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Research can offset gpa or mcat?

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erraticVibe

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I have been doing undergraduate research since freshman year and will graduate with 4 years of research experience including summers. These include working at 3 labs, and the last lab has been consistent for 3 years. From this, I have 2 publications, first author and the other second author. Have made 9+ poster presentations and abstracts at conferences from undergraduate to professional. Have won several research awards and scholarships, including from NASA, HHMI, and NSF. I also plan to take off a year or two to go to England or maybe NIH IRTA if possible, to do more research.

Here is the question, gpa is 3.8 (state school) and my practice MCATs are looking at ~32 range. I was wondering if stellar research track can offset irregularities in GPA or projected MCAT? What would be my chances at a big name school? Should I bother with my post-bacc plans, or just apply this coming cycle? Maturity wise, I feel I'm ready, I just wonder if I should take it slower and build up my application...
 

dr.z

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I have been doing undergraduate research since freshman year and will graduate with 4 years of research experience including summers. These include working at 3 labs, and the last lab has been consistent for 3 years. From this, I have 2 publications, first author and the other second author. Have made 9+ poster presentations and abstracts at conferences from undergraduate to professional. Have won several research awards and scholarships, including from NASA, HHMI, and NSF. I also plan to take off a year or two to go to England or maybe NIH IRTA if possible, to do more research.

Here is the question, gpa is 3.8 (state school) and my practice MCATs are looking at ~32 range. I was wondering if stellar research track can offset irregularities in GPA or projected MCAT? What would be my chances at a big name school? Should I bother with my post-bacc plans, or just apply this coming cycle? Maturity wise, I feel I'm ready, I just wonder if I should take it slower and build up my application...

First, I think your scores are fine. Research doesn't really offset the weak numbers, but I don't think you need to worry about anything.
 

mdphdhopeful

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practice mcats are sometimes lower than the real thing. mine was like 5 points lower
 

Faebinder

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Research will be a boon if and only if you get published in time for you to put it on the application..... Otherwise, it will be the equivilant of yet another volunteering session....

Research will really be a boon if you apply for the MD/PhD and even more so if you publish.
 

RxnMan

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...Here is the question, gpa is 3.8 (state school) and my practice MCATs are looking at ~32 range. I was wondering if stellar research track can offset irregularities in GPA or projected MCAT? What would be my chances at a big name school? Should I bother with my post-bacc plans, or just apply this coming cycle? Maturity wise, I feel I'm ready, I just wonder if I should take it slower and build up my application...
What are you talking about? Your MCAT and GPA are in the right range for any school. Unless you're looking to go MD/PhD, you'll do fine. Unless you want to do the trip to England (and I would be tempted in your shoes,) you don't need it to get in anywhere.
 

Maebea

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You have strong credentials for MD-PhD programs. Most applicants do not have a publication when they apply to our program. The 32 MCAT is a the low end of the range for top programs, but it will definitely NOT be a problem if your research impresses the admissions committees. (There is an individual from a state school with a 26 MCAT in Harvard's MSTP.) I would encourage you to apply next cycle.
 

dave613

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You have strong credentials for MD-PhD programs. Most applicants do not have a publication when they apply to our program. The 32 MCAT is a the low end of the range for top programs, but it will definitely NOT be a problem if your research impresses the admissions committees. (There is an individual from a state school with a 26 MCAT in Harvard's MSTP.) I would encourage you to apply next cycle.

Really, is that individual a URM?
 

premeddick

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Research will be a boon if and only if you get published in time for you to put it on the application..... Otherwise, it will be the equivilant of yet another volunteering session....

Research will really be a boon if you apply for the MD/PhD and even more so if you publish.

Is there a significant difference in the amount in which a publication is considered if it is "in submission", "in review", "in revision" "accepted for publication" and "published?" Are each of these seen in a different way by admissions committees? Thanks.
 

RxnMan

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Is there a significant difference in the amount in which a publication is considered if it is "in submission", "in review", "in revision" "accepted for publication" and "published?" Are each of these seen in a different way by admissions committees? Thanks.
The only ones that should go anywhere on your CV are the "accepted for publication" or an actual reference. All of the others are not publications (at least not yet,) and may never be.
 

dr.z

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The only ones that should go anywhere on your CV are the "accepted for publication" or an actual reference. All of the others are not publications (at least not yet,) and may never be.

Some people write "manuscript in preparation," "in review," or "in press" on their CV. I have seen faculty members do them, and I don't think there's anything wrong with doing so.
 

QofQuimica

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Some people write "manuscript in preparation," "in review," or "in press" on their CV. I have seen faculty members do them, and I don't think there's anything wrong with doing so.
Agree.

OP, you sound like you're in great shape. Your GPA is fine. Your practice MCAT scores are in the right range, and if you're consistently scoring in the low 30s, you'll probably do around that on the real test too. When are you taking it? Lots of :luck: to you. :)
 

Faebinder

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I would put the In Press and the In Review on the CV.

Avoid the In Preparation.
 

Maebea

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Really, is that individual a URM?

While I find the implication behind the question borderline offensive, I will reply nonetheless. The individual I referred to is a caucasian, in every sense of the word.
 
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dave613

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While I find the implication behind the question borderline offensive, I will reply nonetheless. The individual I referred to is a caucasian, in every sense of the word.

It's not offensive Maebea, it's reality. Most schools will not even look at applicants with mcat scores like that, unless there's some ulterior motive. I assume the caucasian individual had to have done something astronomical to land a seat at Harvard.
 

gbwillner

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It's not offensive Maebea, it's reality. Most schools will not even look at applicants with mcat scores like that, unless there's some ulterior motive. I assume the caucasian individual had to have done something astronomical to land a seat at Harvard.

