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why can't i seem to get A's in any of my pre-med courses?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by fourstar, May 3, 2004.

  1. fourstar

    fourstar Member
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    It's really amazing to me how people end up with 3.9 overall and 3.9 science gpa when they apply

    If i got straight A's until I graduate, I'll only end up with a 3.4-3.5 :( (that is saying if I got straight A's!!)
    and i don't think getting straight A's in upper division science courses and math courses will happen for me

    how do i get A's??

    I really need to start getting A's, otherwise, my gpa will be too low to even be considered by med schools (M.D. and D.O.) :thumbdown:
     
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  3. docmemi

    docmemi 1K Member
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    go to office hours and bug the crap out of your teachers (dont think that is dorky and ignore people who call that childish/high school)!!! get to know them, figure out/ask them whats important to learn, study with them, tell them to ask you questions, etc. it works. please, trust me.
     
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  4. HooahDOc

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    Study? I'm not slamming you or anything, but the premed courses really aren't that difficult.

    A lot of people just have time management problems. Are you studying enough? Are you studying correctly? Are you getting proper sleep? (this has a much larger effect than most think) Do you lack interest?

    Some stuff to think about.
     
  5. rambo

    rambo Slightly Evil
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    What's your GPA, JKDMed?
     
  6. Dr.ImCute

    Dr.ImCute Member
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    awwwwwwww fourstar... hang in there.

    I really jacked up my grades my freshman year because I didn't know how to study (nor did I have the drive to).

    1. Maybe, join a study group with some of your peers that are doing well in the course.

    2. Get a tutor that used to be a TA for the course (I did this once, and he had ALL the old tests!)

    3. figure out a different note taking technique from one of your peers (I also did this and my life is a lot easier now!)

    4. Go to office hours, or think critically during lectures to figure out what you think may be on the test. Also, write down a list of potential questions and make sure you'll be able to answer them by recall, not just recognition.

    5. Try your best to get As in your other non-science courses. It'll help your overall gpa and should be easier to get.

    6. I've read this almost everywhere. Review your notes after class. It really helps! Just think about the lec and the material for a little bit after class to make sense of it all, and reorganize some information if you have to.

    7. I could never study at my apartment, so do at least 2 hours in the library every day, or atleast 3 days a week. Try to stay on campus, this way you're forced to go. You'll be amazed at how much work you can do during these hours!

    hope this helps! gluck :luck:
     
  7. mikeyboy

    mikeyboy Senior Member
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    Some people just don't get physics (or anything math based), and some just can't do well in ochem. No matter how hard they study, it just doesnt come naturally to them for whatever reason. Bio, on the other hand, should be something that you can study for, since if anything you can always just memorize things.

    I'm not sure why you're taking upper div math courses, but upper div bio courses usually aren't as competitive as lower div courses. You can also get to know the professor better, which may help your grade. Don't worry too much, just do as well as you can. You can still be competitive with a 3.4 if everything else is good (just don't be asian :p just kidding!...kinda)
     
  8. HooahDOc

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    High enough to get in. Besides, my GPA doesn't change the fact that the premed classes aren't that difficult. For God's sake, they are only 100-200 level courses, except for organic, which is only a 300. None of them are higher than sophomore level.
     
  9. rambo

    rambo Slightly Evil
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    So I assume that you got A's in all of your courses, since they are so easy?
     
  10. Goober

    Goober Senior Member
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    First of all if you are not good at math I would not be taking upper division math classes. Are you insane?

    I would major in something that you are interested in AND have a talent in. If I majored in math there is no way I would have graduated with my gpa.

    Many good study techniques were described above by others. All I have to add that is good grades is all about motivation and concentration.
     
  11. blz

    blz Senior Member
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    I agree with JKDMed.
     
  12. Amy B

    Amy B I miss my son so much
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    He might not mean just "premed" courses, but may be talking about all the undergrad courses he has to take to graduate. It doesn't matter what level they are. Some of our weed out 200 level courses were harder than some of the 400 level courses I took. Cellular/Molecular Biology Biol 200 was one of the hardest I took because the prof said that she was the portal to med school and needed to weed out at least 30% of the class, which she did, year after year.

