Pre-Med Q&ACategory: Scheduling and ClassesTaking a class P/F? (Originally asked on April 5th, 2018)

What do you guys think about taking an upper level philosophy class pass/fail as a junior for my humanities distribution? I just want to take it because it looks interesting, but I haven’t had time to take any other philosophy classes so I don’t have much of a background and don’t think I would do that well if I took it for a grade. I’m currently in my ULWR and I’m really struggling with the writing assignments, and I’m assuming any philosophy class is also very writing-heavy.


Would medical schools recalculate P/F classes as a C grade or something, or would they just ignore it? Would I be better off taking a lower-level or easier class instead for my LSA humanities distribution?

1 Answers
AvatarPre-Med Hub Staff answered 5 years ago

Hi Jess!


You said you were interested in the class: do you think taking it pass/fail would change how motivated you are to keep up? Think about whether you are more likely to push off work for classes that you don’t need to try as hard on in favor of your harder classes each semester. Do you think you’ll still learn the material throughout the semester, or just do the bare minimum to pass?


If this is one of your only pass/fail credits, then I wouldn’t worry too much about taking it. Medical school admissions won’t be concerned unless you start to take too many classes pass/fail, or if you take a class that is an important medical school requirement like pchem, physiology, etc. Since this is a philosophy class you are only doing for fun, it is highly unlikely that medical schools will penalize you for it. Another thing to think about is the importance some medical schools place on English or writing skills. Some schools actually require a certain number of either writing or humanities classes, and showing that you took a tougher class and did well may prove to admissions that you improved in something you struggled with over the course of your undergraduate career. There are also tons of resources on campus you can take advantage of, like Sweetland, where you can make appointments or just drop-in to get help with papers.


However, keep in mind that each medical school does calculate your GPA in a different way, and these methods are usually not released to the public. If you are still worried about being penalized, I would contact admissions people for specific medical schools you might be considering just to find out what they can tell you. You may also want to weigh what your expected grade in the course before making the decision, and this resource is really helpful to look at average grade distributions, although it does also depend on the professor and semester. Another important thing to remember is that the add/drop deadline is two weeks into the semester so you can always change your mind, either to drop the class or change the p/f status, after attending a few classes and getting to know your professor a bit.


Good luck!


-Pooja, PMH Advisor

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