Daddy probably donated a wing to the hospital!
 

1Path

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It's not offensive Maebea, it's reality. Most schools will not even look at applicants with mcat scores like that, unless there's some ulterior motive. I assume the caucasian individual had to have done something astronomical to land a seat at Harvard.
Most applicants accepted to med school with those types of stats are NOT URM, often they're White. There simply aren't enough URM's matriculating in med school for that to be true of URM's.

Back to the subject, I do believe that research experience can at least indirectly ofset MCAT. Most of the schoola I looked at gave a certain number of points for various aspects of the application including GPA, MCAT, LOR's and research experience, ect and it was your TOTAL that detemined whether or not you were granted an interview.
 

CCLCMer

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It's not offensive Maebea, it's reality. Most schools will not even look at applicants with mcat scores like that, unless there's some ulterior motive. I assume the caucasian individual had to have done something astronomical to land a seat at Harvard.
Why do people insist on posting this kind of BS all over SDN when they don't know what they're talking about? You are a pre-med telling this to an MSTP program director. I don't understand why you think you would know what kind of applicants MD/PhD programs are looking for better than she does. :confused:

My program gives an MD/MS or an MD with research qualifications, not an MD/PhD. But for what it's worth, there is no MCAT cutoff here. I have classmates with MCAT scores in the 40s, and classmates with MCAT scores in the 20s. People who have good research credentials and so-so MCAT scores do get interview invites sometimes, and my class's scores are not even published separately from Case's because the administration doesn't want people to think they can't apply here if they have an MCAT below our average. I am sure every program does things its own way, but there definitely are at least some like mine that consider applicants holistically.
 

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hey CCLCMER- thanks so much for your post. i'm with you 100% on that.
 

psymedicus

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This thread is reassuring. I'm applying MD-PhD with average stats (3.67 BCPM 3.64 OA 29Q) and was hoping that my research experience would make up for it. I've been an RA for almost 4 years (worked while studying). Papers: 2 first author (1 published 1 submitted), 1 third author. 2 oral presentations at local conferences (1 best speaker award), 2 posters at international. All professional level. I still have some secondaries to complete, should I save my money?
 

Neuronix

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Why do people insist on posting this kind of BS all over SDN when they don't know what they're talking about?

http://www.aamc.org/data/facts/2006/mcatgparaceeth.htm

This chart clearly shows that URMs get into medical school with lower GPAs and MCATs on average than non-URMs.

To post some of the information from the chart here:
Black matriculants average MCAT 25.3, GPA 3.39
White matriculants average MCAT 30.9, GPA 3.67
Asian matriculants average MCAT 31.5, GPA 3.66

One must be careful not to extrapolate the extremes. i.e. Everyone with a low MCAT and/or GPA must be a URM, or all URMs got in with a lower MCAT or GPA than non-URMS. There is also no public data of which I'm aware that breaks this down for MD/PhDs. I bet it exists, but like much of the data about MD/PhDs, it's not presented to us publicly. So we get to sit around and guess what's true based on heresay, personal communication, and anecdote.

That being said, I think dave613's questions are appropriate. If you mention someone with a very low MCAT score getting into Harvard's MD/PhD, an applicant's mind has to drift into what mitigating factors still led them into getting an admission. As shown above, URM status is an obvious mitigating factor. That's not the only one of course, which begs the follow up question dave613 implied, what else could it be?

Everyone who has ever applied MD/PhD sits and wonders sometimes... "Why did I get an interview invite at Penn but not at WashU despite an invite to apply and getting sent a big book of research opportunities?" or "Harvard accepted my friend who had the same stats and research experience as me, why didn't I get accepted there?" In the end you have to chalk it up to cosmic forces, but since we get a chance to discuss things here and no adcom is ever going to tell you why you didn't get that invite/acceptance, these sorts of questions often get asked.
 

gbwillner

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Thanks for that, Neuronix, this thread needed that.

I find it interesting that the human condition refuses to accept chance much of the time.
Fact is, if the person reading your application had a fight with his/her spouse the night before, you may not be granted an interview regradless of how qualified your application was.
Fact is, URMs get in with lower scores. That's not unfair necessarily- schools want diversity in their class, and there simply aren't enough URMs applying, so their scores are less competitive. But they are M's "minorities" and by definition there will only be a limiting number in each class.
Its very important to remember a few basic things when applying to MSTP programs:
1- don't put all your eggs in one basket. Apply to many programs. If you have quality scores/grades you will get in somewhere.
2- apply to as many places as you can afford, and different tiers of schools.

These two rules will hopefully eliminate "chance" from the equation. As a personal note- I was granted MSTP to 2 top-ten programs and 3 others MD only. I was also rejected outright from U. of Arizona (my alma mater), and didn't even get secondaries from a few schools. Its basically a crapshoot to some degree.
 

CCLCMer

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http://www.aamc.org/data/facts/2006/mcatgparaceeth.htm

This chart clearly shows that URMs get into medical school with lower GPAs and MCATs on average than non-URMs.

To post some of the information from the chart here:
Black matriculants average MCAT 25.3, GPA 3.39
White matriculants average MCAT 30.9, GPA 3.67
Asian matriculants average MCAT 31.5, GPA 3.66

One must be careful not to extrapolate the extremes. i.e. Everyone with a low MCAT and/or GPA must be a URM, or all URMs got in with a lower MCAT or GPA than non-URMS. There is also no public data of which I'm aware that breaks this down for MD/PhDs. I bet it exists, but like much of the data about MD/PhDs, it's not presented to us publicly. So we get to sit around and guess what's true based on heresay, personal communication, and anecdote.

