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undergrad tougher than med school?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by panda81, Dec 5, 2002.

  1. panda81

    panda81 Member
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    Over thanksgiving break, a girl friend of mine from home was claiming that her undergrad. (Wash U) is more difficult and competitive than medical school will be. Can this be right? Are "top fifteen" or "top twenty" schools really so competitive that students from those institutions are undergoing more rigorous curriculums than in med school (at least the first two years)? She also claimed that due to the competitiveness, the Wash U curves in science classes made it extremely difficult to get A's (there is no curve at my school), but said she thought ADCom's would take the "name of the school" into account when looking at her gpa. Do the committe members really care that student A went to Hopkins, Harvard, UCLA or Wash U?
     
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  3. MD2b06

    MD2b06 Senior Member
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    Your friend is smoking crack.

    Love,
    A first year med student
     
  4. siempre595

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    I'm at WashU for undergrad now, and I have to say, out of the three med schools I've interviewed at so far, I feel that our undergrad work may, on some levels, be more demanding. I've been asking the med students how much time they spend in class, spend stuyding, socializing, sleeping, etc. I have yet to hear answers that make me cringe, as I'm used to some pretty rough days and very long nights. I do think that some undergrad schools in certain majors are more demanding than med school. However, we don't go to class 9-4 here as many med schools do, and the material covered is very rarely all science for most students. So there are certainly difference. In all honesty, I sincerely hope that med schools take into consideration the difficulty of the undergrad institution attended. I know there's a big ongoing debate on here about it, but I've worked too hard not to hope it matters.
     
  5. panda81

    panda81 Member
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    Although you may attend a top 10 school, not all top school's have difficult curriculum's (there may be grade inflation as well, not to bring up any names [stanford]), but my friend claims that the curriculum at her school is very difficult. if anyone on here is a grad. of hopkins or wash u (i've heard the two are comparable), i would like to hear what you have to say. :cool:
     
  6. LUBDUBB

    LUBDUBB Freakaholic
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    "There is a lot of grade inflation at Ivies"

    ~something people say to make themselves feel better about not going to an Ivy :)

    As for as undergrad being tougher than medical school- other than diffEq and classical physics- I don't think undergrad even comes close.
     
  7. katemonster

    katemonster Junior Member
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    out of curiosity, what is Northwestern's reputation regarding grade inflation?
     
  8. Jalby

    Jalby I fight crime at day when Batman are sleeping.
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    Wow. There sure are a lot of superiority complexes around here.

    There is no way in Hell that anybodies undergrad is harder than med school.
     
  9. Diogenes

    Diogenes Succat
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    Even if her undergrad is all that difficult, it is next to impossible for her to accurately say it is harder than med school. Most of that has to do with the fact that she is not in med school. She is speculating based on what people have told her, just as people who don't go to her school are speculating about how difficult her undergrad experience is. It is like comparing an apple in your hand to an orange somebody described to you.
     
  10. Camden772

    Camden772 Senior Member
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    That's a toughy. But I'd have to say the apple is a more difficult school than the orange!
     
  11. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    I've talked to a couple med students who say that med school is easier for them than undergrad. Note that these are people who arejust trying to barely pass med school. I've also heard that some med schools (including top 20s) have easier cirriculums (at least 1st or 2nd year or whatever) than other schools, and so that also needs to be taken into account.

    Whatever, I'm sure I will be flamed. Just playing devil's advocate. I'm going for ultra-competitive residency, so I'm sure it will be a bitch.
     
  12. Diogenes

    Diogenes Succat
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    And it also sounds like the OP's friend is trying to make herself feel better about not getting A's. Even if the school curves, some people get A's and if she wants to be treated like a good student, she should act like a good student and get the A.

