RenegadeOkapi

2+ Year Member
May 12, 2016
89
111
Status
Pre-Medical
Hello Everyone:

My application right now, in my opinion, is not too strong, but not abysmal. 513 MCAT(127/128/128/130), 3.6 GPA, enough shadowing, several non-clinical volunteering, EMT certification.

However, my GPA is my primary concern. I did fairly well in high school: near 4.0 GPA, 36 ACT, etc. and I did fairly well in my first two years of college, 3.8 GPA, but in junior year, my grades tanked. I got a C in Molecular Biology twice, and I really don't know how to explain this and/or put a positive spin on it.

I don't want to appear to make excuses. I could not prioritize my tasks effectively as much of the exams and papers across my classes were due on similar time frames. However, the structure of the exams on Mol. Biology really screwed me up. I am used to analyzing experimental data on the spot and coming up with conclusions. The tests emphasized a lot of memorization. For example, if an SDS-PAGE gel was shown on the test, we were expected to know 7 conclusions from the data. All the questions were multiple choice with 8 or more choices, so even if I could deduce 5 of the conclusions, my mind would blank and I would miss the question.

Some questions also conflicted with everyday practices in my lab research. For example, I run a lot of Nickel affinity columns for His tagged protein purification, and the standard elution method that I use is high concentration imidazole. However, running a lower pH solution through the column could also work (Although I'm afraid of messing with the protein's solubility with this). I forgot about that other method as it was not a method I commonly use.

tl:hungover:r; I messed up on a couple classes that has caused my GPA to have a downward trend. While I could attribute stress and poorer organizational skills to this, I really don't want adcoms to think I have COMPLETELY slacked off. Besides proving my work ethic by earning good grades in the next semester, how can I lessen the blow of a downward trending GPA? (Looking to explain this in secondary app essays).

Thanks in advance. I apologize for the length of this question.

M
 

Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
53,668
78,980
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
if you don't know....you don't know, right?
 

MareNostrummm

D.O. Class of 2022
2+ Year Member
Oct 17, 2015
1,436
1,541
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Hello Everyone:

My application right now, in my opinion, is not too strong, but not abysmal. 513 MCAT(127/128/128/130), 3.6 GPA, enough shadowing, several non-clinical volunteering, EMT certification.

However, my GPA is my primary concern. I did fairly well in high school: near 4.0 GPA, 36 ACT, etc. and I did fairly well in my first two years of college, 3.8 GPA, but in junior year, my grades tanked. I got a C in Molecular Biology twice, and I really don't know how to explain this and/or put a positive spin on it.

I don't want to appear to make excuses. I could not prioritize my tasks effectively as much of the exams and papers across my classes were due on similar time frames. However, the structure of the exams on Mol. Biology really screwed me up. I am used to analyzing experimental data on the spot and coming up with conclusions. The tests emphasized a lot of memorization. For example, if an SDS-PAGE gel was shown on the test, we were expected to know 7 conclusions from the data. All the questions were multiple choice with 8 or more choices, so even if I could deduce 5 of the conclusions, my mind would blank and I would miss the question.

Some questions also conflicted with everyday practices in my lab research. For example, I run a lot of Nickel affinity columns for His tagged protein purification, and the standard elution method that I use is high concentration imidazole. However, running a lower pH solution through the column could also work (Although I'm afraid of messing with the protein's solubility with this). I forgot about that other method as it was not a method I commonly use.

tl:hungover:r; I messed up on a couple classes that has caused my GPA to have a downward trend. While I could attribute stress and poorer organizational skills to this, I really don't want adcoms to think I have COMPLETELY slacked off. Besides proving my work ethic by earning good grades in the next semester, how can I lessen the blow of a downward trending GPA? (Looking to explain this in secondary app essays).

Thanks in advance. I apologize for the length of this question.

M
Is Molecular Biology an upper division class or a lower division weeder class part of the general bio series at your university?

My general biology class was the same way, but with 1000 people in one lecture and class average was a 67... So its pretty common for people to get handed C's in Biology even if you work hard...

Also, wasn't the class curved? If the structure of the exams screwed you up, it should have screwed everyone up as well.. and since you took it twice you should have at least gotten a B on your retake just due to previous exposure to the material.

Anyway, your overall GPA is still 3.6 which means that you probably don't have many other C's on your app... (By comparison I have 6 C's so I have to play the GPA repair game with a 3.4) It shouldn't affect you that much.. your MCAT is also fine (90th percentile).
 
Mar 21, 2016
26
25
Status
Pre-Medical
I wouldn't bring it up in the application materials (so you don't bring something up that they may not have put too much time on otherwise), but be ready to answer to it in an interview.
 
OP
RenegadeOkapi

RenegadeOkapi

2+ Year Member
May 12, 2016
89
111
Status
Pre-Medical
Is Molecular Biology an upper division class or a lower division weeder class part of the general bio series at your university?

My general biology class was the same way, but with 1000 people in one lecture and class average was a 67... So its pretty common for people to get handed C's in Biology even if you work hard...

Also, wasn't the class curved? If the structure of the exams screwed you up, it should have screwed everyone up as well.. and since you took it twice you should have at least gotten a B on your retake just due to previous exposure to the material.

Anyway, your overall GPA is still 3.6 which means that you probably don't have many other C's on your app... (By comparison I have 6 C's so I have to play the GPA repair game with a 3.4) It shouldn't affect you that much.. your MCAT is also fine (90th percentile).
I have only had one or two classes in my entire collegiate experience that had a curve over 1-2 percent points. Molecular Biology is known to be a difficult course at my school, and not a lower level weeder course like Orgo or Gen Chem. I enjoyed Orgo a heck of a lot better than this course lol.

Lol, I guess I didn't learn... lecturers changed, and different facets of the material were emphasized.
All the best with your app.

I wouldn't bring it up in the application materials (so you don't bring something up that they may not have put too much time on otherwise), but be ready to answer to it in an interview.
OK, so in an interview, should I just admit I messed up and point to my (hopeful) improvement in my current grades?

How much did you tank? Is that Biology class your only poor grade?
Several other B's throughout.
Freshman AMCAS GPA: 3.86
Sophomore AMCAS GPA: 3.64
Junior AMCAS GPA: 3.05

Overall: 3.56 <- forgot AMCAS counts retakes, sorry, not actually 3.6.

It's a steady decline, and not terrible, but shows a trend that is concerning. If the trend were reversed, I would not care as much.
 

ed*26

2+ Year Member
Feb 17, 2016
305
275
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
A downward decline in grades is a pretty serious red flag. The best thing you can do is knock your senior classes out of the park and have an answer for your behavior that does not include excuses. Tricky exams questions and multiple assignments due close together aren't the reason you did poorly, it was your (self-professed) poor organization and inability to adapt to different teaching styles that did. Any answer you give should have something along the lines of: you did some serious self-reflection and realizes what your mistakes were (sounds like you still need to do this), took specific steps to address them, and now have found a method that works for you.

You can admit that you slacked off in the past if you can prove that it won't be a problem any more. In fact, admitting your mistakes shows a level of maturity that adcoms are usually looking for.