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when MCATs and GPA don't agree

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by katem, Sep 24, 2002.

  1. katem

    katem Member
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    hi all,

    what's the sense out there for how much high MCAT's can compensate for slightly below average GPA and vice versa? if one is a couple points above a school's average MCAT, does that balance out being a couple tenths below their average GPA, or does it raise questions about why the GPA wasn't higher, etc, etc?

    thanks!
     
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  3. turbon

    turbon Member
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    It raises questions.
     
  4. dpark74

    dpark74 Senior Member
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    I think MCATs can make up for a bel. ave. GPA but I don't think a high GPA can make up for a low MCAT. For example, my friend who had great ECs, research, 3.85 GPA in microbio (u of WI), great letters, and a 30 MCAT did not get a secondary from northwestern. Ironically, she worked in the admissions office when she was applying and talked to an adcom member about her rejection. They said everything was great except the MCAT.

    i know that's just one person, but...
     
  5. San_Juan_Sun

    San_Juan_Sun Professor of Life
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    As I understand it, the standardized MCAT would be more favorably viewed than apples to oranges (somewhat) comparasion of GPA. Of course, there is so much more to an application, only considering these two factors won't give the whole picture. If you interview well, a good MCAT and interview can help to balance out a lower GPA.

    It may also depend on just how low the GPA is. Also, are we talking overall or science? What school? What major?

    And lets not forget, each school has their own way of looking at applicants. And it's probably a safe bet that within schools, on the admissions committees, there are differing schools of thought about your question. So many vaiables makes this a very tough question to answer.
     
  6. San_Juan_Sun

    San_Juan_Sun Professor of Life
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    And I've heard of cases of people getting interviews with 3.4s and 30 MCAT as decent MD schools (not top 30 though). It all depends on the school and the people reviewing your app.
     
  7. CRAZYTERP

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    AM I to understand that a 30 is that low. I got a 29 (the second time) and although I know I could have done better I find it hard to believe that one days worth of test taking could outweight four years of busting one's ass to get a 3.7. I know it is optimistic of me but I have gotten interviews from schools I thought wouldn't even look at me with my low gpa. And I think others are right to say that there is much more to the application than numbers... From my experience it seems like LORS may have just as much weight as a great MCAT score or GPA.
     
  8. dpark74

    dpark74 Senior Member
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    like I said, it was one instance...but I was just answering the ?, and that was the reason given to my friend
     
  9. CRAZYTERP

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    sorry to snap dpark. I know you were just answering the question. I reread my post and it came across as a lil, well... tweaked out. It has been a stressful day. My apologies, just want to keep some optimism out there! You never know who may need it.
    -CT
     
  10. San_Juan_Sun

    San_Juan_Sun Professor of Life
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    All GPAs are not alike. AdComs know this. A 3.7 at your school may be tough, but a 3.7 at some schools is given for showing up and getting your name mostly right. As a standardized test, the MCAT presents a bit of a level playing field, but as you pointed out, it only measures a paticular day's performance.

    So it's the whole package that counts. Crappy LOR's (as in "I would not recommend this applicant") will surely hurt a 3.9, 37T applicant.

    BTW, I don't think of a 29 as bad. That's pretty dang good, above the national average for matriculants. I think the above poster was just relating how a 30 might not be "great" (although maybe still "good", or at least "acceptable") to Northwestern.
     
  11. CaNEM

    CaNEM Senior Member
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    I disagree that a high GPA but low MCAT is a fatal combination - provided you also had a low SAT/ACT score.

    The purpose of the MCAT is to predict how well you'd do in med school, just as the SAT/ACT is to predict college performance. However, some people are just not good at taking standardized tests. At my school, when someone has a low MCAT and low SAT/ACT but high GPA, our committees notes in our evaluation packett that the student is simply not good at taking standardized tests. However, since their low SAT/ACT did NOT accurately predict their college performance (they have a high GPA), the MCAT probably underestimates how well theylll do in med school.

    Therefore, if you have a high GPA but low MCAT and SAT/ACT, and you don't have a premed committee that will say this for you, I'd suggest explaining something like this in your personal statement.
     
  12. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    northwestern is for yuppie snobs anyway..

    *waits to get arse kicked by nw alumni*
     
  13. atsai3

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    My undergraduate premedical advisor told us that our GPA and MCAT should _roughly_ correspond to each other on a 1:10 basis. That is, if you have a 3.5 GPA, you should have scored a 35 on the MCAT. I don't know where this 1:10 thing derives from, and I haven't seen any research validating its use. But basically, he said that's what they use to see whether "your MCAT is lower than your GPA would indicate" or vice versa. (i.e., if you score a 40 MCAT but 'only' have a 3.6 GPA, they might wonder what happened.)

    In any case, I think a previous poster already made the point that there's no kiss of death -- it just raises questions.

    Data is hard to come by, and everyone on SDN seems to appreciate anecdote, so I'll throw another one into the pot: A non-URM friend of mine had a 4.0 from a top private university but only scored a 28 on the MCAT. She ended up getting into Duke Med and is now at Hopkins doing her residency.

    Cheers
     
  14. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg 1K Member
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    :laugh: :laugh:


    your premed advisor is funny
     
  15. ckent

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    I had a classmate who did a study on this matter. He told me that med schools accept many more people with high MCATs and lower GPAs then high GPAs but low MCATs. MCATs can, to a degree, compensate for a sub-optimal GPA but a high GPA cannot compensate for a low MCAT.
     
  16. mws99

    mws99 Senior Member
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    I had my first interview yesterday and we started talking about Board Scores. The guy interviewing me said that USMLE scores are usually directly related to MCAT scores, so schools put more emphasis on the MCAT to try and keep their USMLE pass rates and average scores high.
     