That being said, I think dave613's questions are appropriate. If you mention someone with a very low MCAT score getting into Harvard's MD/PhD, an applicant's mind has to drift into what mitigating factors still led them into getting an admission. As shown above, URM status is an obvious mitigating factor. That's not the only one of course, which begs the follow up question dave613 implied, what else could it be?

Everyone who has ever applied MD/PhD sits and wonders sometimes... "Why did I get an interview invite at Penn but not at WashU despite an invite to apply and getting sent a big book of research opportunities?" or "Harvard accepted my friend who had the same stats and research experience as me, why didn't I get accepted there?" In the end you have to chalk it up to cosmic forces, but since we get a chance to discuss things here and no adcom is ever going to tell you why you didn't get that invite/acceptance, these sorts of questions often get asked.
I'm not saying he shouldn't ask the question of how much weight URM status really is given by program directors. I'm saying he shouldn't be spouting off his personal, preformed opinion like it's an indisputable fact and like he has any inside knowledge whatsoever about how the admissions process works. He's an applicant. He has no experience on an adcomm and no knowledge of how the process works from the inside. If Maebea or anyone else with adcomm experience wants to confirm what he said, then I'll stand corrected.

I understand the point you're trying to make, but there are at least a few problems with you using those stats to make it. You already pointed one out yourself: these stats are for all MD programs, not just MD/PhDs. We don't know if MD/PhD programs follow the same pattern, and it's not a fair assumption to make that they do based on my other two reasons. Second, I would wager that these stats are not entirely applicable to the schools that we are talking about here because so many of the schools with lower-scoring applicants tend to be schools that are not focused on research. In other words, yeah, if you include schools that are historically black and that historically cater to underserved populations, it's going to bring the overall score averages for blacks way down. But, if you look at the MCAT scores of the relatively few whites or Asians at those schools, they will also be way lower than the averages at the top research schools. In contrast, if you look at the scores of blacks versus other races at a school like Penn, I doubt you will find as much difference in the averages based on race. So just because both blacks and whites got into Meharry with a lower score doesn't mean that the blacks at Penn got in there with lower average scores compared to Penn's average. This is a segue to the third point, which is that you have a serious sample size problem. There are not very many blacks or other URMs in medical school period anywhere outside of the historically black schools. My class is way better than most with 10% black, but we're still only talking about a whole 3 people here (class size 32). If even one of them scored below a 30, that is going to seriously sink the overall average of the black students. I suspect the same thing is true at most if not all of the heavy research schools. There are so few URMs there that it only takes one URM with a below average score for the entire URM average to be below the school average. In contrast, you could have several whites or Asians with scores below average, and their scores would be balanced out by the majority of others that have scores at the average or above average.

My point is that there is entirely too much credit given for the success of URMs solely on their racial background. I mean, Asians score better than whites do on average, right? You showed us the stats yourself. They are also majorly over-represented in medical school compared to their proportion of the general population. So then why do I even see pre-meds posting about how they're not getting in anywhere because there are too many Asians in med school? :rolleyes: Where does the insanity stop? I didn't get into every school I applied to, either. When the rest of you are wondering sometimes why you didn't get into school X or Y, does it ever occur to anyone besides me that maybe they just didn't think I'm a good fit for their school, and there isn't any ulterior motive based on my race? Of course, the thought that maybe you personally just came up short for whatever reason isn't as pleasant to contemplate compared to telling yourself, oh, it must be because person X over there is a URM, and that's why he got in and I didn't.
 

Neuronix

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I mean, Asians score better than whites do on average, right? You showed us the stats yourself.

A 0.5 average MCAT difference is alot different than 5.6 or more. Your reasons one and two are potentially correct. When you mention the sample size of the study, look for yourself. The link I provided includes 1,155 black matriculants. If you change the URL to 2004 instead of 2005, you will find another 1,000+ with very similar numbers. You can keep doing that for a few years, so the trend is real and consistant. Where all these lower number students are going is a good point. Maybe at the top research schools and MSTPs there's no difference in GPA and MCAT. I'd like to know either way.

It is only in the summer, after all positions have been filled, that programs share their class lists and a national MD-PhD matriculation report is compiled. There is no running database, only static data at the end of process. That static data lists the following: first name, last name, gender, citizenship, self description (race/ethnicity), MD-PhD funding source, undergrad institution, and matriculating program. No information on which programs you applied to or what the outcome of your applications were.

From the other thread where I got flamed lately http://drslounge.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=345182 we know this data must exist.

I didn't get into every school I applied to, either.

The strange thing is that I know several people who did or at least got into every school they did apply for except for maybe 1. I call these the all-stars. Some of them were URM, some weren't.

When the rest of you are wondering sometimes why you didn't get into school X or Y, does it ever occur to anyone besides me that maybe they just didn't think I'm a good fit for their school, and there isn't any ulterior motive based on my race?

I don't believe in this "good fit" nonsense, except as it applies to the idea that someone may or may not come to your school due to regional selectivity. "Good fit" is used as a proxy for all sorts of reasons not accept someone. If they had a bad essay, they may not be a good fit as a result, but the real reason is that they had a bad essay. There's always objective reasons for accepting or rejecting someone. If there wasn't such objective reasons, why does GPA or MCAT matter at all? Are you arguing it doesn't?

Of course, the thought that maybe you personally just came up short for whatever reason isn't as pleasant to contemplate compared to telling yourself, oh, it must be because person X over there is a URM, and that's why he got in and I didn't.

