Calculating Grades - Because Your Numbers Matter A Lot

Calculating grades is an important part of your medical school application and a lot of medical schools use computers to screen medical school applicants in two areas:

  • MCAT score
  • GPA.

Why use computers?

Medical schools receive too many applications then they can review so they need an efficient way to automatically weed out unqualified students by focusing on your numbers.

If you did not know each school assigns a particular weight to your MCAT and grade point average and if you fall below the medical school’s cutoff level your AMCAS application will not be read by a human on the medical school admissions committee.

As you can tell, your GPA matters a lot.

Rumors About Premed College Grades

Just to let you know the average grade of accepted medical students is not a 4.0. So if you did not get all As during your undergrad career you have a chance of getting into medical school.

Now you don't want to go and slack off though. The best advice is to work hard and get the highest GPA possible. Medical school is competitive so do everything within you ability to outshine other medical school applicants and this begins with your grades.

Another way to standout is to have an advanced degree such as a Masters of Biomedical Science or Medical Sciences.

Intent on hearing numbers?

Each medical school has their own criteria when calculating grades into the admission decision but you will be in fairly good shape if your GPA is 3.3 or better. Your should always aim to get more As versus Bs in all of your coursework.

I am not an advocate of using hard cutoffs such as you must have a certain grade point average to apply to a particular medical school because everyone presents a unique application with their own set of circumstances.

Some unique factors affecting your AMCAS application will be the reputation of the college you attended, courses taken, etc.

Since you know a computer will be calculating grades I would ensure my GPA is high enough to make it past each medical school'’s cutoff value. Without making it past the threshold everything else in your medical school application means nothing because it will not be read by anyone.

AMCAS Grade Point Average

The American Medical College Application Service understands each college and university has a different policy for calculating grades so AMCAS has a role of standardizing the medical school application process.

The AMCAS grade point average enables for medical schools to compare applicants on the same scale (apples to apples, oranges to oranges) by using this grade point average over the one calculated on your individual transcripts.

When AMCAS is calculating grades they include all attempted courses regardless of the outcome and there is no forgiveness policy.

For example...

If you failed a three credit course the first time you took it and then earned an "A" the second time a college grading system using the forgiveness policy would place your GPA at 4.0 for the class. Not the case when applying to medical school.

AMCAS will factor in both attempts when calculating grades and your GPA will be 2.0.

BCPM - Math and Science

This is your science grade point average and it includes all biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses. It will appear on your AMCAS application separately enabling medical school admissions officers to gauge your ability in the sciences.

AO - All Other

This is the All Other grade point average which is taken from your non-science courses. This will appear on your AMCAS application.

CUM GPA - Cumulative

This is your Cumulative grade point average and it will appear on your AMCAS application.

College Grade Trends

Medical schools look favorably on an applicant who steadily improves his grades each semester while in college. And no, this is not an excuse to take it easy freshmen year.

I hope you are not under the impression that medical schools will forgive poor performance in your early years of college. This is impossible because all of your coursework is considered when calculating grades.

Did you start college with lackluster grades?

If you start college with poor grades but finish up your academic career with a GPA that falls within the average of medical school accepted students then you still have an opportunity to be invited to a medical school interview.

But don't chance your college grades and getting into medical school. At the slightest hint that things are not going as planned get help.

You have to take the initiative with your study skills and grades because unlike high school your professors are not calculating grades weekly and sending out warnings that you need to do better.

What You Need to Avoid

The worst thing you can do is begin college with a high grade point average and have it decline each year.

This will raise a lot of red flags and medical schools will question your motivation or ability to pursue a medical career. Now if you become ill or have a personal issue which can be explained then this message is not for you.

You simply want to avoid declining grades or a GPA that varies from semester to semester. Medical school admissions officers are looking for consistency and positive trends with your grades.


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