Medical Retaking Classes For Med School: What Every Premed Needs to Know

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If you have retaken classes in the past or will need to retake a class in the future, this post will tell you what you need to know—both in general and tailored to either the AMCAS application or the AACOMAS application.
  1. All grades earned are calculated into the cumulative GPA.

    While your college campus may offer grade forgiveness on transcripts for any classes failed and repeated, AMCAS does not and will calculate all attempts for the course. Even though the failed grade will hurt your GPA, it is worse not to retake the course and earn a passing grade. This is true whether it is a prerequisite course or not.

    Do people get accepted into medical school even though they have failed a course or two in the past? Yes. It’s all about demonstrating improvement. The most important thing you can do is to learn from the experience and improve. Many students have been accepted into medical school after failing and retaking a course or two early in their college education. Three or more F’s may be considered a deal-breaker.

  2. If you fail a course, retake the course on the same campus

    If you decide to repeat a class, whether you passed or failed it, only those courses taken on the same campus can be labeled a repeat course. In other words, if you fail a class on Campus A and take a similar class on Campus B, you cannot label the second course as a “repeat.” However, you will receive GPA credit for taking it.

    If you are not able to retake a course that you have failed on the same campus, it is still better to take an equivalent course on a different campus, even though AMCAS will not consider it a “repeat.” You can simply explain that you retook the course for a higher grade in your application essays.

  3. Don’t retake courses that you have passed unless you are returning to school and need the foundational knowledge

    If you received a C or higher in a course, there is no need to retake it. It is far more impressive for a student to take new upper-division biological science courses and excel in them rather than to repeat lower-division coursework. Upper-division courses are more similar to the level of course you will take in medical school. The only situation in which students are advised to retake a course that they have already passed is if they have been out of school for years, need the foundational knowledge, and plan on taking more courses in that subject.

How the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOMAS) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AMCAS) view your grades.​

AACOMAS and the AAMC use all grades received for repeated coursework in the total GPA—including the failing grade and all subsequent attempts.

For the AMCAS application, applicants must manually enter all coursework and grades into their application. You may wonder why they have you complete this seemingly repetitive and arduous section, given that they collect official copies of all transcripts. It allows them to create a standardized GPA calculation from which to compare all applicants.
While both of these application services request that applicants enter in the coursework to create a standardized approach and final calculation, each medical school has its own way of reviewing academic records. Individual schools may rely only on the official transcripts, the data entered and/or some combination of both or only a section of either. For example, some osteopathic medical schools only review the last 60 hours of coursework. Each school as well as each individual selection committee member has their own approach.

Here is the most important information that you need to know:


  • All attempts at repeating the failed course must be recorded with the correct units and grades earned each time because they are calculated into the GPA.

  • It does not matter where you took the class or retook it as long as you designate it as an equivalent course by labeling it “Repeated.”

  • Withdrawals cannot be considered repeats.

  • Classes that are designed to be retaken repeatedly, like PE classes, should not be listed as repeats.

  • You can list classes as “Repeated,” even if you did not receive a failing grade in them, if you are allowed to take the class for credit again by your undergraduate institution.

  • Some DO medical schools use this GPA calculation, others rely on official transcripts, and still others may review only the last 60 hours of coursework.
READ: The Quick Guide to Acing Your AACOMAS Application >>


  • All attempts at repeating the failed course must be recorded with the correct units and grades earned each time because they are calculated into the GPA.

  • AMCAS relies on the institution’s guidelines in allowing a student to retake a class (often this is only allowed for classes in which students have received failing grades, which is defined by each individual institution. AMCAS does not have a definition.).

  • Any classes that are repeated without receiving credit should be listed as “Exempt” courses. They will have no impact on your GPA totals.

  • Withdrawals and incompletes should not be included as repeat courses.

  • As stated above, AMCAS will not consider courses retaken on other campuses as “repeats.”
READ: Ace the AMCAS Application >>

Summing up:​

  • If you do need to retake a class, retake it at the same institution if at all possible so that whether you apply to osteopathic or allopathic schools, it will be considered a repeat course and demonstrate your improvement.

  • Before deciding to repeat a course, you will need to research your undergraduate institution’s policies on how they define a failing grade, and what rules they have about retaking classes or the number of times you can retake a class.

  • Taking classes for which you will not receive any credit will not help you in any way. Be strategic in your approach. Many students who have had to repeat classes have gotten accepted into medical school—it’s a matter of how quickly you can bounce back.

Do you have what it takes to gain acceptance to medical school? Read this article before you apply and find out what the adcoms really want to see in their applicants, beyond your GPA and MCAT scores.

Your transcript will significantly impact your chances of admission at your top-choice medical school. Our professional advisors have been on both sides of the admissions table and know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the details of the application process. Get in touch with Accepted today so we can help you build a medical school admissions strategy that will help you GET ACCEPTED.

Alicia McNease Nimonkar admissions expert
Alicia McNease Nimonkar worked for 5 years as the Student Advisor & Director at the UC Davis School of Medicine’s postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and other health professional programs. She has served Accepted’s clients since 2012 with roughly a 90% success rate. She has a Master of Arts in Composition and Rhetoric as well as Literature. Want Alicia to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!

Related Resources:

Applying to Medical School with Low Stats: What You Need to Know, a free guide
5 A’s for Your Low GPA, a podcast episode
Boost Your GPA for Medical School Acceptance

This article was originally posted on blog.accepted.com.