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The Myth of Improving a GPA.

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Kikaku21, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. Kikaku21

    Kikaku21 Senior Member
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    We have all seen the 1,000s of threads about improving your GPA and/or MCAT score when people either fail to get in, or really know that the 3.0 and the 26N are just not quite competitive enough.

    Now-- I recently had a friend that is more or less in this boat. People suggested she "improve her GPA by taking additional classes." Seems reasonable right? But why? Do people ever stop and think about how LONG it would take to bring up a GPA?? With the exception of screwing up a semester freshman year, a GPA is based on 6 to 8 semesters of coursework. Adding one or two more semesters, under the generous assumtion of getting straight A's will only boost your GPA a tiny bit. (For example, my entire post-bacc program boosted me from 3.65 to 3.7, making all A's) If you have a 3.0 Science GPA, you will, at best, improve it around 0.1 per quarter... And that is only at the beginning--- then the law of diminishing returns kicks in. And a science GPA is based on way less credit hours than the overall GPA. Bringing up an overall GPA by .5 would be damn near impossible! So you might improve your Science GPA from 3.0 to 3.3? The average is still in the neighborhood of 3.5+. This doesn't even address the fact that a person's study habits, test taking skills, raw ability, etc are what designated a 3.0 to begin with!! Why doesn't anyone ever talk about these things?? "Hey dude, you need to study differently." The answer seems to always be: "Take more classes and work really hard." Perhaps there are other underlying issues here?

    MCAT? Maybe. But thats another blog.
     
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  2. MonkeyNuts!

    MonkeyNuts! Even Kal has bad days...
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    That's why in Pardi's "what is more important, GPA or MCAT", I chose GPA - not because adcoms look at it more than MCAT, but only because it is harder to fix a bad GPA. Takes more money and time than MCAT, definitely now with the new frequent computer versions. Of course, there are exceptions - especially if your standardized test taking skills are really, really bad.

    But a post bacc, SMP, or any other fix for the GPA takes too much time and money.
     
  3. sunnyjohn

    sunnyjohn Got Mustard?
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    Hear that?

    That was the sound of a million pre-med hearts breaking.
     
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  4. armybound

    armybound urologist.
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    3.3 is better than a 3.0, even if it's not a 3.5. There will be people above and below the 3.5.

    I went from a 3.0 in the sciences to a 3.3 in 2 semesters, as a senior. Sure it's not impressive, but I feel a lot better applying with a 3.3 than a 3.0. Schools may also consider a trend, looking at your last xx hours with a 4.0 compared to your first xx with a 3.0
     
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  5. IckeyShuffle

    IckeyShuffle MS1 t-minus 1.5 months..
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    i think an upward trend is definately important but if you have a really low GPA from undergrad you may never recover. you will probably be screened out no matter how much your gpa improves. That being said it is justifiable to take someone who didnt screw up in their undergrad vs someone who did. Why punish someone who never had to bring up their gpa. it makes sense but it is definately frustrating.
     
  6. armybound

    armybound urologist.
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    failure can be a great tool for personal growth.. not everyone is perfect all of the time.. learning from your mistakes is a good thing.
     
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  7. OP
    OP
    Kikaku21

    Kikaku21 Senior Member
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    Sure-- A 3.3 is better than a 3.0 -- No doubt. You may be an exception I was talking about. First-- you are talking science GPA, not overall, so improvement as a senior is plausable. Next, how many science courses made up your 3.0 GPA? My point was about people who have a lot of credits making up this GPA. Third-- I quoted a 0.1 increase per quarter-- On a semester system, this is exactly what you acheived.

    Finally. Its a 3.3-- The average GPA of accepted medical students is 3.5 - 3.6 -- so it depends on the rest of your application. You "feeling better" is quite not that relevant here. You explaining why you have a 3.3 INSTEAD of a 3.6 is relevant. You having terrific ECs and a stellar MCAT is relevant.

    I don't want to be discouraging... Just realistic. A 3.3 is still below PAR and requires an explanation.
     
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  8. armybound

    armybound urologist.
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    I won't disagree with you that it's unimpressive, I just don't see it as a "why bother?" situation, or one that people have no ability to recover from.

    and my overall GPA did go from 3.1 to 3.3. so you're right, it doesn't go up much, but a little is better than none.
     