You missed my point. You will never know why you got rejected, so no matter how you speculate on it, it doesn't really matter. It is interesting to many people that someone with such a low MCAT could get into a MD/PhD program. I mean look at the averages, I link 4 of them from the FAQ. They're all ~36! When presented with the truth that this particular person was not a URM, he wondered what other reasons it could be. It hardly seems like a fixed, false belief to me.
 
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dave613

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Awesome post Neuronix...


I couldn't have answered the first year med student any better myself.

A 0.5 average MCAT difference is alot different than 5.6 or more. Your reasons one and two are potentially correct. When you mention the sample size of the study, look for yourself. The link I provided includes 1,155 black matriculants. If you change the URL to 2004 instead of 2005, you will find another 1,000+ with very similar numbers. You can keep doing that for a few years, so the trend is real and consistant. Where all these lower number students are going is a good point. Maybe at the top research schools and MSTPs there's no difference in GPA and MCAT. I'd like to know either way.



From the other thread where I got flamed lately http://drslounge.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=345182 we know this data must exist.



The strange thing is that I know several people who did or at least got into every school they did apply for except for maybe 1. I call these the all-stars. Some of them were URM, some weren't.



I don't believe in this "good fit" nonsense, except as it applies to the idea that someone may or may not come to your school due to regional selectivity. "Good fit" is used as a proxy for all sorts of reasons not accept someone. If they had a bad essay, they may not be a good fit as a result, but the real reason is that they had a bad essay. There's always objective reasons for accepting or rejecting someone. If there wasn't such objective reasons, why does GPA or MCAT matter at all? Are you arguing it doesn't?



You missed my point. You will never know why you got rejected, so no matter how you speculate on it, it doesn't really matter. It is interesting to many people that someone with such a low MCAT could get into a MD/PhD program. I mean look at the averages, I link 4 of them from the FAQ. They're all ~36! When presented with the truth that this particular person was not a URM, he wondered what other reasons it could be. It hardly seems like a fixed, false belief to me.
 

dave613

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Awesome post Neuronix...


I couldn't have answered the first year med student any better myself.

Just a side note, on Cornell's TRI-I website, they claim to have accepted people with 27-45 Mcats. This is interesting twofold: firstly, I had no idea people have gotten 45s. Secondly, it might help prove some of the claims people here have been mentioning that MD/PhD programs of high caliber do ordinarily accept lower MCAT score than what I would have expected.

Something to think about...
 

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A 0.5 average MCAT difference is alot different than 5.6 or more. Your reasons one and two are potentially correct. When you mention the sample size of the study, look for yourself. The link I provided includes 1,155 black matriculants. If you change the URL to 2004 instead of 2005, you will find another 1,000+ with very similar numbers. You can keep doing that for a few years, so the trend is real and consistant. Where all these lower number students are going is a good point. Maybe at the top research schools and MSTPs there's no difference in GPA and MCAT. I'd like to know either way.
I would, too. Again, I think it's probably impossible to generalize about URM students at top research schools because so few of them go there. And I think my point that there is a much larger proportion of URMs at lower tiered schools versus higher tiered ones can explain a lot of the variation in the AAMC stats. Someone with an MCAT in the mid-twenties is not scoring below the average at any of the historically black schools. Most black students attend historically black schools and very few attend top research schools or MSTPs. So it is not like tons of URMs are getting into top schools with substandard credentials just because of their race.

Neuronix said:
From the other thread where I got flamed lately http://drslounge.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=345182 we know this data must exist.
Even if it does exist, we don't have it, which brings us back around to the fact that we're just speculating again. ;)

Neuronix said:
I don't believe in this "good fit" nonsense, except as it applies to the idea that someone may or may not come to your school due to regional selectivity. "Good fit" is used as a proxy for all sorts of reasons not accept someone. If they had a bad essay, they may not be a good fit as a result, but the real reason is that they had a bad essay. There's always objective reasons for accepting or rejecting someone. If there wasn't such objective reasons, why does GPA or MCAT matter at all? Are you arguing it doesn't?
I don't think that reasons for accepting or rejecting people are completely objective actually. I would not go so far as to say that medical school applications are totally subjective, but I do think there is a large subjective aspect to them. That's why it's so different to get into medical school in this country versus in say, India, where they all take a national exam and the top certain number of scorers get slots while everyone else is rejected. I propose that the role of MCAT and GPA is more for filtering out people who are completely unacceptable candidates and not so much for picking people who are the best candidates. Schools probably define "unacceptable" in different ways. But if med school applications were totally objective, why do we need ECs, LORs, and interviews? Wouldn't it be a lot easier (and a lot more objective!) for the adcomms to just have everyone submit their MCATs, GPAs, and number of pubs and pick the people with the highest numbers? Heck, they could even rank pubs by degree of impact, order of authorship, etc. and not just by number of them if they needed objective help to decide between 4.0/40+ applicant number one and 4.0/40+ applicant number two.

