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pass/fail grading

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by riverwoman1040, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. riverwoman1040

    riverwoman1040 5+ Year Member

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    I apologize if this has already been discusses somewhere, but I couldn't find it in a search.

    I have been advised to attend a school with pass/fail grading if at all possible by a current med student. So far I have interviewed at one school with complete P/F grading, and one with A-F grading. I thought that P/F was preferable, but after speaking with another med student I'm confused. Is it true that the P/f school still has to rank all students for residency applications? Does that mean that P/F is really no different from A-F?
     
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  3. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

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    For all intents and purposes, the P/F isnt a true P/F because the administration knows the real rankings of the students, although the students dont know it (nor really care to know it). For AOA purposes, and of course residency apps, students will be ranked one way or another. Now granted, it may not be the same, as there may be other factors that come into play to rank, but from what I gather, you are still ranked (and perhaps maybe into tiers or quartiles?). P/F is preferable because often, you find a different atmiosphere between students to help each other pass. In my experience, a H/HP/P/F system tends to bring out the gunnerism in people to honor or HP a class over another- while in P/F everyone collectively helps each other "jump the hurdle". While this cant be applied to every school- at least in my .02, this seems to be the case for many schools.
     
  4. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse Administrator Physician SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    I go to a school that is H/P/F, and I haven't found this to be the case. If people want to shoot for the H, they can, but there's no need to stomp on other people to do it. If you're concerned about student cooperation, the better question to ask is if the classes are graded on a curve. If so, then, yes, P/F is best. Otherwise, if there is no curve, it makes no difference.

    The biggest advantage (for me) of P/F over A-F is that it takes pressure off of me during the exam. Since there is no difference between an 81 and a 71, I don't have to sweat and worry over every single little question. I never have to wonder, "Is this one question going to keep me from getting a B?" That's one less thing to stress over.
     
  5. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

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    I definitely agree. It cant be applied to every school, nor most schools in that fact. Its just an observation I made about some schools, at least on description by friends in those schools. As long as you stick with the right crowd, Im sure that you probably wont encounter ultracompetitive gunners at most schools =)
     
  6. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

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    I think that Harvard uses straight P/F. Not sure, but if it's true, then it would suggest that they do it to decrease competition because most would agree that it's pretty hard to get in there. I also heard that they don't even have an AOA chapter, but I might be thinking about Hopkins.

    I don't like A-B-C when the average is an A. It forces everybody to make straight A's to stay in the top of the class.

    Some places use the rule that only the top 5-20% (depending on school) can be eligible for H or A. That would seemingly increase competition.
     
  7. goongirl

    goongirl 2+ Year Member

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    My school is pure P/F with no rankings and I've talked to the woman who runs our AOA and she said they only use 3rd year clerkship grades to determine AOA status, and *sometimes* go to board scores to clear up a tie or something. The only rumblings I've heard of us ever being secretly ranked or something are that when our deans write our letters for residency, they might use "Outstanding" instead of "Amazing" or whatever as a euphamism for our general status within the class. But this too is strongly influenced by 3rd yr. grades, board scores, leadership, and research. So...all in all, the "secret" ranking that may or may not occur doesn't seem to affect us too much here and my class is extremely cooperative due to the P/F system.
     
  8. AIRMJ4

    AIRMJ4 Junior Member 7+ Year Member

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    If a school only uses P/F for the first two years, how do they fine-tune the students so that the only the top of the class go on to the best residencies? It seems there is no way for students to even distinguish themselves anymore, which in a way is good and bad.
     
  9. Tired Pigeon

    Tired Pigeon 7+ Year Member

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    My school uses an H/P/F system, with honors limited to a set percentage of the class (typically 10%, but varies based on instructor). In some cases, this has made the grade requirement for honors above 98%. It seems kind of ridiculous that someone could get a 97.4% average in a class and NOT get honors, but that's the way it is. Bottom line is that this system seems to foster just as much competitiveness as a traditional A-F system. A "true" P/F system might be a lot different, but that wasn't an option at any place I got accepted.
     
  10. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

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    Its not necessarily true that only the "top of the class" goes on to "the best residencies". Residency application and obtaining positions depends on: 1) more than just numbers and 2) where people apply. The smartest and best student in your class may want to do pediatrics at a less than prestigious program; this is why looking at residency match lists are virtually useless.

    At any rate, to answer your question: as noted above, while the program may be P/F most still have a way to rank you and in addition to your pre-clinical grades, they use your evals and shelf exams, as well as USMLE scores from the final two years to rank you for purposes of residency. Most programs will provide a distribution of the graduating class for potential PDs which shows where you rank in relation to others. For P/F schools, it isn't as specific as "AIRMJ4 is number 14 out of our class of 65" but rather puts you in a percentile.
     
  11. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

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    Good point. Ive heard only MS1+2 year grades tend to have a weight of about 10% into application for residency. on the other hand, clinical evals and boards seem to have a much more added significance.
     
  12. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

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    :thumbup:

    The grades themselves are very hard to use at programs with people from so many different schools with such varied grading systems. That's why they carry so little weight.

    Even the most competative PGY programs seem to give interviews based on USMLE I but ultimately select people based on subjective criteria (interview, LOR's, evals). It's not as objective as med school admissions because the people interviewing you actually have to work with you.

    :luck:
     
  13. thinknofu3

    thinknofu3 5+ Year Member

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    I go to a P/F school where there really is *no* ranking whatsoever in your first 2 years. Only you know your grades, and the only thing that gets recorded is a P or F. Everyone always like to be all conspiratorial and say "oh, they keep track somewhere" but they really don't. I've even been told by current fourth years that all it says in the dean's letters is that "so-and-so satisfactorily completed their courses in the first two years" or something like that.

    I must say, of course, that it being P/F doesn't make it any easier (if anything, it means you're responsible for more material). But it really does take a lot of the pressure off, and allows you to focus big picture instead of nitpicky details. And of course, IMHO, the best perk is that it means there is absolutely no competition whatsoever between any of my classmates. Everyone is always trying to help each other in whatever way we can. Which is really ultimately how are interactions will/should be in medicine anyway - it's all about collaboration and succeeding as a group rather than an individual. It might sound hokey, but it's so true. That being said, i'm sure everyone does fine and learns what they need to no matter what the school or the grading system, but I definitely feel if you can get P/F, it's the way to go.
     
  14. Disinence2

    Disinence2 Emergency Medicine Physician 7+ Year Member

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    Next year I will be attending a H/P/F school and am very excited. I will never again have to experience the agony of getting a B with a 89% in a class. (after this semester of course)
     
  15. 45408

    45408 aw buddy 7+ Year Member

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    :rolleyes:
     
  16. 45408

    45408 aw buddy 7+ Year Member

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    Yeah, people here on SDN have posted that at their school, the mean is set right in the middle of a pretty good grade, whereas at my school, the mean tends to land right around pass/high pass rather than near the honors range.
     
  17. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

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    Yea, it always seems to land around an 80% here- high pass is 85%. I guess the profs have now quantitized student performance through their exams.
     

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