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  9. IckeyShuffle

    IckeyShuffle MS1 t-minus 1.5 months..
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    i completely agree with this... i use a post pac program to up my science gpa from a 3.1 to a 3.7. that being said it would be hard to punish someone for "never failing." that is like saying you have the expectation for them to fail.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Kikaku21

    Kikaku21 Senior Member
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    Why bother is certainly not the attitude I am promoting. If you are 3.3ish-- apply MD by all means. But also apply DO, where your chances are better. Your MCAT is 30ish, which is several points above the average DO. I you want to be a doctor, by all practical standard, you can be.
     
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  11. OP
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    Kikaku21

    Kikaku21 Senior Member
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    How many science classes did you take in undergrad? 2?
     
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  12. armybound

    armybound urologist.
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    nah, I'm not saying to punish people for not failing, they have their place in the world too (those bastards).

    I'm just saying it's not the end of the world if a person did make a mistake, even a big one, but managed to learn from it and get back in the rhythm. if I can make a 35 on the MCAT on my 3rd try and you got it on your first, we still both made a 35, didn't we? we're both capable of it.
    Sorry, it seemed to me like you were saying in your original post that there's no point in trying to bring up your GPA because it would take too long to do, and you'd still be below average
     
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  13. OP
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    Kikaku21

    Kikaku21 Senior Member
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    Thats what I said. I didn't say to give up though. There is a difference.
     
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  14. armybound

    armybound urologist.
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    haha, so you're just saying "It's pointless, but.. have fun."

    I dunno, these arguments are always not fun. Those people who have great GPAs say GPA is more important, those with great MCATs say MCAT is more important, those of us working on getting our GPA up think "recent trend" is important.. bottom line is all we know is our own situation.
     
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  15. OP
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    Kikaku21

    Kikaku21 Senior Member
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    Yes of course. People who are in certain situations tend to focus on different obstacles and also attribute importance based on personal strengths. In reality, however, only one of those items you listed is ACTUALLY the most important. If you ran a regression model with acceptance/rejection on one side, only 1 right hand variable would have the highest coefficient. And its probably GPA or MCAT. So, at the end of the day, one of us is right and one of us is wrong. Either GPA is more important, or trend is more important. I'm betting on the former.

    And again. I didn't say "give up." I said go DO, which in my mind is just as good as MD.
     
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  16. dpmd

    dpmd Relaxing
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    The reason you want to try to "improve your GPA" is because the alternative will likely not be helpful. I am not saying you need to take extra classes or whatever, just that you need to perform better on your remaining classes. I disagree that it won't be helpful. Given a fixed other portion of the application, will a school prefer someone with a steady 3.0, or someone that brought that 3.0 to a 3.3 by getting nearly straight A's for a period of time (not comparing against other people, just the individual with the low GPA, versus their potential improved GPA). The other thing to do is improve the other parts of your application as well. Basically, you should try for the best application you can give, and be prepared with an alternative. It's better than just giving up.

    Of course, my opinion might be biased because I got in to a few schools with a sub 3.0 GPA.
     
  17. NewYorkDoc

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    ot- Armybound your avatar IS GREAT! I LOVE IT! :laugh:
     
  18. OP
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    Kikaku21

    Kikaku21 Senior Member
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    Bringing your 3.0 to a 3.3 IS impressive. But probably not that helpful. You may be an exception, but most people I know with <= 3.0 didn't even get an interview. Having a 3.5 greatly improves you chances. Bottom line: A school would prefer a 3.3 to a 3.0, but they never ask themselves this question because there are plenty of 3.5+ out there.
     
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  19. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    You might think that, but in fact a 3.3 after a lengthy postbac of all A's tends to get you into med school more often than not. The average in allo med is a 3.5 precisely because a good chunk of the matriculants will have below that. FWIW, someone coming into med school with years of straight A's is perceived as consideration worthy even if they dug themselves a bit of a hole in earlier years. Many schools prefer a 3.3 with such a lengthy upward trend over someone with a 3.5 where their GPA has steadilly declined over their college years.
     
  20. gujuDoc

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    What I'm about to say may reflect only what I've heard from the Diversity Initiatives office at USF, but essentially yeah you can't repair a bad GPA to a stellar one, but you can show a positive trend upward and that you've changed. If you've graduated with one degree and do a postbacc of between 30-60 hours (1-2 years) to get a second degree then those grades will be looked at both combined with the old GPA as well as separately.