    To fourstar, Welcome to SDN[​IMG]

    It is rough. Hey, don't assume everyone has a 4.0. They don't. The average is around 3.45 - 3.5. That is the average. That means they take applicants above that AND below that number. DO schools average is running about 3.3-3.4 and again that means people above and below.

    Does a lower GPA make it harder to get in? Of course, but that is why you need other things like great ECs, good MCAT, great LORs, to offset the GPA.

    Don't believe all that you hear, not everyone gets A's in undergrad classes.

    Try to find out what area you are having trouble with.
    Is it understanding the material?
    Is it not having enough time to study?
    Is it not having enough time to finish the tests on test day?
    Is it not having the motivation to study?
    Is it not knowing how to study the material?
    Do you find that you study but then get to the test and not remember what you study so you may be having recall problems?

    Are you getting to nervous before the tests and that is affecting the grade?
    Do you go to all classes?
    Do you go to office hours when you don't understand someting?
    Etc...................

    I didn't have all A's as an undergrad. You aren't alone.

    Good luck
     
  13. Cerberus

    Cerberus Heroic Necromancer
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    The problem with premed courses is that while they arent intrinsically difficult, the professors tend to be douchebags. Nearly every premed class i've ever taken had a proffessor who felt he had to make his exams unreasonably hard. I guess they feel everything should fall into a bell curve (something that is at odds with my view of what education should be). I havent done bad in any premed classes (barring the C in physics II) but I have had to bust my ass to memorize minutia that I feel is absolutely useless to my understanding of the material and especially useless towards my future goals of medicine. Eh, just a hoop to jump through I suppose...
     
  14. gschl1234

    gschl1234 Senior Member
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    Man, I really feel for you. I had a friend in college do poorly in his first two years but get almost all A's in his last 2 since it took those 2 years for him to
    1. catch up with everyone (his HS didn't prepare him for college well)
    2. get in the groove of things
    When you apply, you can always mention this stuff in your personal statement. If your HS didn't adequately prepare you for your college classes, you should mention it so the adcoms know that you had to overcome an unequal footing.
     
  15. HooahDOc

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    No, but there is a difference between lack of studying (which is my cause) and difficult subject material. However, my "lack of studying" has never produced a grade below 3.0 in any premed course. The exception was organic II, but there were other factors relative to my personal life that affected the outcome of that course.

    The fact still remains, none of the subject matter in any of the premed courses is difficult.
     
  16. Nuel

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    I sort of agree, but that I won't say they are very easy on the other hand. Actually an understanding of the research sufferings currently going on the Diels-Alder reaction will say it's not easy, but it isn't overly difficult either.

    What did I just say?
     
  17. OnMyWayThere

    OnMyWayThere OMS-III
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    Why oh why do these instructors in lower division sciences feel the need to "weed out" students? Does that make them feel special in their job? I mean, it's not like medical schools have placed that responsibility on university instructors. Some instructors really get to me when they say " they are a portal to medical school " ... get a life!

    I have recently been able to beat those weeding teachers with A's but I do feel for those who don't. Just hang in OP. You don't need straight A's and you will be fine.
     
  18. Cerberus

    Cerberus Heroic Necromancer
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    What really annoys me are the "A's are only for exceptional students, i.e. i dont give A's to many people at all" proffs. Well guess what senoir douchebag, most other professors do, so now I am at a disadvantage with my career goals because you are an ass.
     
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  19. OnMyWayThere

    OnMyWayThere OMS-III
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    I think a lot of instructors have complex situations. This happens in the Science faculty for a reason.

    They teach the science NOT because they love to teach, but because they get to use the facility for research. It happens that all of my instructors who have been asses do extensive research as well. I have had no problems with the ones that do not do research but teach for the love of the subject. I think it stems to hitting around 50 years old, not having stumbled across something big in their research and I AM SURE they question their decisions in life. Perhaps they think they should've just took the medical route. This boils down to having the attitude that those instructors have with a shot at premedical students.
     
  20. HooahDOc

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    My biggest problem is instructors who agree to write a LOR and then vanish off the planet.
     
