Did you decide on a medical career late in undergraduate career? Were you immature, undisciplined, and unfocussed in your study habits?Did you find the transition from high school classes to undergraduate coursework challenging? Were you overwhelmed by moving to a new area or newly acquired independence? Did you have personal issues that took your focus away from your school work?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you likely have a lower GPA than is required for a competitive medical school application. For students with a low undergraduate GPA, there are several options to pursue to improve your credentials, in particular your BCPM GPA (grade point average in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics courses).
- Plan to retake at a reputable institution any required pre-med courses in which you did not perform well. And this time earn a grade of “A.”
- Consider enrolling in a post-bac program that provides you with a certificate, a letter package with recommendations from science professors, and usually some clinical exposure.
- Consider taking on graduate coursework in the medical sciences to demonstrate your ability to succeed in medical school courses (also obtain a letter of recommendation).
- Consider a formal masters program (in Health Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Medical Sciences), which although costly provides considerable academic preparation for medical school while also providing assistance in many other areas such as clinical exposure, research experience, MCAT prep, AMCAS application assistance, and overall advising.
Whatever path you take, make sure you are taking “hard” science classes and doing well. Try to accumulate letters of recommendation from faculty who can attest to who you are NOW (not who you were three years ago in undergrad when you weren’t performing well). You need faculty to write strong letters than can document your ability to integrate challenging material, ask the right questions, and successfully complete medically relevant coursework. These faculty can also remark on your focus, discipline and motivation. Earning an above average MCAT score also goes a long way towards erasing that mediocre undergrad GPA. Even though you will always have a low undergraduate GPA, if you take sufficient post-bac and /or graduate level science courses, you can really improve your BCPM GPA while demonstrating your strong academic aptitude to admissions committees.
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