View Full Version : Explanation of poor grades
10-25-2003, 08:31 AM
I had poor grades in my first two years (cgpa 3.25), which unfortunately, is a double whammy because most of the prereqs are in those years as well, and then my gpa shot up for the next two years for a cgpa of 3.97. How would you spin this on the application? Where would you put the explanation? in the Personal Attributes Q6, or the Additional Comments section?
Thanks for any advice.
You should probably explain the poor grades in the Additional Comments section.
10-26-2003, 01:32 PM
Fox: How would you recommend explaining a year (a much previous year in which I took time off aftyerwards for a few years) where one received 5 Fs and 2 C-s?
10-26-2003, 02:51 PM
If your grades (cGPA) from recent years are significantly better (and competitive, i.e. ~3.7/4.0 or greater) than the year you bombed, then I think you have a legitimate chance. There is a spot on the application to explain any additional comments you may have (which, BTW, you should take advantage of). Hopefully, none of these low grades were in any of the pre-reqs for medicine and if they were, that you have replaced those marks with better grades from a "higher" level course. It is not enough just to repeat the same course and receive a better mark. It, unfortunately, won't count because you have already received a grade for that course. If you would have withdrawn from that course (and received a W), you could have repeated the course and the mark would have counted. So make sure that all of your grades for your pre-req courses are in order. Otherwise, you're wasting your time applying.
You can also send a letter of "special consideration" directly to the Admissions Dean, Dr. (Mark) Moreau. (www.med.ualberta.ca/ugme/...medfaq.cfm (http://www.med.ualberta.ca/ugme/doctorofmedfaq.cfm) - FAQ# 14)
Write a detailed letter to:
DR. MARK MOREAU
Associate Dean, Admissions
Undergraduate Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
2-45 Medical Sciences Building, University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB. T6G 2H7
In your letter, you will want to briefly explain why that particular year was so dreadful. Be honest (like, "I was not ready to seriously commit my time and effort to academics and this bore out in the grades I received in 200x-200x. I needed time off to reflect where I was going in life and what was important to me.) Also, don't assume the reader is going to know your application. Therefore, use positive examples of how your attitude and other important aspects of life has changed and how your GPA has improved as a result.
In your final paragragh, write out a brief statement that summarizes your request for special consideration. An example, in your case, would be: "I consider the rest of my application, with exception of my aberrant GPA in 200x-200x, to be of outstanding quality with my remaining academic qualifications that meet and/or exceed the requirements for admission. I am therefore requesting that my worst year's GPA be dropped from the cGPA calculation of my application."
Have someone else you trust read the letter and incorporate their comments before you submit the letter. The letter is due by November 15th so you still have time. Good luck.
You should also look into other schools that don't look at your entire academic record when determining your cGPA. I believe (someone else can correct me if I'm wrong) that Calgary still looks at your best 2 years. Something to consider.
10-26-2003, 03:27 PM
You have to replace your pre-req GPA scores if you want to be competitive at U of A. This is a no-brainer. Applying to med school just gets reduced down to a formula. It's that simple. The higher your score in this formula; the more likely you will be accepted. Therefore, replace your pre-reqs with better grades from higher level courses with an additional year as a general student during the Summer or next Fall. The pre-req average is worth 25% of your application. It is in your best interest to make this as high as possible. The mean Pre-req avg. of successful applicants is usually around 8.5/9.0. (I don't know what the conversion would be to the 4-point scale). If there are too many "holes" in your application, it won't hold any water and you won't get it. Fix the holes and then reapply.
Your cGPA as it stands for 4 years is around 3.6. This is still competitive, but only if the rest of your academic portion of your application (MCAT, pre-reqs) is outstanding. Use this year's experience as a learning experience for next year if you are granted an interview and don't receive an offer of acceptance.
Again, as stated in the above post, consider Calgary as an option since I believe they calculate cGPA as your best 2 years. You may be a better candidate right now for schools other than U of A. Use the additional comments section to justify your lower grades in your first 2 years. Because of your outstanding grades in years 3/4, this should be easy to argue (and prove).
10-26-2003, 03:54 PM
Shkelo - great advice, thanks. I am in my 1st semester of 1st year (starting all over again) so I have lots of time to patch things up. Thank goodness none of those were in my premed prereqs. I was in a different major (arts) with no focus whatsoever. I just feel like maybe the amissions committee will think I am some sort of nutball, applying to medschool with a old bad academic record.
Thanks for clarifying!
I think the fact that you took a few years off from school will be to your advantage. Even though your marks were low several years ago, I am sure you have matured a lot and will be able to explain that in the additional comments section. I know I changed a lot between my fourth year of undergrad and this year (I did a LONG Masters) and I know I probably wasn't prepared for the challenges of med school then, but I definitely am now thanks to various life experiences. Stick with it!
10-27-2003, 03:45 AM
Fox - thanks.
Just curious what your thoughts were on Shkelo's comments... should I write and ask for "special consideration" or will this draw unnecessary attention to my academic mishap and take away from my overall application? I had never considered doing the above mentioned until this point. I knew I would provide an explanation in the "additional comments" section, but never thought to write a letter. I thought personally that it would be futile to provide an in-detail explanation (without request) of this year considering that by the time I apply it will have been 6 years prior.
Thanks in advance,
I was under the impression that special consideration was for things like medical problems that caused your marks to be low in one year. My friend applied for special consideration a few years ago and had to have all kinds of supporting documentation. However, I have never looked into it and Shkelo probably knows more about it than I do. Check out the U of A website, or talk to Marlene in admissions, she is really nice and will help you out. Don't worry about special consideration drawing unnecessary attention to the year you had poor marks. Interviews are granted at U of A based on marks, so whether you apply for special consideration or not, they will see your first year's marks (U of A is far less subjective in determining who gets interviews than some other schools). As far as I know, the registrar's office is where the pre-req and overall averages are calculated and then they forward those numbers to the medicine admissions office. It isn't the admissions committee that plays with your numbers.
10-27-2003, 07:39 PM
If I recall correctly, U of A throws out your worst year out of the whole equation if you have 4 years behind you... (except for pre-reqs, you know the deal there)
Then again, I may be confusing this with another school. Apps were a long time ago.
10-27-2003, 11:53 PM
You're right!! I forgot about that.
"If I have a bad year, will it be used in the GPA calculation?
The GPA is calculated on all undergraduate university course work you have ever done with the exception of applicants who have completed four or more years of university. For applicants with four or more years of completed university work, the admissions cumulative academic average is calculated with the deletion of the lowest annual average, provided it is not the most recent completed year, or the one and only year where 30 units of course weight (five full course equivalents) have been completed."
10-28-2003, 01:07 AM
Shkelo - thanks a ton! :)
Hi, Just to let you know, a friend of mine applied to U of A last year who had a rough first year. He put in the 'additional comments' section that this year was not representative of his academic abilities, and they did not use it to calculate his cumulative GPA. It would not have been used anyways in the end as they only use 3/4 of the best years once they have been completed, but for interview purposes it helped and he was granted an interview.
10-28-2003, 07:11 PM
Wow, thats quite an exception. Dont hear about something like that every day.
Did he have a February or May interview? If it was may, then I can see them just waiting for final marks and discounting a year...
It was a Febuary interview... (but he didn't get accepted in the end).
vBulletin® v3.6.5, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.