  21. hey make sure you know your professors very well.
    I remember I had around 89% on my BIO II but the professor gave me an A! Just because I was in his good books!
    Make sure you are studying the right way. Don't slack off or study at the eleventh hour. Practice as much as you can, I know of people who studied like crazy to get As on organic, although I cared less because I was getting As in all other courses lol
     
  22. Cerberus

    Cerberus Heroic Necromancer
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    Better is telling me you'll write an LOR for summer research programs then just not sending them in (despite the preaddressed and stamped envelopes provided). Then the incomplete file rejections start rolling in, gotta love that.
     
  23. gschl1234

    gschl1234 Senior Member
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    Many and few are relative terms. I seem to remember my gen chem profs gave about 10% of the class A's. With two to three hundred per class, that was actually quite a few A's in my opinion.
     
  24. kikkoman

    kikkoman Senior Member
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    That's a pretty overreaching statement. I don't think I would necessarily agree with that - depends a lot on where you go and which profs you have.

    To the OP - the best advice I could give is the stuff that has helped me through the years:

    1. Study after class, while the material is still fresh. Maybe just 15 minutes, but make sure you understand the overall concept of the class.
    2. Keep up with your work. Bug your TAs if necessary. Always make sure that you understand what is going on going into the next lecture. Otherwise the material can snowball and you'll get screwed.
    3. Go into office hours (I think this has been said a lot, but it can be really helpful).
     
  25. PublicEnemy

    PublicEnemy Senior Member
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    Yes, I would definitely have to agree that it depends on where you go and what you're taking. At my school, the pre-med classes were the hardest sciences offered. Much more rigorous and difficult than any of the upper-level classes. The Bio Sequence all pre-meds take at my school, 3 quarters (semesters), 300 students, 11 A's. Regardless of actual raw score, the mean was a C+, and the grades were scaled so that more than 50% were at the mean or below. It doesn't matter if the material was easy or not, which by the way, it was hard as hell, you had to work your ass off hoping you could stay above the mean, but all 299 people were doing the same thing, and if you were somehow breaking scores 5-10pts above the mean, you were lucky enough to get a B-, maybe a B. Orgo was basically the same way, just a little less harsh. At my school, basically, you had to ace gen chem, physics and calc, just to pull a semi-decent science gpa (easier said than done) and if you waltzed into college with way too much AP credit like I did, no gen chem and calc grades to help buffer orgo and bio, problems. big problems.
     
  26. fun8stuff

    fun8stuff *hiding from patients*
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    I am also going to have to agree with JKDMed.
     
  27. crazy250

    crazy250 Senior Member
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    I don't agree with JKDMed. Just looking at his school, University of South Carolina, of course he's going to think the premed classes are easy. He wouldn't be saying that if he went to Hopkins or MIT. :smuggrin:
     
  28. fun8stuff

    fun8stuff *hiding from patients*
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    Same at my university. A lot of the science professors here purposly try and make their classes hard. They will normally throw in a few off-the-wall questions to try and separate the people who know all the important stuff and the people who know all the important sutff plus all the useless stuff. I am about 4 days from being a senior and thus far I have been quite lucky through it all, but being a TA I see quite often how this negatively affects a lot of people.

    To the OP: you need to figure out how you are studying wrong. You need to find a studying method that works for you. My university's tutor center puts on study skills workshops and such that help people figure out how to study. Also, when you study you should study with the intent on taking a test. Try and figure out what questions will be on the exam- if you were the professor what would you ask? I have gotten to the point that I can normally figure out which questions will be asked- especially half way through the semester or with a professor that you have had before. When you take notes pay attention to the topics the professors seem to emphasize the most and really concentrate on those topics.

    If you still are having trouble, try finding a tutor or someone who has TA'd. Also, go talk with your profs and review old tests/exams/quizes and figure out why you missed the questions you did.
     
  29. skypilot

    skypilot 2K Member
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    I know Tufts students that take their Organic Chemistry at the Harvard Extension School and transfer in the credit because Tufts Orgo has such a reputation as a "weeder" class. So don't get discouraged if you can only score a B. Just play the game to get the scores you need. It is sad, but it is just a game. I have also heard that a 3.2 from Tufts is fine for admission to med school so don't despair.
     
