Questions from a Student with a Low Undergrad & Postbac GPA

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Questions for a Student with a Low Undergrad & Postbac GPA

Session 43

In today’s episode, I answer some questions from a student who is struggling with a low undergrad and postbac GPA around 2.4, along with a low MCAT score.

Find out what options you have when facing these kinds of significant academic difficulties as a premed.

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

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

As usual on the OldPreMeds Podcast, our question is taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum.

Our poster this week is in need of help and advice for applying to medical school. He graduated in 2002 with a very low GPA  (2.01) and has taken classes since then for a postbac GPA of 2.7 and science GPA at 3.3. Overall, his GPA is around 2.4. Because of his low undergrad GPA, our poster is unable to get premed advising help from the school where he’s taken his postbac courses so far.

His overall Science GPA of 2.7 is because of classes taken while doing research, which are graduate-level courses taken in order to be able to work in a lab. He was not prepared for the classes but needed the job to pay rent and help his soon-to-be wife at that time to pay for physical therapy school.

Our poster has worked in basic research labs for 3 years, published 2 papers, and done poster presentations at international conferences. His work experience includes clinical research (4 years) and being a lab assistant at a medical school (anatomy lab and orthopedic surgical training center).

He got an MCAT score of 26 (on the old MCAT). Currently, he is working on physical therapy research and teaching. He’s looking for premed advising help.

Why Are You Struggling Academically as a Premed?

You need to figure out why you’re not doing well in school. No excuses. What are you struggling with?

A science GPA of 2.7 is not going to cut it. An overall GPA of 2.4 is not going to cut it. An MCAT score of 26 is not going to cut it. And most schools are going to stop accepting the old MCAT scores soon, too. So you will probably have to retake the MCAT.

You need to improve your grades if you want to get into medical school.Click To Tweet

Do some soul searching and figure out where the issue lies. You need to improve your grades if you want to get into medical school. There is no point in doing more postbac classes unless you can do really well in them.

Note: At the time of this recording, DO schools offered grade replacement through the AACOMAS application service, but that has since been canceled. AACOMAS now averages together your grades when you’ve taken multiple attempts at a class, just like AMCAS does for MD schools.

Should You Pursue an SMP to Fix Your GPA for Medical School?

Another possible option is a Special Masters Program (SMP). It’s basically a postbac, but it’s a Master’s program that goes into a different category in your application compared to the undergraduate courses.

Sometimes if you do well in an SMP, you will have a guaranteed spot in the medical school it's associated with.Click To Tweet

Try to see if there are any Special Masters Programs near you, and see if they have linkages to medical schools. Sometimes if you do well in an SMP, you will have a guaranteed spot in the medical school it’s associated with. So that is something to look into.

[Related episode: Choosing Between an SMP and Postbac Program.]

Should You Consider a Caribbean Medical School with a 2.4 GPA?

Your last option would be Caribbean medical schools. Reach out to them and see if your GPA is good enough for them. Caribbean medical schools are for-profit institutions, and they usually take anybody and everybody. But they might not even accept your low GPA.

Caribbean medical schools are for-profit institutions, and they usually accept anybody and everybody.Click To Tweet

You’re going to need to figure out how to perform academically in order to succeed in medical school. So even if you get accepted to a Caribbean medical school, you will need to improve your study skills in order to do well enough to match into residency.

Before considering a Caribbean medical school, be sure to read my post “Caribbean Medical Schools: What You Need to Know.” My general advice is this: Don’t go to a Caribbean medical school unless you have to. It’s a last resort.

Major takeaway from this episode:

You have a lot of work to do. Your research and clinical experiences are great, but they’re not going to allow you to overcome your low GPA and MCAT score. So figure out how to improve those or look at doing something else.

Links and Other Resources