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Immunology vs. Biochemistry

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by DoctorSheWrote, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. DoctorSheWrote

    DoctorSheWrote Seeking Serenity

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    It just hit me today: now that it's August, and classes start in August, and I haven't signed up for an evening class for the fall semester. I figure I really only have two choices, given the class selection: immunology or biochemistry.

    My dilemma is, from what I've heard of biochemistry, it would kick my ass and therefore lower the GPA I've worked so hard to raise from undergrad (I've been out of school for 4 years). Chemistry is not my strong point. Theoretically immunology would be, if not easier, at least not quite as difficult for me, so I could keep *fingers crossed* my grades up. But I've heard that biochem would be more helpful when (being optimistic here) I get into med school.

    Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

    ~Cal
     
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  3. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I wouldn't worry about what will be more helpful to med school. In most cases the help is short lived (if you even remember anything) and dwarfed by the sheer volume of info you need to learn in med school. Lots of folks who never had either of those courses do well in them. Many med schools don't cover immuno during first year anyhow so you are unlikely to remember much of that class by the time you take it. That being said, you can do well in biochem or any med school class without having had it -- it just takes more sweat.
    One thing to consider, some med schools actually require biochem, so if those schools are of interest, it will be a prereq.
     
  4. obrn

    obrn Member
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    Do they offer either of those classes as an evening class in the spring semester? If they do, take one now and one then -- while I don't know from personal experience, I have been told that taking biochemistry makes life a bit easier the first round of classes in med school...
     
  5. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    That statement, in my personal opinion, is more myth than fact. Folks who took biochem and the like in undergrad understandably like to feel they got some great value. But I suspect if you looked at the med school grades breakdown, you wouldn't see as huge a correlation between those who did well and those who already had it as these posts would suggest. If anything, it sometimes gives people more license to slack off a bit, having already had the material. Med school will teach you all you need to know and then some. Hard work levels all playing fields. :)
     
  6. Pdiddy310

    Pdiddy310 Med School 4.0
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    If I were you, I'd definitely take the biochem course. Most people cringe when they hear biochem but let me be the first to tell you that biochem for non-majors isn't difficult and it will help you on the MCAT. :thumbup:
     
  7. Skaterbabe74

    Skaterbabe74 Senior Member
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    I'm nowhere near applying yet, but I have taken both biochem and immunology. In my experience immunology was much easier than biochem. Immunology has been my easiest A so far, and it was partially taught by the guy who teaches immuno to the local med students and he told us they were the same lectures he gave his med students (group taught class). Biochem on the other hand I actually had the easy version of because I took it in a month during the summer. Our prof left out a ton of stuff for the summer session. We skipped all the thermo stuff, and didn't have to memorize any mechanisms. Some of my friends have taken it since and worried about even passing the class, and they have higher gpa's than I do. (They all passed and got A's and B's in the end, but apparently the prof has made things exceptionally difficult since I took it - her first semester).

    Obviously this is just my experience at my school, but if you're worried about the gpa taking a hit i'd save biochem for med school, and do immuno now.
     
  8. LadyWolverine

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    Biochem was a snap compared to immunology.

    I disagree completely with L2D. I recently completed the summer program at my med school, which was organized to re-create the atmosphere of an actual MS1 block. I was definitely at an advantage, having recently taken biochem in graduate school. (I had also taken intro biochem as an UG several years ago). I ended up doing very well in the biochem & mol bio block, because the material was already familiar. Most of the students who had no previous exposure to biochem did not do as well as those who had. Granted, this was a summer program, and therefore not representative of the entire MS1 class. However, we were told at the outset that this summer block acurately reflected the format of the fall semester. I'm not disagreeing that you can't do well in the block if you haven't previously taken biochemistry...but, overall, there was a definite trend.

    Just my 2 cents...but I'd go with biochemistry. Besides, I found it immensely helpful to have a good grasp on both and molecular/cell bio before taking immunology. As a matter of fact, I think those courses should be pre-requisites for immuno.
     
  9. Skaterbabe74

    Skaterbabe74 Senior Member
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    Cell technically is a prereq for immuno at my school (that and genetics) but it wasn't at all necessary to have the cell for our immuno. Our book and lectures taught us everything we needed to know cell bio-wise and frankly the genetics aspect was taught better in immuno than it was in genetics.