    If such GPA is coupled with a stellar MCAT score then people will have a second chance. As an example look through MDapps for various people's profiles and you'll see not everyone has the 3.6+ GPA.

    Another thing, graduate programs although not averaged into undergrad GPA are looked at separately and may help to a certain extent especially if it is an SMP program.
     
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  21. gujuDoc

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    This is especially true when coupled with good MCAT scores and experiences.
     
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  22. gujuDoc

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    So true!!! Only an adcom can decide what is important and I think they look at each application in context of that individual's situation.
     
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  23. dopaminesurge

    dopaminesurge My friends calls me Steve
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    Greatest. Avatar. Ever. Not that I'm not a perp myself. How'd I never see this before?
     
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  24. armybound

    armybound urologist.
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    I put it up yesterday
     
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  25. scgroat

    scgroat New Member
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    I guess I am the exception to your theory, which, by the way, is true. If you work really hard at having a very low GPA, it's easier to raise. My goal was to stay below a 2.5, which allowed me to raise my GPA with postbac work. If I had accidentally graduated with a 3.3, then it would have been very difficult to make any significant progress. In all seriousness, though, postbac work probably should not be done solely to improve one's GPA. A subpar GPA is often overlooked if the rest of your cards are lined up properly. I'd go as far as saying that one could get in with a mere 3.0 given some persistence and the right gameplan. Interesting subject, though, and an enjoyable discussion!
     
  26. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    This makes no sense to me. You address the shortcomings in your application. If those shortcomings are grades, you take additional courses to improve those grades, or at least to demonstrate your current abilities. The whole industry of upper level course postbacs, and SMPs is predicated on this notion. Your odds of getting into med school are much better if you have slightly above a 3.0 but a couple of semesters of straight A's in a postbac/SMP than with some persistence or game plan. You get rewarded for fixing things in this process.
     
  27. dpmd

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    The 3.0-3.3 improvement was someone else, my stats were more like 2.6 ish to 2.85 overall (and 2.7 to 2.8 BCPM). And it is completely false that a school doesn't ask this question, because most schools are looking for a package, not a set number (although some schools are number whores and remain such for residency selection). They look at other facets of your application (besides just MCAT and URM status) and seek out those they feel will be an asset to their class. So if you have an interesting application but a little trouble in school, you will help yourself by studying better and making better grades.
     
  28. crumbelievable

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    yeh, mine is the loudest . . . i did poorly in college (2.65 cum, 2.7 sci, 27p on mcats) due to family/personal problems but before that ive always been a top student. ive applied to smps and caribbean schools but today is one of those days when i have little hope of either of those working out so im looking at postbacc at a local college. i know that ultimately only an admissions committee has the final say, but what are my chances at a us allo school if i do well in the postbacc program? also, will my age hurt me (im 23 now, so by the time i finish postbacc and reapply i'll probably be 25-26)?
     
  29. MedStudentWanna

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    Is it an unspoken rule that you should get a second degree? I was told I didn't need another degree. To just do the pre-reqs and get 50-60 credits with as close to a 4.0 as possible. Is that wrong?
     
  30. gujuDoc

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    From what I've been told, you don't need the second degree but 30-60 hours of postbac regardless of degree will make a difference with as close to a 4.0 as possible.
     
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  31. gujuDoc

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    No but have you considered taking the MCAT again??
     
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  32. scgroat

    scgroat New Member
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    Hey Law2doc, you clearly are a very literal thinker. My answer, though partly serious in nature, was intended more for humor. And, yes, you're right. The game plan MAY involve improving one's GPA. It doesn't always have to, though. Where does your confusion lie?
     
  33. radiologydoctor

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    I improved my overall GPA from 3.1 to 3.4 in one semester (15 credits). I got 4 A's and a B-. So it does not take as long to raise your GPA like you claime it does. If I got all A's again the next semester, I would have raised my overal GPA by .6. I have a friend who raised her GPA from a 2.5 to 3.7 in 4 semesters.

     
  34. scgroat

    scgroat New Member
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    you're missing the point. the law of diminishing returns says that this becomes harder to do as you accumulate more hours. You obviously don't have many credit hours.
     