Neuronix said:
You missed my point. You will never know why you got rejected, so no matter how you speculate on it, it doesn't really matter. It is interesting to many people that someone with such a low MCAT could get into a MD/PhD program. I mean look at the averages, I link 4 of them from the FAQ. They're all ~36! When presented with the truth that this particular person was not a URM, he wondered what other reasons it could be. It hardly seems like a fixed, false belief to me.
I agree that it doesn't matter, and I also agree that the Harvard student is interesting because they're an anomaly. I would like to know what was so special about that Harvard student too. You have also missed MY point. Again, what I was objecting to was not the poster's speculation as much as the imperious tone with which it was given and the fact that no other equally if not more likely possibilities were even considered. I have been arguing that we do not have the evidence to make such strong statements about URM status giving people such a boost in the admissions process. Asking if something is true and saying it like it is an established fact are not the same thing. As soon as Maebea said that someone had a 26 at Harvard, right away he jumped to the conclusion that the student must be a URM, as if merely being URM somehow in and of itself could get someone into Harvard. And as it turns out, he wasn't even right about the student being URM. So basically all we know at this point is that there was some compelling reason that convinced Harvard to take a white student with a 26 MCAT, and we can probably safely assume that it wasn't because of their race. :laugh:

Anyway, besides the fact that we have no way to ever find out the answer to the question of why that student got into Harvard, we have also completely hijacked the OP's thread and he has now disappeared altogether. OP, you have my apology.
 

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Some people write "manuscript in preparation," "in review," or "in press" on their CV. I have seen faculty members do them, and I don't think there's anything wrong with doing so.
I've seen it too, but I thought the OP was going to put in on their application. I feel the practice inflates things and can easily be abused, so I warn against it.

As this has transformed into a URM thread, I ask the mods to consider whether it should be moved.
 

gbwillner

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I propose that the role of MCAT and GPA is more for filtering out people who are completely unacceptable candidates and not so much for picking people who are the best candidates. Schools probably define "unacceptable" in different ways. But if med school applications were totally objective, why do we need ECs, LORs, and interviews? Wouldn't it be a lot easier (and a lot more objective!) for the adcomms to just have everyone submit their MCATs, GPAs, and number of pubs and pick the people with the highest numbers?

Sorry to add to the threadjack, but I only want to comment on this one statement.
Schools have their own criteria for admissions, although for the most part, they are all the same. The difference between them is usually mere percentages of weight they give to your success in your MCAT, GPA, interview, and the quality of your undergraduate institution.
However, to say that MCATs and grades only serve as a cut-off is not accurate. Don't forget that schools care a great deal about their rankings in arbitrary systems, like the US news and world report rankings. A sizable part of that rank is school competitiveness, and schools want the most competitive students to boost their score. They are also more likely to receive additional NIH funds based on the quality of students they bring in. Schools will often take a poor student just for having stellar scores. It happens all the time. You can get away with less research, and being introverted if you have a 40-45 MCAT. Of course, the degree to which this helps you depends on the school.

Its also no surprise that people with terrible scores can get into Harvard. For those that know the application system there, you know this is true because decisions can be overruled by the executive committee (or whatever it's called nowadays) regardless of reason. Of all the places I interviewed, this was the one school with the "good 'ol boys" firmly in charge.
 

Neuronix

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In Response to RxnMan,

Moved where? Did Lee create a URM discussion forum? ;)

Maybe I'm in a minority here, but I've always felt that no topic relating to MD/PhD should be taboo in this forum. Since that comprises a wide variety of topics, I'm perfectly happy with there being a wide discussion of issues, even if in pre-allo they would end up getting closed or thrown into the Everyone forum (which btw is no longer the everyone forum so I dunno where to throw things anymore?). I think we can pull this off because we don't have the same sort of chaos they have over in pre-allo. It also reflects my personal bias towards moderating... I always feel as if moderators should use their powers as infrequently as possible within reason.

One could perhaps argue this should be a separate thread, but it's not all that tangential to the beginning--i.e. what factors can offset MCAT and GPA? Can URM status do that to some extent or no? What discussion thread goes for a few pages without moving off on some kind of tangent anyways?

We're in the fortunate position where we have a relatively close knit group that is relatively tame. We've discussed URM issues before without flame wars, and I suspect we'll do it again. Indeed, it seems as if this discussion will also be a civil one. If it gets out of hand I'll be happy to close it.

In response to CCLCMer,

Your points are well taken. I don't really have anything to add except to wonder if Maebea could chime in and let us know if URMs do have the same GPA/MCAT in MSTP admissions as non-URMs. It's true that admissions is a combination of subjective and objective factors. Exactly how much those are weighted are going to depend on the school and the adcom. My experience as a high numbered, but very disadvantaged applicant led me to believe my numbers were much more important, but then again I'm just one guy?

BTW, erraticVibe if you still have questions please post them or start a new thread. We're here to discuss, but we're here to answer questions more ;)
 

QofQuimica

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Schools will often take a poor student just for having stellar scores. It happens all the time. You can get away with less research, and being introverted if you have a 40-45 MCAT.
Hmm. Are you speaking about all admissions, or specifically MD/PhD programs? Because it sure didn't "happen all of the time" for me. Besides my MCAT score, I consider myself to be fairly outgoing, which I think I can back up with my teaching background. Plus I applied already having a MS and PhD, so I had a ton of research experience compared to most medical school applicants. Someone should tell every school that rejected me that they missed the memo that my MCAT was supposed to be my golden ticket. ;)

Neuro, how about if we split this thread into two? It's not really fair to take over someone's thread, but this is an interesting discussion as long as it stays civil.
 

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Sorry to add to the threadjack, but I only want to comment on this one statement.
Schools have their own criteria for admissions, although for the most part, they are all the same. The difference between them is usually mere percentages of weight they give to your success in your MCAT, GPA, interview, and the quality of your undergraduate institution.
However, to say that MCATs and grades only serve as a cut-off is not accurate. Don't forget that schools care a great deal about their rankings in arbitrary systems, like the US news and world report rankings. A sizable part of that rank is school competitiveness, and schools want the most competitive students to boost their score. They are also more likely to receive additional NIH funds based on the quality of students they bring in. Schools will often take a poor student just for having stellar scores. It happens all the time. You can get away with less research, and being introverted if you have a 40-45 MCAT. Of course, the degree to which this helps you depends on the school.
I swore I wasn't going to post in this thread anymore. :laugh: But I just want to clarify and say that I didn't mean to suggest that all the people who make it above a school's score cutoff are then considered to be equal. I agree that schools still rank applicants by score even above the bare minimum. But there are some people whose scores are so low that they will get rejected from most schools right away even with superb ECs, and others whose scores are high enough that some schools even automatically invite them. Then at some point, if their scores are all more or less competitive, the subjective factors start to become more important. Someone with a score below 30 is at a disadvantage but isn't necessarily out of the game if they have other things going for them, and not just their race.

