Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Post for the Pre-Meds: Low GPA? Low MCAT? There’s Still Hope!


A couple of people recently contacted me freaking out about the new AACOM Repeat Policy Coursework change that was recently announced, and it prompted me to write this post. I’ve always been transparent about the fact that I had extremely low undergraduate GPA and MCAT scores when applying to medical school, but outside of the MCAT, I never actually revealed how low my actual GPA was. I think now would probably be a good time to reveal those scores and explain why I think this new policy change is something that really shouldn’t be stressed about in the grand scheme of everything, especially when it comes to applying to osteopathic medical schools.

My AACOM GPA
My AAMC GPA

I graduated from my undergraduate institution with a 2.2 GPA and over 150 hours. No amount of retakes was going to raise my GPA above the 3-point-whatever GPA that everyone thinks you absolutely need to have when applying to medical school. Additionally, my school had a rule that you could not retake a course that you received a C or higher in, and the main reason for my low GPA was the fact that I made a lot of C’s in my courses. It was an absolute requirement to retake any course with a grade of a D or lower, and I will admit that I did have a few retakes in there. Additionally, I entered into college with a low GPA to start because I attended a full-time joint enrollment honors program at a university during my senior year of high school, didn’t take it seriously, and later found out that any and all college coursework would be included in my application. As you can see above, I barely scored above a 2.5 on my AACOMAS application with the retakes included, and my AMCAS GPA was absolutely abysmal! My graduate GPA was a huge saving grace for me (my GPA was higher when I graduated, but at the point of my application it was as listed), but even with that included, my AACOMAS GPA only went as high as a 2.7.

With that being said, I was still able to gain an acceptance into medical school, so it just goes to show that some schools really do more than just screen based on numbers. There are both MD and DO schools that will look at the last 30 or so hours of your coursework and only focus on that as your cumulative GPA which will still give an advantage to students taking post-bacc or graduate coursework. If you have been retaking courses and were counting on the DO grade replacement policy to help you get an acceptance, I wouldn’t give up hope. As stated on the AACOM website: “Osteopathic medical schools may continue recalculating and weighing applicant GPAs per their established admissions practices. The scope of this policy change is limited to the AACOMAS verified GPA calculation.” To me, this pretty much means schools will continue to look at applications in the same way as before, although now they might have to make a few adjustments. Just focus on continuing to improve both your GPA and overall application, and everything will work out the way it should in the end. Also, if you are applying to DO schools, keep in mind that the majority of them tend to focus on the entire applicant and not just the stats, which is a major reason why I applied. If every other part of your application is stellar, but your GPA and MCAT scores are lacking, just be able to explain it and prove that you would be able to excel in medical school despite your shortcomings.

My MCAT Scores


Speaking of the MCAT, this post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t throw that in here as well. I know there is a new MCAT with a completely different scoring system than there was when I took it, but as you can see (and also as I previously mentioned HERE) my scores were even low with that! I was seriously a true underdog when it came to applying to medical school, but my passion wouldn’t let that stop me from pursuing my dreams.

To those of you applying to medical school, I think it is extremely important to avoid the negativity and continue to push hard and work towards achieving your dreams. I remember reading posts on SDN that said someone with my stats (and especially a single mother) would never make it through the first year of medical school or pass their board exams, and now I am sitting here as a third year medical student who not only made it through my first two years without any major issues, but managed to pass the first part of both my MD and DO board exams, and to date, I have not received less than an honors evaluation (with some final grades as high passes after the shelf exams LOL) on any of my clinical rotations. I say this not to brag, but to be a source of encouragement and inspiration for those of you who have the dream of becoming a physician, but do not think it’s possible. I still have another year and a half to go, along with more upcoming board exams (please pray for me!), but even I have the faith that if I continue to do my best, keep the faith, and push through, everything will fall into place as it should. I’ll end here, but I truly hope this post helped motivate, inspire, and put some of you at ease.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dream and live the life you've imagined" - Henry David Thoreau



27 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post. You inspire me so much! It is because of you I know becoming a DO is a very real and a very possible dream. I, too, really want to be a surgeon, so this answers a lot of questions I have had during the premedical process. Keep doing what you're doing Dr. Ward. Stay blessed. :)

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    1. Soooo happy I could help inspire you! Yes, your dream is very possible and I wish you all the best and nothing but success on your journey :-)

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  2. Loved this post so much! Thanks for your openness, it is truly inspiring and goes to show that if oh have true passion for your dream, you can accomplish it! I'm sure you'll be an amazing doctor and I hope I have as much success as you!

