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Once and for all, where do I explain these bad grades?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by MiesVanDerMom, May 5, 2006.

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  1. MiesVanDerMom

    MiesVanDerMom D.o. or Die 10+ Year Member

    Everyone I talk to, on SDN and in real life, tells me something different. I have some bad grad school grades I need to explain and I don't knwo where to do it. I'd been told in thos forum to do it in the PS but then in pre-allo the talk is that you should do it in some other part of the app and not the PS. there is a place on the AMCAS to explain academic probation so i was going to do it there. the PS is wigging me out. I have SOOO much to explain in it. i've written it and like it, but it's not this amazing spectacular wonder-at-the-uniqueness of me manifesto that everyone else seems to be writing. i need the whole 5300 characters just to explain why i want to be a doctor. i don't have room for my sense of humor and non-medical/uniquely me stuff. think i'm a little stressed... :eek:
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  3. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 6, 2003
    If you overcame a particular obstacle, I would do it there.
  4. medicalbound

    medicalbound Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    I can empathize. I rewrote my PS a half dozen times before I was happy with it. I too had so much to explain. I also had bad grades to explain (really bad ones) from 10 years earlier. Remember that you need only address the issue - not necessarily explain the details. I used 4 carefully chosen sentences and moved on. If they want more information, they will target it during an interview, which gives you the opportunity to explain if needed.
    USCpremed31 likes this.
  5. dasta

    dasta Member 5+ Year Member

    Sep 20, 2005
    What constitutes "bad" grades? Fs and Ds, of course, but what about Cs?
  6. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2001
    First off, discrepancies such as bad grades are usually addressed in the personal statement. HOWEVER, they must ALWAYS be done in a positive light, and one should NOT dwell on them so much.

    Secondly, if you were on probation, address that in that special AMCAS section, but put a small blurb in your personal statement in case the reviewer doesn't even see that section of your application.

    I can sympathize that you may have "SOOO much" to explain, BUT using up some significant portion of your 5300 words to explain your situation is not wise and probably won't impress anyone. A physician once told me to keep it nice and short, unless you "cured cancer" or something.

    For example, I had to work to support myself and my family all through undergrad. Grades suffered. If I were to write my PS now, I would say that I supported myself and my family, and through determination and endurance I have gotten to where I am today. Then followed by something about how I've improved signifantly. I have personally seen, and heard of people with situations FAR FAR worse than anything I can imagine, yet they have never made it sound like it was an "excuse" for low grades. In fact some maintained their grades despite such challenges. Therefore in comparison to these people, putting too much text regarding your bad grades may turn some reviewers away.
  7. Megalofyia

    Megalofyia 425 lbs and growing 10+ Year Member

    Oct 13, 2001
    I dont know that what I did was the way to go but it worked. This is just my personal experience and not what I'm necessarily recomending.
    In my personal statement I just talked about why I should be a doctor and what would make me a good canidate. And actually for the most part I didn't talk about low grades anywhere in my application other than in some random spot I mentioned that I'd like it noticed that my grades had greatly improved. Here's where my application was much different from yours -- my low grades were in undergrad in the first two years not in grad school. When I got to my interview I did get asked about my low grades. I told them that I wished I had a really good reason for the low grades but all I could tell them was that I would work very hard in medical school, those low grades were old and I was a different student then.
  8. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee. Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    The first time I applied, I too was swayed by those who said I MUST address my ancient craptacular grades. I discussed my poor performance from 20 years ago in my PS. Not one interview. A TON of rejections.

    The second time I applied, I barely mentioned them. I figured "they're 20 friggin' years old. Let them figure it out and look at my recent stuff". I got an interview.

    I think it depends on exactly how you address them and your personality.

    Nice non-answer, huh? :) Good luck. Personally I agonized over my PS until I wrote it literally in the middle of the night - woke up at like 3am with the entire thing mapped out in my head. Scribbled it down on a pad from my nightstand, went back to sleep, and by 10 am the next day I was totally done with it.
  9. Megalofyia

    Megalofyia 425 lbs and growing 10+ Year Member

    Oct 13, 2001
    I agonized over mine too till one day I was walking to school and I was really pissed about the whole constant rejection thing from previous applications. I was talking to Evo and said "you know I really wish I could just say ....... " I said something that amounted to two paragraphs and he mentioned that it sounded like a personal statement right there. And thus my PS was born.
  10. blee

    blee Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 4, 2003
    I did not mention my grades once in my PS, deciding instead to use the space to focus on who I am today and not what I did years ago. In fact, I never mentioned my grades unless a secondary question specifically asked about "academic deficiency" or something like that.