I also want to tell dave613 no hard feelings. I know you are at a really stressful time in the application process and I remember how hard it was last year when I was going through it too. I hope your apps go well, and try not to drive yourself too crazy trying to understand the decision making process of adcomms. :cool:
 

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No offense taken.

I swore I wasn't going to post in this thread anymore. :laugh: But I just want to clarify and say that I didn't mean to suggest that all the people who make it above a school's score cutoff are then considered to be equal. I agree that schools still rank applicants by score even above the bare minimum. But there are some people whose scores are so low that they will get rejected from most schools right away even with superb ECs, and others whose scores are high enough that some schools even automatically invite them. Then at some point, if their scores are all more or less competitive, the subjective factors start to become more important. Someone with a score below 30 is at a disadvantage but isn't necessarily out of the game if they have other things going for them, and not just their race.

I also want to tell dave613 no hard feelings. I know you are at a really stressful time in the application process and I remember how hard it was last year when I was going through it too. I hope your apps go well, and try not to drive yourself too crazy trying to understand the decision making process of adcomms. :cool:
 

gbwillner

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Hmm. Are you speaking about all admissions, or specifically MD/PhD programs? Because it sure didn't "happen all of the time" for me. Besides my MCAT score, I consider myself to be fairly outgoing, which I think I can back up with my teaching background. Plus I applied already having a MS and PhD, so I had a ton of research experience compared to most medical school applicants. Someone should tell every school that rejected me that they missed the memo that my MCAT was supposed to be my golden ticket. ;)

Neuro, how about if we split this thread into two? It's not really fair to take over someone's thread, but this is an interesting discussion as long as it stays civil.

my comment was concerning MSTP programs. Regular MD programs vary on their responses to research- very strong academic programs like research a lot, and other programs consider it on par (or below) volunteering and the old folk's home.
However, there are mitigating circumstances. If you apply to medical school and you already have a MS and a PhD, and you've taught, chances are you are much older than the average applicant. Most schools will look at that as a huge negative. The reasons for this belong on another thread. It's not a killer, but if you think the MCATs alone (you didn't mention undergrad GPA) will get you into the one school you want, you may likely be mistaken.
 
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1Path

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I'm not saying he shouldn't ask the question of how much weight URM status really is given by program directors. I'm saying he shouldn't be spouting off his personal, preformed opinion like it's an indisputable fact and like he has any inside knowledge whatsoever about how the admissions process works. He's an applicant. He has no experience on an adcomm and no knowledge of how the process works from the inside. If Maebea or anyone else with adcomm experience wants to confirm what he said, then I'll stand corrected.

I understand the point you're trying to make, but there are at least a few problems with you using those stats to make it. You already pointed one out yourself: these stats are for all MD programs, not just MD/PhDs. We don't know if MD/PhD programs follow the same pattern, and it's not a fair assumption to make that they do based on my other two reasons. Second, I would wager that these stats are not entirely applicable to the schools that we are talking about here because so many of the schools with lower-scoring applicants tend to be schools that are not focused on research. In other words, yeah, if you include schools that are historically black and that historically cater to underserved populations, it's going to bring the overall score averages for blacks way down. But, if you look at the MCAT scores of the relatively few whites or Asians at those schools, they will also be way lower than the averages at the top research schools. In contrast, if you look at the scores of blacks versus other races at a school like Penn, I doubt you will find as much difference in the averages based on race. So just because both blacks and whites got into Meharry with a lower score doesn't mean that the blacks at Penn got in there with lower average scores compared to Penn's average. This is a segue to the third point, which is that you have a serious sample size problem. There are not very many blacks or other URMs in medical school period anywhere outside of the historically black schools. My class is way better than most with 10% black, but we're still only talking about a whole 3 people here (class size 32). If even one of them scored below a 30, that is going to seriously sink the overall average of the black students. I suspect the same thing is true at most if not all of the heavy research schools. There are so few URMs there that it only takes one URM with a below average score for the entire URM average to be below the school average. In contrast, you could have several whites or Asians with scores below average, and their scores would be balanced out by the majority of others that have scores at the average or above average.

My point is that there is entirely too much credit given for the success of URMs solely on their racial background. I mean, Asians score better than whites do on average, right? You showed us the stats yourself. They are also majorly over-represented in medical school compared to their proportion of the general population. So then why do I even see pre-meds posting about how they're not getting in anywhere because there are too many Asians in med school? :rolleyes: Where does the insanity stop? I didn't get into every school I applied to, either. When the rest of you are wondering sometimes why you didn't get into school X or Y, does it ever occur to anyone besides me that maybe they just didn't think I'm a good fit for their school, and there isn't any ulterior motive based on my race? Of course, the thought that maybe you personally just came up short for whatever reason isn't as pleasant to contemplate compared to telling yourself, oh, it must be because person X over there is a URM, and that's why he got in and I didn't.