  35. scgroat

    scgroat New Member
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    [(3.74)15 + (3.1)(x)]/[15 + x]....you had 33 credit hours to begin with
     
  36. novawildcat

    novawildcat Senior Member
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    Its true, all you need to do is look at the math behind GPA calculations. It becomes harder to raise your GPA after you have taken a lot of classes. However, that doesn't mean that raising your GPA siginificantly isn't impossible, it is just difficult. I ended up with a 2.7 cumulative GPA my first semester Freshman year, this included a C in Bio. You want to know what I graduated with? A 3.72 with a BCPM of 3.8. You want to know how I was able to do it? I took 193 credits from freshman to sr. year and never f'ed up again (and I didn't do any post bac work). Yes raising your GPA significantly is possible, but it requires substantial effort.
     
  37. sejin8642

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    I partially agree with the OP. But GPA can be raised like 1.0 full points when you have small amounts of classes taken. For example, If your first year GPA is 2.0, You can raise it up to 3.0 by getting all A's in the next year.
     
  38. Disinence2

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    Nice.
     
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  39. radiologydoctor

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    I actually had 43 credits at that time. But, yes when a person gets over that 100 credit range it is very hard to raise the overall gpa. This is why graduate programs look at your last 60 credits and your gpa trend. I am more impressed with a person who had a 2.25 gpa their first two years of college and then improved their gpa up to about a 3.25 three years later more so then a person who got a 3.85 gpa their whole undergraduate life.
     
  40. TMP-SMX

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    Damn... I should have slacked off Freshman and Sophomore year... :rolleyes:
     
  41. Dr. C. Troy

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    My 3.96 GPA (in a science-intensive honors program nonetheless), comprised of 121 units thus far, where ~70% of those are science classes, hasn't really gotten me all that far.

    Needless to say, I'm starting to get really depressed with this whole process. If I'm going to get universally rejected, then I wish that I could have spent the past 4 years of my youth going abroad, seeing the world, and not spending my time in research labs, and running around trying to pick up every single community service/volunteer opportunity available.
     
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  42. armybound

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    well you seem like a real humble dude, I'm sure something will work out for you.
     
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  43. I am not sure where your depression stems from, You MDapps says you were accepted to mayo. To each his own though.
     
  44. Dr. C. Troy

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    I wish I was accepted at Mayo. I'm still waiting for them to make a decision, and there are 3 spots left. I got interviewed, and it went really well, but just having a good interview isn't good enough. A lot of my friends with lower scores/GPAs have had better luck than me.

    If I got into Mayo, I'd be bouncing off the walls and probably the happiest person in Arizona, if not the entire Southwest.
     
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  45. Ohhh my mistake. I am sorry about that. Maybe I should take my time to read next time. Your app looked stellar to me. I am really sorry.
     
  46. crazy_cavalier

    crazy_cavalier T3-Weighted
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    OP: I would suggest that you factor in the significance of a TREND in grades, ie., a consistent upward trend is a very good thing. Following your own example, if a person messed up royally their first couple semesters, and then nailed straight A's the remaining time, it is conceivable their cumulative would be a run-of-the-mill 3.4, but the trend would speak volumes, especially if you consider upper level coursework.
     
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  47. armybound

    armybound urologist.
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    I agree. My first 3 semesters were 2.5, 2.7, and 3.2, whereas my last 3 were 3.8, 3.9, and 4.0. Classes didn't get any easier, I just got some discipline and lived up to potential. Wish I could have done it all 4 years, but at least I did it at all.
     
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  48. Cirrus83

    Cirrus83 Too old for this
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    fwiw, it's easier to bring up a 3.0 than a 3.65.

    In fact, if you screwed up the first 2 years at college and had a flat 3.0, it's still possible to bring your overall GPA up to a ~3.5 by overloading like mad and keeping a 3.9x.

    Sounds insane, but that's pretty much what I ended up doing. Well, not *quite*, since my GPA was already improved to a 3.3 by sophmore year, but it took 2 semesters at 3.9+, one at 3.8+, and one at 3.7+ to bring it up.

    Point is, if your GPA is low, it's still possible to bring it up quite a bit just because the lower your GPA is the more the higher grades will bring up the average. A few 3.9 semesters averaged into a 3.7 GPA isn't going to move it much, but a few 3.9 semesters averaged into a 3.3 is going to bring up enough to get you into med school.

    Well, then again I'm not into med school =(
     
  49. dantt

    dantt Member
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    I some how don't think medical school admissions agree with you.
     
  50. Funky

    Funky This space is for sale
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    i'm more impressed with the 3.85 gpa if you ask me.
     
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