PMY 216 : What You Need to Know About AACOM Killing Grade Replacement

Session 216

In this episode, Ryan talks about last week’s news that hit the premed world specifically for nontraditional students. The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) announced that starting May 1, 2017 (this application cycle), the AACOMAS application will no longer use grade replacement for GPA calculation.

A little back story…

There are 3 different application services to medical schools in the United States:

TMDSAS – for most of the Texas schools

AMCAS – MD schools

AACOMAS – DO schools

AMCAS Application

Historically for the AMCAS application, if you repeated the course, all grades would be counted (All credit hours and earned will be counted on average to your final GPA). They have always taken into account all of the courses you’ve taken regardless of repeating courses.

AACOMAS Application

It has always allowed you to use grade replacement. For example, if you failed your Chemistry 101 and retook it the next semester or during your 2nd year and you got an A, then you would have an A for your GPA calculation. The AMCAS application would ignore the previous attempts at that class. If you got a C and you retook it and got a D, then what’s counted is the D. It’s not the better of the two grades, but the newest of the two grades.


As per

Effective May 1, 2017, AACOMAS will include all course attempts in the GPA calculation. This change applies to students matriculating into the 2018-2019 academic year. In the event of multiple attempts of the same course, AACOMAS will no longer drop initial course attempts from the GPA calculation.”

  • Osteopathic medical schools may continue recalculating and weighing applicant GPAs per their established admissions practices.
  • The current AACOMAS Repeat Coursework Policy drops the initial course attempts from the GPA calculation.
  • In the upcoming 2017-2018 AACOMAS application cycle, applicants will continue to identify repeated courses during coursework entry, but they will no longer enter 0.00 credit hours for initial attempts. Credit hours for all attempts will be entered as they appear on the official transcript and all grades will be averaged.
  • The AACOMAS application instructions will be updated in advance of the 2017-2018 application cycle to reflect this change in policy.

Read full notice on

Ryan’s thoughts on the policy change:

For re-applicants

So if you applied previously to DO schools through AACOMAS, your GPA may be different if you have to apply again because they’re going to apply the new standards to your transcript and to your grades assuming you repeated your coursework.

Effective immediately – no transition period!

If you’re in a current postbac program, to improve your GPA assuming that you’re going to use the repeat coursework policy that AACOMAS always had, you’re out of luck. — Not cool at all.

With what AAMC did with the new MCAT, they worked closely over the course of several years with schools and students to let them know that the MCAT is changing. It had a smooth transition.

This, however, was a soccer punch out of left field. For students taking federal loans going to postbac programs to try to improve their grades assuming they were going to use the repeat coursework, they basically have been lied to.

“Statistically significant sampling of AACOMAS applicants”

AACOM talked about data from 2010 and the research department at AACOM researched the impact of the new policy on overall GPA from 2010 using a “statistically significant sampling of AACOMAS applicants.” They said the repeat policy raised the mean Science GPA by 0.03 and the non-Science GPA by 0.01 on a 4.0 scale. This sounds good and maybe this won’t affect people that much in a “statistically significant sampling of AACOMAS applicants.”

However, the grade replacement policy wasn’t there for the “statistically significant sampling of AACOMAS applicants.” This policy helped the outliers who are the non-statistically significant sample of students, those who started school 10 years ago and didn’t know what they wanted to do or failed out of school or left school because of financial constraints. Regardless, they had poor GPA’s and are now working towards improving those GPA’s because they’ve found the passion to become a physician. Now, AACOM is saying you’re out of luck.

Nontraditional students with life experience

The people this policy was helping were the ones that we want in medicine. They are the nontraditional students with life experiences that will make great physicians. But now they’re going to struggle to get into school.

Osteopathic schools historically have said that they wanted nontraditional students that have life experience. This is the core of what they’ve been searching for. But now, this is gone.

What are your chances to get into medical school?

Each medical school decides for themselves how they want to process applications. Every school can look at your application and look at your trends and GPA. The problem though is they get thousands of applications so it’s hard to do that for every application. The way schools can help with that is through the software available that filters out applicants based on scores. But now if your GPA drops, there’s a good chance that schools are not ever going to see your application.

What do you do? – Advocate for yourself.

You can send a letter to the admissions office to ask for an interview. Now, the school is going to hand-pull your application and decide what they’re going to do.

Schools love reporting on their stats.

They love showing that their matriculating class has an average MCAT score of x or y. If DO schools are going to open up their doors to students that have a 2.6 GPA, that’s going to hurt their numbers. Are they going to want to do that?

The lack of transition period.

It’s not about the policy itself we’re against here. But it’s HOW they did it. It should have been done with a transition period in mind.

What happens to the postbac programs now?

They are now making liars of the postbac programs. What is the point of going to postbac programs now? (Unless you are a career changer and haven’t had many or any sciences in your undergrad years)

What’s next? What do you do now?

Just keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re truly meant to do this and sacrifice four years of your life to go to medical school and another three years for residency, do the best you can to boost your GPA.

Push forward. Advocate for yourself. Get that clinical experience. Crush the MCAT. And just do it!

Keep your head up. It’s a long journey. It always has been. It’s no different than the AMCAS GPA calculation now.

Links and Other Resources:

Ryan will speak at the California State University, San Bernadino Premed Conference RSVP for a meetup with Ryan.’s policy change




Interested in Orthopedics? Check out this week’s Specialty Stories podcast or last week’s episode featuring an anesthesiologist on


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