Should I Retake Bio When I Got C+?

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OPM 317: Should I Retake Bio When I Got C+?

Session 317

This postbac wants to retake biology – her grade was a C+ and she doesn’t remember much. Her school says she’s not allowed to though. What now?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from Go ask your questions there and use #OPMquestion.

Also, please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

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[01:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I recently graduated with a psychology degree in May and will be starting to do-it-yourself postbac at another university majoring in biological sciences. So it sounds like maybe a career changer postbac because, most likely, it didn’t take a lot of the science prereqs. I made the decision to switch back to being premed and took premed classes again starting in the Winter semester of 2021. 

So far, I’ve taken Physics I and II and Chem I and II. I retook Chem I and Orgo I between my junior and senior years. I’ve also taken Bio I and Bio II.  I’m scheduled to take Precalculus, Genetics, Orgo II and lab, and Ecology this upcoming fall semester. The thing is, however, that I honestly don’t remember much Bio I and Bio II as I took them back in the fall of 2019. I was planning on retaking them but was told by an academic advisor I couldn’t since I got a C+ in both of them. I was told by my premed advisor that I should try emailing the department. But since I got a C+ in both classes, it wouldn’t be completely ideal to retake them. 

My question is, should I just go ahead and take Genetics and Ecology or convince the biology department to let me retake Bio I and Bio II?”

[03:31] To Retake or Not to Retake Your C+ Classes

This is common for a student who received a passing grade and wants to retake the course, especially I and II together. And that’s because they want the information for upper-level Biology type courses.

But you don’t need to retake the courses. Bio I and II are low-level courses. The other courses that you need may play a little bit into what you’ve learned but you’ll relearn what you need in those courses.

Setting that aside, the more common question among students is whether they should retake them to show medical schools that they can do better. And the answer almost always is no.

“Retaking a course and getting a better grade – and taking a different course and getting a good grade, is the same thing mathematically on your application.”Click To Tweet

Medical schools usually are not that nitty-gritty in terms of the details of the courses that you are struggling with, such as a C+. Unless you receive a C– or lower, that is not passing for med school. And so if you received a C–, obviously in a prereq, the answer is yes, you need to retake that because it’s not passing.

We have free GPA tracking software on, which I highly recommend you check out. And if you were to enter a prereq as a C–, our software will prompt that it’s not passing for med school. And we will advise you to talk to your advisor. A lot of students don’t know that. They get to the application process with their C– in Bio I, for instance, and they get a B+ in Bio II. And medical schools aren’t going to like that.

[06:17] Taking Into Account Different Scenarios

All those being said, there’s no need to retake Bio I and Bio II. Instead, you can refresh the material by looking at notes or by using YouTube or Khan Academy.

“There are lots of resources that you can use to refresh without wasting money to retake a course you don't really need to retake.”Click To Tweet

Another common question among students is whether to take Bio I before retaking Bio II because they got a C+. The answer to this depends on you. You don’t need to retake it. But whether you should retake it entirely depends on you.

Maybe you were getting A’s on all your midterms and quizzes. But then you got a C+ and bombed the finals because you were sick that night or whatever happened. But you’re okay with the material, you just performed poorly on the last test. In that scenario, you don’t need to retake the course. You’re ready to move on to the next higher-level course because you have that solid foundation.

The other scenario is you barely got a C+ because you’ve always been on the C– track. Then potentially you should retake Bio I because you’re going to be building on top of that knowledge for Bio II.

Ultimately, these are all very nuanced questions with very nuanced answers. It’s not as easy as yes, you should retake or No, you shouldn’t. Unless again, specifically if it’s a prereq and it’s a C– or lower. Historically, most med schools do not accept C– or lower as passing for a course. And so, you can tap into other resources without necessarily retaking the course.


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