In our latest blog series, we bring you a comparison between similar classes that satisfy common premed requirements: biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, sociology, physics, and  physiology, and physical chemistry. Keep in mind that not all of these classes are required for medical school, and that certain medical schools may accept only specific classes for a certain topic. However, if you are in the tough spot of choosing between two courses for the same topic, we hope our comparison chart can help you pick the right class for you.

We also suggest checking out the Umich Grade Guide and the LSA Audit Checklist ( if you are in LSA) when choosing your classes! Good luck scheduling!

PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY

CHEM 230

(3 credits)

  • More heavily chemistry/premed based (more aligned with the MCAT)
  • advisory prerequisite of CHEM 215/216
  • Flipped class, watch videos at home and team-based problems in class, weekly quizzes and online homework (you only need to get a certain percentage right and the professor will make it a 100% at the end), PREP course pack similar to an orgo course pack that has a ton of practice exam problems 
  • 72.5% of your grade is based on exams and the rest of your grade is based off of participation and homework OR you can have your grade solely determined by exams scores
  • Median grade: B+

CHEM 260

(3 credits)

  • More heavily math based 
  • advisory prerequisite of  CHEM 210/211, MATH 115, and prior or concurrent enrollment in PHYSICS 135 or 140 or 160.)
  • Get to use notecards
  • Covers one unit of quantum
  • Most of the grade is composed of exams but there are weekly problem sets taken for a grade.
  • Median grade: B+

BME 221

(4 credits)

  • For BME students- More engineering focused and Calc based
  • 9 homework assignments (36%), 4 exams each 15% of grade (this semester was take-home exams)  80% of it is the take-home, 20% team exam… lots of extra credit (up to 7%) 1 presentation (4% of grade)
  • Median grade: B+

GENETICS

BIOLOGY 305

(4 credits)

  • 4 midterms, all multiple choice
  • No final
  • Grading: Exams (80%)
  • Weekly* online quizzes
  • No lecture attendance taken, all lectures recorded
  • Mandatory discussion sections
  • 2 different professors
  • Extra credit for answering piazza questions
  • The first half of the class is calculation heavy and the second half is focused on molecular genetics
  • Median Grade: B

 

PUBHLTH 311

(3 credits)

  • 2 midterms, short answer + long answer
  • 1 final
  • Grading: Exams (89%)
  • Weekly* homework
  • No lecture attendance taken, all lectures recorded
  • No discussion sections
  • 1 professor
  • Fewer calculations and math than in BIOLOGY 305, but more talk about diseases outcomes and family level genetics
  • Median Grade: A-

SOCIOLOGY

SOC 100

(4 creds)

  •  For freshmen and sophomores 
  • 1.5 hours 2 times a week plus 1 hour discussion section per week
  • General sociology
  • Grade is heavily based on the work/projects your GSI assigns
  • Median Grade: A-

 

SOC 300

(3 creds)

  • For juniors and seniors
  • 1.5 hours 2 times a week
  • No discussion section
  • General sociology
  • Median Grade: A-

 

SOC 302

(4 creds)

  • Health-professions based
  • Specifically designed once sociology was added to the MCAT
  • 1.5 hours 2 times a week plus 1 hour discussion section per week
  • Exams are M/C and free response
  • Memo assignments (essays) 
  • No lecture recordings
  • Median Grade: A-

MICROBIOLOGY

MICRBIOL 207

(4 credits)

  • 3 hours of lectures each week 
  • 3 hours laboratory session each week
  • Recorded lectures 
  • Grading: 75% exams (3 or 4 exams, multiple choice and short answer), 25% Lab.
  • Median grade: B+

MICRBIOL 405

(3 credits)

  • 3 hours of lectures each week
  • No lab, but many students choose to elect MICRBIOL 350 (1 credit) in addition which is a 2 hour section once a week
  • Non-recorded lectures
  • Grading is entirely based on 4 exams
  • Median grade: B+

BIOCHEMISTRY

MCDB 310

(4 credits)

90 min, 2 times a week + 1, 90 min discussion per week

  • Usually in the afternoon/evening (around 4 PM)
  • Have to go to lecture because iclickers,  optional discussion 
  • Exams are multiple choice and short answer, final isn’t cumulative
  • Relatively more bio-based, BIO 171/172/225 -esque, not as much like orgo/pchem
  • Offered in the summer and more SLC study group supported
  •  Other project/hw grades to buffer if you’re not an exam person
  • recorded lectures
  • Median grade: B

 

BIOLCHEM 415

(4 credits)

1 hour, 3 times a week

  • Usually in the morning (around 9 AM)
  • Lecture isn’t required (no iclickers), new  required discussion 
  • Exams are 40 multiple choice questions only, 5 non cumulative exams (90% of grade)
  • Relatively more bio-based
  • Combined class with graduate students 
  • Recorded lectures
  • Weaknesses: Too early in the morning for some people
  • Median grade: B