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    1. Awww, thank you! With passion and dedication you can accomplish just about anything :-) Best wishes to you!

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  3. Contrary to popular belief, med school admissions aren't evil gatekeepers bent on destroying people's dreams. There's a reason people with your academic record are normally kept out. It's to protect you. Odds are you're likely to just waste 2 years of your life now and wind up 100k in debt before you eventually fail boards and have nothing to show for it.

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    1. Looks like you missed the part about me being a third year medical student who already passed the first part of both MD and DO board exams. Reading is fundamental

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    2. @3:52, the ONLY thing worse than a dumbass is a dumbass that can't read!

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    3. Don't you find it interesting that people like this person are always anonymous? Success will be the best revenge.

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    4. Exactly! Pay no attention to the negative people of the world. I just use it as a fuel for my success ;-)

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  4. I have a 3.4 no retakes and I was nervous that I can't get in my top school which is a D.O school. I haven't took the MCAT yet but I'm beyond scared. I also am undecided about doing a post back to boost it vs getting a master's.

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    1. Your 3.4 is way higher than my below 3.0 gpa, so hopefully this gave you hope to keep pushing. Feel free to check out this post to help you decide between a postbacc or masters: http://www.aspiringminoritydoctor.com/2014/07/post-bacc-smp-or-another-degree-whats.html?m=1

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  5. Thank you for sharing your story, you give me a lot of hope and inspiration to keep striving to be a doc, even though my first semester in college I only gained a 2.4 in which I tried my hardest, but this semester i'm shooting upward. :)

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  6. Thank you for being so real and authentic!

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  7. Thank you for posting this and being so transparent with your stats. Reading this post was exactly what I needed right now because it's been hard to stay encouraged. I randomly came across this post, and I thank God I did! Xo

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    1. Glad you found me :-) Please stay encouraged and don't give up hope!

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  8. Is the GR your graduate degree and did they average the UG and graduate degree together?
    I am not native to the US, so I am trying to understand the GPA portion.
    Thank you.

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  9. wow you are truly inspiring. This is the second time I will be applying to med school. I have a year in between applications where I have taken a few undergrad classes needed to gain admissions into a 1yr biomedical engineering masters program. I will be retaking the mcat next friday after obtaining a 499 a few years back. my ugpa is only a 3.0 so hopefully now with my 3.7 grad gpa and me graduating with a masters in December I will get some love from medical schools. Thank you so much for sharing your story, just by reading your story you increase my hope after I crush it completely some days. God bless you and congratulations on how far you've come.

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    1. Sorry for the super delayed response, and I hope the MCAT went well for you! Wishing you all the best on your journey!

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  10. Hello,
    You mentioned that there are some schools that focus on the last 30 hours or so...
    I have searched and simply cannot find a reliable source for a list of these schools.
    Do you happen to know which schools do this? Or do you at least know of a couple?
    Thank you so much and I wish you well for 4th year! :-)

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    1. You can find out the information by contacting schools directly. The one I know for sure is LSU-NO, but they do not take out of state applicants. Also, I believe Wayne State had something similar.

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  11. You are such a blessing! We are in similar boats. I didn't take undegrad seriously and I am paying the price. I just got admitted to a masters program and plan to kick butts in the next two years. I am trusting in my hardwork and also in God. Thank you for inspiring! Your blog is my new favourite place to hang out.

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    1. Thank you for reading, and best of luck to you in your masters program!

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  12. Hello I am so grateful that you decided to post your story! I am a 34 year old single mother of four and I am in my final year of ug I have not yet taken the mcat or applied to medical school because I am completely stuck in fear that my cumulative gpa of 3.3 and sci-gpa 3.11 are not going to cut it. I am senior undergrad MCB (molecular and cellular biology) major and have completed all of the courses I need for my major except for physics and calculus I waited until the last minute to take these courses because I absolutely suck at math and have lived in perpetual fear of taking these courses and destroying what little gpa I have left. I plan on taking next year to try and engage in some sort of research experience to enrich my overall application but I have always worked full time so a lot of the extracurriculars that really make an application shine I have not been able to participate in. I know that my life story is compelling and my struggles are compelling but I am worried it is not enough. I would appreciate any advice you would like to throw my way. Also congratulations on your success and I will definitly pray for you and agree with you in prayer that your journey is already complete and declare that you have already been successful and just need to walk right into your blessing. God Bless You DOCTOR!

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    1. Thanks for the message! Please don't let fear stop you from pursuing your dreams! The road isn't easy, but anything is possible with hard work, persistence, and determination. Wishing you all the best!

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