    As for some school's having harder undergrad classes than med school I really doubt that is true in very many fields. But it is true that in certain subjects you go into more depth in undergrad (note: depth does not equal difficulty). For example, in undergrad biochem, we went over the molecular mechanism of a serine protease -- how the electrons get pushed around at the catalytic site and whatnot. In med school biochem, we just said that serine proteases had a serine at the catalytic site and left it at that. But that is because we don't have time to go over the molecular mechanism of every enzymatic catalysis -- and it is not always relevant. Look, no matter what you study in undergrad, med school is different because the focus and purpose is different. And consider this -- in terms of units, which reflect course load, I am now taking twice the units that a normal undergrad takes. So consider med school as undergrad times two, literally.
     
  13. TysonCook

    TysonCook Senior Member
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    I'll vouch for the actual material being easier, but the volume is what kills you. I just liken it to taking 5 of the most difficult classes you've had, but all at the same time.

    Also as an undergrad you work at things outside of school (i.e. job, partying, football). In med school you cut a lot of those things out, giving you more time to study and absorb.

    I think for me undergrad was harder just because I was working 2-3 jobs, partying, and going to school. Now I have all day every day to learn, so the school doesn't seem that bad.

    IMHO med school is a bitch, and a huge step up from undergrad.

    :clap: :clap: Cincinnati COM 2006 :clap: :clap:

    As for different undergrads being more difficult the MCAT evens it out, as well as your classes. We have people from Ivy's that are failing everything, and others from Po Dunk University who are acing everything.
     
  14. CU_buffalo

    CU_buffalo Member
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    I have a few friends who are now in med school and say that their undergrad was more difficult. They all studied Chemical Engineering during their undergrads and say they have more free time now than they did in college. None of them held jobs or partied excessively in college either. I'm also an engineering major, and I, along with many of my classmates study roughly 8-10 hours a day just so we can maintain a gpa competitive for med school. I remember taking OChem and Biochem during my freshman and sophomore years and finding them to be my blowoff classes when compared to Calc 3 and other sophomore engineering classes. Other premed engineering majors at my school had similar experiences as well. I go to Colorado, which has decent engineering and science programs.

    My mentor during high school was an orthopaedic surgeon who went to the Univ. of Colorado for undergrad and majored in biology. He later went to HMS and said his undergrad days at CU were much more difficult than HMS. He told me the whole toughness of med school was pretty overrated. Maybe he's just super smart or something. I don't know, I'm sure it'll still be tough no matter where you go.
     
  15. zer0el

    zer0el Sports Junkie
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    A couple of alums from my undergrad (MIT) that are now in med school (one is at Stanford) say that med school is def. easier than undergrad was. Most of them were biology majors (as am I). Let's just hope it's true.
     
  16. scootad.

    scootad. Senior Member
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    99% of the med students/doctors that claim med school is "easier" than undergrad are full of crap and just want others to perceive them as brilliant. They are desperate for a good 'ol ego stroking, thats all. Dont listen to them! And dont fall into their trap of stroking their ego! The other 1% have a photographic memory or misinterpreted the question as asking if the CONTENT is easier not the VOLUME. I am a 2nd year med student and EVERYONE feels the volume we are asked to memorize is way excessive and more than any undergrad.
     
  17. 95899

    95899 Junior Member
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    Man, I can't wait to see the conclusion of this discussion. Undergraduate life at UCD is sooo full of work that I'm studying just as much as CU_buffalo states every day. Stressing over grades, and studying so much that you have nightmares of yourself studying, as well as minimizing fun and social life just to keep your GPA competitive does NOT make your undergraduate life pleasant. If med school workload gets heavier than this then I'll prolly end up changing my career plans.
     
  18. oldman

    oldman Senior Citizen
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    one of my buddies told me to check out this thread. i'll add my comments.

    comparing volume of material:
    med school is much more.
    example: med school biochem covered ugrad biochem in 2 weeks

    comparing detail of material:
    ugrad was sometimes more
    example: ugrad had to memorize all sugars as well as multiple alternative metabolic pathways and structures
    counterexample: histo, need i say more?

    comparing material actually meaning something
    med school is higher
    example: all things are usually tied in with clinical presentation to some extent.

    comparing competition:
    ugrad is higher
    example: i had my organic chemistry book taken from my desk the 2 nights prior to my final exam

    comparing tests:
    ugrad is tougher
    example: all med school tests are multiple choice, so i can hope for at least 25% and so far i have been able to pass with minimal curve boosting, whereas in ugrad i always needed curves to save my sorry butt.

