theory behind the math as well as the application. IMHO, knowing the various forms of ANOVA, ANCOVA, MANOVA, regression and how it is essentially ANOVA from a different perspective, correlations, non-parametrics, various tests for factor analysis, post-hoc analyses, and the strengths and weaknesses of all these tests based off the population and data should be more than enough. It may sound like a lot but this should be covered in 2-3 semesters of solid stats courses - and it shouldn't hurt your GPA (definitely easier than calc)
     
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  30. moop

    moop 1K Member Banned Account on Hold

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    Guys c'mon SPSS and user friendliness are for squares (think psychologists :rolleyes:). SPSS is so incompatible with most databases it's unthinkable to use it for collaborative research. Stata all the way. Much more powerful and brings the baby birds out of the WYSIWYG world. Loads into LaTeX beautifully. You can output graphs with The Economist template!!

    Don't be a chump. Be hardcore.

    P.S. As a quant geek who knows all four of the most popular programs (SAS, SPSS, Stata, R), it is NEVER programming capability that impedes usage. It's the statistical intuition. Anyone who understands their stats cold can read through simple stackexchange threads and documentation to do what they want to do. The trick is to learn what you need to do when.
     
  31. WillburCobb

    WillburCobb I am the pull out king Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

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    Shots have been fired.
     
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  32. CardiologyPrincess

    CardiologyPrincess

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    Spot on my friends.
     
  33. justadream

    justadream 5+ Year Member

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    Linear Algebra. You never know when you might need to calculate an eigenvalue or find a null space.

    jk...basic stats is enough. That being said, I think taking classes in calc/linear/diffeq is a good decision too (just for general life knowledge) when you understand how almost everything in the world is based on calc/linear/diffeq.
     
  34. chemist16

    chemist16

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    If you're interested in research, learn MATLAB. It's really useful. It's probably one of the most versatile programs I know.

    With regard to math courses, I think that every educated person should understand, at the least, statistics and differential and integral calculus. That's required for a good understanding of the world around you. Too many people nowadays think in terms of the finite and this way of thinking just leads to a lot of misunderstanding. For example, I've heard some arguments along the lines of "The probability of life evolving exactly as it did on Earth is so miniscule that it's impossible." Well, when you have something on the scale of a hundred billion galaxies in the universe, even the smallest probability predicts that it has happened elsewhere. It's just that the average person now has such a hard time comprehending numbers approaching positive or negative infinity.
     
  35. Lucca

    Lucca Will Walk Rope for Sandwich 2+ Year Member

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    A good stats class that teaches you R or a similar program for analyzing data quickly and efficiently is a must. I took one. It was easy and has been very useful in my research and in reading papers, textbooks, etc. A good class to incorporate into an already difficult semester.

    Linear algebra if you do or would like to do any kind of computational work.

    That's probably good enough assuming you took Cal 1/2.
     
  36. panda16

    panda16

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    Biochemistry and Physiology were above and beyond the most useful courses I had at my undergrad before MCAT. Would not put those off in lieu of stats because in Biochem and Physio you'll be learning tons of relevant stuff for the MCAT
     
  37. justadream

    justadream 5+ Year Member

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    Agreed. MATLAB is like the workhorse of so many types of science/engineering and is extremely powerful once you know how to use it. Of course, having a background in linear algebra is helpful for understanding what you are doing in MATLAB (since it is about MATrices after all).
     

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