  30. fun8stuff

    fun8stuff *hiding from patients*
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    I took AP calc, AP English, AP Chem, AP Bio, and AP physics, but I still retook all of these in college, except English. I clepped the first English class. I had heard that not all med schools accept AP credit and that in order to do good on the MCAT you will want to really know your bio, chem, and physics. I figured since my college was paid for, I might as well use the scholarship money to better learn the material. Which worked out, because after first semester of gen chem, my prof asked me to TA her class the following semester of my sophomore year.

    For any high school students that read this board, I would highly recommend retaking those classes you clepped or AP'd out of. Just because you clepped or AP'd out does not mean you will remember the material 3 years later for the MCAT! Not only will it help you to further solidify the material, but it will be a great GPA booster.
     
  31. Krazed_Medic

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    I kinda feel like I'm in the same type of situation as the OP. I've pretty much narrowed down the lack of A's due to the lack of studying. I have extremely poor study habits. Of course, my wife running me from here to there doesn't help any, but I can't place the blame there. I tend to study the big things, and not the small stuff. So, when it comes test time, all the small stuff is on the test, and everything that I studied for is not on the test. As some others have said, study , study, study. EVERYTHING! It sucks I know. Good luck, and just don't sweat it so much, I think you'll be alright. :luck:
     
  32. canada

    canada Member
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    do u ever feel that the schools never test u on the concepts although that's what they emphasize and come the exam and they ask u about the nitty gritty details of the course?
     
  33. LauraMac

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    so what you're trying to say is that you went to an easy state school and you still got s****y grades. a 3.0 in a class is not very good. if you were smarter you would get all A's in these so-called easy pre-med classes. just because they are 100 and 200 level does not mean they are easy. in fact, i find all lower level classes much harder because they are "weeder" classes as others have mentioned. i also love how you make excuses about why you f*cked up orgo II. you got a bad grade. it's your fault. stop acting like "factors relative to my personal life" is the reason you did badly. if the classes were as easy as you say, you would have done better... either that or you are way too lazy and unmotivated to be a doctor.

    to the OP, listen to the advice everyone gave. my first semester at my current school i felt the same way. but then i learned to study and learned what i had to do to excel in my classes. just figure out what works for you. good luck!
     
  34. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    Woah, wait a minute...what constitutes an A at your school? An A starts at 80% at my school, UBC. Actually, I believe 80-84% is an A-, 85-89 = A, 90-100 = A+.
     
  35. fun8stuff

    fun8stuff *hiding from patients*
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    You have it easy. Although it varies class to class, most schools go by:
    93-100 A
    90-92 A-
    87-89 B+
    83-86 B
    80-82 B-
    77-79 C+
    73-76 C
    etc
    For upper level science classesat my school, most are done on a bell curve. Although, I'm not sure if this is true for everyone.
     
  36. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch
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    Generally, 90-100 = A, 80-89 = B, 70-79 = C, 60-69 = D 59 and lower = F at my school. Most instructors for the core science courses will adjust exam scores so that the median is around 65-67, although that has never resulted (for me) in a reduction of score, but always an increase.
     
  37. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    I don't necessarily know if that's true. I believe schools try to standardize their scores so that an A at X school is the same as an A at Y school. In other words, an 80% here (A-) is like a 90% (or whatever an A- is) at your university.

    I've found that my university marks VERY hard and also most courses are graded on a curve, which has cost me marks in the past because they deemed my mark to be "inflated" and reduced it. I guess I agree with this so that the schools I apply to don't see UBC as an easy school with inflated, high marks.
     
  38. bearpaw

    bearpaw celebrated member
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    yeah, i'm sure an A at your school is the same as an A at MIT. have you seen MIT's orgo exams? i used one to study for my school's orgo test, it was freaking depressing.

    med schools weight gpa's based on where you went to undergrad...they'd be foolish not to.

    for the OP...either get your act together, or stock up on the suntan lotion. We both know what you need to be doing. If you're studying 4 hours a day, you should be studying 8. If you're doing clubs, activities, and hanging out wiht your so called "friends", know that none of those things will sustain you when you're checking your amcas to see if every school you've applied to ALREADY rejected you.

    *kick in the pants* shoo, go study and stay away from sdn till you're applying. goodluck.
     