    Overal I'd say med school is more difficult because of all the work we have to do, but we end up with less detail usually. the students are more cooperative so the pressure of taking out fellow students is gone, which is usually what i hated most.

    my ugrad was fairly competitive so in that respect med school is easier. unfortunately there is so much material to learn and my procrastination combined has put me into a big hole. hopefully i'll pass my final exams!
     
  19. Camden772

    Camden772 Senior Member
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    Oh I'm taking it for granted that med school will be much easier than undergrad. I just don't know if it will be easier than high school. I went to one of the top 100 high schools in my state. Needless to say, I had to work my a$$ off! I hope med school isn't that tough! I'm thinking it should be equivalent to my junior high, but with less PE.
     
  20. brownman24

    brownman24 Member
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    I went to Johns Hopkins for my undergrad, and while it was really competitive, I can't say that being a pre-med there was too hard.
    granted, I did have really bad grades, but I also studied less than 4 hours a week total, and f I put in a descent amount of work I could have done pretty well.

    As for what CU_buffalo said, I am definetly with him. Pre-med students think that what they do is the hardest thing in the world, and that they are god's gift to academia. If regular, run of the mill, bio-major pre-meds compare their coursework to people who want a degree in the hard sciences, or engineering areas, the difficulty of work and the amount of work will blow their mind.
     
  21. 95899

    95899 Junior Member
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    Do you think its easier than second grade?

    (j/k) hehe
     
  22. Based on everything I've read and everybody I've talked to I'd have to completely agree with Oldman. The multiple choice thing boggled my mind (in a good way...I've been used to huge a$$ essays) when I heard about it. I think that the crux of this entire discussion revolves around your undergrad experience. If you've already had anatomy bellringers, science tests where everybody failed w/out the curve (esp. for physics people) and 3 hrs of studying for each contact hour then you've probably got med school covered. What I keep hearing, and I can only pass along what I've heard from med students, is that the volume is insane (which is basically what most people are saying).

    To me, the weirdest thing was hearing over and over: "You simply cannot know it all." It was so weird to try and make peace with that fact. Apparently, if you TRY to know it all your head implodes and the class gains a new, albeit headless, cadaver.

    All of that being said, I'd bet the farm that it won't be harder than high school. Oh God....now THAT was a lot of work :(
     
  23. oldman

    oldman Senior Citizen
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    when did you graduate from hopkins?
     
  24. Thewonderer

    Thewonderer Senior Member
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    Med school is definitely harder and demands more work than undergrads. People who say otherwise, as stated by others above, probably just like to appear that they are geniuses (or they truly have photographic memory; if so, I am really envious).

    Just imagine... How many thousands of diseases are out there? How many different manifestations can each disease appear to the clinicians? How many different laboratory tests are out there? And each disease has somewhat different molecular and microbiological bases behind it.... So imagine, you start from scratch. Everthing you learned about general chem, how molecules move in space, engineering principles, English literature classics, etc. have now become irrelevant. And you have to start from scratch learning ALL of the above. That's not what ANYONE can handle adequately. You ALWAYS feel inadequate in med school, and there is always more you can learn. In undergrad, the midterm covers first 8 chapters in the orgo chem textbook. period. fini... In med schools, there are always more and if they appear on the exam, it is fair game.

    Just imagine......:D
     
  25. brownman24

    brownman24 Member
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    OLD MAN, i graduated in 99
     
  26. TysonCook

    TysonCook Senior Member
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    We have essays on our Biochem exams, so unfortunately not everything is multiple guess.

    And as far as multiple guess goes it is not really applicable since a lot of our questions are "Select from the 20 answers below (A-T), all, one, or none of the answers may be correct".

    So at least on ours the best you can hope for is 0-5% from just guessing. Biochem at Cinci is a bizatch!
     
