Calculating Grades as a Numbers Sensitive Premed Student

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:

  1. MCAT score
  2. 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 but it is inching upward.

The average cumulative GPA of applicants to medical school was 3.58 while it was 3.73 for premed students who were accepted to medical school.

Even if you did not get all A's in college you still have a chance of getting into medical school. However, this is not a license to slack off. 

I strongly encourage you to study smart and work towards achieving the highest GPA possible. You already know medical school is super competitive so you need to outshine the competition in every way possible and this begins with your grades. 

If you're in a situation where your numbers are not as strong as they can be it is not the end of the world, but you are facing an uphill battle. Students who after calculating their grades and are not at the level of accepted students to medical school should seriously consider an advanced degree such as a Masters of Biomedical Sciences or Medical Sciences through a post baccalaureate program.

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 3.6 or better as i mentioned with the numbers between applicants and matriculants to medical school. 

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 will present with 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 minimum cutoff value. 

If you don't make it past the minimum cutoff then all your hard work as a premed will be meaningless because no human will ever read your medical school application

AMCAS Grade Point Average

The American Medical College Application Service understands each college and university has a different policy for calculating grades so <b>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.

Calculating Grades and the Overall Trend Over Time

Medical schools look favorably on an applicant who steadily improves his grades throughout 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. Even if the school says they do 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. 

What you cannot do is hope that even with low grades that you will get into college.

At the slightest hint of academic trouble in school you need to get help. I cannot tell you how often a premed student contacts me with a story of having a 2.46 GPA because of "personal problems", difficulty adjusting to school, or not taking college seriously and wishing that if just given a chance they can prove to schools that they have what it takes to become a doctor. 

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. 

If you are in trouble and not sure what to do then it would be to your benefit to get help from me.

What You Need to Avoid

The worst thing you can do is to start college with a high grade point average and then have your grades slip semester after semester.

This will raise red flags and medical schools will question your motivation or ability to handle a rigorous medical school curriculum. Please note I'm referring to students who have an unexplainable downward trajectory not having a legitimate illness or personal issue. 

You simply want to avoid declining grades or a GPA that varies each semester. Medical school admissions officers are looking for consistency and an upward trend with your grades.