  39. dsblaha

    dsblaha Senior Member
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    I agree. I remember in my 1st gen. chem. class (a weed out class at my school) some one who failed the midterm was asking me why he failed. He said, "I studied for a whole hour for the test, I don't understand why I didn't do well!"

    what a surprise.
     
  40. HooahDOc

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    (A) Being a state school does not doom it to being, "easy".
    (B) I said the lowest I have gotten is a 3.0. A B is still above average, and not bad given the amount of time I normally put into a class.
    (C) Intelligence doesn't mean being born with inherent knowledge of biology or chemistry. Even Einstein had to a read a book. However, intelligence IS having a general base of knowledge and applying it to solve problems most people wouldn't know unless they saw specific examples in the book. This is something I am good at.
    (D) If you call getting extremely sick and missing an exam and the professor not allowing a makeup because he's an ass an, "excuse" then you're an idiot. A big zero really ****s up a 93 average.

    You're not really interested in reading any of this anyways. You're having too much fun flapping your e-penis around and too ignorant too admit that your, "hard work" really isn't that hard afterall.

    We can talk some more when you grow up and realize that grades and university attended are not indicative of intelligence. Hell, I have a friend who no doubt can intellectually beat-down ANYONE on SDN -- and he's a college drop out. Things such as motivation and finances are better indicators of where people go to college. Could I have gotten into Harvard, Princeton, or various other "pretigious" schools? (with horrible grade inflation by the way) Probably. Did I really care enough to? No. Could I have afforded it? No. If I could go back and try it again, would I have applied myself more to go to these schools? Hell no.
     
  41. irlandesa

    irlandesa Senior Member
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    to the OP, worry not.. I think you just have to find what works for you, whether it be study groups, studying at a certain time of day, etc.. I had about a 3.2 in the pre-med courses with a C in Orgo I, and I didn't go to any Ivy League school or even super-power state school or UC. No one thought I had a prayer of ever going to med school, at least not in this country. I picked things up during the last 2 years grade-wise, ended up with an OK 29 on the MCAT on a retake, and got into 2 respected US allopathic schools. I am a Caucasian female and am now a third year med student who isn't exactly AOA, but might even end up getting a decent residency. And I pulled off a mighty respectable Step 1 score too, for what it's worth. Don't let the dire predictions of others kick you in the @$$, take control of your grades and life and you will make it.
     
  42. freaker

    freaker Senior Member
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    Okay, at least you were the first to say it.

    As someone who has attended a top 20 school known for churning out med school students and a state U similar to USC, I can vouch for the fact that the top 20 school is going to be far more demanding. For crying out loud, state U had a multiple choice exam in a pre-med class! I had to have a far greater grasp of the material to do well at the top school and had to know more of the minutae.

    With that said, I don't know how much more this really benefitted me, and I'm not at all going to call state U a "crappy" school.

    JKMD, as someone who has attended both types of school, don't be too confident. It's a lot easier waltzing out of your average state school than it is to run with the pre-meds at a top school. That doesn't make your education inferior, but it does imply a different level of competition and expectations.
     
  43. jacksonchan85

    jacksonchan85 Senior Member
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    it really depends on the undergrad school - if the Prof's have a quota on the marks and/or there is any subjectiviity in the marking scheme (e.g. written assignments where they can pick on you) it's largely out of your hands

    just do the best u can

    good luck
     
  44. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    No, I haven't seen MIT's orgo exams. But you do realize that UBC is ranked in the top 3 for Canadian universities...comparable to any American ivy league institution. Our per capita research funding is 2nd only to Harvard in all of North America. I have yet to take orgo so I don't have a frame of reference to say whether or not MIT's exams are hard though. :)
     
  45. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch
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    Sample MIT orgo exams here. Principle difference between exams at my school at MIT is that they seem a little more numbers-focused: e.g., "what is the pKa of a proton on methane?" where my course just wanted me to know relative values.

    The exams don't look easy. But everyone uses essentially the same syllabus.
     