  27. Jim Picotte

    Jim Picotte Senior Member
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    Well I've been through both and I'd have to say that med school is harder only because of the volume, stress and time required. Seriously the volume is crazy. I did the whole year of Physical Chemistry 3 semesters of calc and the concepts in those classes are much more difficult to understand than anything in medical school was. Physical chemistry was the hardest 2 semesters just because of all the calculus, papers, lab time but the pace was relatively slow compared to the pace in medical school. The engineers or this world are a whole lot smarter than I am and I really like physics and math (a small part of my chosen field).

    Honestly though, they're really two different beasts so it's hard to really compare.
     
  28. yaoming

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    i think oldman's post is right. also depends on whether there are grades, if you want to honor in h/p/np. i got straight a's at ucla many times as a biochem major. A or even straight A's are definitely attainable there, but honors at med school is a diff story, because i have yet to get one and not even in my own major (biochem). honors to me is near possible and yet impossible to get. i do get above average, but that's the same as someone who barely passes. i'd say passing is pretty easy, and if you dont care where you are relative to the class as long as you pass, then med school is kickback. but u'll probably have no choice but to be a future family practitioner unless you ask God to take your usmle part I for you, you discover a cure for prostate cancer, and/or you possess super clinical charm and cognitive skills during clerkship.

    bottom line, comparing difficulty is comparing your 3.3 undergrad gpa who wants to get honors aiming for orthopedic surgery (med school harder) or 4.0 underg gpa who wants to just pass an be a kickback practitioner (undergrad harder).
     
  29. scootad.

    scootad. Senior Member
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    I dunno, i guess it may depend on school, but where I go, its not so easy to just "pass" and i go to a strictly pass/fail school. you still gotta study your @ss off to pass. if i slacked off for any one exam, for sure I'd fail.
     
  30. oldman

    oldman Senior Citizen
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    i see you are doing a mph at yale, are you doing a combined md/mph there?
     
  31. oldman

    oldman Senior Citizen
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    amen to that. i have to work my butt off to get my 70%.
     
  32. Mig24x

    Mig24x Member
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    almost every med school is harder than undergrad studies!! I almost die when i read that post. Im a MS2, and believe taking pathology, Pharmacology and Pathofisiology will make any undergrad course schedule look stupid. I have had pharm test of 13 chapters , where chapters average from 20 pages to 35 pages (Katsung, thank god for BAby katsung book)!!! and Pathology test of 5 or 6 chapters, and the Robbins book of Pathology avg almost 50-60 pages per chapter!! its imposible that is harder!!! but i will let you find out by yourself

    not to mention my pharmacology test of 130 multiple choices to answer in 2 hours!!
     
  33. AznTrojan

    AznTrojan Senior Member
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    2 words.. gross anatomy..

    you can pretty much teach yourself everything in college by reading the book..

    but it is almost impossible to do gross anatomy by yourself
     
  34. daisygirl

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    Double amen to this. Just because you hear med school is pass/fail doesn't mean that you can just wing it- I am studying my arse off and I am barely passing.

    I think med school is a hell of a lot harder than undergrad. In undergrad I always did extremely well with only having to apply half the effort that I am now putting into medical school (and I was a chem major in undergrad). You go from being the big fish in undergrad to becoming a little menial guppy in a huge pond of big fishes (damn those big fishes) in med school. I think med school is harder because of the volume of material is immense and you are not just learning an infinity of knowledge in just one class- your taking more than one!

    I am jealous of everyone who has only multiple choice questions. My school has a fetish for short answer questions (and, no that really doesn't mean short answer, it is more like long answer questions). These stupid fill in questions are a pain in the arse:mad: .
     
  35. DarkChild

    DarkChild Senior Member
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    wow all these people working so hard...
    my scam in college was to pull decent enough grades while still partying as hard as I could. and if I get into a med school its going to be all worth it :p
    hopefully I can sit next to some smart people in med school... that and I hear the cliffs are really helpfull :D
     
  36. UCLA2000

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    Her undergrad is NOT harder than med school.