    Honestly both immuno and biochem would be beneficial so if there's anyway you can do both I would. But if you absolutely have to choose one over another I'd go with the one that is easier at your school (ask classmates, look at ratemyprofessor.com).
     
  10. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member
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    Taken together, these demonstrate that every school (not to mention every student) is different. :) In my particular case, I really liked biochem and hated immuno, and my grades reflected that. But immuno was probably the "easier" course by some made-up objective measure of class easiness, in terms of volume of material and depth of understanding required - again, this was at my school and obviously others are different.

    So, if they don't conflict with one another, could you register for and start attending both classes? Then drop one (in time to get a refund on your tuition) once you decide which you like better, or is easier, or more likely to keep your GPA up, or whatever you want to use as a criterion.
     
  11. LadyWolverine

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    You're absolutely correct. I took introductory immuno as an undergrad at Michigan and barely squeaked by with a C. Five years later, I took two rigorous graduate immunology courses as part of my MS program, and did very well. The difference? I couldn't stand my prof at U of M, and thought the course was poorly taught. I loved grad school immuno, even though it was orders of magnitude more detailed than the intro course.

    Neither class is particularly "easy". And both are very satisfying and worthwhile. I'm just saying that I got more out of immunology by taking biochem first. You really can't lose either way, though, as long as you enjoy the material. Both subjects require memorization of extremely complex pathways with lots of steps and mediators. You should be comfortable with not really understanding the Big Picture until you complete the course.

    At least you have the smarts not to consider P-Chem. :)
     
  12. Pdiddy310

    Pdiddy310 Med School 4.0
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    try P-biochem. that'll blow your hair back. :laugh:
     
  13. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it
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    Try POChem...yes physical organic chemistry. My friend in the chemistry masters program had to take that..lol. PBiochem wasn't too bad though.

    Anyway, I agree with Law2Doc, undergraduate level biochem or immunology may not take a person very far. If you remember it, then things will be familiar and could be helpful, however I disagree with the example that LadyWolverine presented since she took a graduate level course. Graduate level courses are a different animal. I for one was a biochem major at UC Davis, and a fellow classmate of mine continued on to med school over at UCSF only to state that the biochem there was 10x worse. Conversely, back in 2002, we had the opportunity to speak to a student (MS1) adcom from UCSF. He said they recently had a very long biochem exam, for which they were given something like 3 hours to complete. One person finished in 40 minutes. Said person had a PhD in biochemistry;).

    Well in my opinion, both biochem and immuno aren't bad. However if given a choice I would probably go with immunology due to personal preference. Anyway, as someone stated, some schools require biochem as a pre-req, while others may require an upper division science class (e.g., biochem). UC Davis and UC Irvine have requirements like that. I think at the undergrad level, take what you like, rather than what you "THINK" will help you in med school. As Law2Doc said, there will be so many things to worry about that the singular undergrad class taken in that subject may be drowned out by your other woes;).
     
  14. Lindyhopper

    Lindyhopper Senior Member
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    Both are good courses. Two things in biochem's favor. Some med schools require biochem. Biochem is more helpful for the MCAT. MCAT Immuno is surprisingly narrow in scope.
     
  15. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Yes -- I was speaking on undergrad science courses. No idea about graduate level, having not had any as a premed.
     
  16. mshheaddoc

    mshheaddoc Howdy
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    I'd go with biochem. But that is just me. Introduction to the basics would help a little. More biochem help than immuno was the warning from those who were in medical school. Again, it depends on the curriculum though. There is a woman whom I'm taking biochem this spring from and I have been told she is harder than the local med school. This coming from a recent med graduate who told me she learned more in that class than in med school.
     
  17. Xswim57

    Xswim57 Junior Member
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    I took the full year of biochemistry this past year, and found it to be my favorite class in the sciences that I have taken so far. I am currently preparing for the MCAT in two weeks, but have found that the biochem course has helped a ton in my preparation. I would recommend the biochem unless you feel that it will hurt you. Ultimately, both courses will look good if you do well in them. I think what will be best is determining which class you will be able to perform the best in and considering those schools which may require biochem.
     
  18. Ebete

    Ebete Senior Member
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    I :thumbup: :thumbup: agree. I aced my graduate Biochem, and by the way not a hot fan of Chem either. Its sounds worste than it is...I loved it!
     

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