    MIZUNOGRL29 Junior Member 2+ Year Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    [thanks for posting your grading scores etc. Good luck to you and your applicaton.
  12. RxnMan

    RxnMan Who, me? A doctor? Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    My grades, or more specifically, my failing out of school, were a part of my decision-making process. If I didn't get kicked out, then I wouldn't have taken a job at the local med school, and I wouldn't have met the doc who inspired me to go into medicine. To explain the circumstances of why I failed out, I talked about my grades. Like many others have posted, this all came out in my PS. I stated the facts and then went on with it - I had a lot of ground to cover myself.
  13. kllyhlls

    kllyhlls Prereqs-R-Us

    Jun 3, 2006
    Western, KY
    Wow, I feel like I have hope again! I figured my GPA a few nights ago and figured that I might as well give up. My first two years of undergrad, I went to a local community college. I basically never went to any classes after the first few weeks (don't ask me why I didn't drop). I passed one or two classes during that time, but most were Fs. I took some time off and the next few years I spent retaking every single class that I had failed. As far as the community college and even my current university are concerned, I had repeated all the courses, replaced the grades, and now have a 3.4 CUM. Buuuut, as far as AMCAS is concerned, all those F's from 15 years ago count, right? If so, that gives me a dismal 2.6 GPA. Now, if I finish out with my 4.0 BCMP GPA, I'll still only have a 2.8 Cum. I'm scared I'll get pre-screened right out of the system without anyone even noticing that in the past 4 years (2 ugrad, 2 postbacc), I've carried a 3.8 or whatever.

    I guess I'm going to keep chuggin' along. We'll see.

    Good luck!

  14. Sol Rosenberg

    Sol Rosenberg Long Live the New Flesh! 10+ Year Member

    Feb 11, 2006
    Living in America
    I had a few bad grades, but decided not to mention them in my PS. I had a REALLY hard time getting my PS down to the allowed length, so there was no way that I was going to waste space talking about those bad grades. I know that some secondaries have a prompt for you to explain bad grades, and they will probably come up at an interview whether or not I write about them in my PS, so I chose not to waste the space talking about them.
  15. chrisjohn

    chrisjohn Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 17, 2005
    If they're not really catastrophic, I wouldn't mention them.

    If so, spin it positively. How the experience made you more compassionate, etc...
  16. old_guy

    old_guy Junior Member 2+ Year Member

    Jun 2, 2006
    Hmmm. My uGPA wasn't very good, either, but not from Ds or Fs...just too many Cs. I earned only 1 grade under C (a D) in 4 years, in Chem I, which I retook and got a B.

    I concur on the "different person now" statement. I'd like to take Marty's DeLorean back 26 years and find my younger self asleep late one night. I'd slap him (me) until he (I) pee'd!!

  17. PossiblePreMed

    PossiblePreMed AAAAH!!! 5+ Year Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    King of Prussia, PA
    Ok here is a question....say you get a C in Ochem, and you have A's in everything else... (Bio, Chem and Physics)....and your overall is a 3.98. Would they ask you about your C in one or two classes? I am taking prereq's now, and I already have a BA with a 3.98 overall GPA. I will be lucky if I get a C in my Ochem lecture class (it is the first college level chemistry I have ever taken). Fortunately, I may have an A in the lab. How would they view that? Would they take the average of the lab/lecture? Or would they take each individually and ask me about it?
  18. Non-TradTulsa

    Non-TradTulsa Senior Member - Resident 7+ Year Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    You say you have A's in Bio, Chem, and Physics - but Orgo is your first college-level chemistry? I'm always happy to throw in my .02 worth of advice, but I'm lost.
  19. PossiblePreMed

    PossiblePreMed AAAAH!!! 5+ Year Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    King of Prussia, PA

    No, no, I am just saying, supposing I got all A's in the others. Sorry for being unclear :)
  20. chopstick1

    chopstick1 Member 5+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2006
    same here, rewrote that thing over and over. then friends and mentors cut out all of the personal humor type stuff. leaving just the core reason of why I want to be a doctor and the path I've taken to get to this point in life. even then I had to chop a few sentences. as for bad grades, I just said "because of these choices...my grades suffered". then during the secondaries/interview I said I screwed up and here's what I've done to fix that, study better...etc. it's just what I did, you just gotta do what works for your situtation. there's a book called medical school admissions, loaded with 60 personal statements. might give you some ideas, good luck! :thumbup:
  21. medanthgirl

    medanthgirl Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jul 8, 2004
    casa bonita

    they probably will, but just b/c 1) it's a discrepancy from your other academic work and 2) they want to see your reaction...i.e. do you know where you went wrong in that class (so that they can see you are resilient and can learn from a bad experience). it's most definately not a deal-breaker, but still be prepared to answer any question they might have about it.
  22. sumozmom

    sumozmom Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Las Vegas
    i'm the same ...2.6 in college from 91. now all A's...so whats the deal...how do we get in...?
    what do we say?
  23. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2001
    Good news is, its from ages ago and you've done well. Bad news, there's also people that have done well on the first try. You will need to destroy the MCAT, and make yourself unique among other applicants. If i told you how to be unique, it wouldn't neccessarily be unique huh?;).

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