    Yes adcoms DO care about what school a student went to. You can't compare Harvard to Cal State Los Angeles....
     
  37. DoubleDoctor

    DoubleDoctor Ceder Dog's Daddy
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    How can curving make it impossible to get an A? Do they curve down from your actual grade (you get a 93 which is an A- but they curve it down to a B)? Something about this story isn't right. At my undergrad, there was very little curving and even fewer A's in a lot of classes. I understand that when grades are curved, there are often few A's but the couple that do end up with an A are usually doing B work. I think this girl needs to be honest with herself at least because she has a pretty overinflated idea of what a school name can do for you and is making excuses for why her grades aren't up to par.

    I had a friend (knew her from high school and she wasn't the brightest bulb on the tree) that went to school somewhere down south and had a 4.0 after 2 years in Biochem. She ended up transferring to Miami after her second year. One day she was talking about getting over 100% on all the chemistry finals and that doesn't happen at Miami. I tried to tactfully warn her that she may have some adjusting to do after the transfer but she wasn't worried in the least. After her 1st year at Miami, her GPA had dropped to 2.7 and she was devastated because the work was so hard and the exams were so difficult and they truly don't care if they fail everyone. I had a chem class of about 35 students that had one A, one B, 12 C and over half the class got D's or failed.
     
  38. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    Meanwhile, WashU is telling me that to get accepted to their MD/PhD program out of the MD program I need to do research during my first year of med school... If med school is so hairy, how can they expect anyone to do this?
     
  39. jwin

    jwin Senior Member
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    I do not think the original poster was saying that it was impossible to get an A. I think the Wash U person was saying that in a class with very smart people they stick to a numerical distribution of grades. So although 90% of your class were in the top 10% of their high school class and have an average SAT score of 1400, only around 15-20% of people in science classes get an A or A-. Of course all the top schools have similiarly qualified students or even better, so what can make a school difficult (ie Wash U and some others) is if they stick to a standard curve where only so many of these "top" students get A's.

    I cannot speak for too many other schools because I have not attended them, but I know that some other schools science classes set their grade distribution more generously to compensate for have "top" students, they will determine how they think their students have performed on a test and give out the appropriate distribution, such as 1/3 As, 1/3 Bs, and 1/3 C, D, Fs. versus a standard curve that sets the mean at a C+.

    And NO, I am not complaining to compensate for my poor GPA, I think that I have done relatively well. I am just clarifying how some schools grade their classes.
     
  40. jot

    jot

    i think its quite possible neuronix - just not optimal for having fun:) my host at ucsf managed his time incredibly well - he woke up at 6 and studied till 11AM (never went to class, save small groups); and played the rest of the day - or worked in the lab. he was remarkably bright - but i found this to be the case with most of my hosts (stayed with all mstp, dunno if that should make a diff - prolly not). they had boat loads of time to have fun - and did.
     
  41. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    I believe what you're saying jot. I just don't understand something. If med school is as terrible as some of the posters are implying, there's no way I could do research + classwork + sleep. My first 2 - 3 years of undergrad I had about 1 hour of free time per day after working (in a job or lab), class time, and studying.

    My conclusion is that certain med schools (WashU first year perhaps) are not that bad.
     
  42. jot

    jot

    and i would agree
     
  43. aauerba1

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    i went to a small college (not a big name school) that was notorious for having no grade inflation (they are proud of it, they hang up their wall street journal article about it all over the place).. some people from my school say that undergrad was harder, some say that med school is harder... pretty much all of them say that they feel lucky that they have already had more depth in their classes at undergrad than they are expected to have at med school, so they can just focus on their memorization. i think that med schools do take the college somewhat into consideration... i got into schools with a much lower gpa than someone from a normal state school would have gotten into. but a perfect gpa from a state school and the same mcat score i had would get you into schools, so i don't think that your school can hurt you that much.
     