  46. bearpaw

    bearpaw celebrated member
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    calm down about UBC. Top 3 in canada? I am the number one student on my block...it doesn't mean anything. How many schools do you have in canada? How many applicants? Harvard is arguably the best in the world...and don't pull out random facts, they don't justify anything. I am sure many small liberal arts colleges, amherst and williams come to mind, spend more per capita then most top schools...but they aren't exactly leading the world in anything. Amherst i remember has the most squash courts per capita...good times!

    to compare schools, simply look at the quality of the student coming in. The higher the 75%-25% SAT, the smarter the student body. Look at the acceptance rate, the lower that is, the more coveted a spot is within that particular school. Finally, look at yield...a higher yield means that students do not use the school as a backup.

    If UBC is a top school, all these things will be comparable. If not, an A at UBC is not as good as an A from an ivy, for the average kid in your school is a subpar student at the ivy.

    goodluck with orgo, and don't brag about UBC at your interviews baby. the best things in life don't need an introduction.
     
  47. jacksonchan85

    jacksonchan85 Senior Member
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    true

    UBC
    U Toronto
    McGill

    are the big 3 in Canada (in my humble opiniob)

     
  48. bearpaw

    bearpaw celebrated member
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    the other difference is the curve. remember that super smart kid from your high school? he's average at MIT. He got an 78 on that test, a C+. When someone from your school takes it, they get a 50. When they take your school's test, they get an A.

    That's the difference. We all learn from books, many times the same books. But the difference in a good school is what is tested. At state school, if you can do the homework, you can ace the test. At MIT and other top schools, every test is an exercise in thought, not rote memorization. Not only do you have to memorize everything, you have to be able to apply to knowledge in novel ways. If you can figure it out, fine, but its hard to figure things out consistently better than your formidable peers.

    i have taken classes at a top state school, cc, amherst, and ivy. There is a difference between amherst and ivy vs. everywhere else. The tests, the students. You may not believe it, but adcoms and society does.
     
  49. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    Then you fail to see the point of the post. We're discussing the difficulty in achieving high grades at our various schools, and not my own personal achievements.

    I can't give you a number on the number of schools, but I'm sure it's quite comparable to America, according to population size. And again, UBC is not a small liberal arts college, it is a scientific research-based university with 30,000 full-time undergraduate students and about 10,000 graduates. And that shows your ignorance (no offense...conversely, i don't know a lot about american schools).


    Again, you don't understand that we don't have an SAT here. Acceptance is based on high-school averages in your senior year. Again, the average rates and acceptance rates are often irrelevant, which you seem to not understand. The admissions average last year was a 4.0 high school GPA for the Faculty of Science. That has to do with filling the few available spots with the best available students, and considering 30,000 students attend, you can see the student body is quite intelligent.

    Thank you for that. But, what makes you think I was bragging? You were replying with a demeaning attitude about my school, and paraphrasing, you wrote something about how it was not as good as MIT. I'm simply correcting you as you understandably don't know much about Canadian schools (being American).
     
  50. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    Wow...the pKa of a methane proton...that seems like a completely unnecessary bit of information. I thought ochem was not about memorizing little tidbits of information like that, but understanding the fundamental concepts of reactions and how x molecule will react with y molecule. Oh well, we all know a lot of it is just a whole game of jumping through hoops, I suppose. :rolleyes:
     
  51. kikkoman

    kikkoman Senior Member
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    Well, after two weeks of orgo there isn't much you can ask. If you go to the later exams, there is a very very heavy emphasis on synthesis questions and problem solving. Even more so in orgo II.

    I took an orgo class at my state school before coming to MIT, and the difference in philosophy and difficulty was unbelievable. The main difference I found (and have found throughout my education here) is that MIT and other top schools put a strong emphasis on problem solving abilities, especially as they relate to doing scientific research. All our bio classes are open notes, and you see hardly any regurgitation. Whereas in the state school in my city, if you studied hard, and understood the concepts, you were guaranteed an A, here if you can't think on your toes, process information given to you in an exam really quickly, there is almost no way you can get an A, even if you "understand" everything. Maybe this isn't fair, but it's how a lot of schools operate.

    And to those insulting the OP, I'm not sure you have much authority unless you have seen a curriculum like the OP might be experiencing. At your school, studying hard the night before an exam might be enough - at another school another approach might be needed.
     

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