GREAT post!:thumbup:

Now about this MCAT thing, over 20 years or so of being involved in/around medical schools, I have yet to see ANY major difference between students who score between 24-34 or so on the MCAT absolutely NO difference in grades in med school, residency placement, and USMLE scores. Therefore, it doesn't suprise me that so many MD/PhD students from ALL backgrounds show MCATS in the same range. And as I've been told by more than a few "top" schools, their MAIN interest in folks with high MCATS has more to do with NIH funding and ranking, rather than the idea that combined degree students with lower MCATS can't cut it in the program.
 

QofQuimica

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my comment was concerning MSTP programs. Regular MD programs vary on their responses to research- very strong academic programs like research a lot, and other programs consider it on par (or below) volunteering and the old folk's home.
However, there are mitigating circumstances. If you apply to medical school and you already have a MS and a PhD, and you've taught, chances are you are much older than the average applicant. Most schools will look at that as a huge negative. The reasons for this belong on another thread. It's not a killer, but if you think the MCATs alone (you didn't mention undergrad GPA) will get you into the one school you want, you may likely be mistaken.
Easy there, sonny. I'll bend you over my arthritic knee and hit you with my cane. ;) I *am* older than the average med student (30 when I applied and 31 now as an M1), but I wouldn't say I was much older to the point where "most schools will look at that as a huge negative." I also don't think it's as major of an issue for straight MD applicants as it is for MD/PhD applicants. I only had one interview out of 17 where the subject even came up, and interestingly it was from an assistant professor interviewer who was basically my age. FWIW, I was mostly being tongue-in-cheek when I replied to your last post. I didn't mention my undergrad GPA because I don't have one. I also don't have UG credit hours or grades. So I applied to med school with a 43 MCAT and a 0.00 GPA from my major UG institution. By your reckoning, no wonder schools didn't know what to do with me. I mean, yeah, I'd help their MCAT average, but wow, I'd also singlehandedly tank their GPA average. :smuggrin:
 

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Now about this MCAT thing, over 20 years or so of being involved in/around medical schools, I have yet to see ANY major difference between students who score between 24-34 or so on the MCAT absolutely NO difference in grades in med school, residency placement, and USMLE scores.

http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/research/bibliography/blueg001.htm

"Uniformly, the worst-fitting model was that which consisted of only the three control variables GPA, gender, and URM status."

...

"Control variables plus MCAT score accounted for 38% of the variation in USMLE Step 1 scores, 38% of the variation in final GPA, and 28% of the variation in USMLE Step 2 scores."

http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/research/bibliography/koeni008.htm

"MCAT scores had slightly higher correlations with medical school grades (median correlations ranging from .615 to .67) than did UGPA data (median correlations ranging from .54 to .58). Prediction of performance was improved when the two sets of predictors were considered together (median correlations of .70 to .76). A considerable difference was noted when median correlations were compared for UGPA predicting Step 1 (median R=.48) versus MCAT predicting Step 1 (median R=.72). When MCAT and GPA data were considered jointly, the median correlation coefficient increased. MCAT's utility in the admission process became evident when values obtained for predictor set 3 (UGPA and selectivity) were compared with those obtained for predictor set 5 (UGPA, selectivity, and MCAT). The increases in median values were .15 for year 1 GPA, .11 for year 2 GPA, .12 for cumulative GPA, and .22 for USMLE Step 1."

(Personally I'm not arguing for the current system, but rather giving you the data that AAMC uses to justify it.)
 

1Path

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Personally I'm not arguing for the current system, but rather giving you the data that AAMC uses to justify it.
If I under that "mumbo-jumbo" data (the intrepretation of the in that article was pretty confusing to me), are the saying that MCAT/GPA predicts success in med school? I'm not sure what else AAMC, who I understand runs the MCAT program, would say. In fact, I've read a few papers which say that MCAT and GPA are NOT predictive factors for who will do well in med school. And I read one paper which specifically addressed the URM issue, indicated that support ie mentoring and advising, was far more likely to play a role in URM attrition rates from an MD/PhD program than either MCAT, GPA, or the 2 factors combined.

Ironically, I spent this past summer enrolled in Medical Histology with first year med students who had failed the course during the school year. Based on what people said their MCAT's were, the average was around 32, and racially, the class was 70% Asian. Based on "numbers", GPA/MCAT", I'm sure no one would have guessed at the beginning of the school year, that this one class full of people who FAILED a course in med school, would not only be majority Asian, but have above average MCAT's.

The moral of the story for me was that having great numers is great and may contribute to getting you in med school, but that it doesn't guarentee you ANYTHING once you matriculate.
 

RxnMan

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...Moved where? Did Lee create a URM discussion forum? ;)...
...getting closed or thrown into the Everyone forum (which btw is no longer the everyone forum so I dunno where to throw things anymore?)...
He did. I forgot the name of it yesterday (and it still eludes me,) but it's something like "Sociopolitical Issues," A.K.A. "The URM thread Graveyard," "Everyone call everyone a racist" and "The AA Flame-War Thunderdome" :laugh:

...We've discussed URM issues before without flame wars, and I suspect we'll do it again. Indeed, it seems as if this discussion will also be a civil one. If it gets out of hand I'll be happy to close it...
If you feel this to be the case, then cool. The issue of more strictly monitoring AA/URM threads was rasied on the Advisor forum, I was reminded when I was reading through this thread, and I wanted to put the idea out there.

With respect to GPA/MCAT numbers - I'm doing quite fine in my classes and I have an atricous ugrad GPA. There's some kids who came in with me and they're struggling. What's the difference? Who knows. I think the admissions problem lies in that you're trying to measure qualities that are very difficult to measure - hard work and the ability to understand a large amount of material quickly. Does the MCAT measure these? Does GPA? Not really, but applicants with some gestalt of these, and are informed (i.e., clinical experience), generally turn out to be good docs.

