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Undergrad: Pass or Fail with Biochemistry or normal grading system..?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Zona Pellucida, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. Zona Pellucida

    7+ Year Member

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    I know this topic has been discussed extensively in regards to MD/DO schools but I have the option to take Biochemistry as a Pass/Fail this next semester.

    I will be taking:

    Genetics
    Microbial Ecology
    Physics II (w/Lab)
    Biochemistry
    Independent Research (Planning Stage)
    _____

    This is an issue for me mainly because this will be my last semester that will appear on my transcript before applying. Will medical schools look down upon me doing Pass/Fail?

    The only reason I would do this is because I have been on a constant upward trend since first semester freshman year (3.5..3.6..3.7..3.8..3.9) and there is no way I will realistically get a 4.0 with this schedule.

    I am a bit confused on this as a whole... how would a Pass/Fail factor into my GPA?

    I will probably just take it the normal grading system, I am just nervous I will shoot myself in the foot if something goes wrong as everyone always tells me "Biochem is the hardest UG class ever!"

    Not very comforting.
     
  2. SDN2013

    SDN2013 Athens
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    dont do pass fail for BCMP classes
     
  3. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    I'd say, generally speaking, it kind of depends on how many classes you've pass-failed in the past.

    In my PERSONAL opinion, biochemistry is not the best one to pass-fail because it's a requirement at a lot of schools. Pass-failing requirements is not really a great idea.

    But it's up to you. If your GPA now is a 3.7 or higher, I'd take the class for a letter grade. Keep open your option to pass-fail just in case something comes up.
     
  4. Zona Pellucida

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    I'm a 3.73. (Lower sGPA @ around 3.3)

    I love the teacher. Just nervous for the content but I guess I'll deal.

    I've never done a pass fail before so I don't think I'll start now.

    Thanks for helping me decide :thumbup:
     
  5. Charles_Carmichael

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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    Maybe it's just me, but most people I've come across who say biochem (undergrad) is really hard are ones who didn't put in the time/effort to learn the material. The material itself, in my opinion, isn't very hard; the thing that makes the class somewhat hard is memorizing all the tiny details that you need to know. If you do decide to take this class, I highly recommend keeping up with the material (ie. read the section in the book within a few days of having lecture on the topic, etc.). Keeping up really does make it a lot less stressful.

    Also, it's completely possible to get a 4.0 with your current schedule. Yes, it'll require that you spend more time studying than you would with an "easier" schedule but if you can manage time efficiently, you'll be just fine. Make a study schedule and stick to it. For example, I had 20 credits last semester including biochem, physiology, and physics, in addition to research and other ECs. I knew it was going to be a tough semester but I made a schedule of when I'm going to study and what I wanted to get done during that time and, more importantly, I stuck to it. Not only did I pull off a 4.0, but my social life didn't really take a hit either. I'm not saying this to brag or anything, just that by managing your time efficiently, you can make this semester not as hard as you think it is.

    Edit: I don't think you should take biochem for pass/fail. I feel that doing so will make it easier to slack off compared to when you're striving for an A (ie. you're more motivated to learn the material when going for an A rather than just a pass). I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else. I might be crazy. :laugh:
     
  6. flip26

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    Is this a rule you can cite, or an opinion?

    Not challenging it if it is your opinion, but I would like to see something about this official...

    For example, where is it written that pre-reqs must be for a letter grade? It sure makes sense, but I am not sure I have ever seen it in "black and white."
     
  7. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    A few of schools I applied to explicitly stated this. I can't remember which ones off the top of my head. I'm tempted to say Pittsburgh, Cornell, and Vanderbilt but it's been such a long time I don't remember for sure and I'm a bit too lazy to look it up ;) None of these schools had a biochemistry requirement, though, to the best of my recollection.

    The odds that the OP would have a problem fulfilling pre-reqs with P-Fing biochemistry is not good.
    ------------

    OP, actually, with a 3.3 sGPA, I actually might *consider* pass-failing biochem if you think you're going to get lower than a B+. Just leave your options open for as long as you can -- that's going to be key. You don't want biochemistry to consume your entire life and hurt your other grades -- sometimes that happens with very difficult courses. Biochem at my school was an absolute cinch, but that doesn't mean that your school's course is going to be the same.

    There is NO shame in pass-failing one course. I pass-failed one of the pre-med requirements as an undergrad (it was a bio course that almost every person at my school uses as a pre-req) and I just ended up taking another upper-division bio course in graduate school. And now I'm happily accepted at several places.
     
  8. Zona Pellucida

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    I'm jealous! Thanks for the advice. I will try my best... I always do. I have a goal of 3.7+ ing but of course I will strive for the 4.0. I'm just a bit more nervous as along with the semester I will be ECing and studying for my late May MCAT.

    We'll see!
     
  9. Zona Pellucida

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    Thanks for the advice pianola. Keeping the option available sounds like a good idea...

    I think I will be able to pull at least a B+ off as I have only gotten 1 C in a BCMP course freshman year first semester and my B's were also freshman year (All in Gen Chem and Gen Chem lab). Other than that I have been a B+ or higher in everything. I am friends with the professor as well (after the hours I camped in his office for O-Chem last year! haha) so I'm sure he will have my best interests in mind and help me decide what to do, mid-course.
     
    #9 Zona Pellucida, Jan 4, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
  10. RoyBasch

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    Most schools will not count P/F classes towards your specific course requirements and at some--although definitely not all or most--schools biochemistry is a requirement. If you P/F biochem, even if you pass you will have to take it again if you decide to go to a school that requires it. So P/Fing it could limit your future options. I don't think a small blip in the upward trend will be that destructive, as long as you dont go from a 3.9 to a 3.2 for the semester, especially in light of the fact that it is a tough semester.
    -Roy
     
  11. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    Sounds like you're good to go, OP :). Good luck :luck::luck::luck:.
     
  12. scarletgirl777

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    I don't think that courses with the same title compare very well across schools, so a course that might be manageable at your university might be taught in a different way in the OP's. For example, the biochem course at my school was definitely considered to be very challenging, even by people who put in the work, managed their time etc. Also, different people are just different in terms of their strengths and what class-style they learn best in.

    If you P/F the class, it can't fill med school requirements. However, most med schools do not have a biochem requirement. Personally, I've applied and been accepted to several pretty competitive schools, and my lack of a biochem course has not come up once. If you want to take the course just for your edification and do it P/F, I don't think anyone will look down on you for doing that.
     

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