  44. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
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    Ive heard from a lot of people who went to my undergrad that while the coursework in undergrad was harder because of depth, the actual amount of work in med school is greater because of:
    1. sheer volume
    2. PBLs and various other forms of learning

    Basically, "hard" is a relative term, depends if memorizing or "learning" is more important to you. Med school is all about memorizing stuff. Either way, everyone I know spends more time working in med school (whether studying or working at the hopsital, research, PBL) than in undergrad (even counting the research, volunteering they might have done).
     
  45. Gradient Echo

    Gradient Echo Membership Revoked
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    Its not easy to do, but it can be done. I am currently working in a lab during the regular school semester. I started on a lab rotation this summer and decided to continue to expand the project I was working on in the same lab.

    That being said, there are sacrifices involved. I am doing fairly well in the classes, but I'm not making all honors grades either. Its not that big of a deal though, I'm not convinced I could make all honors even if I didnt work in the lab at all and studied 12 hours a day.

    I would rather make slightly lower grades and get the research experience and stay current in the field I'm working on. Stuff changes so quickly in science I think sometimes it can be helpful (depending on your own personal circumstances) to work in a lab during the school year. Just make sure you choose a manageable project, one that can be done with "only" 15-20 hours a week.
     
  46. paean

    paean Senior Member
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    I went to Berkeley, where most science classes follow a 15% As, 30% Bs curve, and did well enough to be a competetive applicant. Now I'm at UCSF, and haven't made the mean on any test yet, although my 70 somethings are good enough to pass. We don't have honors until 3rd year.

    There were two semesters as an undergrad where I had to spend as much time as I do now, but I was shooting for 90s not 70s. I think that generally there is more to do in medical school, and that the pressure to learn is higher, because how you do on a test doesn't matter that much, but how well you are able to diagnose abnormal heart sounds will make a huge difference when you see patients.

    Whether undergrad is harder has to do with what you think is difficult. I'm better at understanding concepts then memorizing massive amounts of facts, and although UCSF tries to focus on the big picture and clinical relevance, there still is a lot of memorization.

    And with that, I'm off to study for my cardiovascular final.
     
  47. poloace

    poloace Senior Member
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    i went to a fairly prestigous undergrad - from talking to my friends that have graduated from there (who i consider to be extremely bright) med school isn't as challenging academicallly, its just non-stop busy work... the material isn't bad- but the amount of it which you cover and the pace at which you cover it is what makes med school difficult..

    if you think med school is going to be easier and allow you more free time than you had in undergrad, you are an idiot.

    p
     
  48. CANES2006

    CANES2006 Miami chica
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    I think you pretty much nailed the description of medical school. These past four months I haven't even gone up for air in terms of the non stop volume of work. Even though I am doing very well in medical school, undergrad was definitely a walk in the park compared to medical school.
     
  49. warpath

    warpath Officer Cadet
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    Are you sure about this? Maybe they meant summer after 1st year. I only know one person in my class that works in a lab. But she does it about 10 hrs. a week. She's doing it for the money.

    About undergrad being harder than med school. I have more free time now than in undergrad, but only because I'm not doing tons of ECs and volunteer work. I'm also not aiming for 90s here.
    In terms of actual work, I do more work in order to pass with a good margin (10-20% margin) than I did in order to get 90s in undergrad. Pass/Fail is good, but it's not so hard to fail. That's one shock that people get in med school. Most of us never entertained the possibility of failing an exam in undergrad. But here, the possibility is real.
     
  50. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper
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    First off, I didn't read every post in response to your original post. If I am redundant, sorry.

    Here's the deal (in my case, at least)... I have not found med school mentally challenging at all. My undergrad education, on the other hand, required that I use a lot of analytical processes and thinking. I did better in undergrad than I am in medical school only because I detest rout memorization and am pretty good at thinking through problems. So, one can perform poorly (or not extremely well) in medical school and still find it easier than their undergrad institution, where they performed well. If you have a photographic memory and tons of time on your hands, you can ace med school. It doesn't require an extraordinary level of intelligence.

    This is just my opinion.
     
  51. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Yes I am sure about this. There was a thread about this in the pre-MSTP forum where I debated this and I talked to the MSTP administrator at WashU about it. I don't think I would be paid for my time either.
     

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