When someone comes up with the HSTOMSAFTI100%A (Highly Specific Test Of Medical School Applicant Fitness That Is 100% Acuurate), then maybe we'll have perfect correlations with ugrad and med school gpas and residencies. Until then, we have heurisitcs.

I agree with 1Path - once you get in, it's a level playing field (in most respects). You have to find a new skills to fight to the top of the heap.
 

QofQuimica

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When someone comes up with the HSTOMSAFTI100%A (Highly Specific Test Of Medical School Applicant Fitness That Is 100% Acuurate), then maybe we'll have perfect correlations with ugrad and med school gpas and residencies. Until then, we have heurisitcs.

I agree with 1Path - once you get in, it's a level playing field (in most respects). You have to find a new skills to fight to the top of the heap.
I'll agree with you both too, but only on one condition: you must tell me how to correctly pronounce "HSTOMSAFTI100%A." And don't even THINK of making that acronym plural. ;)
 

RxnMan

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I'll agree with you both too, but only on one condition: you must tell me how to correctly pronounce "HSTOMSAFTI100%A." And don't even THINK of making that acronym plural. ;)
You just got the first question on the HSTOMSAFTI100%A wrong. Sorry.
 

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Hmm...awesome, loads of information. Thanks everybody~!!
 

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Agree.

OP, you sound like you're in great shape. Your GPA is fine. Your practice MCAT scores are in the right range, and if you're consistently scoring in the low 30s, you'll probably do around that on the real test too. When are you taking it? Lots of :luck: to you. :)

Hi, didn't want to break the vibe (erratically), but wanted to do a follow up question. Basically I'm in a position where:

1. My GPA is somewhat stable
2. My MCATs are low
3. I have some debt, not much, but definately want that paid off soon
4. No real world experience.
5. No significant clinical experience

I'm sort of hesitant to jump in this upcoming cycle, because I feel like I haven't really lived. For this reason, I sort of wanted to take a year or two off, to do some things such as take a break from school, make some money and pay off that debt, do some sort of clinical volunteering, take an mcat course and get those numbers up, as well as kick ass and take names.

I was just wondering if it would put adcoms prefer someone to do research in the time that they're off, or they don't mind that I took a break just to travel and live life off the edge (LOTE) for a year, before entering the application
 

solitude

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Hi, didn't want to break the vibe (erratically), but wanted to do a follow up question. Basically I'm in a position where:

1. My GPA is somewhat stable
2. My MCATs are low
3. I have some debt, not much, but definately want that paid off soon
4. No real world experience.
5. No significant clinical experience

I'm sort of hesitant to jump in this upcoming cycle, because I feel like I haven't really lived. For this reason, I sort of wanted to take a year or two off, to do some things such as take a break from school, make some money and pay off that debt, do some sort of clinical volunteering, take an mcat course and get those numbers up, as well as kick ass and take names.

I was just wondering if it would put adcoms prefer someone to do research in the time that they're off, or they don't mind that I took a break just to travel and live life off the edge (LOTE) for a year, before entering the application



My guess is that adcoms would prefer that you do research in your year off. Whether you should actually do research during that year is another matter entirely, because I don't advocate doing something for an entire year simply because that is what is expected of you. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate for the year off (MCAT, clinical volunteering, pay off the debt), and kicking ass and taking names would be fun. I think it will really depend on how much research experience you have already. If you have a good few years and good recs, etc. then you could afford to LOTE and still get in. On the other hand, if your research is mediocre a la your MCAT, you may need the year of research to get in. In passing I should note that some techs get paid pretty good money, so you could kill two birds with one stone.
 

QofQuimica

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Hi, didn't want to break the vibe (erratically), but wanted to do a follow up question. Basically I'm in a position where:

1. My GPA is somewhat stable
2. My MCATs are low
3. I have some debt, not much, but definately want that paid off soon
4. No real world experience.
5. No significant clinical experience

I'm sort of hesitant to jump in this upcoming cycle, because I feel like I haven't really lived. For this reason, I sort of wanted to take a year or two off, to do some things such as take a break from school, make some money and pay off that debt, do some sort of clinical volunteering, take an mcat course and get those numbers up, as well as kick ass and take names.

I was just wondering if it would put adcoms prefer someone to do research in the time that they're off, or they don't mind that I took a break just to travel and live life off the edge (LOTE) for a year, before entering the application
I think if you are going to take a year off, you should have a definite plan, and you should use that time to get an experience that will be of benefit to you as a future scientist and clinician. Taking a year off to travel to another country to volunteer or do research is a plan that sounds impressive. Taking a year off to go hang out and get high in Amsterdam doesn't quite have that same ring on the ol' AMCAS, you follow me? ;)
 

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http://www.aamc.org/data/facts/2006/mcatgparaceeth.htm

This chart clearly shows that URMs get into medical school with lower GPAs and MCATs on average than non-URMs.

To post some of the information from the chart here:
Black matriculants average MCAT 25.3, GPA 3.39
White matriculants average MCAT 30.9, GPA 3.67
Asian matriculants average MCAT 31.5, GPA 3.66

One must be careful not to extrapolate the extremes. i.e. Everyone with a low MCAT and/or GPA must be a URM, or all URMs got in with a lower MCAT or GPA than non-URMS.

any sample that is large enough follows normal distribution. and the standard deviation, too, depends on the sample size, it is actually greater when the sample size is smaller. so one could predict the %iles of one group vs another.
 
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