  17. I don't think we should generalize GPA values considering that one's GPA can be remarkably different depending on what school they attend. I mean, come on guys, a 3.6 from an Ivy League School SIMPLY isn't the same as a 3.6 at a state school. The requirements aren't the same, the profs aren't the same, and the class difficulty isn't the same. I think that although MCAT scores are weighed a lot it's hard for be to believe that a below spectacular MCAT score would offset a great GPA at a great school. I am not in this position, but there are important exceptions to these generalizations, ya know?
     
  18. San_Juan_Sun

    San_Juan_Sun Professor of Life
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    I agree with you in principle, but I wouldn't make that sweeping statement about Ivy League vs. state schools. There is nothing that leads me to believe that class difficulty is inherently greater in the Ivy.

    That being said, I would agree that all GPAs are not equal.
     
  19. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member
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    Yeah, in fact...I'd say it's easier at an Ivy because of grade inflation. At state schools, you actually have to work for your grade.

    Hell, at Harvard, if you have a B- average, you can graduate with honors (as 91% of people at Harvard do). It's ridiculous!

    -RA
     
  20. woolie

    woolie Intermountain West
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    I feel discouraged about the gpa/MCAT topic here. I have a good gpa/recomendations, etc and yet here I may have really not done well on this really crazy hard test; I agree that four years of steady hard work is more important than being able to cram for one exam. Some people are really terrible students but are able 'ace' this test. That doesn't seem right.

    There are alot 'poindexter' Docs who are frankly scary to their patients and have no bedside manner or sense of empathy or concern. High scores are not the whole picture, and frankly I would prefer a kind Dr who listens to what I say, is respectful as well as really smart. And I don't know that the MCAT really measures that. It seems like a weird way to to select people for such an important profession. :(
     
  21. limit

    limit Molesting my inner-child
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    So if I have a 3.1 GPA but only get a 29 MCAT, they will wonder why my GPA is so high?

    What kind of ******ed system is that... gosh, why are such people even advising premed students??
     
  22. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member
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    Seems weird to me... Most of the time people suggest that higher MCAT tends to make up for a lower GPA, but not vice versa. Never heard of this 1:10 thing...

    -RA
     
  23. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    that makes perfect sense.
     
  24. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg 1K Member
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    I say (and hope) that a high MCAT can pwn a lowish GPA
     
  25. franklinthedog

    franklinthedog Senior Member
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    I'm no MCAT ace myself but...

    I think high MCATS help more than high GPA. The MCAT is standardized, so you can compare someone at blah blah comm college and Harvard. As all of us know, if you score high on the MCAT, you're very good at problem solving. And academics (i.e. admissions' committee people) value intelligent people, hence the emphasis on the MCAT. I agree that 4 (sometimes greater) yrs of busting your butt to get a great GPA should be very important, but my opinion is that the MCAT is at least if not more important than the GPA. Finally, the 1:10 thing, if I get a 35 on the Aug MCAT I will stop breathing!
     
  26. nuclearrabbit77

    nuclearrabbit77 commercial sex worker
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  27. jot

    jot

    i usually agree with you ra, and i'm not at either schools, and respect both - but i think that the aforementioned statement is patently false (having good friends take the same major at both) -
    atsai3's 1:10th comment can only reasonably apply to an extremely rigorous undergrad like the one he attended.

    -jot
     
  28. OK. I understand there is grade inflation at a lot of "highly ranked" schools. HOWEVER, you should really be cautious about what classes those procedures apply to. It is well known that humanities are often inflated, but sciences, at many schools, are in fact deflated. (curving pre-med basic science courses at a C and so forth).

    So, this is a very important point to take into consideration. Therefore, unlike pre-meds at a lot of other schools, a lot of pre-meds are non-science majors at schools who focus in the humanities. Therefore, their departmental GPAs are a lot higher than their BCPM GPAs.

    sorry, i meant to say that before. i wasn't very clear. I didn't mean for anyone to get offended by my state school comment. it was just a complete generalization. i'm just tryig to put things into perspective. i'm sorry.
     
  29. vivekap2007

    vivekap2007 cowtown indo hornet
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    The dean of admissions at UT-southwestern spoke at my school last spring and he said that anyone with a 3.5 and 31 would be offered an interview. He also said that someone with like a 3.65 and 30-29 would get a guaranteed interview, but it didn't work the other way (high mcat brings up low gpr). So i think more weight is placed on grades, at least at southwestern. However, I have a 3.4 and they gave me an interview...so i don't know.
     
  30. dpark74

    dpark74 Senior Member
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    Aren't you a Texan?...UT Southwestern (public school?) You never specified your MCAT either, probably >31. Also, 3.4 come on now...a 0.1 difference in GPA.

    Sounds like you fit the profile of an interviewee like a cheap suit. :)
     
  31. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member
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    I guess I'm comparing the orgo class I was in, and the orgo class my friends were in... I definitely wouldn't have gotten the grade I did at a state school...might not have even passed...

    -RA
     
  32. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member
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    Science classes can be curved pretty heavily too, as I mentioned in my earlier post replying to Jot...

    -RA
     
  33. heelshmeel

    heelshmeel Tar Heel Bred
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    RA makes sense on this one though... many private schools... (harvard comes to mind) have very high avg gpa's for their student bodies...

    I know that the avg for harvard is pretty high... even the President of Harvard (some guy named Larry summers) said in an article in Newsweek that Harvard is not about gpa's/grades... he in fact lobbied for getting the average gpa even higher... (let alone that fact that so many people there graduate with honors!!)
     

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