 

CHEM 351

(4 credits)

  • 1 hour, 3 times a week
  • Usually in the morning (around 10 AM), has a discussion
  • Exams involve problem-solving questions (multiple choice, true/false, short-answer, matching and fill-ins, mechanisms, chemical drawings, etc.)
  • Relatively more chem-based
  •  Some majors require this one, precursor class to CHEM 451, more in-depth knowledge of biochem if you plan to continue in either the minor, major, or field of study (might help for the MCAT, talk to an advisor)
  •  Bigger time commitment than the other two, notoriously “hard”
  • Median grade: B

BIOCHEMISTRY LAB

CHEM 352

(2 credits)

  • 4 hours lab + 1 hour lecture
  • Scheduled for 4 hours, but can often end early. The remaining time can be used as office hours to ask instructors for help writing the reports.
  • Lectures are not required and recorded, but recommended for lab report help
  • Frequently there is quite a bit of work  to get done at home (lab reports and prereading) unlike some labs that only span the 4 hours and you never think about it until the next week
  • Median grade: A

 

CHEM 353

(3 credits)

  • Exact same lecture and lab as CHEM 352, but contains an extra discussion
  •  ULWR
  • 4 hours lab + 1 hour lecture + 1 hour discussion weekly
  • Learn to write a scientific paper
  • Median grade: A

 

BIOLCHEM 416

(3 credits)

  • 2 hours twice a week
  • Grade based on written laboratory reports, homework, preparation for the lab session, and a final paper focusing on an individual experiment or technique
  • No lecture, only lab
  • Median grade: A

PHYSICS

Physics 135/235

(both are 4 credits)

  • Most common physics sequence taken by pre-med students. Life sciences based, learn applications of physics to the human body (blood flow, lifting objects, etc.). Some content in 136/236 (labs) overlaps with 141/241 (labs). 
  • Algebra based. 
    • Physics 135: 3 midterms and a final, can drop any of the 3 midterms not the final. Grade breakdown is each exam is worth 20% (60% total), remaining 40% composed of weekly Mastering Physics problems, iClickers, and Daily Canvas quizzes.
    • Physics 235: 3 midterms and a final, can drop any exam including the final. All exams for both courses are 20 multiple choice questions. Grade breakdown is each exam is worth 20% (60% total), remaining 40% composed of iClickers and weekly Mastering Physics problems.
    • Both courses have non-cumulative midterms and a final that is ½ cumulative, ½ material learned after Exam #3. Both courses allow 1 index card of notes for Exam 1, 2 notecards for Exam 2, and so on.
    • 136/236: Only one credit. Grade is based on in-class lab reports and weekly quizzes on the manual. Overall, the courses are curved depending on GSI averages.
  • Median grade: A- for all 4 courses

 

physics 140/240

(both are 4 credits)

  • Mainly taken by engineers and individuals interested in pursuing a professional career in Physics. 
  • Calculus based. 
    • Physics 140: About half the class is graded on participation and hw, the other half is graded based on exam performance. Each midterm is worth 12% and the final is worth 16%. 
    • Physics 240: No midterms. Every two weeks there are in-class quizzes. Class participation is also recorded with clickers for accuracy. 
  • 141/241:Grade is based on in-class lab reports and weekly quizzes on the manual. Overall, the courses are curved depending on GSI averages. 
  • Syllabus and grading scheme can and does change based on professor and the term it is offered in. 
  • Median grade: B/B+/B/A- for the 4 courses

 

PHYSIOLOGY

BIO 225

(3 credits)

  • Human and Animal physiology
  • Grade is determined exclusively by 4 exams, all multiple choice, point-based, depending on the semester an A is 94% or 93%, 
  • 1 hour 3 times a week
  • 2 different professors
  • Recorded lectures 
  • iClicker points are used as extra credit at the end of the year, so attendance is not mandatory but highly encouraged
  • Median grade: B+

 

 

 

PHYSIOL 201

(4 credits)

  • Grade is determined by exams, homework assignments, extra credit assignments
  • Attendance in class not required, lectures are recorded
  • 1.5 hours 3 times a week  and optional discussion section
  • Only one professor
  • Class is held in the medical school, so may be further away from other courses on central campus
  • Median grade: B

 

 

BME 419

(4 credits)

  • Quantitative Physiology
  • 70% of the grade are based on exams, while the rest of the final grade is based on homework 
  • Each system is taught by a different professor each with different teaching styles (2-3 lectures per professor)
  • 8 system sections total
  • There is some matlab coding involved in the homework
  • Homework and exams are more math focused
  • Class sessions not recorded
  • Median grade: B+

 

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