20 December, 2017
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Concerned about a low-Grade Point Average (GPA)?
You’re not the only one. Getting a medical degree is arguably harder than the actual degree itself!
To make things even more challenging, different universities across Australia have different requirements of exactly how much the GPA actually matters.
Generally, the GPA is taken as a hurdle to get into medical school, and though this fluctuates across the various universities, it normally hovers around 5.0 or 5.5. This means that universities will allow anyone to apply with a GPA over 5.0 and 5.5, and then assess their GAMSAT and/or interview scores to decide whether or not they enter medicine – i.e. it’s a hurdle. One of our other tutors has put together this useful guide on how to work out if your GAMSAT and GPA scores are good enough.
Other universities may use it in the total score for your entry into medical school, which is when the GPA becomes more important. I encourage you to individually check each medical school’s requirements – this is especially true if your GPA is low, you might be surprised that even though medical schools A, B, and C might not accept your GPA…. D, E, and F might! So one of the first things I want to communicate with you is that you shouldn’t think that you’re whole medical career is over just because ‘University X’ only accepts individuals with a GPA of over 6.5.
ANU, Deakin, University of Melbourne and the University of WA combine GAMSAT® Exam results and GPA when ranking applicants for interview. Griffith uses a 50/50 combination of an unweighted GPA (converted to a percentage) and the overall GAMSAT® Exam score. The University of Queensland uses the GPA as a hurdle, then ranks applicants by GAMSAT® Exam results using the GPA as a tie-breaker where necessary. Flinders ranks applicants primarily on the basis of GAMSAT® Exam results, although applicants with outstanding GPAs may be given special consideration. The University of Wollongong and Notre Dame (Fremantle & Sydney) rank applicants on combined GPA, GAMSAT® Exam results and portfolio/written submission.
Many students have to travel interstate to study medicine, and you might find this is something you’ll need to do in order to pursue this career as well. This is obviously a challenging aspect of studying medicine, but you’ll find that you can discover a huge amount of opportunities and wonderful aspects of a different location through such a move – and just remember, it’s to get that end goal of being a doctor, so it’ll be worth it!
But let’s talk about some other options available to you if you have legitimate concerns about your GPA during your current course – it is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about in the slightest, as many students have a variety of problems with their current studies, which also reflects that they’d like a change in career!
Besides investigating the requirements of medical schools Australia-wide, you may need to look at additional studies in order to raise your GPA. For example, if you are currently completing a Bachelor of Law, and you are achieving a 4.0 GPA – you could either see this degree out, or cease it, and then join another degree that may be more suitable for your and more relevant for your future. This could be a Biomedical degree or an Arts degree majoring in biomedicine/anatomy etc. Although it may be tough to see yourself studying an undergraduate for another 2-3 years, a large number of medical students now are of a mature age, and many have multiple degrees under their belt before studying medicine.
Your most recent GPA for applying to medicine will be the one that is taken – so if you achieve highly to a new degree than your current one, that GPA will be taken into consideration. If you look to do another degree that is 2-3 years, instead of 4, this will minimise your time before entering medicine. However, it would be prudent to study something that could at least get you a casual job whilst studying medicine, especially one that is medically-related, such as a pharmacist, physiotherapist etc. If you're interested in looking at your postgraduate options, PostgradAustralia is a great platform that allows students and professionals contemplating a graduate level degree to explore, compare, shortlist, and apply for over five thousand unique courses in one place.
Although these two options may seem quite limited – a low GPA is an issue that has come to many current medical students when they were trying to enter medicine. If you put in the hard yards now in looking towards another degree where GPA could improve, or even devoting more time to raise your current GPA, it will pay off by leaps and bounds later. Having more experience by being a bit more mature and doing additional studies, is actually a huge advantage when entering medical school, as these mature students are much more highly respected in the clinical context.
I hope this helps and gives you some more information about what to do when you have a lower GPA – but keep the dream alive, and don’t get disheartened by something that is really so minor in your total medical school application!